10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

 handwriting, fine motor skills

I am totally on the “LIMIT TECHNOLOGY” for little kids bandwagon and am all about “Pocketbook-Sized Toys”! I have been so inspired by some articles I’ve read lately; especially a great article by Your Therapy Source (link at the bottom).  So I decided to make a list of 10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

As a public school OT, I work with Kindergarten students two days a week.  The continued decline in the basic motor skills of four and five-year-old children is VERY evident.  There are probably many reasons why, but I feel that lack of functional play time is a BIG contributor.    Nowadays, many kids have their own tablets, TV’s in their rooms, and an IPOD shuffle. They spend less and less time playing outside, which limits their gross motor skills, endurance, and coordination.   When they are inside, they spend less time playing with toys and using their hands and more time with technology.

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Combining Handwriting and Play

This post “Combining Handwriting and Play”  is part of a year-long blog hop called Functional Skills for Kids.  Each month, I will be working with other pediatric OTs and PTs to post on different developmental topics that impact functional skills for kids. I’m so honored to be working with some amazing pediatric bloggers to bring you a well-rounded blog hop that will ultimately result in a BOOK!

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Holiday toys from an OT

Holiday Toys Recommended by an OT

Holiday Toy Shopping is around the corner!

The holidays can be very overwhelming.  Shopping for kids who seem to already have everything can be very overwhelming too!  As an OT, I have some favorite tried and true toys and  games that address many educational and developmental issues. I’ve decided to make a short list for all the families out there who want to buy toys  that are fun but meaningful.  Toys that address motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and reading and math are always a great buy, because you are supplying some fun while also working on foundational skills that will also support their classroom leaning.

*This post contains Affiliate Links*

Toys and Games that promote Spelling, Reading and Language Development

Boggle 3-Minute Word Game  Boggle Junior Game

 

 
Bananagrams

 

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 Scrabble Classic  Scrabble Junior Game

 

 Taboo Board Game

 

Toys and Games that promote Math Skills

 
Monopoly (80th Anniversary Version) Froggy Feeding Fun

 

 Yahtzee  Sumoku

 

Toys and Games that promote Problem Solving

   
 Rush Hour Jr   Rush Hour

 

 
 Wood Labyrinth  Junior Labyrinth

 

 Classic Dominoes  Battleship

 

   
 Guess Who?   Clue

Toys and Games that promote Eye-hand Coordination & Using Two Hands

How to Draw Books

 How to Draw Cool Stuff  How to Draw Animals  How to Draw People

Connecting & Bilateral Toys

 
  K’NEX Building Set   B. Pop-Arty Beads  Squigz Starter 24 piece set

 

 
 Magformers   MagWorld Magnetic Tile   LEGO Classic

 

 Spirograph Deluxe Design Set  Beados Gems Design Studio

 Creativity For Kids Quick Knit Loom  Knot-A-Quilt No Sew Craft Kit  Kids Scrapbooking Kit
 
  Friendship Bracelet Maker Kit  Do-it-Yourself Jewelry

 

Toys and Games that promote Hand Strength and Dexterity

  B. Pop-Arty Beads  Play-Doh Fun Factory Play Doh Fuzzy Pet Salon

 

 Finger Puppets  Poppin Peepers Cow  Play-Doh Scare Chair Playset
  Tricky Fingers   Lite Brite Magic Screen  Helping Hands Fine Motor Tools

 Toys For Sensory Kids

Sumoku

     
 Classic Bean Bag Chair  Body Sox Sensory Bag  Fold & Go Trampoline  Kinetic Sand 

 
 Rocking Hammock   Indoor/Outdoor Hammock   Jump-O-Lene Bouncer
 
 Sunny Tunnel  Castle Play Tent 

 

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Happy Holidays From Miss Jaime, O.T.

 

 

 

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A Fidget for Busy Hands

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Busy Hands for a Fidgety Kid

Fidgets, Fidgets, Fidgets!

If you’ve been reading my latest posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been talking a lot about fidgets, fidgeting, and all things fidgety. Teachers are constantly asking how to help their students focus and how to keep them in their seats. Parents are looking for sensory toys to help their child succeed at school.  There are many simple fidgets that you can supply a student with to keep busy hands quiet during class activities.

As I’ve recently posted, there are great little toys you can get at the dollar store that will do the job. But, sometimes you need something more. Something sturdy, durable, washable, AND fidgety. Today I’m excited to write about a new product I found called Fiddle Focus™ for Busy Fingers.  It’s made by Creative Educational Strategies and Services.  I had a great experience with one of my most fidgety Kindergarten kids ever. This product did the trick, so I’m happy to share my good luck with you.

