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13 sensory play ideas for your own backyard

09 Jul 2021

Kids love cubbyhouses and with everyone spending more time at home, they’re a great way to keep them outside and occupied for hours! What’s more – not only is sensory play easy to organise, it also positively contributes to a child’s development. We recommend these tips to families as simple ways for children with hearing aids or cochlear implants to practice listening while having fun. In fact, these ideas are great for the listening and language development of all children, with or without hearing loss. Give them a go this weekend!

  1. Bell/knocker on the cubby door so they can listen to the sound, learn what it is and how to respond e.g. ‘knock, knock’, ‘who’s there?’, ‘come in’.
  2. Toy intercom – so they can pretend to speak into it (get crafty with some cardboard and stick it on).
  3. Costume box so they can dress up as different characters coming into the house/castle/shop e.g. King, super hero, uniforms, hats, jackets. This is great for them to learn to listen to and use different voices (loud, soft, different pitches and accents etc.)
  4. Musical/noisy toy section – drums, chimes, tubes, home-made musical instruments, shakers etc. A little step or stage they can perform on is great to build confidence from an early age!
  5. Windows – with an open window kids can play shop, pass deliveries through or have a puppet show. Curtains are also great to learn words like open and close.
  6. Boxes/shelves/spaces for listening toys e.g. car that goes ‘brmmm’; fire-truck that goes ‘ee-or’; boat that goes ‘pa pa pa’, cat that goes ‘meow’, dog that goes ‘woof’, horse that goes ‘neigh’. These are the sounds we teach children before they learn words as they are easier to hear, learn to say and cover all the sounds in the alphabet!
  7. Sand or mud/dirt section – messy play is great for building/ making. Use old kitchen tools and pots to go ‘bang’ and cupcake trays to build sandcastles and mud cakes.
  8. Sink or pond to wash toys in. Containers and strainers are also great to pour water through and hear how the water makes a splash.
  9. Post-box so they can mail things or pretend to be the postman on their bike, yelling out ‘delivery!’
  10. Slide – amazing to learn early language like ‘up, up, up’ the stairs ‘whee’ down the slide. Toys and cars can go down the slide for them to catch or they can ‘crash’!
  11. Bird feeding tray to add seeds and water to – you can talk about birds, different bird names, make bird sounds and learn different colours.
  12. Garden – plant seeds, water them and talk about how they grow. You can take photos at each stage and make them into a book with basic sentences like ‘I planted some seeds’, ‘look – they are growing’ and ‘there’s a flower’. Kids will learn how to say some of the words and eventually read it themselves.
  13. Stepping stones with numbers, letters or pictures like a train or animal stuck on. Each time they step on the stone kids make the relevant sound, like ‘choo, choo’ or ‘roar’.


The Shepherd Centre provides services for children with hearing loss across NSW, the ACT and Tasmania. We have physical centres in Newtown, Macquarie, Liverpool, Canberra, Wollongong and interim visiting sites in Macarthur and Shellharbour. If you are unable to visit a centre we provide our services via our popular Online Telehealth System.


We welcome prospective families, parents of children with a hearing loss, health professionals, itinerant teachers, or those interested in fundraising or making a donation to The Shepherd Centre to contact us at any time for further information.


If you are a health professional or a current or prospective family requiring urgent assistance contact our friendly Family Care team on:
Telephone: (02) 9370 4400
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.shepherdcentre.org.au

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