“Toy suggestions for Speech and Motor Therapy (Part 1 of 2)

Keri (SLP) and Kim (Occupational Therapist) talk to us about toys.  Christmas is coming and you may be wondering what are some games, activities, and toys that we can get for our kids that can help promote development or work on the things that they’re working on during therapy.

Puzzles are great to help children identify the pieces, following directions such as asking for a specific piece.

Mr. Potato Head is also great for identifying colors, body parts, and again following directions such as “hand me the nose, hand me the eyes”.  He’s a great friend for little ones.

Puzzles and Mr. Potato Head are also great ways to work on fine motor skills and visual motor skills to help children match pictures, shapes, and inserting those little body parts into Mr. Potato Head can be a little tricky sometimes so it’s a nice way to work on those skills.

From the OT and PT motor side, OT, this is a great toy from “B company” to work on fine motor skills.  It uses these little keys and you have to match up the color to the correct key, and you can put little animals inside to work on dexterity.  This can be a great speech component to say put a particular object in a certain compartment.

From the gross motor side, a great activity is called “Zoom Ball”.  It has two cords you zip back and forth, which is a great activity to work on bilateral coordination, and you need two people to play with it so great with siblings, friends, or parents to play together.

Any kind of ball is a really good thing besides the Zoom Ball, you can take turns, asking for a turn, and just tossing it back and forth with your child helps develop hand/eye coordination for catching.

One of Keri’s most favorite activities is called HedBandz. This game is great, you can modify it for most ages, and you have your kids describe the picture that’s listed, or they guess what their object is.  It’s great for reasoning skills, to identify, well if I’m not an animal, then I can’t guess “horse”, etc.  You can work on it with articulation kids to go through a great deck of cards, even if you don’t use the actual headband.  Great for older or younger kids.

For more gross motor ideas for little toddlers learning how to walk, any kind of push toy, something they can stand behind to walk while they’re pushing is a really great way to help learn how to walk.  This particular one from Fisher Price is nice because it can go from being a walking push toy to something they can ride on, and it doesn’t require any batteries.

Hippity Hops, Sit and Spins, and Balance Boards that you have to stand on to balance for older kids who maybe need to work on their coordination or balance skills.

Another fun one for little kids is Ned’s Head.  Boys like it but also fun for girls.  When  you reach inside Ned’s Head, you find all these icky sticky gross things like Ned’s brain, or his loose tooth.  They can describe which item they’re trying to find, and feeling around gives them something fun to talk about like why is something gross and how does it feel in your hand?

Again on the puzzle side of things, these large puzzles with chunky knobs are really great for smaller hands, so babies who are 1 or 1 1/2 are going to be able to interact with these puzzles nicely and work on the matching and describing.

Lite Brite is one of Kim’s favorite.  You can do so many things, such as copy designs, poke them in to work on the pincer grasp skills, or use tweezers or tongs to work on moving the peg into the board.  It’s just a really great activity to work on fine motor skills for kids having a hard time learning to use their hands.

One thing that’s great for speech and OT skills are shape sorters.  When working with little ones you can request the block, and then build the sentences.  “I want block”, “I want purple block”, “I want the purple block please”.  And it helps with identifying shapes and colors to help with a lot of language skills.

Little piggy banks, or any toy with a coin/slot game is a great thing to work on your hand skills, especially something as simple as turning your hand.  A lot of kids have a hard time with that motion of moving their hand this way to work on hand/eye coordination.

Another thing that is great for children of all ages are books.  When you’re looking at a book, even if the child is in a pre-reading stage, you can describe the pictures in the book, talk about the colors and activities.  Let the child work on their own story and sequence what happened first, next, last.  For older children you can work on articulation skills with words in the book.

Toys that have hammers where you need to bang the little ball through the maze are a great way to work on grasping, arm strength, and hand/eye coordination. Nesting bowls, cups, or blocks where you can stack them, or match the size of which one fits next.

These toys are good for speech as well, have your child describe the nesting shapes, colors, or designs.

Stringing beads are a great bilateral coordination skill builder.  You can get big chunky beads for the smaller hands to hold onto.  Or really tiny small beads for a craft project are a great toy for an older child to work on fine motor skills.

For those kids who are working on drawing their shapes or letters, using something like a MagnaDoodle or AquaDoodlecan be a fun way to take the pressure off the activity.

Sometimes just using pencil and paper at the table is the last time that a kid wants to do.

These are just some of the examples of toys you can use, the important thing is to be creative and when you present a toy to a child they only think they’re having fun, which they are, but you’re also sneaking in a little work for them as well.

If you have any questions about what your child should work on, talk with your therapist or school teacher about what they may be struggling in or what will they be developing soon and you can work on activities to help them have stronger skills in those areas.