The Busy Hands tactile fidget is a tactile strip with four different patterns and materials set next to each other in a horizontal row.  There is velcro attached to the back, so you can stick it to the underneath of a desk or a table if that is convenient.

My Fidgety Kindergarten Case

“Danny” was a 5-year-old boy who presented with all the classic symptoms of ADHD.  He was inattentive, impulsive, and had a constant need to be moving.  I worked very closely with the special education teacher in his co-teaching kindergarten classroom to make sure that Danny’s environment was set up so that he could learn.  We tried a Seat Cushion for him, which helped him stay seated for longer periods of time. Then we added TheraBand to the legs of his chair, so he could kick while sitting at his Kindergarten work table.  We gave him a weighted vest to wear during circle time, which he loved.  So we had most of our bases covered.

Except for his hands.

 Those fingers would seek out anything they could during lessons, resulting in untied shoelaces, tiny crayon wrappers all over the desk, you name it.  I decided to try out the Busy Fingers from Fiddle focus.  We had already tried Velcro under the table as a tactile fidget.  The problem was that he kept peeling it off.  Simply rubbing the Velcro wasn’t enough.

busy fingers

The Busy Fingers tactile strip turned out to be perfect.  It comes with a velcro strip, so we stuck it to the underneath of his kindergarten table right at his seat.  Now it was out of view, which didn’t make all the other kids ask about it.

But, when he got up to go sit on the rug, he was able to peel it off and take it with him.  This way, his fingers were busy while the teacher taught her lesson of the day.  Now, with the vest, the cushion, and the Busy Fingers, we had the tools we needed to help Danny focus.  On a side note, Danny’s mom was on board with us trying all this stuff.  He was just as inattentive and fidgety at home.

busy fingers fidget

Danny’s special ed teacher told me that Danny was doing great with the Busy Fingers.  She said  “he’s playing with it while the teacher is teaching but he hears everything she says.   It’s under the table so the other kids aren’t distracted, but he loves to reach for it in between lessons”. Sometimes it’s hard to understand that a child can still hear everything you say even if they aren’t looking at you.  But the same is true for us.  How often do we watch TV, read a book and have a conversation with someone at the same time? Not everyone’s brains are wired to concentrate on one thing at a time. That’s okay. As long as you get done what needs to get done, it’s all good.

CHECK OUT THIS SENSORY MINI-COURSE!

– and Get $5 dollars off with Promo Code: 5offmissj

This mini-course provides a great starting point by eliminating the questions and confusion about sensory processing so that you can truly begin to understand the role sensory plays in your child’s life.

The content is easily delivered through 3 pdf’s and accompanying videos, along with an incredibly useful workbook.  All these explain the sensory system, how it functions, and how it affects your child.  In this mini-course, you’ll learn:

1. Which Actions are Linked to Sensory and Why They Happen
2. What Sensory Processing is…
3. How to Tell if it’s Sensory or If it’s Behavior
4. An Overview of Each Sense
5. How to Start Addressing the Sensory Needs Effectively

Don’t Forget to Use Your Promo Code to Get $5 dollars off:    5offmissj

Sensory Resource

Click on image for more info! It will take you over to my pals at Your Kids Table so you can see what all the fuss is about!

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 What is your favorite fidget?  Please share!
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~Miss Jaime, O.T.
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Dirt Doh, sensory craft, coffee grind craft,

Y is for Yucky…

Alphabet Sensory Activities Facebook

Welcome to Alphabet Sensory Activities, hosted by The Jenny Evolution along with their partner site The Sensory Spectrum! 26 amazing bloggers have gotten together to share a sensory experience based on a letter of the alphabet every day this month. dirtdohThis post contains affiliate links.

Dirt Doh…totally yucky!  

As a contributor to the Alphabet Sensory Activities Series, I am responsible for the letter Y.  For me, the first thing I think of is  “YUCKY!”   I love to do sensory activities, especially recipes, with my class push-ins.  There are so many functional skills to work on; no matter the age of level of your students.  Stirring, Pouring, Kneading,  and Squeezing are just a few ways to work on hand strength and bilateral coordination.   Measuring, Sequencing, Calculating, and Adding are just a few ways to add Math to the Mix.

