Here at the Grand Rapids Children's Museum (GRCM), we strive to create an environment that is inclusive of the needs of every child in our community. Our museum can prove overwhelming at times for children with special needs, but Fun and Function has made it easy for us to find tools to help every child enjoy a day of play and learning.
Children's museums are unique spaces, where developmentally beneficial play experiences are curated in such a way that children may not even realize that they are learning while having fun. Durability is extremely important since our exhibits and support materials go through extensive wear and tear! When choosing sensory-supportive products, we look for items that can withstand heavy usage, are easy to keep clean, versatile and adaptive to many needs, and, of course, fun!
Here are some Fun and Function products that have worked well for our guests!
The LimeLite LED BallThis durable, hold-able, roll-able light has quickly become a favorite for quiet room programming at the GRCM. Our guests love the soothing soft light, and children enjoy the settings where colors fade softly into each other. We use this product in spaces that invite a sense of calm and a break from the occasional chaos of a busy day at the museum. It makes the perfect centerpiece for a quiet room. It really is incredible how much calm and captivating lighting can transform a space.
Sensory Resource Tool KitsAs a part of our initiative to increase inclusion of children with ASD, SPD, and anxiety disorders, the Grand Rapids Children's Museum developed Sensory Resource Tool Kits for our guests to use. We found just about everything we needed for these kits through Fun and Function! These kits have been so beneficial for our guests. Many children who would otherwise be overwhelmed in a children's museum setting can now rely on having supportive materials (and just as importantly, trained staff!) available whenever they need. Guests simply exchange a photo ID at the front desk and are able to "check out" one of these kits for their child to use during the duration of their stay. We get many requests from community members for information about these kits, and we encourage any organization that serves children to invest in products that can make it easier and more enjoyable for children with special needs to enjoy your space!
Weighted Compression VestsWe purchased several different sizes of weighted compression vests. Having multiple sizes available is important to us because we serve a wide age range of children. With what we have available right now we can provide kits for guests between ages 2-12. These vests are wonderfully versatile in that guests can remove and adjust weights as needed.
Weighted SuspendersFor children who benefit from proprioceptive input but don't enjoy the compression vests, these weighted suspenders are perfect. We appreciate that the straps are adjustable and attach easily.
Noise Reduction HeadphonesThis is by far the most commonly used item in the kits! Museums can get loud, especially on days with lots of field trips, but these comfortable kid-sized headphones offer immediate relief.
Therapy TangleThe Therapy Tangle has been trusted by therapists for years, and we can see why! The fluid movement of the tangle pieces offers calm and focus for fidgeting hands.
SquiggletsSquigglets are squishy and colorful sensory bracelets. They're a great unobtrusive fidget tool. We love using wearable fidgets so that even if a child gets swept up in all the fun available in the museum, the tool itself won't get lost.
To learn more about the Grand Rapids Children's Museum and our inclusivity efforts, please visit us at http://www.grcm.org/