Published 25 May 2023 by TheSentre

Fun Activities for Children with Special Educational Needs

Tinika hugging a child at SENtre

Play is a powerful and vital tool for learning, development and self-expression, and it holds immense value for children with special educational needs (SEN) and those on the autistic spectrum. Engaging in enjoyable and purposeful activities not only enhances their physical, cognitive and social skills but also fosters their overall sense of wellbeing.  


Fun at SENtre's holiday club


Here at SENtre we fully understand the overwhelming response many parents and caregivers feel when their child receives a diagnosis of autism, and we’re all too aware of the myths and misinformation that permeate the internet when you’re seeking guidance and reassurance. 

That’s why our SEN experts have put together this blog, where we are looking at a range of fun activities specifically designed to cater to the unique needs and strengths of children with SEN. These activities are not only fun but also promote sensory exploration, creativity, social interaction and personal growth. Jump in and discover the wonderful world of play for children with special educational needs. 


Why Are These Fun Activities Important for Children with SEN? 


 Ensuring children with special educational needs are engaged in fun activities is of paramount importance for their development. These activities offer so many benefits, including enhanced sensory interaction, improved motor skills, increased social interaction, boosted self-confidence and plentiful opportunities for self-expression. Play provides a safe and enjoyable environment for children with SEN to explore their strengths, build new skills, and overcome challenges.  

Through these activities, children can develop their cognitive abilities, communication skills, emotional understanding and social competence. Moreover, engaging in play fosters a sense of joy, creativity, and inclusion, creating positive experiences and memories for children with SEN. Here are just a few of our top recommendations here at SENtre for fun activities to try with your children. 


Sensory Play 


Sensory play involves activities that stimulate the senses, such as touch, sight, sound, smell and even taste. It can include playing with sand, water, textured materials or engaging with special sensory toys. Sensory play helps children with SEN and those on the autistic spectrum to explore their environment, regulate their emotions, develop fine motor skills and enhance their sensory processing abilities. Of course, as with all the suggestions on this list, it’s also really good fun for children and their parents and caregivers alike. 


Arts and Crafts 


 Arts and crafts activities allow children to express themselves creatively and have fun while also developing many vital skills. Artistic pursuits such as drawing, painting and sculpting can improve fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and concentration. These activities provide an outlet for self-expression and can be particularly beneficial for children with SEN, helping them communicate, build confidence and explore their emotions. The range of possibilities with arts and crafts is endless and there are many different disciplines to explore. 


Music Therapy 


Music therapy uses the power and joy of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Through listening, playing instruments, singing or moving to music, children with SEN and those on the autistic spectrum can improve their communication skills, sensory integration, motor coordination and emotional wellbeing. Music therapy provides a non-verbal medium for self-expression and can be highly engaging and enjoyable for children. An early interest in music can easily lead to learning a musical instrument which will extend these needs and rewards significantly. 


Outdoor Activities 


Engaging in outdoor play activities promotes physical fitness, motor development and sensory exploration. It provides opportunities for social interaction, imagination and creativity. Whether it's playing in a park, going for a nature walk, or participating in sports, outdoor activities help children with SEN develop physical skills, boost self-confidence and improve overall wellbeing. Regularly visiting the same fun places on the same days can also help foster a sense of routine and reward. 


Social Games


Social games promote essential skills such as interaction, cooperation and communication among children with SEN and those on the autistic spectrum. Taking part in board games, card games or group activities fosters skills related to turn-taking, sharing, listening and following rules. They provide structured opportunities for social engagement, problem-solving and developing social skills such as empathy, patience and teamwork. They are also a great way for parents and caregivers to spend more time with their children enjoying group activities together. 


Storytelling and Role-Play


Storytelling and role-play activities engage children in imaginative play, enhancing their language development, social skills and emotional understanding. Through storytelling, children can explore narratives, characters and themes, improving their comprehension and communication abilities. Role-play encourages creativity and perspective-taking, enabling children to understand different roles and experiences, develop empathy and practice social interactions. When it comes to building and strengthening the imagination of a child, storytelling and role-play are very enjoyable ways of doing so. 


Animal-Assisted Therapy


Animal-assisted therapy involves interactions with trained animals, such as dogs, cats or horses, to promote emotional, social and physical wellbeing. Interacting with animals can have a calming effect, reduce anxiety and improve social skills and communication. Animal-assisted therapy also encourages responsibility, empathy, and nurturing behaviours among children with SEN and autism. A successful round of animal-assisted therapy can even pave the way for having your own pet that they can learn to feed, fuss and play with, within your own home, further developing essential skills.  


Technology-Based Activities


Technology-based activities, such as educational apps, interactive games or assistive devices, can be beneficial for children with SEN and autism. These tools provide opportunities for learning, skill development and engagement. Technology can support communication, cognitive development, fine motor skills and sensory integration. However, it's essential to find age-appropriate, meaningful and well-monitored digital resources for effective use. Contact us at SENtre and we’ll be able to assist you in finding suitable materials and apps for your youngster. 


Cooking or Baking


Cooking or baking activities provide multi-sensory experiences that promote learning, creativity and independence. Children with SEN and autism can benefit from following recipes, measuring ingredients and engaging in hands-on tasks. These activities develop fine motor skills, sequencing abilities, sensory exploration and mathematical concepts. Cooking also encourages practical life skills, promotes healthy eating habits and fosters confidence and self-esteem, not to mention all the yummy food you and your child get to enjoy at the end of the cooking and baking. 


Adaptive Sports


Adaptive sports are modified or specially designed sports activities that cater to the needs of children with special educational needs and autism. These sports promote physical fitness, coordination, socialisation and teamwork. Adaptive sports can be tailored to accommodate different abilities and provide inclusive opportunities for children with SEN to engage in physical activities, experience the joy of sports and build self-confidence. 

SEN Therapies and Activities with SENtre


Providing fun and purposeful activities for children with special educational needs is essential for their growth, development and overall wellbeing. Whether it's engaging in sensory play, exploring the world of arts and crafts or participating in adaptive sports, these activities offer unique opportunities for learning, self-expression and social interaction.  

By understanding and catering to the specific needs of children with SEN, we can create inclusive and enriching play experiences that celebrate their abilities and empower them to reach their full potential. With the right activities, every moment can be filled with fun, growth and endless possibility. And we here at SENtre are always on hand to help you.  

At our special SEN centre in Birmingham, we have a custom-built facility specifically designed around helping children learn and grow in a safe, respectful environment. We provide therapies and activities for children with SEN and their parents and caregivers and also provide help in your own home and also online through our SENtre Online service. 

For more information, you can email us at [email protected] or to book a phone call with us, head to our booking page. Whatever support you need with your child, SENtre is here to help.