Your Easter budget might not stretch to Disneyland, but our friends at Netbuddy (now part of Scope) have come up with some great ideas for entertaining kids on a shoe string. Please add your own suggestions to this list and share nicely!
I enjoy going on a treasure hunt with my kids. 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 they all enjoy.
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 covered in glue and threw glitter at. Messy but great fun!
Knitting is great to exercise hand writing motor skills.
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!
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 non-disabled brothers think it’s great too!
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’.
Fun with balloons
Fill two balloons (one inside the other) with sand or flour for a fun, sensory activity.
A great free activity for a rainy day … the Argos catalogue! Harris and I poured over the pictures. Lots of opportunity for conversation, it was a bit like retail therapy except, since Harris doesn’t understand the concept of shopping, so no money was spent.
Electronic instruments are great for people who like making a lot of sound (banging furniture etc). They can make as much noise as they like with the head phones on and no one else has to hear it! You can get drum kits /keyboards etc.
Try threading cheerios on a liquorice lace to make an edible necklace.
Berry tasty paint
Squash strawberries, blackberries, rasberries, blueberries etc to make a tasty paint. Mix together the colours and tastes. Great messy fun!
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.
Matching pairs game
Use a digital camera to make your own cards for this game. you can photograph your own matching pairs ie your dog, your home, family, etc You’ll need two of each.
Make some thunder
“Thunder makers” are brilliant. I got mine at Hawkins Bazaar for around £8, you just give it a shake and it sounds like a low rumble of thunder, the harder you shake the louder it gets. (Be warned though they are addictive!)
For visually impaired people, try adding things likes sand or beads to enable them to feel their artwork. Be consistent and stick to the same textures for colours: sand for yellow, smalls beads are green etc.
Find the alternative
Sal finds it difficult to hold small objects, so I gave her pastry brushes instead of small paint brushes for painting.
Rice is nice
Fill a bin with rice and let your child plunge their hands deep into it. Hide some toys and measuring cups for added fun. Dried beans also work well.
Make your own
I made my own 3-D letters, numbers and words in colours that Margy likes best to teach her to read. You can laminate or cover in plastic so they last longer.
Activity frame for wheelchairs
The frame from a small child’s swing makes a great frame to hang stuff from to go over a wheelchair as it is stable and can be folded for easy storage.
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.
Use guttering to make a chute to play skittles.
Foil play mat
We use a foil emergency blanket as play matt for Matty – it is great for sensory stimulation as it is shiny and makes nice sounds.
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!
Paint with smells
I like to do ‘smelly painting collages’ with my daughter. Using mint sauce, coffee, chocolate, sherbert etc. We’ve also tried making a pulp from grass by adding a bit of water to it. My daughter is visually impaired so it really helps bring the world to her.
Weighted blankets and objects can exert a calming influence on some people. Try taking an old favourite stuffed toy and filling its paws and tummy with curtain weights, nuts and bolts or other heavy items. Great for sitting on people’s laps when they’re feeling jumpy.
We made our own sensory scrapbook. We stuck sensory bits and pieces alongside our own photos in an album to make it personal.
Make your own film
Use your camcorder 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.
Put on the music and have a dance competition.
Toy libraries are great for borrowing special needs toys and equipment. Much cheaper than buying. To find a toy library near you, contact the National Association of Toy and Leisure Library’s Helpline Services: tel: 020 7255 4616 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sensory flour games
I mix cornflour and water together and it makes a great sensory play tool. Also put flour into a plastic bag and seal it with some food colouring. As it gets squished round it will change colour.
We have installed a UV light in our dark hallway and use fluorescent cards with shapes cut out to stimulate Ruby who is visually impaired. As she gets older we are turning shapes into letters, words, numerals, books.
Put good smells in paint or playdough to make it more interesting.
We’d love to hear your cheap ‘n cheerful tips for Easter. Please share your own ideas in the comments box below.