Toys to Grow On
We all know the benefits of therapy and early intervention for children with special needs, but it is hard to replicate the therapy environment at home.
For my children, I have started a list of sensory and developmental toys to share with grandparents, aunts, uncles and Santa Claus that are fun and educational. Occupational therapist Carrie Binns, M.S. of The Allen School shares her thoughts on the perfect therapeutic toys for kids with (and without) special needs.
Favorite toys and tips from Carrie:
1. A Good Rattle
Look for a rattle with a handle that encourages grasping.
Crawling is such an important skill for bilateral coordination and strengthening hand muscles. Some children skip this step, so I always encourage getting a tunnel.
3. Kitchen Sets with Accessories
For boys and girls, kitchen toys improve children’s imaginative play while also providing language enrichment.
4. Melissa and Doug Poke-a-Dot Books
Books not only help with language development, but also fine motor skills as kids learn to turn pages singly. These fun books also work on finger isolation and cause and effect.
This modeling compound is great for strengthening and improving hand muscles. Hide objects inside and have children find them. Also buy the Play-Doh scissors! It is easier for children to learn to cut Play-Doh than paper.
6. Fat Brain Dimpl Toy
Kids and adults love the Dimpl! It is a great tactile toy that encourages cause and effect and is a great fidget and calming tool. They have a traditional one and they also have keychains!
7. Dress Up
Dress up clothes are great for role playing and practicing dressing skills.
These blocks are a fun way to work on hand strengthening and eye-hand coordination. You can also have children replicate simple designs — same goes with Magnatiles.
9. Educational Insights Board Games
Board games are great for working on social and turn-taking skills, and Educational Insights makes some of my favorites.
Crazy Cereal – works on independence using a spoon along with color recognition and speed accuracy.
Pancake Pile-Up! – develops eye-hand coordination, balance, motor planning and sequencing.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game! – helps with turn-taking skills while also improving grasp. Tongs are a great tool to use with children to help them form an appropriate grasp that can carry over with a writing utensil.