Early Years

World of play – sound

Music and sound is fully accessible and fun for a vision impaired child! Playing with sound stimulates the brain and sets them up to be great future learners.

Music and sound is fully accessible and fun for a vision impaired child! Playing with sound stimulates the brain and sets them up to be great future learners.

In your Sensory Discovery Pack!

In your Early Years Sensory Discovery Pack you’ll find a noisy egg shaker, perfect for exploring sound with your child. The egg has a tactile element and can be rolled and played along with to music.

Follow the link for more information on the shaker and how you can incorporate it into sensory playtime with your child.

The benefits of playing with sound with a child who is visually impaired

Toys that make sounds can be anything from a purposeful instrument, an electronic item with inbuilt noises or something that inadvertently makes a noise when played with, it can also include singing. Auditory input is going to be forever a huge part of your child’s life and not just through play. As your child grows older, they will use auditory feedback throughout their lives to navigate the world. Sounds may be added to everyday objects to make them accessible, such as clocks or microwaves. Working on developing good listening skills from a young age will be beneficial to their development.

Having good listening skills is one of the fundamentals of development. It is a valuable skill to have for education and literacy skills, it is also key in the development of language. Being able to identify the direction from which a sound is coming, being able to memorise auditory information and the awareness of rhythmic patterns, all play a big part in speech and language.

Toys or activities that incorporate sound will be crucial in helping this development. Discrimination of sounds, akin to textures, is a key skill to work on.  Being able to determine the source of a sound is something that a vision impaired person will utilise throughout their life – so working on this skill through play in the early years will help them.

Music will be fully accessible to a VI child and it has great effects on the brain. Music is one of the very few mediums that will stimulate every part of the brain!

Getting started!

It is very likely that from a very early age, your child will take to music and toys that make a noise. In a world where you can see very little, music will likely be a source of comfort or a stimulant for excitement. And toys that make noises will be the favourites! Some beneficial ways you can incorporate sound into play for your blind or partially sighted child are:

  • Play calming and soothing lullabies or even better, sing them to your baby before bed. (You’ll find song suggestions here >)
  • Songs that include directional information or encourage movement will be great for gross motor skills. (You’ll find song suggestions here >)
  • Placing your child’s favourite noisy toy just out of reach can encourage independent movement and develop mobility skills.
  • Using electronic toys with sound buttons is a great way to promote cause and effect understanding.
  • Musical instruments have the same cause and effect quality – using musical toys as part of play will help them to understand that a certain movement will create a certain sound. This can help with fine motor skills.
  • Listening to different sounds and discriminating them will help with speech and language. They’ll eventually be able to identify the rustle of the packet on their favourite snack!

The learning possibilities with sounds are endless – you will be amazed about how much information about the world your child will learn through sound.

Music and dance

Songs and rhymes to promote learning and gross motor skills through joyous sounds!

Make your own sound toys

Playing with sound and music doesn’t have to be expensive, we have suggestions for items you can use around the house and DIY projects.

Sensory walks

Sound play isn’t exclusively linked to music, you can start exploring the sounds of nature and the outdoor world together.

Perfect toys for sound play

Our Early Years Discovery Pack is a great place to start, if you don’t have one already, you can apply for one by clicking here.

If you don’t have a pack or would like to add to it, our toy directory has lots of ideas and suggestions for toys you can purchase, or items you can just find around the house.

Find out more about the RNIB Toy Guide, toy lending libraries and finding a sensory room near you.