Seeing Me, Seeing You

A QMU Innovation Fellowship Project

We think about how toys that represent disability may be used in classrooms to help children build friendships with one another.

Modern lego wheelchair with flames coming out of the back

There is growing evidence that toys and resources depicting disability help children without a disability to think about making friends with disabled children.

We build on this evidence base, using images of adapted toy prototypes (such as Barbie with a missing limb, or Olaf the snowman with a cochlear implant) developed by ToyLikeMe alongside commercially available toys representing a range of disabilities, as part of a pop-up “Toybox Tales” exhibition in schools.

Read more about our research methods

More information about Toy Like Me


Dr Sian Jones and Dr Clare Uytman have been awarded QMU Innovation Fellowship funding in 2022/2023 to explore and develop fully accessible based resources co-created with invested stakeholders for use schools and community settings, mapped to the Curriculum for Excellence.

These resources may be downloaded from the Educational Resources tab on this page, and will directly tackle representation and understanding of disability through play and imagination as supported by previous research.

Phase One

During 2020-21, using these images, we have developed an evidence-based resource pack which can be used by primary schools and other educational settings to positively influence children’s responses to disabled people. As part of the project, we visited Scottish schools and assessed the impact on children’s responses to disability of using these resources (Phase One Report July 2022).

The teacher resource pack contains a range of class-based activities such as images of toys, discussion cards, story writing tasks, all mapped to the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence designed to introduce disabilities to children through the power of their imaginations.

Phase 2

During 2022/23 we will be exploring further how to make the resources fully accessible and optimally useful for schools and community settings, by drawing on the wisdom of invested stakeholders and co-creating the resources alongside them. We will be doing this through a series of focus groups, run on-campus at QMU, and online on Teams.

Please contact us if you'd like to be part of this phase of the research

This page describes what we did and what we found out during Phase 1 of our research project, during 2021/22.

What we wanted to find out

We wanted to know whether a visit from the ToyBox Tales pop up exhibition, and engagement with the disability positive resources would change anything in mainstream primary school 7 – 11 year-olds discourse around disability and making friends with disabled children.

What we did
We visited five primary schools in Scotland with the ToyBox Tales exhibition. Before and after we visited, children completed a booklet, answering some questions, and writing a story about a toy with a disability.

These are the videos that we used to introduce the project in schools, consistently explain how to complete the booklets, and what happens to their responses after taking part. These were sent to each of the participating schools for the teachers and pupils to watch.

School Staff Introduction Video:

Here, we introduced the participating school staff to the project. As well as explaining the purpose of the study, this video outlines the different stages of the project and explains how their pupils will be involved.

School Staff Timeline:

A stage-by-stage timeline of the project is shared with the school staff. We felt this would be helpful for the teachers to help them incorporate the pre- and post-exhibition tasks into their class plans.

Pupil Video 1: 

This is the first of the videos created to be shown to the pupils. Here, we try to explain the purpose of the study and why they have been asked to take part. They are invited to think about some topics which will come up throughout the project such as disability and pre-presentation. They are also asked if they wish to take part.

Pupil Video 2: 

Pupil Video 3: 

Pupil Video 4: 

Once they have attended the exhibition and taken part in the discussion about disability representation, they now are guided to complete the second part of the booklet (post-exhibition tasks). They will be asked to complete the well-being questionnaire and write their story-stem using one of the four images presented in the booklet. The same as in the pre-exhibition tasks.

Pupil Video 5: 

And finally a thank you to all the pupils for taking part in the project, having now completed their booklets and written their stories. This video is also intended to explain to the pupils what happens next with their responses. From the initial analysis, to reporting the findings, and what we hope to achieve from the creation of the report.

What we found

Phase 1 of the study shows that the Toy Box Tales images and activities positively influence children’s perceptions of disability. This has implications for inclusive education in terms of the ways in which disability may be helpfully represented in children’s media, and in their classrooms, and through suggested activities for talking about disability in primary schools. 

Full report of our findings (PDF)

We presented our findings at the BPS Education section conference in 2022.

Research Presentation: Session K BPS/PES Sian E Jones

Research Presentation: Session L BPS/PES Clare Uytman


We now have ethical approval for the next stage of our research project, a series of focus groups looking in greater depth at our resources, to run in February, March and April 2023.

If you would be interested in helping us with these, please refer to the information below:

If you are an adult stakeholder (Educator, Parent of disabled child or other interested party) please read the Adult Information Sheet

If your child is aged 7-12, is disabled and would like to take part themselves (with your supervision), please read the Parent/Child Information Sheet

Once you have read the information sheet, if you would like to take part or for more information please complete our short online Availability Form

If you have any questions or would like any other information please contact the research team via email the Toy Box Research Group.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Siân, Clare and Catriona.

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