Learning Resources

Learning Resources produce and sell engaging hands-on resources for successful learning in the home and in the classroom. The company has around 30 years of experience designing learning resources for children to explore the world with an inspiring hands-on approach.

We like their products and decided to add a range to the special-needs-toys website; look for the Learning Resources page or use the search button to find them.

Their products are typically made from sturdy plastic in bright colours that will immediately appeal to children. They also have a superb squashy Playfoam and a great use of tactile sensory feedback to help children learn about letters and numbers.

There is also some subtlety behind the colours, designs and ideas that is also appealing. Think about it and you’ll see there is the potential for these toys to help children with conditions typically found in the disabled or special needs community.

Here are two examples of Learning Resource products available to order through our website (1) Playfoam and (2) Tactile Letters and Tactile Number Sets

Learning Resource’s Playfoam

Image of Playfoam by Learning Resources
8 piece pack of Playfoam
Image of two children moulding shapes with Playfoam
Playfoam

Mess-free creative fun that is what Playfoam is all about and does very well.

The stuff never dries out so children can shape it then re-shape it into something else, squash it, roll it into a ball, bash it flat or whatever. It an be used straight from the pack and thanks to its no-stick formula there is not cleaning-up afterwards.

All children will like Playfoam but I think it would be a very good toy for a child with limited vision and relies of tactile sensory feedback for enjoyment.

Learning Resource’s Tactile Letters and Tactile Numbers

Image of the Tactile Letter S being traced by a child's finger
Child tracing the shape of the letter ‘S’

Moulded into the surface of each figure is a raised dimple that traces the shape of the letter, number and operator. One side of the dimple is ‘smooth’ but the other side is ‘rough’. When the child traces their finger correctly along the shape they feel the smooth side of the dimple but if traced wrongly they feel the roughness. The tactile sensory feedback they experience helps them recognise the correct way the letter or number should be traced and drawn. A round dot tells the child the starting point for tracing the figure.

Look closely at the picture and you will see the ‘dot’ (close to the little finger) and dimples along the surface of the letter ‘S’. This is very clever use of sensory feedback to help the child develop letter and number recognition.

I think many children will benefit from this approach to learning letter and number recognition. Would these Tactile Letters and Numbers sets be helpful to those children with a tendency towards dyslexic conditions – quite possibly yes.

Use this short-cut to go to the page showing all of the Learning Resource products we have available to order.

We also publish advice on Choosing Sensory Toys – check out the page on the website.

Flappy the Elephant

Image of Flappy the Elephant switch adapted toy available on Excitim's website
Flappy the Elephant switch adapted toy

Flappy the Elephant is the newest animated plush toy we have adapted for children who use switches with their toys. Flappy has two play functions and both are switch accessible with any standard (3.5mm) switch. Both functions can also be activated by pressing the switch pads in his feet.

Connect and press the first switch to make Flappy engage with your child and encourage them to play a game of peek-a-boo. He plays this game by using his ears to repeatedly cover and uncover his eyes. Effectively hiding behind his big ears.

Connect and press the second switch and Flappy sings his song about his flappy ears. It’s a lovely tune; try encouraging you child to learn the words and sing along with Flappy.

Here’s a short video we made to show what Flappy the Elephant does and how he will encourage play. (Please note: the video is a shortened version of the peek-a-boo game and his song)

In order to make it easier to find similar toys on the website we group most of the animated toys in the ‘Talking, Singing & Dancing’ section on the website as well as in the ‘age appropriate category of 3 to 6 years’ and if they are newly featured also in the ‘newest switch adapted, sensory and tech toys’ section.

Do let us know what you think of Flappy the Elephant. Would you like to see more videos? Do they help you to judge whether these sorts of toys are appropriate for your child? Happy viewing. Mike

Switch adapted train set

This is the fourth switch adapted train set we have added to the catalogue – we just like trains.

Switch adapted train set based on Marklin My World Eurostar high speed locomotive
Switch adapted train – Eurostar locomotive

This time it’s based around the ‘Marklin My World’ Eurostar, German ICE and French TGV high speed locomotives. The track set is a large figure of eight layout that sits on the top of a play mat.

Each set has a red handset controller that makes the train go forward or in reverse at three speed settings. It controls other functions such as sounds and lights as well as the emergency stop!

Switch accessible controller for Marklin My World train sets
Switch accessible controller

The handset is good but we though it likely the buttons on the controller may be too small for some children and with this in mind we set about building a switch accessible control box for switch users.

It’s easy to use: connect a single switch – any 3.5mm switch will be fine – to the control box and away you go. Connecting the switch turns on the battery power to the control box and the first switch press makes the locomotive go forwards. It continues until the switch is pressed again: that makes it stop.

The track sits comfortably on the play mat and the town and country scenes add interest and the possibility for imaginative play with improvised bridges, tunnels, houses, farm animals, trees etc.

Railroad-Play-Mat
Railroad play mat

Having two controllers in the box means a switch user and a sibling, friend or even a dad will be able to play together with this switch adapted train set. That must be good. Watch this short video to get a better idea of how it works and visit the webpage for more information.

These are the links to the German ICE and French TGV high speed locomotives on the website.

What do you think: is this the best ever switch adapted train set you have found on the web? Get in touch via our contact us page if you have any questions.