Monday, November 17, 2014

The Big Stuff!

Here's another sneak peak to this year's holiday gift guide.  Yesterday, I focused on the small toys that you could get for kids.  Today, I am sharing some of the kid tested and occupational and physical therapy toys that I've put on this years list.  

Gross motor toys are ones that make children use the bigger muscles in their body and encourage them to walk, run or jump around their environment. I've chosen a handful of toys that will work on building trunk control/strength, upper body strength, motor coordination and endurance.  Trunk control and strength are important for developing good gross motor skills which lead to the development of good fine motor skills.   Take a look at some of my favorite big body toys.  More importantly, these are loved by the kids who play with them so they don't realize that they are actually working and exercising!  

Balance Board-there are a lot of different balance boards out there but I find that many of them are too challenging for my younger kids.  This one is great because it can be flipped over and can be made more or less challenging for children.  I find this is a great therapy tool that parents can use at home to carry over some of the things I work on at the gym such as balance, coordination and focus/attention.  I love to pair it with a fine motor activity such as a puzzle or a gross motor activity such as playing catch or something.  Kids love it and it is small enough to slip under a bed and not take up a lot of space.
OgoSport Super Sports Disk-there are several different sized disks to choose from so they can be used with children (and grownups too) of all ages.  Each set comes with two hand-trampoline disks and a koosh-like ball to bounce back and forth to your partner.  If you have more than one set, you can add more people!  The disks are super light weight because they are made of foam which makes it easy for kids to hold onto.  Can be played with indoors and outdoors.  Great for working on eye-hand coordination, social interaction, focus and attention and regulation skills.
Kick Scooter-many of my NYC families use a stroller for their older children to get to and from places faster but are wondering what they can get that will get their kids more physical.  One of the first things I recommend for them to get is the Mini Kick (for children 2-5 years of age) or the Maxi Kick scooter (5 years and older).  This light-weight scooter is easy for kids to use because of the two wheels in front and the one in back.  By leaning to one side or another, a child is able to easily steer (mostly to avoid hitting other human beings!).  Great for working on motor planning and coordination, bilateral coordination, body strength and focus and attentional skills.  For those kids who have a hard time warming up in the morning and are close enough to school, I suggest having them scoot to school to wake up the body to make the morning transitions easier.  
Zoom Ball-I remember using a Zoom Ball as a kid and loving it back then.  As a therapist, I love it even more because there is a tremendous amount of therapeutic value.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this is, let me describe:  there is a light-weight ball attached to two ropes with hands.  Each person grabs one side/two handles and let the play begin.  By opening and closing your arms, the ball can slide back and forth.  Go as fast or as slow as you want but see how long you can keep it going without having to take a break.  Great for working on building upper body strength, motor planning/coordination, modulation and regulation and cooperative play.  
Stomp Rocket-kids LOVE playing with stomp rockets.  After the kids place the foam rocket on a tube they jump on the launch pad and it shoots off.  This is a great toy for working on jumping, balancing on one foot and building body strength.  I love this toy because it is non-battery operated and doesn't make a ton of noise.  Kids love it because they can make something fly across a room without getting in trouble.  This is a great toy to work on with another friend can make the rocket fly and the other one can go run and try and catch the rocket and bring it back.  
Hop & Squeak Pogo Jumper-this kid-friendly pogo jumper is made out of durable foam and has a built in squeaker that squeaks every time a child jumps up and down.  The bungee cord handle has a comfortable grip for the kids to hold onto.  Great for working on improving trunk control/strength and motor planning.  Also great for providing proprioceptive input to kids which helps with improving focus and attentional skills.  Can be used indoors and outdoors and ideal for kids 3 and older. 

Do you have any wonderful toys that you think should be added to my list?  I'm always on the lookout for new toys not only for this list but also to have on hand at work.  Please feel free to email me with any questions or suggestions.  I am always a click away and love hearing from you all!

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