POTS Top Toy Picks for 2009
Friday, November 27th, 2009
Children 3-5 years old engage in pretend play to experiment different roles.
Their problem solving and fine motor skills are developing rapidly. They love to build and are beginning to follow patterns. Playtime is a natural way to support their development with opportunities to practice these emerging skills.
Melissa & Doug Play Food Sets (www.melissaanddoug.com)
Pre-schoolers are learning to play pretend and will love the variety of foods that they can cook, prepare, and serve just like Mommy and Daddy. Many food sets have a cutting feature so that your child can learn how to “cut” the Velcroed foods and put them back together to make them whole. These sets as well as other sets, such as the Ice Cream Parlor Set and Grill Set, encourage using two hands together, which is an essential skill for children to master at this age.
WEDGiTS are unique building blocks that are graduated in size. The five block shapes nest and layer in vertical and horizontal positions. Your child will love this open-ended manipulative because WEDGiTS are designed to naturally align or drop into place, offering no wrong way to build and endless possibilities for creative designs. Stimulate your child’s tactile sense with the soft, flocked blocks in the WEDGiTS Weebabu line. Challenge fine motor skills in older children with the mini WEDGiTS. To up the ante, design cards are available (Starter through Advanced Design Cards) so that your child can learn to follow a pattern.
Pix O’s (www.toysrus.com)
Pre-schoolers are developing a mature three-finger grasp that they will need for coloring and writing. Pix O’s comes with a distinctive tool that is shaped like a fat marker. Short, fat tools are better for young children to facilitate a three-finger grasp. As your child’s thumb pushes against the trigger to release the Pix O’s onto the template, he/she is using controlled, dynamic movement. Spraying the Pix O’s with water to set the 2D and 3D designs requires your child to isolate the fingers of the hand to use them individually, providing excellent tactile and proprioceptive input. Placing the Pix O’s and spraying the water are fun ways to strengthen the small muscles of the hand necessary for coloring and cutting.
Children in elementary school are honing their cognitive and visual perceptual skills and love to play strategic games. They are social, and enjoy group activities and sports are an important modality for building positive social interactions.
Ruk Shuk Game (www.hearthsong.com)
This is a game of balance that challenges visual perceptual skills as players turn over a game card that depicts a rock formation and have 60 seconds to duplicate what they see using 7 game “rocks” they’ve drawn from a large pouch. Rocks are worth varying amounts of points: tallying points on the included scorecards is a fun way to build on math skills. There are 25 formations in all, based on real rock formations from around the world, and includes fascinating facts about each.
Design & Drill Activity Center (www.learningexpress.com)
Children will love using Design & Drill to create their own designs, or follow the activity cards that come with the set to make pictures and patterns. Use a drill bit in the reversible power drill, a screwdriver, or your fingers to secure the bolts in place. Using the tools strengthens the shoulders and elbows while encouraging separation of the thumb and pinky sides of the hand, important prerequisites for coloring, cutting, and writing.
Qwirkle is a game of strategy based on color and shape rather than letters, so both readers and non-readers can play. Each player starts with 6 of the 108 wooden tiles, and players will be challenged to see how many matches can be made with the designs on the board.
Bucket Blast Game (www.hearthsong.com)
Elementary schoolers are beginning to participate in group play and competitive activities. Bucket Blast includes 15 games for indoor and outdoor play that are perfect for group play at parties and get-togethers. It includes 6 colorful plastic buckets, 6 belts to attach buckets to players’ backsides, 24 beanbags, 4 boundary-marking cones, 6 blindfolds, and an instruction book with directions for all the different action-packed games. Gross motor skills will be challenged with tossing, running, and balancing games. They must also strategize and team up for points, which requires cooperation and turn taking among players. Our favorite is beanbag basketball, where you try to toss beanbags into everyone else’s buckets, while trying to keep beanbags from landing in yours.
Can You See What I See? Finder Keepers Game (www.toysrus.com)
No reading is required for this visual game of hide and seek. It will challenge visual perception and figure-ground discrimination skills for parents and children alike. Players turn over a “Find Me” tile and try to find the featured object among your set of “Keep Me” cards. You must look carefully as objects may be hidden and you may have more than one match on your cards.
Blog written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR &
Chaye Lamm Warburg, MA, OTR, Director POTS