Toys for Therapy and Development

Toy Takeover 2020 – 5 Fantastic Learning and Development Toys
Toy Takeover 2020 – 5 Fantastic Learning and Development Toys 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

December is here!  Can you believe it?  When people say “the year crept up on them”, it really rings true for 2020.  While there was a ton of instability this year, one thing that remains stable is our annual tradition of our December Toy Takeover. There are many wonderful toys that are designed to help with your child’s learning and development, including five we really love for their versatility.

Not only will these five particular toys provide hours of endless fun for your little ones, but they will also help to work on all areas of your child’s development from gross motor and fine motor skills to speech and cognition. The best part? All of the toys featured in our December blog can be purchased at local small businesses in the Chicago area.  At PTN, we believe that shopping local matters and we encourage everyone to support as many small businesses as possible. This especially applies to this year as many of these businesses have struggled during the pandemic.

We’ve decided to feature two local stores in this year’s blog – Building Blocks Toy Store, and Timeless Toys. If you’re interested in purchasing from Building Blocks Toy Store, below is a promotion that they’re currently having for $5 local Chicago deliveries:

With that being said, let’s get onto the list:

Squigz

Squigz are one of the most versatile toys on the market. Not only can your child suction cup them to basically any surface around your home, but they’ll also be able to channel their creativity as they build cool structures and unique objects by connecting the Squigz together. Your kiddos will love gripping, sticking, creating, and separating their fun new toy, and you’ll love the fact that Squigz are safe and easy to clean.

Shape Sorting Cube 

We love to use this toy during therapy sessions and now your kiddo can use it at home, too! This vibrant shape sorting cube is wonderful for helping your child learn their shapes, colors, and sorting, while also working on developing their fine motor skills and gripping. You can even start early with this toy by removing the top and having your child practice putting objects in and out of a container.

The set features 12 colorful shapes that your child will enjoy dropping into the provided wooden cube over and over again. Once they’ve figured out where each shape goes, simply have them dump out all of the pieces and repeat the process.

LED Hula Hoop

Did you know that there are plenty of things that you can do with a hula hoop besides actually hula hooping? Yes, really! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Hold onto the sides and sing, Ring Around the Rosey (the hoop can assist with side stepping, weight shifting or transitions to and from the floor if that is a goal for your child).
  • Turn the hoop so that it is standing straight up to create a tunnel that your child has to squat down and walk through.
  • Make a choo-choo train by having the leader in the hoop while others hold the back and take your train for a spin through the house.
  • Create a “pit” to jump or step in and out of.
  • Make a bean bag toss game and use the hoop for your target.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt and place all of your collected items in the hoop.
  • Have a dance contest and incorporate the hoop into your dance routines.

Stomp Rockets

Get ready.. Get set.. Blast off! Stomp Rockets are the perfect gift for those kids who are always full of energy.  Your child will love setting up their glow in the dark rocket onto the launch pad, stomping as hard as they can, and then watching as it soars over 100 feet in the air. They’ll be entertained for hours on end as they keep trying to send their rocket higher up into the sky than the time before, while also working on their coordination and balance in the process.

Fubbles

Bubbles that have a no-spill design and come in a travel sized container? Count us in!  The container is designed so that the Fubbles will not spill out, even when tipped upside down so you can let your kiddos blow bubbles indoors without worrying about the mess! Pop the bubbles by pointing, reaching, clapping, or stomping, and practice counting and turn-taking along the way.  Each set of Fubbles comes in either a red, yellow, or blue container, and contains a bubble wand and non-toxic bubble liquid.  


Believe it or not, we’re just getting started with our Toy Takeover recommendations this holiday season. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter for more great toy ideas, and be sure to follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) as we’ll be sharing even more suggestions throughout the entire month of December.  On behalf of the entire team at PTN, we wish you and your families the happiest of holidays!

At-Home Therapy Activities That Use Your Child’s Favorite Stuffed Animal
At-Home Therapy Activities That Use Your Child’s Favorite Stuffed Animal 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

When you were a kid, what was the one item that you always had to have with you? Was it a blanket? A toy? Well, for a majority of our staff here at PTN, our special item was a stuffed animal. It’s very common that children have a favorite item, and more times than not, you’ll notice that this item is indeed a stuffed animal. This is because stuffed animals bring on a sense of comfort and joy, and they make it easier for children to express themselves, which makes them the perfect learning tool during therapy sessions.

Using your child’s favorite stuffed animal during at-home therapy can be extremely beneficial as it will keep your kiddos motivated and excited to develop their skills. The best part? Your little one will be ecstatic to be learning with their best stuffed animal friend, by their side.

