Therapists guide to gifts this holiday season

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Top holiday toy recommendations from our Therapists

Every parent wants their child to succeed, whether it is in school, work or play.

Boy playing with one of the top holiday toy recommendations from therapists at Children Support Solutions

We want toys that promote this success; encouraging intelligence while remaining fun and keeping our children entertained for more than five seconds.

With a world filled to the brim with Hatchimals, Minecraft and everything in between, it can be challenging for parents to find toys that meet these criteria.

Adding to these obstacles many of the big toy stores out there are trying to confuse us by preying on our anxieties and our wallets, mislabeling all the loud, expensive, and electronic toys as “educational”.

With the holidays fast approaching, this landscape can turn into a minefield for parents.

Children Support Solutions is here to help! Several of our team members, Occupational Therapists Laura Goldenberg, Suzanne Macarthur and Ashley Cooper, Speech Language Pathologist Saima Latif and Physiotherapist Jennifer Halfin, have gotten together to provide a list of their favourite brain-boosting buys that your children will love over the holidays.

 

Age 12-36 months

Our Occupational Therapists recommend:

Toy: Large Knob Puzzles

Why do you love this toy?

While these puzzles seem simple enough, they are perfect for helping children develop grasping skills, hand-eye coordination, and visual motor integration. Try getting a puzzle with a theme, like farm animals, which allows you to also build speech skills. Be sure to label the animals with their names, what sounds they make, and what colours they are!

 

Toy: Kitchen Set

Why do you love this toy?

Anything that encourages children to use their imagination and build pretend play skills is great at this age! You can use a variety of “kitchenware” and encourage children to practice scooping, stirring, flipping and maybe drawing a picture of their food.

 

Our Speech Language Pathologist recommends:

Toy: Push-Pull Puzzle (Talk It Rock It)

Why do you love this toy?

This push-pull puzzle is the perfect tool to work on pointing skills. Additionally, this puzzle can be used to teach functional vocabulary, following directions, turn-taking skills, and concepts of push and pull.

 

Toy: Phlat Ball

Why do you love this toy?

A phlat ball is a wonderful cause and effect toy that keeps kids engaged for extended periods of time. Whenever my clients need a movement activity, I bring out this toy. I mostly use it to improve joint attention abilities; initiating interactions, building turn-taking skills, and constructing verbal routines (repetitive words) for early learners.

 

Age 3-5 years

Our Occupational Therapists recommend:

Toy:  Dr Seuss Cat in The Hat – I CAN DO THAT Board Game

Why do you love this toy?

This is a fabulous game for following simple instructions, building social skills, and building gross motor skills. It is easily adjustable for kids who have a difficult time following instructions, and gets kids up and moving around.

 

Toy: Marble Run 

Why do you love this toy?

Marble runs are a great way to promote problem-solving skills, direction following, and patience. These games also encourage children to think creatively, use spatial awareness and develop hand-eye coordination. Remember to monitor the marbles with little ones and only to take out the marbles when the run is finished.

 

Our Speech Language Pathologist recommends:

Toy: Potato Head

Why do you love this toy?

Potato head is a versatile toy that is multi-functional and a must-have for therapists. It keeps kids busy and works on their problem-solving skills. Potato heads can be used to target body parts, pronouns, direction following, turn-taking skills, and categorizing. It is also a lot of fun!

 

Toy: Melissa & Doug Take-Along Wooden Doorbell Dollhouse

Why do you love this toy?

My clients find this dollhouse tremendously exciting. To begin with, opening the toy encourages children to problem-solve by matching the key to the lock. Then this toy can be used to enhance children’s functional vocabulary, pronouns, direction following, sequencing, and categorizing.

 

Age 6 -8 years

Our Occupational Therapists recommend:

Toy:  Kinetic Sand 

Why do you love this toy?

I love this toy because it is great to play with and encourages creativity and imagination. It feels and molds easily and holds its shape well. Also, it can be stored and used for a long time as it never dries out.

 What can it help with? Kinetic sand can facilitate tactile play and build creativity and imagination. This toy can easily be used to build letters and create short words and provides tactile feedback for children to increase kinesthetic learning. It is also similar to natural beach sand so it can help children build their tolerance to get ready for summer beach weather J

 

Our Physiotherapist recommends:

Toy: Sports Disc or Frisbee

Why do you love this toy?

I love sports discs because they are lightweight, easy to catch with either two hands or one, and can be used as rackets as well.

What can it help with?

Playing catch or using a sports disc as a racket helps to build eye-hand coordination, visual tracking, lateral weight shifting, and helps to increase core strength through sport. These skills are ideal for kids who are starting to become interested in sports, and for those who need to work on their throwing and catching skills.

 

Toy: Bean bag toss

Why do you love this toy?

Bean bags are another great way to work on throwing skills. Children can practice overhand or underhand tosses and targeting. Bean bags are easy to grip which makes throwing and catching easier.

What can it help with?

When used with a target board, bean bag toss is a great way to work on aiming skills, hand-eye coordination, and practicing different types of throws.

 

Age 8 +

Our Occupational Therapists recommend:

Toy:  StickBot Studio

Why do you love this toy?

Kids can demonstrate their creativity and imagination in creating engaging stop-motion videos.

What can it help with?

I primarily use this with kids to work on planning and writing skills. I encourage children to write a script, so the audio they record syncs with the video (this works on the organization, planning, timing and handwriting). This toy also works on patience, spatial awareness, dexterity, and bilateral integration.

 

Our Physiotherapist recommends:

Toy: Fitness video games

Why do you love this toy?

Anything that encourages staying active during the winter months is a great way to emphasize the importance of physical activity. From interactive video games to dance instruction, these games allow groups of kids to follow a fun, yet structured workout routine.

What can it help with? 

Fitness video games can help to improve endurance, strength, cardiovascular fitness, as well as the ability to follow along with instructions and build on a routine.

 

Toy: Yoga cards    

Why do you love this toy?

Yoga is a great activity to introduce at an early age. It has great short and long-term benefits for both children and adults. At this age, you can either participate with your child or they can follow along with their own yoga book/card set and create their own “flow”.

What can it help with?

Yoga is a fantastic way to develop strength, balance, postural control, and promote proper alignment.  You can work on breathing, technique, focus, and attention all while exercising your muscles and your mind. It also can be useful as a calming strategy for kiddos who have energy to burn!

 

Still unsure of what activities are best for your child? There is still time to use your benefits before 2017 ends – call and make an appointment today!

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