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Rag Bag To Buy Bronwen Campbell found this interesting idea in a catalogue that arrived on her doorstep. Thank you Bronwen!

Submersible Light Show for the Bath The AQUA GLOW claims to be an innovative lighting concept that adds shimmering colour to bathwater. It looks a bit like a Big Mack with a large suction cup to mount it on the bath wall. It has two settings. One gives a subtle lightshow of blues/greens/reds and the other stays on the colour of your choice. It is 11cm in diameter and uses 4x AAA batteries. You can buy one for £9.95 or two for £18.90 Could be really good for a bath-time with a difference if the main room lights were not used - and I'm sure readers will come up with a variety of interesting ways in which they can be used.

Sculpting Sand A magical addition to sand and water play! The sand turns to'putty' in water which can be sculpted into underwater creations then turned back into dry sand when lifted out of the water to be stored and reused. 4 pack of assorted colours. Cost: £3.90

You can buy a good range of these amazing neon carpets from Kirton Health Care at

Order from VIVA on 0870 220 3244

Boom Wackers A set of brightly coloured diatonic boom wackers. These tuned percussion tubes are ideal for teaching sound and rhythm. Strike on any hard surface and they vibrate the note printed on them. They are durable tubes for inside or outside use. Eight in a pack. Cost: £19.99 TTS Ltd: Freephone: 0800 318 686 Free fax: 0800 137 525 for catalogue

Soap Flakes The ideal tactile ingredient to stock up on. Environmentally friendly, enzyme and bleach free. Those that use this recommend it for its touchability in the wet play area. Pack of three boxes. Cost: £4.10

Six different colours and fragrances of Aroma Dough in one handy pot: Purple calming lavender, Blue -ylang ylang to ease anxiety, Green refreshing peppermint, Yellow invigorating lemongrass, Orange - cheerful naartje oil, Red - geranium, the perfect tonic. Unique moisturising formula allows a slow release of essential oils for 'hands on' fun therapy! Smooth, silky and responsive to light pressure or heavy kneading for proprioceptive input. For use with children and adults to soothe and help release stress, ease muscle pain and stiffness, encourage post-stroke hand movement or to awaken the senses. Weight: 300g. Cost: £14.95 Available from: ROMPA at

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Rag Bag To Buy Aquarium/Fireplace DVDs

Lakeland Limited Kitchen delights

Even better than the real thing? Soothing imagery of little tropical fishes or a roaring log fire, captured on DVD so that you don't have to clean any tanks or sweep out the grate. You can even choose which aquarium/fire you want to watch. Perfect eye-candy for contemplative loafers everywhere! Ideal for a white board wrap around effect. Cost: £14.99 from

Mathmos Softlight

It may seem a little odd but the creative kitchenware catalogue from Lakeland has lots of items that could become multisensory ideas. The catalogue can be ordered from 015394 8810 or look at Some ideas to look for

• Vanilla extract and vanilla bean pastegreat for a nice smell in the classroom on a pillow or in a smell box- as well as adding to cookery recipes

• The silicone pastry brushes have a very nice

The latest offerings from those clever Mathmos people are three ingenious mouth-blown glass lamps that gently and hypnotically cycle through a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colours. Operated via a touch sensitive switch, you'll wonder what you ever saw in boring old light bulbs. Cost: £29.95 each from

feel and texture

• The holographic cake discs are sparkly coloured attention grabbing discs-a very nice visual circle and there are also holographic cake collars to observe and visually scan -and also make round shapes

• A nice unbreakable storage jar that has 'click close' lids and could be used for all sorts of class storage.

Glow-In-the dark fun Smells by Post Dale Air is an online UK aroma store. They have a vast range of smells in smell tubs or aerosols to really tickle the nose. They will also provide a range of smells for a topic -the French Revolution or a fun fair for example! They are very amenable to smells being created just for you from their vast banks of smell ingredients. Prices are very reasonable.

You can create a wild marble roller coaster with this marble run. It actually glows in the dark for special effect and would be a great game to play in the dark room under ultraviolet light Cost; £14.99 from

The hand held aerosols are seen as mood changers or air fresheners but could also enhance a story sack for example. They do a hot apple pie smell….mmm! Look at

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Rag Bag To Do A Fruity treasure Bowl

Knotting the Story

You will need:

Here is a lovely idea to remember a story or poem. All you will need is a thick long rope. This will be the 'rope story line' with which to remember the sequences of story or poem.

A range of different tomatoes – large – small – cherry – plum – on a vine – dried tomatoes

Here is the rope memory activity

• Read the story or tell the poem. • When it is finished then repeat it and at each new line or thread of the story

a beautiful bowl squares of tissue paper, all different colours

• Tie a knot in the rope as a reminder of what has just happened or changed.

