OOutdoor play and gross-motor play are important for all children. Some children have difficulty using equipment or engaging in play, but there are many things you can do to help them. The VLS Cognitive Development course offers more information about adapting your space for learners with disabilities.
Try the following to help children be successful in the outdoor space.
- If a child cannot reach the pedals on a trike, attach blocks to the pedals to make them taller.
- Try attaching a soft Velcro loop or strap to bike pedals if a child is unable to keep their feet on the pedal.
- Ask a volunteer or your maintenance team to build a ramp and handrails on all equipment and at all doorways.
- Provide smaller, individual buckets of water and sand for children who are unable to reach the table. Place the buckets on the child’s wheelchair tray, a lower table, or the ground.
- If a child cannot catch the balls other children throw, make the balls easier to catch. You can let a little air out of the balls or buy different kinds of balls. Koosh balls, beach balls, textured balls, balls with bumps or ridges, and soft cloth balls can all be easier to catch.
- If a child has trouble seeing the ball, consider purchasing balls with bells inside them.
Relationships with Peers and Adults:
- Consider pairing a child with disabilities with a social peer. Encourage children to pull one another in a wagon, wait for each other at the bottom of the slide, and play buddy games together.
- Plan your staffing patterns so an adult can stay near a child who might need extra help.
- Encourage children to help one another.
Making the Environment Work:
- Use colorful tape or chalk to help children know where to play with certain toys (e.g., make a track for trikes).
- Set up a sensory zone where children can explore a variety of textures, smells, sights, and sounds.
- Ensure that there are quiet spaces to go to if a child gets overwhelmed.