5 Sensory Games for Blind Grandparents and Sighted Children

Grandmother and child on tideline
Claire Farnham/Spring Studio

Children have the most amazing imaginations when it comes to playing games. But they can be lost for ideas when it comes to asking their grandma or grandpa to play a visual game when their grandparents have low vision.

How will you read their favorite book or toss the dice and play a board game? How can you play outdoor games when you can’t even see where they are, let alone a fast-flying ball?

You have to get creative and proactive by offering alternative ways to turn playtime into a fun time for both of you!

Show the little darlings  that grandma or grandpa can still think up a great game or two by using the other senses.

Children love spending time playing outdoors. The great advantage for you as a person with low vision is that you can share a love of outdoor life too.

Here are 5 outdoor games and activities you can easily do with low vision and with your inquisitive sighted grandchild.

Sensory Game 1: Garden Collage Fun

One garden activity is collecting different textured foliage for them to create a tactile collage.

Cruise around your garden together and chat about the different textures and smells of your plants. Have a small container your grandchild can use to place a collection of leaves, twigs, petals etc, for them to use to create their own 3D collage.

Once they have chosen their materials, provide them with a large piece of paper or cardboard and glue, and let them paste their sensory masterpiece.

Another very simple yet fascinating activity kids love to do is to plant seeds or seedlings into a garden patch. To make this even more exciting, offer quirky containers like an old gum boot filled with potting mix and let your grandchild plant a flower seedling. The next time they visit your garden, they can see it flourishing and can make another tactile collage with the leaves from their special plant.

Sensory Game 2: A Scavenger Hunt with a Twist

Children love scavenger hunts so why not set them a challenge: to find 25 plants in a garden or on a nature walk and write down the special sense they used to find it. For example, herbs can be found by using the sense of smell. An acorn or pine cone lying on the ground might be found by the sense of touch.

The fun part of this scavenger hunt is for your grandchild to get an understanding of using the other senses like you do to ‘see’ the world.

Sensory Game 3: Nature Walk with a Smart Challenge

If you live close to a park or can go on a nature walk with your grandchild, try this engaging activity. Take their hand and as you chat and walk together, ask them to find something for every letter of the alphabet. Children love this kind of challenge.

If objects seem hard to list alphabetically, make up your own rules. Use a descriptive word first. For instance, you might find a ‘Blue’ sky, or a ‘Soft’ feather or a ‘Narrow’ bridge.

Take advantage when you are both on this nature walk to gather a few items your grandchild can collect to add to their own ‘sensory story-box (an activity described in part 1 of this series).

Sensory Game 4: Hearing Shadows

This is a playful twist on an old children’s favorite. Try playing ‘I spy with my little ear’.

Instead of relying on visual clues which you might find impossible to do, turn this game around to one you can fully participate in.

Again, go outdoors, to a park, a large garden, sandy beach or set off for a sound-walk close to wherever you live. Take turns with your sighted grandchild to listen and set the challenge of ‘I spy with my little ear’.

This game is particularly fun to do with younger children who are not yet at school. Their parents will love you for being able to grab their child’s attention in times of necessary distraction when you are out and about together.

Sensory Game 5: Create a Fantasy Cubbyhouse

All kids love to explore fantasy worlds so why not create that special place for them in your own home. Under an outdoor table or other large object, drape a colorful blanket or interesting fabric to create a magical spot just for them.

Pack a picnic basket of treats and show them the way to this very special space.

Add even more excitement to the game by asking your grandchild how they envisage this fantasy world that you are venturing into together: an underwater garden, an outer planet, an island of pirates, a secret fairy kingdom?

When  you have everything you need for this magical journey to begin, get comfortable on a couple of cushions (with picnic treats) and start spinning the best tales you and your grandchild dare to imagine!

Interacting as a grandparent with low vision, is really a matter of child’s play.

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