6 Sensory Fun Activities in the Triangle


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Sassafras All Children's Playground in Raleigh was designed for children of all abilities and provides a variety of play experiences.

Photo by Adrian H. Wood

My name is Amos. I am 3 years old and have special needs. My family and I have been visiting fun places around the Triangle to check out sensory fun activities. Sensory play is anything that reminds me to use my five senses: touch, taste, sound, sight and smell. My mom says sensory activities help me learn to figure out how to keep myself balanced. I think that means learning to not have a great big noisy fuss when I get frustrated. Anyway, I’ll just share my favorites.

Sassafras All Children’s Playground

Laurel Hills Park
3808 Edwards Mill Rd., Raleigh
919-420-2383

Since I’m not the kind to save the best for last, I’ll start with the coolest playground ever. Sassafras was awesome! We went after school one really nice day so it was super busy, but it was so big that I didn’t get overwhelmed. My big brother and I rode the zip lines; I sat in the one with the special seat that made me feel safe. It was fast, but not too fast. My other brother took a basketball and found some kids to play with while I tried out the ladders and slides. My favorite thing was the sandbox and there were even buckets and shovels, though my mom said she should have brought some just in case. I loved the roller table and climbing the big hill so I could wallow in the seagrass.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Accessibility and Sensory-Friendly Night
11 W. Jones St., Raleigh
919-707-9800

This museum stayed open late so we could explore during a quieter time. There was a special live animal meet and greet, and even a quiet room for when I needed a break. Mom said there was a low-sensory viewing of the 3-D movie “Flight of the Butterflies,” but I’m not much into movies yet. I hope we get to go to the second sensory-friendly night on Thursday, May 25, from 5:30-8 p.m. in the Nature Exploration Center. It will be free for special needs families and we don’t even have to sign up ahead of time. That’s perfect for my mom. When I’m 5, Mom says she will sign us up for a guided tactile tour. I think that means you get to do a lot of touching, which is right up my alley.

Frank CineBowl & Grille at Parkside Town Commons

1140 Parkside Main St., Cary
919-459-7117

Like I said, I’m not much into movies yet, but once I am, Mom is going to take me to Frank CineBowl & Grille in Cary for its sensory-friendly movie series. These movies are shown with lights on and low sound. We’re even allowed to sing, dance and play while watching the movies! The first movie in the series, “Rock Dog,” aired March 4. Remaining showings include “Smurfs: The Lost Village” on April 8, “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” on May 13, “Cars 3” on June 17, “Despicable Me 3” on July 8 and “Emoji Movie” on Aug. 12.

Access Theatre

Apex Parks and Recreation Department
53 Hunter St., Apex
919-249-3507

My mom checked this out by herself because it’s for children ages 5-11 with developmental and/or physical disabilities. Helpers can attend, too. She said it looked fun, was a pretty small group (only 10 allowed) and seemed like a good way to make friends while you learn acting or, as the teacher said, bringing your favorite stories to life through drama. Mom said it was a great way to build on social and communication skills for very little money — only $3 per class for Apex residents, provided registrant signs up for seven classes ($21; nonresidents pay $31 for seven classes). I can’t wait until I’m 5!

Marbles Kids Museum

201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh
919-834-4040

I’m a big fan of Marbles. It’s open every day and is $5 per person — or your family can buy a membership starting at $100. The museum also offers a Family Fun Night on select nights evenings the year for special needs kids and their families. It takes place from 5:30-8 p.m. and offers kids like me the opportunity to experience Marbles in a calmer, quieter environment. Plus, it’s free!

I adore most any place with an elevator, but my favorite place to start is the water area. Marbles has aprons so you don’t get too wet. My big sister tried to build a dam. There was also a dark room with pillows right beside it so you can get quiet and cozy if you need a break. Upstairs, my brothers built a giant Lego house and I tried to help. They made me a chair and a window so I could peek out at my mom. There was a cool gift shop, too. Mom said it had lots of good birthday ideas. Next door at Marbles IMAX Theatere, there are monthly sensory-sensitive movie screenings for special needs kids and their families. And like at Frank CineBowl & Grille, I’ll be able to get up and dance around during the movie!

