Safety note – never leave child unattended with the space blanket due to risk of suffocation or choking, it is not a toy and should only be used with an adult.
Part of the beauty of the space blanket is that is doesn’t require a lot of structure to the play, just exploring its texture and sounds is very exciting for children who are blind or partially sighted. It has the added benefit of light reflecting properties, so for children who are partially sighted the shiny exterior could potentially be visible.
The space blanket is a reassuring snug comforter to many children with special educational needs as they can wrap this around themselves and relax within the comfort of the warm foil blanket. It is also fairly durable, so it can be pulled strongly, without the fear of it pulling apart – just be mindful of mouths, as parts may tear off if they try and bite it which could be harmful.
It’s the perfect item for cause and effect which is really important for young VI children – if they pat the blanket the sound provides immediate feedback which brings excitement and fun to playtime. If they stamp on it what happens? If they scrunch it what happens? It opens up their world of curiosity!
Baby space blanket kick-about
You can lay out the space blanket flat on the floor (fold it in half if it’s a little large) and lay your baby on their back on top of it. If your child has some vision, placing it under a lighted area in your room will enhance its reflective properties. Then simply allow them to kick their legs and enjoy the feel and noise of the blanket and and let them reach out their arms and explore it by grabbing and crunching the material.
Again with your baby lying on their back on top of the blanket, slowly wrap the sides over their body – not too tightly and avoiding their face – and build anticipation. Once the blanket is over them, give them a tickle! The fun of this combined with the noise brings an added layer of fun to a classic game.
While they’re wrapped up search for their fingers and toes through the blanket and act surprised when you find them.
If they’re a little older let them roll themselves up in the blanket, it’s the perfect example of full body sensory play. It’s a simple item, so the play is simple but the learning rewards are great!
Face to face play
Sit on the floor with your knees bent and lie your baby against the top half of your legs so they are facing towards you and pull the space blanket over your head creating a sensory tent or wrap if over them as above. Being face to face is great for talking to them while you play – again please remember these are not toys and this should only be done under supervision.
Sitting up together
If your baby is starting to sit up – sit them between your legs with their back supported against you in case they lose balance, lay the blanket over your laps – they can pat and bang the noisy surface and wiggle their legs to make even more sound. This is a great set up for singing songs and reading stories together.
Lie your baby on their back and hold the blanket above them so it’s not to close to their face – use your light up toys to create reflections above their face for a sensory, calming experience. You can use the blanket to make a pop up dark den that you and your child can enjoy together.
With the blanket laid flat on the floor and your baby in tummy time or sitting up, you can again experiment with lights on the shiny surface. Place objects on the reflective surface for them to explore while they play with the light. Roll the spiky light up ball found in your sensory pack from side to side while in tummy time to encourage them to follow the light.
Magic carpet ride
Encourage your child to sit on the space blanket for an exciting magic carpet ride with an added tactile, auditory, and visual twist.
Use the space blanket in a game of peek-a-boo, the added sensory bonuses the blanket possesses will make for a more interesting game than with a standard blanket.
Sensory story time
The sound and texture of the blanket make a fantastic sensory aid for story time – press against it for footsteps, crinkle it for rustling leaves, or use it when stories talk about smooth, or shiny objects to reinforce the meaning.
You’ll find story suggestions to use with our sensory items here >
You can simply use it as an alternative surface to sit on while enjoying music time. For action songs, stamping or jumping on the mat makes it extra fun, you may just need a hand to hold as it could be slippery!
You’ll find song suggestions to use with our sensory items here >
Again it makes a lovely alternative surface to lie your baby on for relaxation sessions such as baby massage and body brushing.
See full body sensory play for more about these calming activities >
A noisy sensory ball
If you scrunch the blanket right up you can turn it into a ball. Its large size and sound make it a great alternative for practicing catch and turn taking with a vision impaired child. Start with rolling it to each other, giving it a scrunch and a crinkle each time before you send it on its way.
Sensory play area
Turn the blanket into a play surface for themed tactile sensory play. This works much as it would if you were filling a tray with sensory items but you can use the blanket’s qualities to enhance the game. The silver side could be transformed into an icy scene or take you under the sea – place tactile items onto the surface that relate to the scene and tie in a story book to match. For example, if you were pretending it was the ocean, you could place shells, magic sand and fish shaped toys onto the blanket and read a story such as ‘The Rainbow Fish’ – the space blanket can help to create the sensation of his shimmery scales and bring the story to life. The gold surface could be the desert or transport you into outer space. Just use your imagination!
You’ll find suggestions for stories that you can read together incorporating the blanket here >