Birth to 3 years
Push N' Go Caterpillar Toy
With a simple motion- pushing down on the top of the green ball, children can easily send this caterpillar rolling along. He makes for a great turn taking activity between child and caregiver or child and child. Activities that engage children in turn-taking activities also teach the essential social-communication or pragmatic skills necessary for effective communication. Conversations are turn taking activities! I say something to you and then you say something to me - much like throwing a ball back and forth. I guess that makes balls great toys for talking and learning, too!
3 to 7 years
Let's Go Low-Tech! Spinning Tops and Wind Up Toys: A Lot of Fun For The Buck!
Simple wind-up toys and spinning tops are affordable ways to engage children in a fun cognitive and language learning activity. They are also easy to transport to restaurants and other places where kids might be expected to do the difficult tasks of waiting and sitting still in a chair. There are literally hundreds of different spinning tops and wind up toys available at toy stores; ensuring that children won't get tired of them easily. One of the reasons these toys lend themselves so well to cognitive and language learning are their obvious activation and action. It is clear to the child when the action begins, offering many opportunities to actively engage in a cause and effect activity. I do something, something happens! Communication is a cause and effect activity, one person speaks and the other responds, typically with more words or with action. Additionally, tops and wind up toys can offer some challenges for small fingers giving opportunities to the child to request help and share the activity with another person. This cooperative play facilitates joint attention and communication- LOOK! Ready, Set, Go! Stop! Uh-Oh! More! My Turn! Help Me! I Like This!
COMMUNICATION IS FUN!
This book has, well, one thousand stickers! They are categorized by…alphabet, colors, pets, safari animals, clothing and more. The stickers are photos versus line drawings and offer many ways to engage children in language rich activities with their AAC communication systems. Label them! Sort them! Go on a scavenger hunt together and find them in the child's AAC device! Talk out loud and make your thinking available or accessible to the child so that they can learn to think like you do - "I see a frog!" " I wonder where the word frog might be found in your talker?" "It is an animal, we can start there" "What kind of animal?" "Is it a pet? a reptile? both?" Stickers are also a great way for kids to engage in art activities especially is they have fine motor difficulties or difficulties getting the ideas in their head into legible forms on paper with pencils, pens, crayons or paints. Stickers (and stamps) can illustrate stories and communicate the child's ideas to others.
WHO KNEW WRITING COULD BE SO MUCH FUN!
Lars & Friends
This classic game from my childhood- 1978 (UG!) lives on. This game combines sounds, lights and touch/action (engaging the visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses). It asks kids to recall sequences, much like following multistep directions, but they like doing it! This simple multi sensory experience allows kids to learn at their own pace. The sequences remain "at the child's level" until mastery; offering additional complexity only when the child has engaged in enough practice and developed the skills necessary to succeed at the next level. This increases engagement and minimizes frustration offering lots of redundant fun.
Just like they said "back in the day" PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! (earplugs not included)
Hex bugs have a simple on/off switch causing them to vibrate and propel themselves forward.
Hex bugs can travel up and down or travel through store bought or home made ramps and tunnels. There are a lot of action words here! How exciting would it be to make your own?
The Maker Movement emphasizes learning-through-doing in a social environment. Maker culture emphasizes informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment. This is the perfect context for learning and practicing language, communication and social skills.
Bots kits can be purchased here.
SET- The Family Game of Visual Perception
The brain is a pattern detector! Our ability to engage in many every day tasks rests on our ability to recognize patterns quickly or to free our minds up for more complex tasks- decoding, spelling and following daily routines all rely on pattern detection. This game asks players to identify "sets" of cards with attributes - all the same color, all different shapes, all shaded OR all a different color, all with a different fill and all a different quantity, you get it! The possibilities are many! The game engages kids and adults in a visual-perceptual and problem-solving task that utilizes our ability to recognize patterns. It is also social- offering engagement in a cognitive task that doesn't feel like work!
GREAT FOR RESTAURANTS AND ROAD TRIPS!