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Finding a Gift that Has Therapeutic Value

When buying presents for kids these days, it may be difficult to find a toy or game in which the value will last longer than the amount ofscience project time it takes to unwrap it. It can also be challenging to find a gift that will remain valuable throughout any of the “fads” and “trends.” With that said, below are some gift ideas that are sure to please your kids, keep them engaged as well as have added therapeutic value:

Board Games With A Therapeutic Value:

  • Hulabaloo is a game that incorporates auditory processing, visual scanning, following directions, gross motor skills and motor planning. It’s great for pre-school and early elementary-aged children and can be played with one child or a group.
  • Cat and the Hat-I Can Do That is a game that incorporates sequencing skills, following directions, gross motor skills and motor planning. This game can be played with children of all ages as it offers motor challenges that involve props.

Art Supplies With A Therapeutic Value:

  • Color by number activities are excellent for children that need to modify their fine motor skills, visual motor and executive functioning skills (planning, initiation, attention and organizing). This is a way to provide more structure to a coloring task as well as adding expectations.
  • Craft projects, such as beading kits, painting and pre-made wooden structures (mailbox, picture frames, tool boxes, etc). These can promote executive functioning skills, such as following written directions, planning, initiation, sequencing, and organization as well as fine motor skills. These activities can also be modified to incorporate sensory experiences.
  • Lite Brite is an activity that promotes fine motor skill development as well as attention, sequencing and organization. This activity may also be motivating as children are able to witness the progression of the design as it takes shape. This will allow for longer engagement in the activity.
  • Science Experiments/Kits are great gifts for children of all ages as they cover so various therapeutic areas. Activity kits, such a building a volcano, require many executive functioning skills and they often incorporate sensory components and fine motor skills that are both intriguing as well as interesting to many children.

Puzzles and Puzzle books With A Therapeutic Value:

  • Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to incorporate fine motor, visual motor and visual perceptual skills into a fun activity for children of any age. For older children, puzzles with 3-D images can increase the difficulty.
  • Word Searches and other similar puzzles in a puzzle book require many executive functioning skills, including problem-solving, sequencing and organization of thoughts and information. Many of these puzzles also incorporate visual skills, such as visual scanning. These books can be found for children as young as kindergarten through adulthood.

These are just a few gift ideas for children that may offer therapeutic value as well as the “fun factor.” When considering a gift for a specific child, think about their interests, but also keep in mind of the activities or experiences that they generally avoid as these are often the most challenging for them and the activities they need to pay attention to most. By selecting a game that incorporates challenging experiences as well as skills, you will be buying a gift that both the child and parents will enjoy.

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Holiday Shopping: How to Choose Developmentally Appropriate Toys for Your Child

The holidays are approaching rather quickly and most parents are hoping to not only get their children gifts that will make them happyholiday gifts for kids and excited, but gifts that will help them to learn and grow as well. It can definitely be challenging to not only find a toy or game that you feel your child will like, but that you as a parent will approve of as well due to the skills it addresses. Fortunately, certain stores have created special catalogs and websites to help sort toys by categories and skills. For example, Toys R Us has featured categories on the ‘Differently-Abled Kids’ portion of their website, such as Auditory, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Social Skills and Tactile. It is important to use these resources to your advantage. Such resources are not only for children with skill deficits, but they also help you, as a parent, to look at games in a functional and educational manner. Below are some examples to give you an idea. It should also be noted that many of the games that are listed below are specific games that we use as occupational therapists, speech language pathologists and social workers within our daily treatment sessions to work on a variety of goals.

Fine Motor Skills Toys:

  • Easel (e.g. Crayola Magnetic Double-Sided Easel)
  • LEGOs
  • Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game
  • Connect 4 Launchers
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos
  • Mega Bloks Build ‘n Create

Gross Motor Skills Toys:

  • Scooter (e.g. Radio Flyer My First Sport Scooter)
  • Mini Trampoline (e.g. JumpSmart Trampoline)
  • Wagon
  • I Can Do That! Games- The Cat in the Hat

Auditory Skills Toys:

  • Bop It! Reaction Game
  • Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzles
  • Musical Instruments (e.g. Casio Key Light Up Keyboard)
  • Barbie Voice Change Boombox

Thinking Skills Toys:

  • Headbanz
  • Scrabble Flash Game
  • Train set (e.g. Chuggington Wood Beginners Set)
  • FAO Schwarz Big World Map

Overall, it is crucial for parents to keep in mind that while new technology is impressive, traditional board games as well as hands-on toys continue to be an ideal way for children to work on a variety of skills and allow them to explore their environment and pursue their own interests. It is exciting to think that your child will gain so many new skills just from playing one of the games listed above with friends and family. Stay tuned for my next blog on a more detailed breakdown of many of these toys. Happy shopping!

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Developmental & Fun Holiday Gift List For All Ages!

Holiday gift giving can be tricky to juggle when providing educational toys that also happen to be fun for your children. Here is a list of suggestions that is seperated by Ages, Sensory Considerations and Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development.  girl with gifts

Holiday Toys for Infants (0-1yr)

Gross Motor:

“Tummy time” offers strengthening of the back, core and neck muscles that are critical to a baby’s development. There are many tummy time mats on the market to help this important position be a part of your everyday routine,

Tummy time play mats; $14.99 – $24.99

Fine Motor:

Babies enjoy exploring environments that are filled with music, colors, lights and a variety of textures. Cause and effects toys are great for developing fine motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination such as,

Fisher-Price Little Superstar Classical Stacker (6mos & up); $13.99

Sensory:

Providing infants with teethers and rattles of a variety of shapes, sounds and textures will assist in their exploration of their environment as well as help sooth those teeth coming in. Read more