Museum of Life and Science

433 W. Murray Ave., Durham
919-220-5429

The Museum of Life and Science has been around a long time, but it has lots of new exhibits and two of my favorite things: neat hiding spots and farm animals. We rode the train and spent some time inside trying to get butterflies to land on us in the big atrium. They didn’t, but I loved running on the walkway through the pretend jungle. The barnyard was fun, too. There were cows, goats, chickens and even an alpaca. I practiced all my animal sounds. The tree houses were really neat. I went in the big one with my brothers and sister and then we found one for little people, too. There was a slide built right in the hill and a fort underneath it. My dad and I found a cozy hammock and then I played in the sandbox for a long time while everyone else went inside to make paper airplanes. I didn’t play inside because I fell asleep in the stroller. Playing is hard work.

 

Amos’ mom, Adrian H. Wood, Ph.D., is a North Carolina writer who lives in Edenton with her husband and four children, the youngest of whom has extra-special needs. Read more of her writing at talesofaneducateddebutante.com.

 

 

 

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Calendar

May 2019

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Cost: $4-$12

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North Carolina Transportation Museum
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Spencer, NC  28159
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Sponsor: North Carolina Transportation Museum
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Chapel Hill Country Club
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Downtown Raleigh
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, NC  27601
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Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
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Cost: See website for fees

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N.C. State Fairgrounds
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Cost: Free with advance registration

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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Chapel Hill
140 W. Franklin St.
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It`s 1863 at Yates Mill, and the yard is alive with activity! Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Tour fee:...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
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Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Park
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Sponsor: Town of Apex
Telephone: 919-249-3507
Contact Name: Allie Prelaske
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Park West Village
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Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

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Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Ages 5-13. Homeschool Yoga is a one-hour class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness. Weave in art and journaling before or after...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

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Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
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Cost: Free

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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
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Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
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Ages 11 and older with disabilities make New Orleans creole. Register online. Choose course #120057.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

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Park West Village
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Century Center
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Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
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Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
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101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


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Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
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Cost: 0

Where:
Orange County Public Library
137 W Margaret Lane
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 191-924-52539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Enjoy a family-friendly movie and a slice or two of pizza. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
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Ages 11 and older with special needs enjoy karaoke. Take a dish to share. Register online. Choose course #121043.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


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Come celebrate Turtle Day by stopping by the park’s visitor’s center to learn some cool facts about North Carolina’s turtles! Meet our live park ambassador – Frankie the...

Cost: Free

Where:
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Cost: $65/person

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Cost: Free

Where:
Edison Johnson Community Center
500 W. Murray Ave.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
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Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

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Each Fourth Friday of the month join us for a night of art, film, food and fun. This is free and open to the public.​

Cost: Free

Where:
SummerStage
800 Taylor St
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Hi-Wire Brewing and abc11

More information

Enjoy Raleigh’s premier Japanese animation and culture convention. Concerts, educational panels, limited merchandise, unique artwork and more highlight the event. Purchase tickets...

Cost: $65/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Get inspired by the park's natural beauty and contribute to a community art project celebrating the season of flowers. Head to the Finley Center to make a few paper flowers and help to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Dogs, face painting, animal tattoos, a bounce house, dog contests and canine demonstrations, handmade bandannas, photo booths and local vendors highlight this annual festival to benefit the...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
Duke University East Campus
Durham, NC


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One Saturday of the month join us for our family fun series. This is free and open to the public. Here is what you can expect: 10am-12pm: Come to the plaza for family-friendly activities for...

Cost: Free

Where:
SummerStage
800 Taylor St
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Hi-Wire Brewing, abc11, and Offline

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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call our park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Stop by our FREE discovery table to learn about songbirds! Registration is not required. The display table is located at the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden “caches.” Learn what geocaching is all about and head out to find a real geocache in the park....

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park and the American Tobacco Trail
Telephone: 919-387-2117
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Enjoy free, live performances from the best artists from around the Triangle in front of Stone Theatre as well as kid-friendly activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Park West Village
Morrisville, NC  27560


Website »

More information

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Cost: $65/person

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
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Website »

More information

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