This activity will encourage exploration, anticipation and there is a tasting session included as well. Method:

• Wrap the tomatoes individually in tissue paper • Place in the bowl • Encourage exploration and unwrapping of the

Next time the story is told, use the rope to pass through hands and feel a knot, then pause and try and remember what comes next. The physical tactile pulling of the rope through the hands and the feel of the knot helps the recall of the structure and sequence of the story or poem.

different varieties of tomatoes - taste them, smell them, compare the redness of their skins and feel their different sizes in the palms of hands. Next time, try wrapping a range of citrus fruits such as large oranges, tangerines, lemon, lime, and a grapefruit. Cut some in half for the intense smell. Have a fruit squeezer at hand to squeeze the juice to taste.

Vanilla minty rosy gloopy paint! Here is nice idea seen in the magazine 'Nursery World'. There is a rhyme to go with it too.

It is very simple to paint and follow the words of the rhyme by either:

• Mixing a mint smell (mouthwash is good) in green

'Minty green paint


• Rosewater into icing sugar and mixed for the red

Rubbed on my nose,

paint Dark red paint,

• Vanilla essence into blue paint • Then just enjoy the smells the art and the rhymes such a good smelly sensation

Smelling of rose,

• Especially on the toes!

Vanilla blue paint dripped on my toes'

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Rag Bag To Make Fiddle Toys

The 'Sleevie'

taken from Roma Lears website

Ellie Compton is a teacher at Three Ways School in Bath. Not being frightened to experiment, she has come up with a new invention to keep those objects near at hand for the pupils. Ellie took a large piece of black netting and sewed up one side to make a tube.

Well worth a visit to see her simple ideas and books. Most children are inveterate “fiddlers” and will make use of anything that comes to hand - a lock of hair, a rubber band, a clothes peg, sitting on the beach and dripping the fine sand through their fingers - I suppose even stroking the cat might be considered a “fiddle”. All these activities are examples of pleasant and relaxing tactile experiences. Some children with special needs may not have the mobility or ability to choose a fiddle toy for themselves and could welcome a ready made one. Here is an idea which has stood the test of time and still brings pleasure to certain children:

Tactile Socks These are the very simplest form of feely bags and are made in a jiffy. Simply put something tactile in the toe, tie a knot in the leg and there you are! Toddlers' short socks make even better fiddle bags. They are often brightly coloured and patterned adding to the child appeal. Put in two tactile objects - like a Ping-Pong ball and a potato crisp bag or a nylon pan scrubber and a large button - and stitch across the top. You can create tactile experiences which are just right for the child in mind. These simple feely bags can also be used for throwing games and are excellent for stacking. Children who do not have the control to stack bricks can achieve quite a high mound of socks and all the time they are practising their “grasp and release”.

A good Start to the day Rachel Graham from Tor Bank School in Belfast sent me this picture of her morning chart. It shows different ways in which to portray the weather using fabrics. What a lovely simple idea from Ireland.

She sewed two pieces of elastic at the ends so that it could be tied behind the neck. The pupils wear this unusual garment, which is filled with lots of interesting things to feel. Their hands go in to the netting from each side. Ellie models her invention to demonstrate that it doesn't inhibit movement in any way, only encourage exploration.

-- And you can take your arms out at any time.

A New Way With UV Ellie found that UV light and tracing paper can have magical properties when used together. The UV light is shone directly onto a large sheet of tracing paper. An object is held behind it. At first the object appears bleary. As it is brought nearer the tracing paper, it gradually comes into focus. Great for encouraging looking, anticipation and the imagination What shape is approaching?

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Rag Bag To Make It's a big fluorescent rubber ring.

Yes, its Elliot - the child can also use a large black marker to try and overwrite his name on the tracing paper. Who can put their hand round the shape? Who can kick the middle? Who can draw over it with a black marker? Can you guess what this is?

Treasure baskets

Thank you Ellie (and Bronwen for spotting them) for sending in these unusual ideas It's those flower pictures we made earlier

Treasure baskets are used extensively with young children to enrich their multisensory understanding of the world around. The idea is simplefill a basket with a selection of carefully graded and collected items that usually follow a theme. The theme may be one of the bathrooms and the basket will contain all the little things you would find there. Another basket may contain autumnal objects such as soil, leaves, harvest fruit and dried grasses. There is a lovely little book explaining all about treasure baskets and giving lots of ideas on how to collect and make wonderful treasure baskets of great interest to explore. The title and details are at the end of this piece. Here is an idea for a fabric treasure basket

The fabric treasure basket Take a beautiful natural basket, preferably with a snug lid to add to the excitement. Find a lovely variety of small pieces of fabrics with different colours, textures and thickness to explore. Try fur, wool, denim, silks, cotton, nylon, netting and leather pieces. [Incidentally, sugar paper fluoresces work really well]

Change the fabrics by warming them in the tumble dryer or on the radiator before placing them in the basket. Feel the difference in temperature and texture.

Whose name is approaching?

Another day freeze vinyl and leathers and see how they are discovered in a different way in the basket-brrrrrrrr!

