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Lessons and materials

Sensory Areas: Toys

These ideas for theme-based multi-sensory activities help children with visual impairments to develop literacy and numeracy skills, as well as visual, auditory, and tactile awareness.

By Gwyn McCormack

Many young children who are blind or visually impaired benefit from exposure to new concepts and materials through a theme-based approach.  On this page you will find lots of ideas for exploring the world of toys with children with visual impairments, including those with additional disabilities.  Students can develop skills in the areas of tactile exploration, visual awareness, sounds, taste, smell, literacy and numeracy.  

Let us know what ideas you have for exploring toys!


  • Use toys which move, have sound, have an element of surprise. 
  • Squeaky toys, Jack in the box, puppets, mechanical toys, bendy toys, musical toys, wind up toys. 
  • Use glitter balls, balls of different sizes, fluorescent balls, to roll on child’s tray. 
  • Use spinning tops, yo –yo’s, (use ones with sound and light.)
  • Use laser beams with flashing lights. 
  • Feel different toys – fluffy animal toys, Lego people, dolls, action man, toy cars, planes, buses etc. 
  • Use black umbrella to hang series of small toys from – e.g. bright coloured balls, fluorescent, glittery toys.
  • Use toys to encourage children to feel shapes, shape posting boxes, stacking activities, hammering activities – wooden pegs in peg board.

  • Have a toy’s tea party.  
  • Make cornflake crispies for tea party
  • Feel jelly for tea party.
  • Blow party blowers
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Streamers blowing. 


(some of these ideas would also be used in the tactile section also)
  • Shine torch on toys, change colour of light, with coloured cellophane, Perspex.
  • Make jelly, cornflake crispies.
  • Make party hats for the children and the toys to wear at the party. 
  • Add colourful, contrasting, textured shapes, to the hats. 


  • Sound made by toys when strings pulled, buttons pressed, wound up.
  • Sounds made by musical toys.
  • Use toy musical instruments


  • Taste jelly, cornflake cakes, orange juice. 
orange juice



  • Smell chocolate in cornflake cakes, smell orange in orange juice.  
  • Smell jelly flavour


  • Make a story up to tell the children about each of the toys that they have invited to the tea party:
Jelly On The Plate 
Jelly on the plate, 
Jelly on the plate. 
Wibble, wobble, wibble, wobble, 
Jelly on the plate.


  • Count cakes, count jellies
  • Explore shapes of cakes, shapes of hats, matching shapes and textures used on hats. 
  • Sort biscuits and cakes by shape. 
toys collage
There are more shared ideas at


Two craft flowers
Activity and strategy

Planting Rainbows

The Love Bugs cover with the title and textured hearts.
Activity and strategy

Love Bugs Book

Plant in a small container with a large adapted visual on top in red for ease of viewing. A water sprayer is next to it.

Sensory Gardens for Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments: Cultivating Inclusive Learning Environments