Depending on the class I am with, I like to have the children practice opening the packages, walking across the room with water from the sink, and find the measuring cups they need.  For older children, I add a math component by asking them to “double” the recipe or “half” the recipe.  If the recipe is edible, I even include daily living skills such as washing hands, setting the table, or cutting with a knife and fork.  Literally, one recipe can yield endless activities. This is one recipe that I have used in a few different ways and I am so excited to share my recipe for …

“Dirt Doh”

Dirt is Yucky! Therefore kids love it!  This is a great recipe that is also a “green” activity.  Used coffee grinds are the main ingredient, and you can switch up the recipe to change the consistency.

Here’s what you need:

1 parts used coffee grinds (wet or dry)

1 part water

1 part flour

Mix all the ingredients.  Add more flour if it’s too wet.

I’ve used this recipe in October to make a Halloween “coffin” filled with “dirt”, bones, fingers, and eyeballs. I’ve also used it in the spring as science lessons to talk about how flowers grow and how bugs live.  And worse comes to worse, just make “mud pies” because it’s fun!  Dirt Doh is so versatile!

Dirt doh, coffee grinds, sensory play

Using “dirt doh” as a spring sensory activity while learning about how flowers grow and how bugs live.

Coffee coffin, Halloween sensory

Using “Dirt Doh” to fill an under the bed storage container to make a “coffin” in October to dig for eyeballs, bones, and other Yucky stuff.

Strength, dirt doh, coffee doh

Using “dirt doh” to work on hand strength and bilateral coordination just because its fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirt is “yucky” and kids love “Yucky!!!

If you like Dirt Doh, please make sure to check out the rest of the Alphabet Sensory Activity Series on the Jenny Evolution.com.

sensory processing

Sensory Processing 101 is a vital resource for parents, teachers, and therapists who work with children with Sensory Processing difficulties.


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Bartholomew and the Oobleck

 

 


Glow in The Dark Slime (Pack of 12)

 

 

 

 

 


Be Amazing Insta-Snow Jar, Makes 2 Gallons

 

 

 

Miss Jaime OT

Have any other “yucky” recipes for us? Please share!                   ~Miss Jaime, OT

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About those crayons…what parents should know

Why you should chuck your Jumbo crayons and Chalk…

“Just say NO to jumbo crayons and chalk!”

DSC_0377b copy (1)

Toddlers use their whole arm to color, it’s natural! Laying on their belly helps them to start using their fingers, instead of their shoulder.

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Do you remember when your child first started coloring?

Babies and toddlers use their whole arm to scribble. You may remember the very large crayons and pencils from when you first learned how to color or write your name. It may be surprising to learn that handwriting experts and occupational therapists actually recommend using small golf pencils and tiny broken crayons for your child as they begin to write and color more often.   Jumbo crayons and pencils are actually age appropriate for toddlers to use!

 

Notice how the package says 12+ months. These crayons are perfect for babies who are just learning to scribble. Not for preschool or school age children.

 

Crayola 8-Pack Crayons - Jumbo (So Big) Size (Single Box)

Jumbo crayons are for babies! Literally toddlers only.

Bigger isn’t better!

Why no Jumbo crayons or CHALK?

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Toddlers use their whole arm to move the pencil or crayon. They hold it in a fist and use all of the muscles in their arm to make the marks on the paper.

As children begin to develop improved fine motor skills, they use their wrist and fingers to move the pencil or crayon. This is the natural development of shoulder stability.  Between the age of three and four, they should be resting their arm on the table and using the small muscles of their hand to do the work.

Imagine how much heavier those Jumbo crayons and pencils are for those little hands! Using golf pencils instead of Jumbo pencils allows a child to manipulate the pencil more easily, which discourages them from using too many fingers, pressing too hard, or scribbling outside the lines. Very often, children who have difficulty holding their pencil correctly have weak muscles in their hands. To compensate for this weakness, they use more fingers or more pressure! Ouch!

pencilbigvslittle

The Jumbo pencil is more than twice the size of the golf pencil. Too big!

These old fashioned “Jumbo” pencils are only appropriate for babies who are learning how to make a mark on a paper.  They are expected to use their whole arm, so it’s okay. Once they start scribbling, it’s time for a regular pencil or a golf pencil.

crayons, jumbo crayons, grasping, fine motor skills

 

So what crayons should kids use?

Good old regular crayons are fine.  BUT – if you see that your child is using too many fingers, you may want to go with broken crayons.  Broken crayons should be an inch or smaller.  Many moms cringe at this (teachers too) because we remember the awesome feeling of getting a brand new pack of crayons.  There was nothing better than that!  If the broken crayon thing bothers you, there are a lot of cute new crayons that are good for encouraging a proper grip.