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Rag Bag To Make ??? Wrap around fabrics This is a very easy but effective use of fabrics to create a whole range of different multisensory experiences at many different levels. It is appropriate across the age range and offers focussed experiences in many areas. If you are in an educational setting then this can be planned as part of the curriculum. It can reflect in design and technology, art, maths, stories and social development, for example. Resources You will need a lovely pile of different fabrics of different lengths and widths. They can be different colours textures and weight. Saris are a good idea as they are a good length and come in lovely glittery repeating patterns. Blankets and coloured sheets could be added to the pile. Charity stores are a good source and families may have some fabrics they can donate. I have a wonderful fabric of stuffed sequinned elephants that is bewitching to explore-given to me by a mum! Activities Here are a range of activities to encourage the exploration of the fabrics and to find out about enclosing and holding as well. Sifting and Sorting Put the fabrics in a pile on the floor or in the multisensory room with a beam of projector light illuminating the pile. Encourage everyone to sort and sift through the pile of interesting fabrics. Textures Sort through the fabrics and feel the different textures - smooth, rough, soft bumpy sleek. Which one is your favourite to touch and handle? How do they feel on your feet?

Patterns Follow a pattern in the fabric with your fingers or drag a brush along the pattern. Can you see a repeating pattern, a pattern that looks the same? Linking to nature Look at the fabrics and link them to nature by placing them in sea, sky, earth, trees, flowers and weather piles. Can you make a big fabric picture by arranging them in a scene? Fabric dens The easiest way to make a den is to use a pop up tent and cover in the chosen materials. Extend and add some pegs, string, wide tape, string and sticks to the fabrics. Can they be used to make a den? Can a wheelchair user be surrounded by fabrics and have their very own hideyhole through which to peep? Use green and brown fabrics to make a camouflage den or white fabrics for an igloo. Enclosing and enfolding Play a gentle piece of music, dim the lights or use the multisensory room to provide a cosy place. Find out how it feels to be rolled or enclosed in fabrics, choose the one you like and go for it. Some-times there is a reluctance to do this, respect this and encourage watching and seeing how others react to a cosy enclosing. Slowly unroll and streeeeetch……… Make-believe fabrics Use the fabrics to enable role playing- a cloak, a headscarf, a gauze dress, a wizards robe, a kimono, a sari…

Colours Find the colour you like best, are there different shades of the colour? Can the colours be dumped in to pile of similar colours or into light and dark fabrics?

Wave a fabric flag; hoist a sail on a boat, fly a magic carpet

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Rag Bag To Make ??? Flying fabrics Collect a pile of light silky gauze materials and net curtains. Use the fabrics to fly and wave them in the air use coloured lights to spotlight them in the multisensory room or use ultraviolet light to make them glow in the dark. Attach the light fabrics to a hand or foot with a ponytail band. Tie a string across the space and peg the fabrics to the line, use a fan to help them move and low in the wind. The fabric bargain shop Set up a table, roll and fold materials and place on the table. Display some of the fabrics by pegging them on a line or sorting in colours, measure the pieces and pack in a bag when they are sold.

???? Here is the speech and language therapist at Avenue school in Reading, tinkling her mobile enclosed in an upturned sweetie jar. This is very simple to make with a hole in the bottom of the jar to fix the mobile or tinkly materials securely. What a nice idea! And the easiest of touchy feely bags can be seen hereempty fruit nets filled with silver balls and crunchy silver foil to examine and compare.

Arty fabrics

Crepe paper magic fantasia

• Find fabrics that show art or culture from other countries such as Africa, Pakistan, Japan, Scotland…

You will need lots of crepe paper in a whole rainbow of colours

• Sort fabrics into colourful swatches, the same hues or very different, make a colour rainbow

• Try tie dye to make your own fabrics (use cold water dyes) from plain fabric

weave though the holes in a handy fence

on a piece of white or card

• Take a water spray bottle and gently soak the pieces

• Try fabric crayons for making marks on fabric • Fill a wide topped plastic bottle with swatches of Flo Longhorn -editor

colours and forms as you make a pile of all the colourful scraps

• Everyone can choose some pieces and place them

• Tear strips of fabric, go outside and thread and

fabrics and see how it looks

• Rip and tear the paper into small pieces- look at the

on the paper

• Watch for the magic to happen as you lift off some of the pieces of crepe and see the magic smudgy colours beneath

• Spray again and remove some more • Let it dry and you could laminate it as a special colourful place mat

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Intensive Interaction and the End to Loneliness Our decision to do Intensive Interaction with some of our students 'whatever' came about gradually. I'd heard Dave Hewish speak several years ago and felt relieved that what I'd been arguing for when working with students with profound handicaps was at last being backed up by someone who had a lot more influence than me.

see what was happening. I used the Callier Azusa Scale, and even with no real time to assess her fully, I quickly realised that she needed to be able to understand that another human being was responding to and being led by her, before she could move forward in any way. Not long after this I and one of my support staff went on a course run by Concept Training about Intensive Interaction and we decided, timetable or no timetable, that we would do Intensive Interaction with some of our students.

