During long breaks from school we're always looking for something fun (and preferably educational) for Ivan to do. I like to search through Pinterest and parenting blogs looking for fun summer-time activities, but it can be very difficult to find projects or outings that are appropriate for a young child who is blind and has multiple disabilities.
So we adapt the activities that we find online, ask our friends for ideas and make up some of our own. Here are some ideas for you to try with your child this summer....
- Park: If there's a nice park or playground nearby, then you'll want to head out and try the slides and swings. Ivan has so much fun at the park, but I must admit that it can get boring pretty quickly for us parents. We need a little more variety.
- Bikes: We like to take Ivan out on his Rifton adaptive tricycle. He can ride his bike up and down the sidewalk and maybe some of the neighborhood kids will come out to ride with him!
- Picnics: Anything that involves eating works for Ivan. A picnic at the park is a nice change of pace.
- Water Park: Now we're getting into summer! Ivan loves the water and has a blast scooting around the water park.
- Slip 'n Slide: If you don't have any water parks (or beaches) nearby, you might want to try getting a Slip 'n Slide for your yard. They're easy to set up and if your child doesn't like cold water, you could always connect the hose to an indoor sink and pump in some warm water instead.
- Pool: If you have access to a pool, then you'll probably want to spend most of your summer soaking and floating. You could also try playing some games in the water that might help with motor planning and muscle development. Check out this article for more ideas.
- Water Play: Even if you don't have a pool to splash in, you can still have fun throwing a home-made sponge ball around the yard.
- Gardening: We love to get out in the garden and Ivan can help by touching the dirt, watering and of course eating the veggies (he likes the snap peas)! Check out more gardening ideas here.
- Visit a Farm: Farms are great places to learn about trees, plants and animals. Lots of farms have child-friendly programs with petting zoos or pick-your-own days where you can pick fruits and veggies yourself. For more farm ideas, read this.
- Ball Pit: Ball pits are easy to make and you can play with them inside or outside. Just fill up an inflatable baby pool with plastic balls and you're all set. If you want to stay inside, you can put the balls in your bath tub.
In the Community
- Grocery Shopping: Maybe you think of grocery shopping more as a chore than an activity, but if your child enjoys riding in the shopping cart and can "help" with the shopping, then you might as well turn it into something fun! Here's a video of Ivan helping out at the grocery store.
- Candy Shop: If you're lucky enough to have a candy shop in the neighborhood then you're in for a treat (literally)! Our candy shop puts our samples of their products so we can walk around, try all the flavors, then pick our favorite to bring home. Ivan loves this outing!
- Visit a Museum or Aquarium: Children's or science museums and aquariums are very hands on and often have lots of things for kids to touch. Entry fees can be expensive, so look for deals in your local newspaper or library. Our library offers discounted passes in the summer for families.
- Deliver Cookies to the Neighbors: We like to do this in the winter on cold snowy days, too. Bake up some cookies with your child in the kitchen, pack them up in small containers, then deliver them to your neighbors with a little note. If your neighbors are home they just may invite you in for some tea and share your cookies!
Indoor Fun for Hot Days
- Playing with Fans: Sitting in front of a fan can be a fun game too. It's cool and Ivan likes to feel the breezes. We tied ribbons and a couple small balloons to our fan so Ivan can feel how the wind moves them around.
- Making Ball Soup: Get a big pot, fill it with water and throw in some plastic balls. Now you're making ball soup! We give Ivan big wooden spoons and a ladle to mix his soup and he enjoys putting his hands in cold water on a hot day.
- Playing with JELLO: Make some JELLO following package directions and have it set in a shallow cookie sheet. When it's done you have a big, cold slippery surface that can be fun to touch or even dig into. Try hiding some toys in the JELLO and see if you child can find them!
Messy & Textured Play
- Cooking: Getting in the kitchen is messy and fun! Here are some ideas.
- Sticky Art: Stickers and packing tape are some of Ivan's favorite things to play with. He loves that sticky feel. Here's an idea for a sticky collage art project.
- Sticky Box: And speaking of sticky, what other sticky things can we play with? We've created a sticky box full of squishy and sticky toys that Ivan can experiment with.
- Texture Balloons: This is one of our favorite texture games... fill balloons with different textures (like flour or beans) and see if you can guess what's inside. Click here for more balloon ideas.
- Tree Art: While you're at the park, you can collect some leaves, grass or bark from a tree. When you get home glue your find to a piece of paper to create your own tree collage.
- Finger Paint with Food: Want to get messy and try some painting but your child puts everything in his mouth? Well, then, why not finger paint with applesauce and pudding?
- Make a Touch Book: Touch books are fun ways to highlight different textures. Use objects you've got laying around the house (like foil, tape or fabric remnants) and glue to the pages of your very own book. Here's the how to.
- Baked Cotton Balls: This is a fun kitchen experiment that results in a weird ball that is hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Learn how to make your own baked cotton balls.
Fun with Music
- Outdoor Concerts: Many towns host free family-friendly concerts in the summer. Early evening concerts can be fun if you bring along a picnic dinner (assuming your child can stay up that late)!
- Have a Dance Party: You really don't need more than some music and a little beat to have your own dance party. Don't worry if you can't dance - we can't either but we still rock out!
- Music Games: Music therapy is a very specific way to use music to encourage development. You may not be a music therapist, but you can play musical games that are fun and developmentally appropriate for you child. Find some music ideas here.
- Make Musical Instruments: Making your own musical instruments is part arts and crafts and part music, all rolled into one. Browse through these articles for some instrument ideas.
Some Quieter Games
- Story Boxes: Grab a book with lots of items described in it (If You Take a Mouse to School is a good one), collect those items in a box, then read the story to your child while touching the items. For more story box ideas, click here.
- Video Games: Video games can get a bad reputation, but they can also be educational and fun! Check out this list of video games for blind kids.
- Can Puzzle: You can make your own can puzzle by cutting holes in the top of a coffee can in the shapes of your child's blocks. This way you can control how easy or how difficult the puzzle is. For the how to, click here.
- Sensory Play Area: Want to make a fun and inviting spot for your child to learn about toys and reaching? This sensory play area can be a great spot for you child to cool down in the summer while still working on developmental goals.
- Mini Play Area: Don't have enough room (or the time and patience) to create a big sensory play area? That's fine... why not make a mini play area instead?
- Sensory Activity Centers: And for those of you who want to get really creative in making a sensory area, check out these ideas for building sensory activity centers.
- Themed Sensory Bins: Sensory bins are trays or plastic boxes filled with items that all relate to each other. Our newest bin, for example, is filled with sand, some sea shells and rocks, small buckets and a shovel. What's the theme? The beach! Sensory bins are really only limited by your imagination.