 

Crayon rocks are perfect for little fingers! They automatically put your fingers in a “pinch” position so kids don’t get in the habit of “fisting” their crayons.

Handwriting Without Tears makes these cute little “flipz” crayons which are perfect for preschool to school age children! Kids have to use in-hand manipulation to “flip” them over and change color.

 

How can you help your child to develop the proper grip?  There are a lot of things you can do.  First, practice coloring.  This sounds too simple, and moms who have children who don’t like to color may say, “he won’t color”.  There are tons of sneaky ways to get a kid to color.  Go online and google “free coloring pages” and get a picture of their favorite cartoon character.  It’s more motivating (and less overwhelming) than opening a whole coloring book.  Tell your child that Grandma asked for a new picture for her refrigerator.  Or Aunt Susie’s birthday is coming and she wants a picture, etc.

Is coloring absolutely necessary?  Well, no. There are many ways to learn how to write besides coloring.  BUT – Coloring is a fine motor skill. It is exercise for those little muscles in the hand.  If your child refuses to color, it could be because it’s hard for them. They may need some hand strengthening activities to work those little hands so it’s not such a chore.  Play-doh, clay, and cookie making are all good for hand strengthening.

One of my favorite students who spent A LOT of time on his belly with me. Mom followed through at home and NOW he is a Kindergarten Success Story!

One of my favorite students who spent A LOT of time on his belly with me. Mom followed through at home and NOW he is a Kindergarten Success Story!

Another great way to help your child develop shoulder stability (the ability to use their hand without using their whole arm) is to have them color while laying on their belly.  This will be hard at first because it takes muscle! Keep at it.

I hope this gives some motivation to chuck those jumbo crayons! Or at the very least – break ’em!  The smaller the better.  Have fun!

Want more great tips to improve your child’s skills? Check out The Handwriting Book, written by a team of ten pediatric OTs and PTs to help parents, therapists, and teachers just like you!

Handwriting and Middle School

Don’t forget to read this:  Two Magical Crayons that will change your child’s grasp

 

~Miss Jaime, O.T.


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OT toys

Holiday Toy Suggestion List from Miss Jaime, O.T.

What to get your O.T. Kid for the holidays…. Printable list included

Do you feel like your child has everything?  Not sure what to get but hoping to get something that will help them learn and progress with their skills?    Here are some ideas for each and every kid out there…

 

As the aunt of 12 nieces and nephews, I have to admit that I have always been partial to giving “educational” gifts.  “Educational” to me means that it will work on some type of skill.  Not necessarily math or reading, but anything that they should be developing naturally  (fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, coordination, etc.).  Of course I want my loved ones to have fun and be excited about their present, but I can’t help but want to work on age appropriate skills – it’s become ingrained.  As an OT, I am constantly searching for ways to “hide” work in fun activities or games.  It’s amazing what you can discover about a child when you actually sit with them and play. This list is very general; its purpose is to get you thinking about what you think your little one might need to improve.  If you already know, go right to that section.  If not, look over the list and think about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Some of these games may seem really old- they are the classics!  “The oldies but goodies” and they are still a lot of fun.  Also- keep in mind, just because they seem old to you, doesn’t mean they will seem old to your child. If they have never played them, they will still be tons of fun.

 

Target and Kohls always have good sales on the classic games like Checkers, Connect four, Jenga, Battleship, etc.  For other games such as Scattergories,  Pictionary, etc.,  I would check on-line. You should be able to get great deals.  I have also heard that “Five Below” has a ton of “knock-off” games for a great price.   Oriental Trading is good for gross motor and sensory items like a tunnel, body sock or zoomball.  When I am buying for my school (ie, it will get a lot of use and needs to be REALLY durable), I will buy gross motor stuff at a therapy company such as Abilitations or Achievement products.  If it will be a family toy or used by one child, I stick with Oriental Trading.  Click on the “Hands on Fun” link to get to the “OT stuff”.   Barnes and Nobles tends to be a little more expensive, but during the holidays, they always have “fancy” versions of the classic games. They come in nice wooden boxes and would make a great gift that would last for years.

 

My favorite stores to shop for crafts are AC Moore and Michael’s.  They always have cheap crafts for boys and girls that work on fine motor skills, bilateral skills, and visual perceptual skills.  When in doubt, I go to AC Moore – they have paint by number, color it your self backpacks and jewelry boxes, wooden models and build it kits, etc.  They also have great crafts for the “tweens”, learn how to knit, learn how to make a friendship bracelet, learn how to do origami, science kits, etc.  Great for those blizzards that are around the corner!

