Toys Toys Toys!!!
Shopping for toys can be a difficult task at the best of times. Playing with toys is a significant part of childâ€™s daily routine.
Play is the tool through which your child develops fine and gross motor skills. Play also enables your child to learn about form and shape, perceive touch and learn about textures. Different play pursuits / or games enable the development and integration of your childâ€™s sensory system (touch, taste, hearing, smell and movement). Play also provides your child with social interaction and helps to teach your child about sharing and turn taking. Play is an integral part of a childâ€™s development. It is hence the main tool that is utilised to help develop skills of daily living.
Below is a description of different toys and games. The guide will discuss how each toy can help work on a particular skill. The CATTS team does not endorse any of these games discussed below, the aim of this article is to help Parents to understand how different games can be played to help with skill development. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the CATTS team and we would be happy to help.
Toys help your child’s development
Gym Balls / Space Hoppers
Using gym balls as a seat is great way to work on core stability. Lying flat on a gym ball and walking forward helps work on shoulder strengthening and stability. Strong shoulders and this is important for the development of fine motor skills. Strong shoulders help support the arm for movement.
Therapy Putty / play doh
These are great tools for developing hand strength and coordination. Setting up different rolling, pulling and pushing games can help to develop the in â€“ hand muscles strength in the hand which are critical for the development of coordinated finger movements and for stabilizing the fingers to grip objects.
Paint / Sand
Excellent tools that help develop a childâ€™s sense of touch in their hands. Exploring different textures helps develop the touch receptors that are in the hand, which are responsible for helping us understand what an object feels like and also how hard or soft of a grip we need to use. Playing with these kinds of toys is great fun and can also be very calming for some children
Jewelry making sets
Great for developing coordinated movements of the fingers and also pincer grip (between the finger and thumb which is utilised later to hold a pencil)
Play sets (Tea sets, Dolls, toy cars etc)
Are great for developing your childâ€™s imaginary play skills. Make believe and story telling are great ways to help develop your childâ€™s imagination. Follow your childâ€™s lead let them create a scene and follow how they want to play the game. This allows your child to come up with their own ideas.
Any type of building blocks games are great for developing your childâ€™s fine motor skills and perception skills (understanding how much pressure to place on the block and coordinating the hand to complete successfully). Building games are also great for developing imagination and make believe play. They can also be utilsed to help teach about â€œcause and effectâ€ (If I do one thing, then something else happens, like knocking down a tower).
Footballs (soft/hard, big/small and the type of texture)
Balls can be played with in lots of different ways. Ball games help develop upper limb coordination (using two arms together). This is a really important skill for a child to develop. The games can be changed up and graded using different types and sizes of balls to make the games easier or harder. Ball games also help develop wrist strength and shoulder stability which are all important skills which your child will use later in life to dress, wash and eat.
Matching card games
Are great for helping develop memory skills. These games are highly motivating to children as they are very visual.
Big or small trampolines help develop your childâ€™s lower limb coordination and balance. Playing hopping games or catching games on the trampoline will challenge your child to jump outside their centre of gravity and help them develop dynamic balance and core stability (which are important for the development of efficient movement)
Playing football / goal net
Developing coordinated movements while on the go can be hard for some children. Playing target practice with goal set can help develop these skills (running up to a ball and kicking). These kinds of games can also help develop lower limb strength, balance and perception of distance and force.
Board games are great way of teaching social skills like turn taking and waiting. They are also great games that the family can play together. Depending on the game, the game may also be working on fine motor skills (using fingers to manipulate small pieces to fit into slots etc).
Magnet games (fishing games)
These kinds of games are great for developing eye â€“ hand coordination, which is essential for coordinating movements of the arms and hands to complete activities of daily living such as dressing or coloring.
Colouring on the vertical (taping coloring to wall) or using free standing white or coloring boards will help work on shoulder stability which is really important for the development of fine motor skills. Using different thickness and length of crayons to fit your childâ€™s hands will help develop grip and make the game easier ensuring success.
Your home is filled with items that can be adapted and utilised in different ways to facilitate play. Using cushions, blankets and pillows can help develop your childâ€™s imagination to make tents and forts! Dry lentils, pasta, rice and beans provide your child with lots of different textures to learn about and perceive. Clothes pegs and coins in water basin is a great game for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
These games are only broad suggestions as to how to play with different toys. Every child should be supervised during all games. Every childâ€™s needs and interests are very different and some of these games may not appeal to your child. When a child is highly motivated by a game they will work harder and challenge themselves to new levels which helps with the develop of a wide range of skills.
All information contained in the article above has been gained from the first hand clinical experience of the author.