Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Small Stuff

Each year, I put together a gift guide for the holidays.  I put hours and hours into this guide.  This is something that takes a a ton of research...they are occupational therapist approved and kid tested toys.  

I am almost done putting the 2014 gift guide together (there was a bit of a technological snafoo and a lot of the work I put into this year's guide was lost) but thought I would give you all a sneak peak.

Some of the hardest gifts to find are those small ones that you need to fill the stocking, advent calendar or to cover the 8 nights of Hanukkah.  These are actually some of my most favorite gifts to look for and share with people.  These gifts are the ones that kids tend to use the most because they can be thrown in a backpack when traveling, used while sitting in a doctor's office or between therapy sessions.  

Discovery Putty-it's rare for me to suggest a toy from a therapeutic catalogue so you have to understand the aweseomeness of this product for it to make the cut.  Discovery Putty is the best....THE BEST!  Kids at my gym LOVE it and don't even understand that they are working on SO many occupational therapy goals when playing with it.  I've spent my career hiding things in theraputty to work on increasing grasp strength.  Kids got bored pretty quickly with the coins I would stick in the putty.  When I found Discovery Putty things changed.  Kids love looking through the putty to find the different treats or animals hidden inside.  Rumor has it that there are two new putties coming out soon and I can't wait!  In addition to working on increasing grasp strength and fine motor skills, Discovery Putty works on improving bilateral coordination skills,
focus and attention and language skills (identifying what they have discovered in the putty). 
Crayon Stylus-this stylus is great for your little ones.  My preschool age children love using this stylus when using the iPad.  Even with my littlest of kids, I try and use a stylus whenever we use the iPad in order to practice using a proper grip on writing instruments.  Kids seem to be much less resistant when it is a fun looking stylus like this red crayon.
Retro Pen Stylus-I use the iPad a lot during my therapy sessions, especially for working on handwriting with my older kids.  I was psyched to find these mini stylus pens a few weeks ago at a local bookstore.  These pens are a perfect size for encouraging a proper grasp.  I really love that I can easily transition from working on writing letters with my kids on the iPad to paper when using this pen!
Magiclip Princess Dolls-looking for something small and magical that will be sure to make your princess loving kids happy?  Magiclip dolls are one of the most popular toys in my office.  Each doll comes with a dress that comes on and off by pinching the bottom of the dress.  There are several princesses and to choose from and all the dresses fit on all the other dolls.  Great for working on fine motor skills such as improving grasp strength, bilateral coordination and manipulation skills.  
PopToobs-PopToobs or rapper snappers, whatever you call them, they are awesome!  I have been using these since I started my career as on occupational therapist.  They are great for working on improving grasp strength, bilateral coordination and motor planning skills.  Kids love them for their bright colors and the fun sounds they make as you pull them apart and push them together.  
ZooSticks-I have been using these kid-friendly chopsticks for years and years.  Not only are they great for motivating picky eaters to eat (they love using them to pick up their food), they are great for working on increasing grasp strength and manipulation skills.  While working with kids during my sessions, I like to have them pick up small items using the chopsticks.  They especially love when I have little squishy animals for them to "rescue".  These come in a variety of animals, including sea creatures and farm animals.
Sticker Puzzles-one of my favorite finds this year, Lee Publications has a ton of different sticker puzzle books featuring your children's favorite characters.  Each book comes with 8 different puzzles and your child has to place the numbered stickers on a numbered grid to complete the picture.  Some of the puzzles have as few as 9 stickers and as many as 48 stickers so you can find one that is best for your child.  Great for learning, identifying and matching numbers as well as improving fine motor skills such as grasping and manipulation skills.  Also great for improving bilateral coordination, visual tracking/perceptual skills and focus and attention.  
Eeboo Pipe Cleaners-I was on the hunt for different colored and textured pipe cleaners for a Halloween project and found these pipe cleaners by Eeboo.  Each set comes with 36 pipe cleaners in 3 different colors and 4 different sizes.  They come in a ton of colors and my favorite thing is that each set also comes with a simple project on the back that your child can do.  Pipe cleaners are also great for working on teaching children how to string beads when they are struggling with using a flimsy string.  
Slingshot-not for the faint of heart and definitely targeted towards the older and more responsible of kids you are giving gifts to, this slingshot by Hella Slingshots are an awesome gift!  It's important to note that this is not a toy and something to be played with responsibly.  I highly recommend the felt slingshot ammo when using this beautifully made tool.  This is great for working on fine motor skills, improving eye hand coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and motor planning.  It should be used while supervised for younger kids and never used as a weapon ;)!  My daughter and husband loved setting up targets and knocking them down together; I loved how they talked before doing it and making a plan to best knock down their targets. In our house, the rule is that you can only use this with toys, never towards people.


As I have already mentioned, this is just a sneak peak of what is to come in the next couple of days.  These small gifts can make a big difference in the level of happiness the kids who you will be giving gifts to this year.

I know there are hundreds of other stocking stuffer/small gifts out there I may not know about.  If you have any gifts to add to this before I share my whole list, please do share!  I am always on the lookout and count on my fellow toy lovers to share their wisdom with me.  I am just a click away and always happy to add to this list.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Meghan, Thank you so much for putting so much time and effort into your descriptions of your favorite toys, games, and puzzles. As a special educator, OT, and Reading specialist I mull over your words and figure out how I can best use the toys you mention in my own practice and share with parents and co-workers.
    When I was doing EI homecare, rapper snappers were always in my bag. I am going to order some and use them with a literacy twist. I also plan to order the Discovery putty. Although my pocket book my not be so happy right now. I am looking forward to some awesome fun with my struggling readers.
    .

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