 

Speaking of blizzards, so many Long Island families spend weekends away upstate; maybe skiing or visiting friends.  These are the perfect times to break out the classic board games.  Some of my best holidays memories involve all the laughs surrounding a family game of Jenga with my grandparents or a game of Old Maid with my parents and brothers and sister.   Rather than constantly relying on the DVR or some movie rental, break out some crafts or a good game and play with the kids.  Then, let them play a few rounds on their own to “practice”.  This is how kids learn to take turns, play fair, etc.  So many games nowadays only require one player.  How do kids socialize when they are playing by themselves?  Just because they are sitting next to their cousin playing “Minecraft” doesn’t mean they are actually bonding and interacting with them. So enough of my preaching – you know what your child likes, needs, and is capable of.

 

Here are some additional ideas to get you thinking.  Notice that I didn’t put ages on this list.  I hope that isn’t an inconvenience, but many children with disabilities are delayed in their motor skills and need toys that may be geared toward younger children.  That’s ok, they are still fun and “fun”ctional.

Fine Motor Games/ Toys 

Perfection

Jenga

Legos

Duplos

K’Nex

Kerplunk

Lite Brite

Honey Bee Tree

Tricky Fingers

Lacing cards

Stringing beads

Lanyard Sets

Wikki stix

Silly Putty

Colorforms

Mr. Potatoe Head

Dot Art

Mosaic Art

Wack-A-Mole

Nuts and Bolts

Cut-in-half Food

Playdoh Fun Factory

Stacking rings

Sequencing toys

Model Magic clay

Mancala

Pegboard games

Games with tweezers (bedbugs, operation, etc.)

Cards (uno, playing cards)

Crafts (beads, jewelry making, weaving, knotting quilts)

Scatterpillar scramble

Weaving loom

Sewing craft kits

Pop beads (Large or Small)

Bracelet or friendship making kits

Perler Beads

Hook and Latch Rugs

Model cars

Wooden Build-it kits (home depot)

Shrinky Dinks

Chinese Jumprope

Gross Motor Activities/ Toys/ Equipment

Bicycle, rollerblades, scooters, etc.

Tunnels

Sporting equipment

Vecro ball and target

Velcro catch

Zoom ball

Jumprope

Hopping Spots

Scooter (to sit on)

Mini Trampoline

Chinese jumprope (Klutz)

Hippety-hops

Ball pitt or “Jumpolene”

Twister

Bop It

Pogo-stick   

 

Visual Motor/ Visual Perceptual

Legos- any and all kinds!  The tiny ones make a great stocking stuffer!

Knex – often come with a “make this” guide, so children have to copy the picture

Don’t break the Ice

Thin Ice – anything with marbles is great – unless you have a “mouther”

Hungry, Hungry, Hippos

Memory

Aqua Doodle

3 D Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles

Velvet color/paint  by number

Etch-a Sketch

Crayola magic wonder markers

Crayola pip squeak skinny markers – one of Miss Jaime’s favorite things (only if they are skinny; better for little hands)

Crayola Twistables

Tracing stencils

How to Draw Books

Rush Hour and Rush Hour, Jr.

Perfection

Battleship

Word search books

Guess Who

Spirograph

MagnaDoodle

Easy Bake Oven

Mad Libs

Scattergories

Perfection

Pictionary

Boggle

Simon Says

Sensory  Materials, Games, Equipment

Radio/ CD Player with headphones

Earmuffs

Sound Machine

Aroma therapy materials (diffuser, scented lap pads, etc.)

Bath stuff – Massage Glove, loofah

Mini Massager

Floam

Moon sand

Wikki stix or Bendaroos

Fingerpaint

What’s In Ned’s Head?

Bean Bag chair

Wiggle Writer Pen

Hippity Hop

Play-doh and Accessories

Koosh Balls, Stress Balls

Model Magic clay

Body Sock

Cuddle Loop

Play tent

Kinetic Sand

Ball pitt

WANNA PRINT THIS LIST? CLICK HERE  FOR A PDF holiday suggestions.pdf

Again – this is a general list meant to give you some ideas.  Please feel free to share and leave a comment if you have any other great ideas!! Happy Shopping!

~ Miss Jaime, O.T. logo

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Need to fill a stocking or a goody bag? Need one more gift to make "eight"?  Check out this link for some Dollar Store Sensory Ideas!

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Tips to adapt your Holiday Cookie Tradition for an "OT kid"

Tips to adapt your Holiday Cookie Tradition for an “OT kid”

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