With that said – and in honor of September 9th being National Teddy Bear Day – we wanted to share some of our favorite at-home therapy activities that use your child’s favorite stuffed animal. Enjoy!

Create a Story 

This activity gives your child the opportunity to be creative while working on their speech development. Sit down with your kiddo and ask them some questions about their stuffed animal such as, “What’s your stuffed animal’s name? Where does your stuffed animal want to go? What’s your stuffed animal’s superpower?”. 

As they’re telling you the answers to the questions, write each answer down on a separate sheet of paper. Once you’re all done asking questions, get ready to help your child create their very own book. Your child will be able to work on their grip strength by coloring each answer page with an image that fits the text, and once they’re done, they’ll have their very own book based on their stuffed animal!

Partake in Sensory Play 

Another great way to use your child’s stuffed animal is for sensory play. Kids (especially toddlers and babies) love to explore different textures, and most stuffed animals have numerous textures on them. For example, if the stuffed animal is a cat, it may have prickly whiskers, soft or fuzzy fur, and hard eyes. Let your child touch each texture one at a time while you ask them to describe what it feels like – soft, hard, fuzzy, rough, bumpy, etc. 

Play Dress Up

Your child will absolutely love being able to use their imagination while dressing up their stuffed animal, and you’ll love this activity because it works on your child’s fine and gross motor skills. You and your kiddo can make up stories about where their stuffed animal is going, and then, they’ll dress up their stuffed animal to fit the story. For example, if you both decide that the stuffed animal is going to a ball, your child could dress their furry friend in a dress or suit, and if you both decide that the stuffed animal is going to a beach, your child could dress their furry friend in shorts and a t-shirt. Your child will have so much fun looking through all of the clothing options and will be entertained for hours on end.

You can find dress up clothes that will fit your child’s stuffed animal on Amazon, at toy stores, or, you can make them yourself!

Let Your Child Be a Caretaker

Allowing your child to take care of their stuffed animal will bring out their nurturing side, and will allow them to work on their fine motor skills, speech, and gross motor skills. You can have your child feed their stuffed animal, give them a pretend bath, place a bandaid on any owies they may have, or put their furry friend to bed – the possibilities are endless! The best part about this activity? Your child will learn responsibility and compassion in the process. 

Be sure to keep an eye on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all month long as we share additional activities.

Top Toys Recommended by Our Therapists this Holiday Season
Top Toys Recommended by Our Therapists this Holiday Season 1000 563 Thomas Chibucos

The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spoil your children (in the best sense). You can go a little crazy with presents without any parental guilt and bring some wonderful smiles to your children’s faces. You can also help encourage development by choosing toys that have educational and therapeutic benefits.

As you know, we at PTN are big fans of providing therapy through play, and there’s no reason why some of the presents you get for your little ones can’t support their therapy needs while offering hours of fun. Here are our top choices for developmental toys for kids this holiday season:

Mr. Potato Head – This classic toy is still a lot of fun for both boys and girls. Your child can practice identifying the different parts, clothes, and associated colors of Mr. Potato Head. You can also practice skills like sharing, taking turns, and requesting desired pieces.

Puzzles – Age appropriate jigsaw puzzles are a lot of fun for parents and children to assemble together. You can work together to identify colors, shapes, and objects on the pieces and practice those fine motor skills.

Bubbles – Bubbles are a simple and cheap stocking stuffer that will entertain kids of every age. Blowing bubbles helps kids practice their oral motor skills, and popping bubbles works their fine motor skills. Bubbles are also great for developing social skills like engagement, turn taking, and eye contact.

Crawling Tunnel – An affordable toy that can spark imaginary adventures in the mind of your child, crawling babies to school age children can enjoy this simple sensory activity while practicing concepts like “in” and “out” and building physical strength.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Cutting Fruit Set: It’s hard to go wrong with any toys from Melissa & Doug, but we particularly like this play food set that lets your kids practice their fine motor skills by “cutting” Velcro fruit pieces apart. Your child will (without realizing it) practice skills like sharing, turn taking, fine motor skills, and vocabulary.

Books – It’s never too early to give your kids books. When they’re infants, you can read to them, and they’ll love the musical sound of your voice, the colors of the pages, and the experience of engaging with you. When they’re a bit older, they’ll start practicing pre-literacy skills like turning the pages and making sounds. A bit later, you can practice identifying characters, colors, and objects together. And ultimately, your child will enjoy reading to him or herself, because it will be a familiar hobby that they have always cherished.

These are just some of our favorite developmental toys for children. If your child could use some help with a particular skill, give us a call or send us a note to ask about other toys that might help them grow and learn as they play. Happy holidays!

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