Though restaurants, parks, beaches and retail establishments across the nation are slowly re-opening, the threat of COVID-19 remains very real. Due to the virus, most summer camps will be closed and many families have postponed long-awaited trips. This summer, it just seems safer to stay close to home.
If you’re feeling disappointed and tearing your hair out wondering how on earth you’re going to keep the kids occupied, you’re not alone.
To make the best of a bad situation, over the next few weeks, Enabling Devices will be sharing ideas on how to keep the young ones entertained and the grown-ups from losing their cools!
In this week’s post, we’ll explore ways to enjoy water play without exposing your family to large groups of people.
Water play is therapeutic for all people and especially for those with disabilities. According to Pathways.org, water play — even in a small kiddy pool or bathtub — offers helps with developing balance, strength, coordination, communication and social skills. Fortunately, you can reap all these benefits even without a beach or large swimming pool at your disposal. Here are some suggestions:
If outdoor space is available, consider purchasing an inflatable above ground swimming pool. There are many options ranging from small kiddy pools that can accommodate one or two toddlers to large above ground pools that can accommodate a whole family. Depending upon the size and type of pool you purchase, prices range from $6 – $150. As with all water activities, never leave children unsupervised — even for a second.
Backyard splash pads
Great fun for everyone, splash pads or splash mats make water play more accessible for young wheelchair users. Typically, these products spray water from hoses at their bases. Since they generally have nonslip bottoms that don’t hold standing water, they tend to be safer than traditional swimming pools. You’ll still need to watch your kids while they splash though.
According to educator, inclusion advocate and special needs parent Mara Kaplan, splash pads “are inherently inclusive. There are no access issues for people who use mobility devices. They are basically flat and they offer brushed concrete, non-skid surfaces, which ensure steady footing. I have seen parents cover their child’s wheelchairs with plastic bags and then they are ready to go.”
Backyard splash pads range in price from about $25 – $150. There are also professionally designed, permanent splash pads that cost a great deal more.
Water play toys aren’t exclusively for outdoor use, but if the weather’s good, you can save some cleanup time by taking them outside. Enabling Devices makes lots of toys that introduce children to the joys of water play. Here are just some of these:
Big Water Toy (#9000) This versatile toy creates a wonderful tactile experience. Just fill its tray, hit your switch and watch as water squirts out of the toy’s removable hose. Attach the hose to a pail or sand toy, water the plants, sail toy boats, or have a toy car wash!
Harbor Breeze #3288 Like a day at the beach, our therapeutic fan sends cool breezes as it plays lively music and produces soothing sounds like crashing waves, buoy bells and seagulls
Under the Sea #9013 This water toy is bound to be a hit. Use two of your switches for two different activations: one that makes the water swirl around the colorful pond; the other that turns on lights and music
Adapted Garden Spray #9083 Introduce your child to horticulture by letting her water the garden with this adaptable hose that attaches to her wheelchair.
Good old-fashioned water fun
Waiting for your new water toys to arrive? Meanwhile, kids can still have a great time playing with water balloons, blowing bubbles and getting sprayed with the garden hose. Or try these easy, fun and educational activities from Unlimited Play:
- Fill one container with mud and water, and another with soap and water. Let your kids get their favorite toy figurines dirty in one bin, and then scrubbed clean with a sponge or brush in the other.
- Freeze pool or bath toys in a bowl of water. Then, have your child pour warm water over the ice block until it melts and the toy is free.
Rainy-day water play
When the weather is frightful, your children can still enjoy water play indoors. Says Ilana Danneman of Friendship Circle: “Have your child help wash dishes and get the benefit of not only water contact but also new skills and pride in helping out (even if you do have to wash them again). You can also get a sand or water table and some space sand to use for a great hands-on sensory experience. And don’t forget to maximize your bathtub or shower as a place for a great sensory workout.”