- Does the toy provide multi-sensory exploration (i.e. sounds, lights, textures)?
- Is the toy high contrast (i.e. black and white)?
- Does the toy make use of my child's vision?
- Is the toy easy for my child to manipulate?
Babies:All babies are beginning to explore their environment through reaching, grasping, and sensory exploration. Here are some toy suggestions to help your baby with a visual impairment to reach, grasp, and explore his environment.
Oball Shaker is also great for little hands to grasp and contains beads to make a shaking sound.
- Rings encourage grasping in babies and a variety of textures are great for sensory exploration. I also like that these Sassy rings have a high contrast ring to hold the rings together as one unit.
- A kick and play piano is great for encouraging leg movements and provides auditory and visual feedback by playing music and lighting up when activated.
- I love the high contrast provided by this Wimmer-Ferguson play mat by Manhattan Toy. The contrast provided by black and white is great for all babies and especially babies with a visual impairment.
- The Wimmer Ferguson series by Manhattan Toy also has these great high contrast shapes. The pyramid jingles, the ball crinkles, and the cube rattles.
-While we're on the topic of high contrast (are you seeing a theme here?), we can't forget board books for babies. Shasta, the mother of a child with cerebral palsy, has written and published a board book, Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White. As a bonus, all proceeds go toward her son's therapy expenses!
Toddlers:Toddlers continue to learn through their senses and they are also on the move! Here are toys that will help your toddler learn and grow.
- Use these textured squares to work on matching and sorting. The textures are great for children with visual impairment and if you are handy with a sewing machine, you could save some money and easily make something similar yourself.
- The knobby texture of the Gertie Ball makes it great for toddlers with a visual impairment learning ball skills.
- A talking puzzle like this one from Melissa and Doug is great for to help toddlers identify shapes by touch and sound. As an added bonus, this puzzle also includes Braille. If you're interested in more puzzles with Braille, Melissa and Doug have a series of puzzles that contain Braille.
alphabet blocks are a great introduction to the letters. There is also a math set that might be more appropriate for slightly older children.
- Toddlers love to look at books. For the toddler with a visual impairment, there are a number of fantastic touch and feel books available for a more engaging experience.
Preschoolers:Preschoolers continue to grow and learn. This is also the age when children become more interested in building things.
- A Floor Mat Piano, such as this one from WinFun, will encourage your child to get up and dance around.
- A trampoline with a handle will help your preschooler develop jumping and gross motor skills.
- This ball with jinging bells inside provides great auditory feedback for children learning ball skills.
- I mentioned that preschoolers like to build. The textured surface of Bristle Blocks make them great for children with a visual impairment to manipulate.
- These SENSEsational Alphabet Touch and Feel Picture Cards are a multi-sensory tool for learning the alphabet.
- Scented Markers make coloring a multi-sensory activity for children with a vision impairment.
School-aged Children:When children reach elementary school age, they begin playing more games with their peers. Here are some game and toy suggestions suitable for children with a visual impairments.
- Bop It is a fun game that relies on listening skills, as it gives verbal commands for various movements (e.g. twist it, pull it, spin it).
- This set of dominoes has raised dots, making it easier for a child with a visual impairment to access the dominoes.
- These playing cards contain both large print and Braille.
Braille Board Games
- In addition to large print playing cards, a few board games and card games are available in versions that contain large print and/or Braille, including Scrabble, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Go Fish, Old Maid, and Uno.
Looking for even more ideas? Be sure to check out my Amazon Store!
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