Wondering how to entertain the kids this half term? It’s never easy trying to juggle everyone’s needs, so we asked our online community for ideas. Here’s what they came up with:
Get out and about
Use the Euan’s guide website & app to check out access in places you want to go or for ideas of things to do in your area. Better still, upload your own reviews to help others and expand the coverage of the website. Reviews include features such as accessible toilets, carers discount, disabled parking and dedicated seating etc.
Free copy of the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain
Download a free copy of the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, which has got loads of great ideas for accessible family days out.
Free lunchtime concerts
Most big cities have free lunchtime concerts if you look out for them. If you live in London, you’re spoilt for choice!
Accessible countryside for everyone
If the weather’s nice, head outdoors. Accessible Countryside for Everyone lists wheelchair walks, buggy walks, easy walks, support organisations, disability sport info, camp site with disabled facilities and more. Visitwoods.org.uk also lists over 10,000 woods open to the public, and allows you to search for features such as car parks and wheelchair access.
Most Toy libraries have specialist toys for disabled children to borrow. Many projects also have stay and play opportunities. There may also be mobile home visiting services. Find out more at the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries.
Most attractions offer disabled discounts, special access or carers-go-free solutions, but people don’t often think to ask. Do ask whenever you are visiting any facility, as it can save you a small fortune.
Free cinema tickets for carers
Apply for a Cinema Exhibitor’s Card, which allows disabled people to obtain one free ticket for a person accompanying them to the cinema. The card costs £6.00 and last for one year.
Get away from it all
Tourism for all
Planning a short break? Check out Tourismforall.org.uk which provides useful information on accessible holidays in the UK and abroad. Their website also has a directory of holiday venues.
Disability Holidays Guide
The Disability Holidays Guide lists specialist tour operators for wheelchair users. You can search the guide for accessible hotels, villas and cottages. You can also find travel insurance, hire accessible transport and pre-order mobility aids and equipment.
Described as ‘Airbnb for disabled people’ – if it’s just accommodation you’re looking for, check out Accomable for listings of accessible places to stay in the UK and abroad.
My kids love a treasure hunt. The other day we collected sticks to make a pretend camp fire. Other times the ‘treasure’ has been stones or daisies. It’s a good, inclusive activity disabled and non-disabled children all enjoy.
Try threading cheerios with your child to make an edible necklace.
Smelly socks game
Use up some old small socks or go to a charity shop. Then scent some cotton wool balls with different smells like tea, coffee, lemon, apple or tomato ketchup. Try a variety of smells, taking care not to use anything to which your child may be allergic. When the cotton balls are dry and all the ingredients are placed in the socks, tie the socks up with a ribbon, and play a game of Guess the smell.
Wrapping paper’s not just for Christmas
If your child is visually impaired children or has a sensory impairment, sparkly Christmas wrapping paper is very good for catching and holding attention. Gold, in particular, or anything with a rainbow/prism effect seems to work well to stimulate those with visual impairment.
Play tents make great sensory spaces when kitted out with everyday items e.g. fairy lights, hanging old CD’s, tinsel, etc…
Stick some blank paper on a wall somewhere and turn it into a ‘graffiti wall’. You can also paint a wall with blackboard paint or put up a big white board for graffiti fun.
Star in your own film
Use your camcorder – or the video on your phone if you have one – to make a film of a favourite book. We did The Tiger Who Came to Tea, using a toy stuffed tiger, shots of our table set up for tea, empty food packets, and a homemade cardboard claw peeking round the front door. You can do lots of voiceovers to explain what is happening, or do it documentary-style and interview the Mummy, the child, the cafe owner, Daddy, the Tiger etc.
Make home-made slime. Get a pack of cornflour, mix it with water so it’s gloopy but not runny and then add green food colouring.
Life-sized cardboard cut-outs
Use either a large piece of card or lining paper (joined together, if necessary). Draw around each other and cut up old clothes and cloths to dress your portraits up.
A real catch
A velcro ball and catch mitt set has been fantastic for my son, who is unable to catch a regular ball. Great for fun, cause and effect and coordination. Ours was under £5 from eBay – check out ‘Spordas No Miss’.
Turn your house into a cinema. Choose a DVD together (bought or borrowed from the local library) make tickets, posters etc. Invite friends if you’ve got the space and then make popcorn, close the curtains and enjoy.
Make a den
My daughter loves it if we put a sheet over the dining table and make a den. I bring some of her sensory lights in and we all sit underneath. Her brothers think it’s great too!
Home-made jigsaw puzzle
I’ve found a good cheap way to keep my daughter occupied is to get her to choose a picture from a magazine, then I cut it up, and she reassembles the picture, gluing it on to paper. You can use photos as well. You can make it as simple or complicated as you want. I use simple ones to help calm her down and more complicated ones when she needs a new distraction.
Put on the music and have a competition.
We use a plastic box and fill it with different things for sensory play. Sometimes dried beans, sand, shaving foam – we put different smells in like vanilla essence or curry powder to make it more interesting. Sometimes we squeeze toothpaste in which is good fun when you get it all over your hands because it dries quickly.
We’ve been using words on the back of paper-clipped paper fish with a magnetic fishing rod to make a game out of reading.
Raid the recycling and make some musical instruments. Fill jars and plastic containers with rice to make shakers, elastic bands over a box can make a great guitar and balloons stretched over tubs for some bangin’ drums!
Poppy has very little fine motor skills and struggles with most art and craft activities. So I stuck some wrapping paper to the wall and we made hand prints on it. Then we cover it in glue and threw glitter at. Messy but great fun!
We’ve created a ‘sensory wall’ by sticking old yoghurt pots on the wall – you can also put bubble wrap, biscuit packet insides, corrugated paper, sand paper ….
These tips were all contributed by parents of disabled children. Find more great tips like these, and share your own on Scope’s online community.