Therapists have some REALLY COOL "equipment" and "toys." This stuff doesn't just have to be for kids that receive Occupational Therapy. In fact these gifts are AWESOME for promoting your child's development no matter what! For example, all 4 of my children will be receiving "OT related toys" this year for Christmas. Not only are they super fun and engaging, but they also work on developmental skills at the same time! Here is a list of suggestions for holiday gifts that are OT related.
1. Body sox! $25-45. Body socks promote motor planning and body awareness while providing deep pressure throughout the entire body! Doesn't everybody need this? Also, they're just super silly and fun to play with. Pretend you're a monster or an animal and hop through the house. The Body Sox comes in all sizes and is for ALL AGES!
2. Spooner Boards $45. The Spooner board promotes balance, coordination, gross motor skills, and provides a vestibular sensory experience. It can be used to slide in the grass or snow or simply to do neat tricks in your living room! This is a toy for ALL AGES! Watch this youtube video to see all types of activities that you can do with the Spooner Board.
3. Easels! $35-60. We have a "pencil grip epidemic" happening in our country.
Why? There are several theories. One of the biggest issues that I see is that we are asking our kids to write on a horizontal surface MUCH too young. The extensors in the wrist and hand are not fully developed until a child is approximately 5 years old. Therefore if we ask them to write on a horizontal surface they tend to FLEX their wrist which automatically causes your fingers to extend. This causes them to hold a pencil with straight fingers! This will cause pain and fatigue, and cause kids to try holding it in a way that makes them more comfortable (which is not usually functional for writing). When we write on a vertical surface, such as an EASEL, our wrist naturally extends causing our fingers to flex and facilitating a functional grip. If you want to learn more about grip development take my my course "New Ideas and Techniques for Posture, Upper Extremity Stability, Pressure, Wrist Extension, and Grip!"
4. Puzzles (prices vary)! As an OT, I feel like puzzles have become a "lost art" in
regards to children's toys. As kids didn't we have tons of puzzles in our toy boxes? Nowadays this is a toy that not many choose to purchase or play with. Puzzles develop so many fine motor and visual processing skills. Some of the visual processing skills that puzzles help with are visual closure and form constancy skills. If your child is resistant to doing puzzles, sit down as a family and complete one together! The more the merrier!
5. Board games! I encourage you all to include lots of board games into your holiday shopping this year! Board games provide so many skills for our kids! Social interaction, turn taking, fine motor skills, patience, acceptance, and depending on the game it may actually work on motor planning or executive functioning skills as well! Some examples of great "OT board games" are: Qwirkle, Pictureka, Zingo (all versions), Operation, Skippity, The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game, Guess Who, Blokus, Let's Go Fishin', Perfection....I could list these for days! :)
6. Bilibo! approximately $25! Kids of all ages love the Bilibo! You can sit inside it and use it to rock or spin. You can use your creativity and turn it into a turtle shell, a drum, or a cooking pot. You could also use it to work on your balance and core strength while standing on it. It looks like such a simple toy but it has so many great benefits!
7. Super tools! $8-16. Super tools make the Play Doh experience even more worthwhile! These super tools specifically work on hand strength and bilateral coordination.
8. Hoppity ball as low as $5 at Five Below or local stores. They even make hoppity balls for adults! Hoppity balls address coordination, balance, and core strength (this is often lacking in our children)! Kids can bounce on it while sitting or they can lay on their bellies over it and rock back and forth. Both of these positions provide a great sensory experience. This toy even provides proprioceptive input that helps our kids with body awareness. Trampolines are also great for our kids and they make them with a handle bar or mini ones with enclosures!
9. Dressing dolls $15-30. If you're going to buy your child a stuffed animal or a baby doll anyway, consider buying them one that has zippers, buckles, snaps, and buttons. This will encourage the fine motor skills needed for dressing!
10. Water Wow by Melissa and Doug $10-15! If your child is resistant to writing/drawing/coloring then this would be a great gift! Basically the child just has to use the water (no real paint) to color in the pictures. My 3 year olds will play with this for 20 minutes at a time! They also have Aqua Doodle Drawing Mats that provide upper extremity stability as you lay on your belly and prop yourselves on your elbows.
Overall, when buying gifts this year consider some "OT TOYS" that will promote skills to help your child grow and develop. Have fun and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!