Memories of summer are already fading, and days are shorter, darker and colder – which of course makes it harder to keep children of all ages and abilities occupied and entertained. But there’s lots you can do either outdoors or inside on rainy days that can help them busy as well as have fun and boost their development and learning skills at the same time.
When the weather is dry and the air crisp, it’s perfect for spending a couple of hours outside where you can take a nature walk – no matter where you live. Look at different shapes and textures as you go, while searching for interesting pebbles, stones and leaves to collect, as well as anything else that takes your fancy. These can be used in projects later that day or when the weather turns as leaves can be painted and used to print on paper or stuck on with glue to make pictures. For messy, sensory play you can also paint your child’s hand and let them add their own prints among the leaves.
The pebbles and stones can also be painted with different colours, shapes or letters or tuned into insects such as a bee, ladybird, or butterfly, which will encourage children to use their fine motor skills.
An autumn sensory bin can also be made for those times when the weather is just too bad to go outside, or you want a low-key play activity indoors. All you need is a box, bucket or bin you can fill with lots of different things – think shapes, scents and texture, so pinecones, different shaped leaves, conkers, dried apple and orange slices, popcorn, cinnamon sticks and coffee beans are all ideal. Then fill the bin with torn bits of paper so your chid can hunt through them to find different items.
Making a sensory bag is also a great idea for quiet times – fill a bag with paint (red and yellow might be nice for autumn) and baby oil, throw in some glitter or some other small objects like rice and seal it up inside another freezer bag. It might also be a good idea to tape up the top too! These are good to keep little hands busy and the squish of the paint in the plastic can feel very soothing.
Sensory smell and tactile tours are a great way to introduce any child with sight loss to different scents and shapes, and this can be done anywhere you find yourself, including at home. All you need to do is safely take your child around to smell and feel all the different areas in their environment – good and bad. Talk about the smells and whether you like them or not. By the ocean you can smell the salty tang of the sea and feel the sand, in a park you can smell grass and the flowers, feeling the different shapes and textures of petals and how the barks of different trees feel.
At home the kitchen has lots of different aromas, especially if you have been cooking or baking. Start with the fridge and store cupboards, smell (and taste!) what may be in there – from cheeses and chocolate to any fruit or vegetables are stored there, as well as jams, spreads, pastes and juices. Store cupboards can offer up a wide variety of spices, sauces and oils. Bedrooms will have perfumes, fabric conditioner on clothes and bed sheets, while the bathroom offers up shower gels and bath salts as well as body lotions. As an extra sensory activity you can feel the different consistencies and textures as you go.
To discover more sensory adventures you can take, check out some of the sites below.