How to Make Adapted Toys

In the case of children with physical handicaps such as Cerebral Palsy, sometimes it's a good idea to modify the toys so that they may enjoy them. Playing is a very important part of child development, it's far from being just a game. A typical toy can be adapted within a couple of hours (with the right tools at hand). The basic idea is that if the child cannot reach for the toy, then we can make an "extension" to the toy that can be placed next to the child. The final product will consist of two parts: a modified toy and a removable switch with about a meter of cable that may be used by the same child on different adapted toys.


  1. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 1
    Get the "right" type of toy. This is the most important step. Not all toys can be adapted easily. What we need here are toys that have an "on/off" switch on them, the kind that go crazy when "on" (those that start moving, making noise and blinking lights are fine), and don't do anything but sit on the shelf when off.
  2. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 2
    Open up the toy. You've got to be careful here, we don't want to end up with "extra parts" later on. This is where we have to think a bit. Find the place where the on-off switch is. If you can, play with it a bit. ¿see how the toy turns on when you flick the switch? OK, that's enough playing for now.
  3. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 3
    Now you'll have to pick a place to solder two cables on the existing on-off switch. If you look carefully, you'll see that the switch has a couple of metal plates that connect directly to the batteries. We'll have to solder the two cables in parallel to the existing "on-off" switch. That is, the toy should be activated by either using the "on-off" switch on the toy, or by bringing together our two cables. (check out some of the soldering how-to articles on this site for details on this step if you don't know how to solder). If the toy turns on by bringing the cables together, the you've done a great job.
  4. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 4
    Put the female plug on the toy. First you'll need to find a good spot to place the plug. Make sure you'll have enough room to close the toy afterwards. Drill an appropriately sized hole on the toy. Put the female plug in place. If necessary you could use a bit of silicone to fix the plug to the toy (in case the hole is too big).
  5. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 5
    Solder the cables to the plug. Now, cut the cable to an "appropriate" length (that, of course, depends on the particular toy you're working on) and solder the ends to the female plug. That's all for the toy part.
  6. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 6
    Now, for the second part: The external switch. In order for the toy to be activated at a distance, it's necessary to have an appropriate switch. You can buy one for about $10 USD, or make one yourself. To make the switch, get a one meter piece of stereo cable. Solder to one end a mono plug (that fits to the one on the toy) and solder to the other end a momentary switch (something like the ones used for your mouse's buttons). Momentary switches generally have three metal contacts that you can solder to. Use a bit of trial and error to figure out which two to use.
  7. Image titled Make Adapted Toys Step 7
    Finally, if necessary, make a housing for the switch. Depending on the child, you may need to try different things in order to have them use the switch. In some cases it's enough to paste the switch to the table.


  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Try some of the external links to get step by step instructions with pictures!


  • Be careful!!! You can burn yourself with the iron. Check out some of the soldering "how to" pages.
  • Don't adapt toys that connect to the power mains. Use this "how to" only with small, battery operated toys: at most two AA batteries.
  • Practice soldering before opening up the toy, it would be a shame to damage the toy instead of adapting it.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers to open up the toy
  • Soldering iron (and solder) to put the pieces together.
  • 1 meter (3.3 ft) of stereo cable
  • 1 momentary on/off switch
  • 1 male mono plug for the switch
  • 1 female mono plug for the toy
  • 1 drill and bit to make a hole on the toy for the plug

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Toys