Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sensory Bead Chain Toy

Yesterday, my husband was nice enough to help me make something for a little guy in my classroom.  I am determined to have this little guy reaching out and exploring items more often and more purposefully! 

This is based on the Somatosensory Bead Chains, designed for children and adults with limited ability to explore their environment.  These bead chains sell for about $75.00.  The beads provide a ton of movement with very little physical exertion.  This can be a great beginning cause and effect item.

We've borrowed the bead chains from our AT department several times before.  But, there's only so many times I can borrow toys and actually remember to return them on time!  I think I've hit my now I'm starting to think of ways to make some of them myself! 

T connectors (2)
When I saw the plans for a bead chain made from PVC pipe on THIS  PDF, I at least I knew it was possible (although we made ours a bit differently)!  So we headed to the home improvement store and bought:
  • 2 (5 foot) lengths of 1/2 inch PVC piping (We cut this into five 17 inch pieces)
  • 2 right corner connectors
  • 2 T connectors
  • 4 end caps
  • 3 packages of bead necklaces from the Dollar Store
  • Bouncy toys and shower curtain rings I had already
I just estimated at measurements and randomly told my husband to cut all the pieces 17 inches.  Surprisingly, this seemed to work pretty well!  However, we did not use any PVC glue to connect these pieces together yet, just in case I eventually want this shorter!

Corner connectors (2)
We made the frame with three of the 17 inch pieces, connected them together with the two corner connectors and added the T connectors to the bottom of each pipe.  We then added the 2 legs at the bottom and capped off the exposed pipe with four caps!  

End caps (4)
I then attached a strip of Velcro to the top, added the opposite side of Velcro and stuck all the beads (each bead string is cut) to the sticky side so they draped over this.  I added several toys that bounce (attached several shower curtain rings to make them easier to grab) and.... ta-da!   That's it!  (Of course, if you want to make it look a bit better- some paint wouldn't hurt!)
The whole length of bead chains can be removed and changed to something
else simply by pulling off the Velcro.
Of course, this was made for a little guy who has limited mobility and physical strength.  He also will always have someone right next to him while he is playing with this!   The Velcro would NOT be strong enough for use with a child with typical physical strength!  These items could also pose a choking hazard!  This will always be used with direct supervision by an adult!

The "tail" of this little dog bounces up and down with just a

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