Namely, that what students needed was close, secure relationships with a few key people so they could become properly bonded and that these relationships needed to be physically close. Without these they would be never be enabled to move from self to relationship with others and have the foundations from which to understand, learn and develop. Also, very important to me, was that they would remain alone, trapped in their own little worlds.

We particularly worked with Marie and Pippa (not her own name). The results have been startling. Marie can now relate not just to me, but to a number of other staff; she instigated her own greeting and small body movement turn taking games. She has actually reached out to other students when put near to them and twice reached for other staffs' faces. When being worked with closely, she will laugh and show real joy. One carer who has known her for years said she has never seen her laugh like that. She has stopped, for some of the time at least, being angry and alone.

Unfortunately, my school, like many others, had no time in the day for anything like Intensive Interaction and I felt dismayed that some students seemed to rush through the day with very little of any meaning touching them. In my group of 9 students with PMLD, I had Marie (not her own name) for a third year. Marie was a student of 13 who operated as if she had a hearing loss, although we know she did not, as well as a severe visual impairment. She had other sensory losses and physical impairments. Although we had made great steps forward, by using structure, routine, objects and body signs, she still remained essentially alone and angry.

Now Intensive Interaction is established, the techniques, which I believe we all inherently have, can be used at any time. Marie is pictured interacting whilst in a cafĂŠ waiting for lunch; Pippa is pictured on the floor, her favourite place. Wendy, the support member of staff who worked with Pippa and formed a very close relationship, said she felt her times of Intensive Interaction with her were the most valuable thing she did throughout the whole week. They were very moving to watch.

One of her IEPs was to try and encourage her to pass us a CD when she wanted music, instead of screaming, rocking and biting her hand. On reflection, this seems a ridiculous aim. However, I still see many IEPs written for students by harassed teachers who haven't the time to assess and get to know their students, even if they were given the tools.

But it's a new year and a new key stage. There's less time and opportunity than even last year to fit in Intensive Interaction. I'm very worried about Marie and Pippa loosing all the communication skills and relationships they'd made. I feel a battle coming on!

So the next step was to look at her and

Karen Buckley

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Book Reviews

Meeting SEN in the curriculum: Geography

Storysacks Two complete storysacks available from LFC

by Diane Swift published by David Fulton 2005

Despatch Line To order: telephone: 08458 506507 or

Cost: £25.00 This book has been produced from a collaboration of teachers and educationalists, all of whom are interested in the teaching of geography to pupils with special needs. It contains sufficient detail of concerns relating to enhancing the teaching of geography to all pupils to provide an effective framework to support school self-improvement. It also lends itself to supporting the learning of individual pupils with a range of specific needs. Chapters include: • Information on school responsibilities towards teaching geography and SEN • Writing an effective policy • Meeting specific pupils needs • Reducing the barriers to learning and increasing access • Monitoring and assessment • Managing support

Ringo The Flamingo was not like the other flamingos in his flock. His legs just didn't work. Yet even though he could not join in all the games with his friends, Ringo was still able to make a valuable contribution to the flock. Read how his bravery and selflessness were rewarded in this sensitively told story by Neil Griffiths. Picture book, Fact book for use with PHSE and Citizenship, 3 adult and 1 baby flamingo. Cost: 53.99

It is a very practical book, supported by a CD ROM which downloads information that will be of value to all teachers looking for ideas to support the teaching of geography to pupils of all ages.

Handa's Surprise in storysack form includes a Handa doll with fruits, animal masks, finger puppets, scenery, tape, parent guide and Mancala (an African Game). Cost: £79.99

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Book Reviews 'Helping young children with steady beat' by Ros Bailey and Lyn Broadbent

At the bottom of the stairs A long time ago in the middle of the night A little old man woke up with a fright! He got out of bead and went down stairs, When he got to the bottom Well what do you think was there? It was ………..(Add an idea here)

More beat babies! Published by Lawrence Publications at or call 01922 643833 This is an anthology of rhymes and jingles especially written to help children to develop beat competency. The ability to maintain a steady beat appears to be necessary to successfully perform any body movements. If you find it difficult to maintain a steady beat then there can be difficulties with both small and large movements. Early beat comes in the form of nursery rhymes and the beat of the body such as the heartbeat. This selection of rhythmic raps comes in three levels of beats from simple to more complex. Drums illustrate them. They aim to develop listening, memory, awareness of words and sounds, attention and concentration. In fact the beginning of many prerequisites to learning all learners need to succeed in learning. The book comes with a 'beat baby' which is a fluffy toy to use as a focus for a session. Here are two raps from the book, see if you can guess the more complex beat.

There is also a book and cd to go alongside the beat Book called 'It's the Beat babies-wiggle, jiggle, count!' which incorporates beat into the early number skill of counting. The cost is £12.00 and obtainable from the above details.

