games can support therapy goals, their
primary purpose is play. Consider the
child’s strengths as well as areas where
frustration might be a factor.
Need More Help?
Check out the following gift guide to
finding just the right toy for fun and
learning that’s targeted to specific skill
areas. While there are many great apps
and electronic toys you can purchase, you
won’t find them on this list. But there’s
something here for everyone—from toddlers to teens!
Skill Area: Fine Motor
These are toys that encourage develop-
Skill Area: Gross Motor
ment of small muscles in the hands.
Why it’s important: These muscles are
used in everyday skills such as dressing
and using utensils and are also necessary
for coloring, using scissors, and writing.
Toy Recommendations: Classic toys
such as LEGO® building sets, play dough,
and simple board games (where a spinner
is used or pieces are moved) will encour-
age these skills. Also consider wooden
puzzles with large, easy-to-grasp knobs
for little ones.
These are toys that encourage movement
of the entire body and development of
Why it’s important: Walking, running,
and using playground equipment all rely
on gross motor skills. These muscles also
influence posture and support, making them crucial to write properly when
seated or move easily when dressing.
Toy Recommendations: Playground
equipment, balance bikes, and play tunnels are all great choices here. Remember
the hop ball from when you were a child?
You can purchase one sized for your teen,
too! Another personal favorite is the
Plasma Car. It’s completely kid-powered!
Skill Area: Speech/Communication
These are toys that encourage both speaking (expressive language) and listening
Why it’s important: Communicating
effectively is necessary for classroom success and positive social interaction. It reduces frustration when children are able
to express their needs.
Toy Recommendations: Cooking utensils, playsets (farm, dollhouse, etc.), and
dolls are all great choices to encourage
communication. Blowing bubbles is a
simple way to strengthen the tongue and
promote lip-rounding for speech. Make-Your-Own Puppet Monster is a creative
way to help your child follow directions
and practice using and understanding
prepositions such as on, over, and
beneath as they build a furry friend.
Skill Area: Sensory Play
These are toys that help regulate how
the brain perceives sensory information
from the body and environment.
Why it’s important: Being able to respond to outside stimuli in an organized
manner helps a child learn to regulate
his or her emotions, increase focus, and
block out distractions. Some children
with sensory processing difficulties crave
movement such as crashing or spinning.
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Which tools will help with your child’s challenges?
Discover the best sensory tools, designed
to help kids learn and thrive at every age.
Experience our sensory habitats that
address specific behavior challenges.
Download our Student Self-Regulation
Tool and other free resources that
support special needs.
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson