Every year I am asked by parents for toy or educational based gift recommendations. This got me thinking about discussing toys for my next blog post. I primarily work with children on developing their fine motor, sensory motor and sensory regulation skills. Therefore I am going to share my favorite toys, and therapy equipment I use to address these skills. With the world being so technology driven, and then Covid-19 happened forcing more children to complete learning virtually. Resulting in a lot of screen time, and less hands on playing. You will notice in my list I am sharing simple hands on toys and items to encourage play skills. Remember there is nothing wrong with going back to the basics.
*Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with these product in any way I just use these items during my therapy sessions.
Fine Motor Skills:
Playdough: You can purchase play dough or make your own as there is many easy recipes to try out. Play dough promotes hand strength and increase dexterity by having the child squeeze using their whole hand, pinch with fingers, pull apart using both hands, rolling with palm to form a ball. Encourage imaginative play by creating animals, people, or characters.
2. Playdough Tools: I like to see children using tools such as rolling pins, cookie cutters, scissors, beads, pipe cleaners, molds, and play dough mats to work on hand skills. Have a basket of these tools available for children to use during play dough fun.
2. Wikki Sticks are wax covered strings that children can use to make colorful art work, and letters. The strings are easy to cut with scissors to make different size strings. Wikki sticks are reusable for hours of fun.
3. Zoom Balls is a fun way to encourage children to use both hands at the same time. Children must grip both handles while moving hands apart and back together to move the ball back and forth across the string.
Sensory Toys/Tools (Noise Makers)
Shaker Eggs: I love incorporating music into my therapy sessions every week.
Using shaker eggs gives everyone a chance to participate during music and movement time. I have 2 types of eggs that we shake 1.) smooth smaller eggs and 2.) textured bumpy larger eggs. My kiddos who love touching different textures really enjoy the bumpy eggs. While my kiddos who enjoy hearing the shaking noise really seem to enjoy the smaller eggs because they can hold an egg in each hand and shake them together. Often times you will see these kiddos shaking the eggs near their ear to amplify the sound.
2. Rain sticks and ocean drums are very popular with our kids during music and movement time. Not only are they relaxing to listen to, but they are also a lot of fun to watch. I like to use these instruments at the end of music and movement time to slow our bodies and mind. This allows for everyone to refocus, and transition to our next learning activity.
Sensory Toys/Tools (Visual Toys)
Rhythm Scarves: The kids love waving the different color scarves along to different music. We use small scarves, and a large canopy scarf to add that visual component to our activities. Children who seek that visual input will actively engage in the scarf activities. The different colors enhance any activity, but it also encourages arm movements. Children who may appear to be tired or their bodies run slow may be alerted by all the visual stimulation provided by the colorful scarves.
2. Water and oil toys: These make great fidgets (an item to keep a persons hands busy) often helps increase focus and decrease anxiety. These toys can be visually stimulating, and relaxing to watch. They are great to use as a positive reinforcer, and a sensory tool that either calms or alerts child depending on how they respond to visual input.
3. Bubble Machine, Slinky, and Rainbow Sphere are all great toys that provide visual stimulation. I grouped these toys all together as I like to use these as calm down tools during therapy or yoga time. Slinky's and Rainbow Sphere make great visual tools for children to watch during relaxation breathing. If that doesn't work for you child then offer them an opportunity to blow bubbles to encourage breathing. If relaxation breathing does not work for your child then a bubble machine may be the best option for your child to watch. It really depends on your child's preference, and if your just not sure what option your child would enjoy then I would continue to expose them to all types of toys.
Sensory Toys/Tools (Movement and/or Deep Pressure)
Plasmacar: Your child will be well on their way to twisty, endless fun by simply propping their feet up on the foot rest and turning the wheel. Perfect for indoor and outdoor use, this ride-on toy uses no batteries, gears, or pedals, making it a great way for kids of all abilities to get moving. They are a huge hit with our kids during gym or indoor recess at school.
2. Mini Trampoline, Therapy Ball, Scoop Rocker: These are all great ways to incorporate movement and deep pressure into your Childs day. Whether it is jumping on a trampoline, bouncing on a therapy ball or rocking in the scoop your child will enjoy getting their wiggles out by using these toys/equipment. I like to use the therapy ball to provide deep pressure to our kiddos by rolling the ball up and down their back, or having the child lay on their belly over the ball "superman style". This type of input is very calming for many of my kids at school.
3. Body Sock: The body sock is a fun and exciting tool providing children that crave sensory input, a compression "hug" throughout their body. The sack is also recommended for developing motor planning skills, while establishing spatial, and body awareness. Great tool to use for your child to escape a noisy environment, quiet their mind and body, and to reset before educational activities.
Here is a picture of me enjoying our body sock at school. The body sock is for sure one of my favorite sensory tools. I guess we can say it is Miss Farrah Approved!!!
Well I am going to end here with my list of favorite toys/tools to use with your kids. I hope you find this list helpful when Christmas shopping for your kids this year. If you have any specific questions about any items on the list please feel free to leave me a message. I would like to wish all my friends, family, and followers Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year!
Thanks for the continued support,
P.S. Check out my book 'Tons Of Tools To Help Me Be Me' it would also make a great Christmas gift. It can be purchased at: https://www.amazon.com/Tons-Tools-Help-Me-Be/dp/B08HV8HTQP/ref=sr_1_2?crid=2PHMXA6HONUKC&dchild=1&keywords=tons+of+tools+to+help+me+be+me&qid=1606079288&sprefix=Tons+of+tools+t%2Caps%2C254&sr=8-2
Check out my latest book Sea Of Feelings. This book is a great way to introduce your little one to different feelings. Find it here by clicking on the link