'Seeing through new eyes' Written by Melvin Kaplan 2006 published by Jessica Kingsley This book will be of interest to those interested in autism. It looks at vision therapy through the use of yoked prism lenses which can have an impact on a Childs' behaviour. The lenses help those with a lack of spatial awareness and trouble with coordination. Those working with visual impairment will have a particular interest in the therapies put forward by Melvin Kaplan Price £12.99

Gorilla rap Gorilla in the corner Gorilla up a tree Gorilla jump down With a one, two, three!

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Electronic exchange Feeling Good: Promoting children's mental health This 20 page pack has been produced by the mentality team at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, with the support of organisations such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Shift. It is available to freely download from the website and provides scaffolding to adults talking to young children about their feelings. Although primarily aimed at parents this useful pack has much to offer early years settings and primary schools.

Sound Effects Some information from Pete wells, the most amazing man with IT and story telling! Pete Wells has stumbled across a handy website called It has all kinds of looped ambient sounds which can help transform your classroom/sensory studio or whatever into somewhere even cooler! Examples include Jungle, Firework Display, crashing waves, seagulls, the woods, along the shore. You can find the site here: Tip: Don't listen to “Big waterfall” when you need the toilet! – Thanks Pete

A new web site for a good selection of small toys, makeup and costumes can be found on Smiffy's website. The also have shops to visit too. Look at

Two fun websites for primary pupils with lots of action and excellent graphic are and full of counting to ten in may different ways This website has lots of adapted materials especially symbols for reading. Have a look at 'Billy goats gruff' for a good story.

Pete Wells has posted 4 new sensory stories (complete with presentations and funky interactive comprehension exercises) onto Portland School's wonderful website Theya re all excellent for very special learners:

• My Day at Loch Ness - find out why Nessie has been so illusive all these years

• Persius and Medusa - heroes, gorgons and garden gnomes!

• My Amazing Photographs - witness the amazing photographs taken when a forgetful grandpa loans his grandson a magical old camera… • Gobbin Hood and his Merry Phlegm - Warning! This story is absolutely disgusting and should only by used by very brave teachers with warped senses of humour! See them at:

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Chillout Zone – Teenagers Story Sacks with a difference

Sweet Violet Cream

A story sack with a difference is one produced by lfc ltd. It is suitable for personal social and health education and is based on the picture book 'Ringo the Flamingo'. Ringo is not like the other flamingos as his legs do not work, but he overcomes his disability by selflessness. A fact book on disability is also included.

This idea taken from The Australian ECAPSS newsletter in April2005 is by Susan Fowler. Really neat for teenagers to make for a minienterprise or surprise gift for someone special. Nice to smell tooThanks Sue! People love the smell and textures when making this cream. It also makes a fantastic gift.

This sack would be great for taking to an inclusive setting. It costs £52.99 and you can find details on 08458 506507 or

Healthy bodies FAIR multimedia produce high quality effective health information for people with disabilities. The materials are in the form of a booklet or multimedia pack which comes with a CD ROM. They are very reasonable in cost (booklets at 50p each and CD ROM's at £3.50) and would form an excellent resource for PSHE. The titles include a range of health issues and include: • Men's guide to keeping clean (and women's as well) • Guide to thinking about sex • Shaving card • Guide to a healthy month • Guide to examining your testicles • Guide to examining your breasts • Living with cancer Catalogue details on or Tel: 0131 662 1962

Sweet Violet cream You will need • 1 teaspoon beeswax • 3 tablespoons almond • Heatproof bowl • Small saucepan • Newspaper • _ teaspoon corn flour • 2 tablespoons boiling water • Electric whisk • 6 drops violet essential oil (your aromatherapist will have this) • Presentation jar • Labels Method You can do this part before the session-make sure it does not reset though! • Melt the beeswax in the almond oil in a bowl over the saucepan of hot water • When melted, remove bowl and stand on folded newspaper • Pass around solid beeswax, almond oil and corn flour to smell and feel • Add corn flour to the bowl, stir well and then add the hot water gradually whilst beating with the whisk • Whisk until creamy • Put a drop of violet essential oil on a cotton wool ball and pass around to smell • Add the violet oil to the mixture and continue to whisk until the cream is cool • Pass around some of the cream to feel and smell • Pour the rest into the presentation jar and leave to set • Label with list of contents or make up own labels with pressed flowers Susan Fowler

