Archives for posts with tag: Sensory play

My name is Kevin and I’ve just started a 10 week placement at @playtoz as part of my Masters in Health and Organizational research at The #University of Essex. I am keen to investigate ways of supporting people within #Dementia. Having seen my Nan suffer from Dementia I would like to explore the link between the symptoms of mood and behaviour, (two key consequences of Dementia) and the use of #sensory-rich resources – objects, toys or messy play resources, hence my placement at award-winning sensory play resource and training provider – Play to Z.  Initially I hope to explore the benefits of stimulating Dementia sufferer’s senses of touch and smell to ultimately improve their behaviour and mood as I feel that this in turn could act as a coping strategy, supporting both the patient and carer.

I am passionate about conducting meaningful research that can help make a difference to people’s lives, which is why I am looking for Dementia sufferers, carers and families to be involved in my research by trying out a range of (observed) resources or activities, and providing feedback on their affects, if any.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who’d like to be involved or feels they can provide information, advice or insight to help shape my dissertation focus and ultimately make a difference.

Kevin Hughes


Mobile: 07506755781

Tel: 01206 796722


In a room packed with brightly coloured plastic toys it was difficult to know what visitors to Christmas in July would make of our natural, ethical and educational resources. Nestled in the corner, the dark and dingy space was filled with gorgeous images of children at play and our signature mix of purple, multi-coloured ribbons and a natural palette. Sadly we did not make it onto the UK Mums Christmas choice list, losing out to the giants in the toy world and their branded plastic or technological offerings. But visitors to our stand seemed to love what we were doing, particularly the ethical and environmental story behind each and every product from our British-made fabric resources to the hand knitted teddies, purses and batik made in centres in the UK.

It is always great to be recognised for what we are doing within the resource side of the company, especially when we are being compared to the mass-market industry leaders. Almost instantaneously upon the close of the show, Bloggers were tweeting us to say how refreshing the resources were, ‘@PlaytoZ they were one of my favourite things. The Stacking Hoops were absolutely gorgeous. LOVED them‘.  Another Mummy Blogger emailed us directly, ‘I have to say your stall was a refreshing change after all the plastic, fake colours and electrical gadgets that were on show.

As with all shows, our senses were bombarded with the noise and heat of the room, the sheer numbers of people wanting to speak to us and the frustration of driving and unloading in London. However, it was a great opportunity for us to showcase the wonderful talents of the adults with learning and physical disabilities that make our handmade items and a chance for us to say thank you to them for providing much of the awe and wonder that makes the products so appealing and ensures they stand out in a crowded room.

Who needs expensive toys when there’s so much to see on a Spring day? Our walk to school on an unseasonably warm February morning was punctuated by natural discoveries, like the daffodil and crocus flowers that my children spotted; the three disembowelled frogs with bright red and green entrails strewn on the floor; the sound of a woodpecker in the adjacent wood; and shrill birdsong seemingly everywhere. Later that day whilst dog walking in the balmy sun I was struck by the noisiness of silence, taking me back to a midnight walk in the Australian rainforest, where we stood in pitch black silence, amazed at the noisy buzzing and shrieking enveloping us.

For many children, silence is something rarely encountered, with a TV or music forever playing in the background. Not only can this be overwhelming for those already struggling to process the many sensory inputs bombarding them, but it is hardly surprising that some find focussing and concentrating difficult when brought up in a culture of constant interruption and distraction. So often when it comes to inspiration for play, less is more as prescriptive toys that could more accurately be described as entertainment, leave little scope for children to shape play with their own body and mind and use them as they wish.

We know that children’s brain’s are hard wired to search out novelty and that a typically developed child will cease to be interested in things which do not change. What’s brilliant about the outdoors environment is that subtle changes to the seasons and micro-climate give rise to novelty and interest, like those disembowelled frogs! But playing outdoors is not just great in its own right, but also because it helps reduce the amount of time children might otherwise spend watching TV or playing computer games. Worrying research1 has revealed that mice subjected to 6 hours of TV a day for 42 days, not so unusual for some children, were hyperactive and failed to respond to a novel object placed in their cage, a key factor in promoting brain development and learning. It was not clear whether this was because they did not notice its novelty or they simply didn’t care, either way, if transferable to children this does not bode well for inspiring and engaging young children in education and learning. Returning to that refreshing Spring walk and the novelty and interest it freely afforded for all the senses, take the time to dawdle and see the world from a child’s perspective and you may find their enthusiasm and awe puts a spring in your step too.