Issue 68 Spring 2006


The Trailrail – Angela Cooke This article was sent to Information Exchange by Angela Cooke at Milestone School-many thanks for sending details of an unusual project. This is an article about the Trailrail, a guidance system that enables pupils to safely navigate their way around the school and understand their surroundings. Trailrail is an original, purpose-designed, needs-led, handrail that has been tailored to the needs of pupils, developed in collaboration with school staff. This is how it happened. The physical structure of the new school was created from a combination of original, converted and new buildings to form one continuous, ground level school. The completed school has over 30 classes, specialist subject classrooms, administration offices, medical rooms, therapy work rooms, staff resource centre, library, halls hydrotherapy pool, spa pool, multi-sensory environments, soft play room and various other areas which change identity according to pupil needs. The school became very large, with an extensive and complex network of connecting corridors and this motivated a member of staff to explore the possibility of installing some form of handrail throughout the building, designed to enable pupils, and indeed visitors, to journey from reception around all the key stage areas and be returned safely back to the front door again. Having researched the availability of a ready-made rail to meet the school's needs and finding nothing available, it was decided to try and design and install a

handrail, tailored to the pupil's needs and the complex environment of Milestone School. The school worked with a local company called Caesarcraft of Cambridge, Gloucestershire, who were experienced in creating products for the special needs market and together they developed the project. Slowly, the trailrail took shape and it was designed to provide: • A supportive handrail for pupils in emergent stages of walking • A continual tactile route to follow for pupils with visual impairment or pupils on the autistic spectrum • Sensory, tactile islands along the way for focus, definition, exploration, stimulation • Information stations to identify individual rooms and places • Increased opportunity for awareness of direction and personal location • Physical stability and security for vulnerable pupils by giving a constant, continuous grasp-hold support Having got this far, the project went into a period of gestation while other priorities took precedence and it became inactive for a while. Then in 2003, the trailrail project was back in focus and the task of obtaining external funding had to be dealt with. Letters were sent to several companies located in the area who were known to support projects within the community, asking for part or full funding towards the £10,000 installation costs and, to our delight, Lincoln Financial Group or Barnett Way, Barnwood, Gloucester responded and generously offered to sponsor the total amount of £10,000!

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The Trailrail – continued Following another design reappraisal, it was decided to install the trailrail with directional route and information stations. Each information station had five means of delivering the identity of a designated room including a four-window frame, where the room is identified by word, sign, symbol and photograph and a wall box for the relevant object of reference underneath and a fixed object of reference for matching. Caesarcraft had to work throughout the 2004 summer holidays to install the trailrail and this proved to be a much bigger task than was anticipated, but wonderfully, by late September, the final information station was in place and their work was done. The response from the pupils in the first weeks of term was fascinating. Comments from pupils included: “It shows you where to go”, “It's nice for the children in wheelchairs to reach”, “My finger wiggles along”, “I like it, it's smooth”. From staff: “I can tell a visitor to follow the arrows on their left and they get there. It's made it much easier to direct them”. From a paediatric consultant about a child with independent walking difficulties: “the school has installed a handrail which has enabled her to move more independently, with adult support on one side only, as she holds the rail”.

“Total Communication” is a priority for the school and the next stage of the trailrail projects has been to provide each class with their own Communication Box which contains an identical set of Objects of Reference and a pre-recordable voice communicator. Once again, the school has been amazingly fortunate in having secured sponsorship from Zurich Financial Services who agreed to fund the cost of the individual Communication Boxes for each class. The contents of these boxes are being decided by a team of staff responsible for Total Communication within school and are now in place. In-house training on their presentation and use has been undertaken by the Total Communication team. Now complete, the trailrail provides the Milestone School with a fully comprehensive and innovative information, location and communication system. (Milestone School is in Kent and I have had the pleasure of working with staff on the campus-what an exciting project and what good fundraising as well The editor)

Staff found that it has enabled pupils to follow purposefully when going between rooms and others have commented that running has reduced as the children are fully focused on finger-trailing the rail as they go. Following this early success, the school is now in the final stages of completing the content of the information stations.

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Helpful equipment and ideas RNID Catalogue

Suitcase ramps

The RNID (Royal national Institute for the deaf) has a catalogue of aids for hearing that has several items of interest to IE readers.

This gadget sounds like a very useful piece of equipment. It is a single fold ramp for scooters and all types of wheelchairs. It is designed to bridge the gap over steps, curbs, and raised landings-all the hazards wheel chair users meet each day.

Ear protectors They have some good sources of ear protection: These are priced at £8.50

• SleepSoft are ear guards worn to reduce noises as you sleep (for all parents!)

• SwimSafe ear guards are used for swimming, especially with those who have ear infections or grommets

• TravelFit plugs can eliminate the pain of pressure in the eardrums whilst flying

The ramps come in a variety of sizes but the most useful one may be the 5 to 6 ft ramp to be used in conjunction with most minibuses. Simply unfold the hinged ramp and position for maximum safety and support. The ramp is made of aluminium with a durable, non-skid driving surface and It folds in half and can be carried like a suitcase. The ramps start in price from £29.00

Relaxers There is a good selection of relaxers with a sound and aromatherapy relaxer, naturecare sound relaxer and tinnitus relaxer. These are recommended for tinnitus sufferers but look excellent for use with special people. Prices start at £22.00

Further details at Simple Solutions on 01743 237761

The sound pillow Consists of a comfortable pillow incorporating two speakers that you can connect to a sound source such as a Walkman or Relaxer. This would be excellent for a child or adult who needs a restful situation and also the child who needs to hug a cushion and relax to sounds they like best of all. You can obtain the catalogue from: Tel 0870 789 8855

Handy Hint If you are looking for beeswax or other products from the beehive then go to They do blocks of pure beeswax to smell and sniff, honeycomb to drip and taste and a wide variety of other natural products and send by post. What a treat to arrive in the school post box

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Research Forum – Sue Granger Here is a run down of some of the most interesting and thought provoking research to be published over the last few months...

Managing sleep disturbances in children with learning disabilities. Not getting enough sleep? It is well known that sleep can be hard for children with learning disabilities – its also well known that this can have a serious impact on day time behaviour and can increase sterotypical behaviours. This paper discusses the many physical and psychological reasons (in both children and parents) that can contribute to these problems, and gives some interesting case studies of how sleeping problems were eased for 2 children. Some useful tips can be picked up from this paper, including how to set consistent bedtime routines and alter sleep cycles to prevent prolonged waking at night. Author: B. Thorp. Nursing Times. 2005. Mar 22-28 ; 101(12):42-5.

Choice and preference assessment research with people with severe to profound developmental disabilities: a review of the literature. This useful paper discusses some of the most important research in enabling choice for people with profound and multiple disabilities in the last 20 years. A good paper if you want to consider the whole picture – and review what seems to work overall, and what, perhaps, does not. It covers (for example) choice-making in daytime hours, at mealtimes and leisure hours, the different ways of helping someone make a choice, and what the effects on people's lives can be. Their conclusions? 'First, most people with severe-profound developmental disabilities seem to be capable of making choices and expressing preferences....Second, building choice opportunities within the people's daily context is still a rather new and limited experience...Third, the assumption that choice making has beneficial effects on the subjects needs further assessment. 'Authors: Helen I. Cannellaa,*, Mark F. O’Reillya and Giulio E. Lancioni. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 2005. 26 1–15

Emotional well-being for all: mental health and people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. This article looks at the emotional well-being of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. This is a issue that is frequently ignored and yet so vital to the people concerned. Nind and Sheehy discuss the factors that can lead to someone with PMLD experiencing mental ill health, and call for people (especially carers and families) to come together to highlight the problems and find the solutions. Understanding some of these factors can help prevent the possibility of ill health for people we all work with in the long term so its well worth a read. Authors: Kieron Sheehy and Melanie Nind. British Journal of Learning Disabilities. March 2005. Volume 33. Issue 1. Page 34. Interested in... ...reading a review of one of these articles in Information Exchange? Just let us know. If enough requests come for an article I will happily review it for you. ...getting hold of one of these articles? Try British Library Direct on their website You can buy individual articles for a small fee which they will either email to you, or send in the post. If you do not have a computer at home or they are just not your thing, go to your local library (most have computers for the public to use and will help you). They may also be able to order you the article themselves on an 'Inter Library loan'. Alternatively try your local University library (if you have one!).. They will often issue you a day pass if you speak nicely, and advise you on how to locate the article. You can usually search their catalogue on-line to see if they have the journal before you make a wasted journey Please note, this is not intended as an exhaustive, or representative review of all current literature! Nor can I vouch for the articles themselves, this is one for you to make your own mind up on!

Issue 68 Spring 2006


pg 2 or 3

What did we hear about the new colour in Information Exchange?

Some comments from you! The Christmas IE is superb! Congratulations on the new format IE-the best of the old with a glossy State-of-the-art clarity I thought the new IE looked beautiful I have just received the first copy of Information Exchange in colour. What a great addition to an already superb resource. The colour enhances the products and brings the articles alive. Thank you for all you and the team do to produce such a valuable teaching resource Information Exchange has left the seventies and zoomed into the twenty first century-well

Making a den-a secret hidey-holefrom Sue Granger member of the editorial board Did you ever make a den or a special secret clubhouse when you were small? Den making is common to kids play in all cultures all over the world, all children love them. There is something really magical and exciting about making a den of your own, your own private space where no one else can go (unless you invite them!) and which is full of your own favourite and special things. They can be a safe place, and a private expression of who you are. It is possible to make some very special dens by spending time with a child who may not be able to make one by themselves. Paul loved stairs – but is rarely allowed to sit on them (wonder why??!!). We made a den together recently by finding some stairs which happened to be free for the afternoon (!) and using emergency sacs for a roof and walls (his choice – he loves shiny). We offered Paul a range of his favourite items, such as string, some menus (collected from various friendly cafes), shiny salad tongs and a cheese grater. Some he chose to take into his den, some he refused. He took a colander of his own accord. Cushions and other comforts were also offered but obviously did not meet the kind of macho 'look' he was going for. Once he seemed happy with the look of his den, he chased us all out quite happily. He spent a happy afternoon there doing his own thing, chasing off anyone who came to close, and grinning like a mad thing as he did so. You could also make a den to share with a few friends and follow it up with a secret feast! Make them indoors, outdoors, in nooks and crannies or in the middle of the room. But be prepared to get chased out by the principle designer(s) afterwards - If your name is not on the list you ain’t getting in! Thank you Sue for reminding us all of the importance of dens for everyone!

Fill-ins A Bright Idea! If you are working in a dark room or a darkened area then here is a useful way to illuminate a small area. Attach a small bright torch to the peak of a baseball cap and you will light up the area you are looking at quite effectively. It also leaves your hands free to work.

Thoughts for the day If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. ~ Abraham Maslow

Don't judge this day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.

I try to take one day at a time - but sometimes several days attack me at once.

If you can't be a good example - then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

This poem has been taken from the Archives of Information Exchange. It is a poem all about objects of reference written by Beryl Brookman from Somerset. Beryl, if you are still reading this magazine, get in touch! This is a timely reminder about our use of objects of reference and how we can occasionally forget‌‌..

The O.O.R's Lament I'm an Object Of Reference I'm as lonely as can be I sit for hours and hours on end And no one looks at me. I long for human contact To ask for that's not much But it seems so very clear to me I will get no human touch. The minutes tick on by And still I sit and wait For hours and days I'm in this box Wondering what will be my fate. Will I always be forgotten? Am I of no earthly use? If so what am I doing here When I could be on the loose? I could be quite important I could be of some use I could be helping all of you So why make me a recluse? Please don't just ignore me

Lister Lane School Multisensory Resources Over the last year, I have been to Lister Lane School in Bradford and had the pleasure of meeting and working with an amazing group of educators. We have had correspondence and the school has sent me all sorts of lovely photos of individually based equipment.

Examples of clearly defined black and white activity boards for visual scanning and the beginning of reading the world around

Lister Lane School has a very special Base within its walls, called Base 3.The teach is Mrs M Saint and the extra special assistants are Fiona, June and Petula. They have a group of students who work very hard at a multisensory curriculum using materials especially devised for them. The staff have taken a new look at how the students learn, by working out how they fit into the framework of multiple intelligences and learning styles (devised by a chap called Howard Gardner and used a lot in mainstream schools). They have very kindly sent me some excellent ideas and these will be printed in Information Exchange in coming issues. Here are the first batch, hope you enjoy them as much as I did! A note from Fiona We have been very busy recently creating a sensory Activity Bank. Staff have researched the learning styles of each of the pupils in the class. Here are some of the range of individual activities made to support the gaps in strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum i.e. literacy science and numeracy. The sensory tactile boards and floor mats were made for visually impaired special people using black and white patterns and also bright and bold contrasting colours. We try to use a whole range of objects to smell, touch, and explore to promote engagement in experiential learning. All items used in our project can be absolutely anything collected around the home, and those marvellous ÂŁ shops such as peg hangers and plywood which you can drill holes in to thread elastic through and hang things on.

Flo and Maria get to grips with some of the exciting materials in base 3

Here is a familiar chocolate box full of moving images to track and what a joy to shake as well!

What a way to engage with exciting visually vibrating images by rolling on the mat and discovering them as you move around

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Education Shoe Box Stories By Flo Longhorn and Avenue School Reading Shoebox stories are simply a sensory way in which to involve everyone in a story session. Often, in such a session, a reader may be at a simple level of reading or may find it difficult to see or follow the story. The shoebox gives the opportunity to access the story directly through a 3-D dimensional picture full of colour and movement. Hands can also enter the story through reaching and touching the story very easily.

It is a very individualised story and the reader can build up a repertoire of reading through having a choice of story boxes. The boxes can also be used in other curriculum areas such as humanities, take a visit to another country or science by going into a fish or planets shoebox story. Below you will find examples of stories, the editor and others have devised some by staff at Avenue school in Reading, where they held a very successful gluey session with Flo!

Black fluorescing material art box

Touch and explore many shapes and forms

Firework night

The elephant's trunk and the tail of a mouse

A fishy view of under the sea

The head teacher's anti- stress shoebox!

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Education Come and Play, a project run by 4Children that gives disadvantaged children access to music-making opportunities, has produced a resource for musicians and play workers. To order A guide for music leaders call 030 7512 2112 and ask for 'Come and Play'. A set of inclusion materials for professionals who work with young disabled children has been launched by disability organisation Scope and hemiplegia charity HemiHelp. The information pack is available at

New Reading posters Shimmery shapes

A cold and icy box

The National Reading Campaign has launched a new set of free reading promotion posters, featuring World Wrestling Entertainment Superstars. The set of three features; WWE Champion John Cena, WWE SmackDown Superstar Rey Mysterio and WWE RAW Superstar Shelton Benjamin. Posters are available free of charge to all those working to promote literacy in the UK, including schools, colleges, libraries, workplaces adult literacy providers, health centres, bookshops and community venues. Ordering details

Spider in the bath

A bear story

Issue 68 Spring 2006


Information Exchange - Spring 2006  

Information Exchange magazine - Issue 68 - Spring 2006

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