The Holidays – therapy-style
December 5, 2016
Bridgeway Academy has over thirty (30) licensed professionals in its Music, Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy departments. This holiday season, they are providing great ideas for holiday gifts that also meet therapeutic goals and most are available to purchase through the AmazonSmile program – where your purchase will also give back to Bridgeway Academy (http://tinyurl.com/jme52kl). Check out the lists and happy holidays from everyone at Bridgeway Academy.
Music tends to be a strong interest for all children, and kids at Bridgeway Academy are no exception. Here are some ideas for gifts that will engage students and support music therapy activities.
- A Cabasa is great for using 2 hands and getting a lot of sensory input. You can roll it on various body parts to work on body awareness and even use it for massage. http://tinyurl.com/z7lxlg8
- The REMO kid’s floor tom is a freestanding drum and can be used to work on grasping mallets with two-hands to play in unison or alternating patterns. We also use it to work on playing a steady beat with others or call and response patterns/turn taking. http://tinyurl.com/ht2usb6
- The ocean drum provides a lot of visual input and auditory feedback as well as the other benefits of the floor tom. http://tinyurl.com/jn45syb
- Resonator bells can be used for color or letter ID and hand-eye coordination. http://tinyurl.com/hzemrcd
- Laurie Berkner CDs are always a “go to” because of her great use of music to support movement. http://tinyurl.com/ztknlxc
Occupational Therapy encompasses so many areas of development because occupation is everything we do every day. It accounts for fine motor, sensory, play and independence. Here are some gift ideas to develop skills while making it fun and playful.
- Giggle Wiggle or Scatterpillar Scramble: This game is so fun for kids. The caterpillar dances and plays music. Often during therapy, we turn him off while we pick a marble then turn him back on to dance between players. It makes it a little easier and fun for kids. http://tinyurl.com/zue4qqh
- Lacing cards: Lacing develops bilateral skills necessary for more complicated activities such as buttoning and zipping coats. These cards often come in fun shapes and pictures. http://tinyurl.com/jckuey7
- Therapy ball: Often students need movement to stay focused. A way to help with homework or studying is having kids sit on a therapy ball at home while learning. Kids can bounce or roll prone over a ball while watching TV. They may be getting exercise without knowing it. http://tinyurl.com/j6qk5n4
- Shape sorter: Sorting shapes develops visual motor skills as well as bilateral skills. Kids must turn and rotate the box to find the correct shape and turn the block to fit into the hole. There are several different types of sorters with a variety of colors and shapes. http://tinyurl.com/hr9ryh5
- Aquabeads: Aquabeads are similar to Perler beads but you only spray with water instead of getting the hot iron out. There are so many kits to choose or you can make your own designs. This is recommended for ages 4+ however I would probably purchase for 7-8 or older because it is a challenge for fine motor skills. http://tinyurl.com/zmhoro3
- Make your own Sensory Bin: Fill the container with water beads and water over night. They will grow into soft, bouncy balls. Kids love to put their hands or feet into the container. This is good for relaxing or alerting. The best thing is to know your kids. If water beads are not their favorite, try dry rice. Hide small toys and have kids find them or add letters or numbers for more academic skills.
Orbeez or water beads: http://tinyurl.com/jlqabtjSterilite container: http://tinyurl.com/z3ld7ho
- Play-Doh: Play-Doh develops hand strength while playing and developing imagination. It is great because there are so many different play sets and colors of Play-doh. http://tinyurl.com/h5c3nfs
- Legos: Legos are again wonderful for fine motor skills. This builds children’s imagination while playing. Legos often come with step by step directions for specific kits. This challenges students to visually find the correct pieces, sequence steps and build. http://tinyurl.com/hbyzfw9
- Jenga: This game is great for coordination and slow, precise movements. This is recommended for kids 6+ but as an adult, it’s a challenge.
Gross motor development goes beyond running and jumping. Aspects of gross motor development include: strengthening, balance and coordination and all can be addressed and improved via play. In the winter months, it can be challenging to promote gross motor skills indoors. Here are some great gift suggestions that will make your kids happy and improve gross motor development at home. Happy Shopping!
- Scooter boards are great for developing core and upper extremity strength. You can either ride it on your stomach using your hands to propel the board; or, you can sit on it and use your feet. Increase the difficulty by trying to follow a designated path or carrying objects on the board. https://smile.amazon.com/ (This is just one example; there are a variety of colors/sizes available)
- Zoom ball is a great bilateral coordination activity that requires you use both arms together. You can increase the difficulty by doing it in sitting, standing, standing on 1 foot, etc. https://smile.amazon.com/
- Nobbie Gertie Ball is a variation of a playground ball with great texture and is lightweight for the child who is just learning to catch or craves texture sensory input. https://smile.amazon.com/
- Yoga Pretzel Cards are great for working on gross motor imitation. They come with a variety of built in games including partner games. https://smile.amazon.com/
- Melissa and Doug sound puzzles offer are a variety of different puzzles including: music, animals, vehicles. These puzzles are very popular with our students and are a great way to work on various postures including: laying prone on elbows, tailor sitting on the floor (criss-cross) or kneeling. https://smile.amazon.com
- Tunnels are a great way to promote bilateral coordination by crawling on all fours. You can add variety to it by crawling through on your knees, stomach, crab walk, etc. or by using it along with other objects around the house as part of an obstacle course. https://smile.amazon.com/ (This is just one example; there are a variety of colors/sizes available).
Communication skills vary greatly across the lifespan. Whether your child is an early communicator, learning to use an AAC system or working on conversational skills, there are many activities you can do at home to facilitate communication! A few strategies to keep in mind, without having to buy materials, are to give wait time, be a good language model and ask more open-ended questions. Celebrate communicative attempts and successes with your child! If you’re looking for gift ideas to promote communication, see our list below!
- Ball Poppers (many fun/cute styles) For an added bonus, take the balls out and put the bubble wand over the ball popper air to make a ton of bubbles!
- Pretend play – food/microwave https://smile.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Food-Groups-Hand-Painted/dp/B0000BX8MA/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1480363946&sr=1-1&keywords=Melissa+and+Doug+food
- Bubbles (any brand will do, but our favorite is Gazillion Bubbles!) https://smile.amazon.com/Gazillion-35300-Solution-Novelty-Pack/dp/B0104B1J2C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1480363331&sr=8-3&keywords=gazillion+bubbles
- Pop Toobs https://smile.amazon.com/Toob-Colors-Vary-Poof-Slinky/dp/B0052GOJ1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1480363546&sr=1-1&keywords=Pop+tubes
- Books! Reading is so essential! There are too many great books to list them all, but here are a few of our favorites:Tap The Magic Tree https://smile.amazon.com/Tap-Magic-Tree-Christie-Matheson/dp/0062274457/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480364449&sr=8-1&keywords=tap+the+magic+tree Press Herehttps://smile.amazon.com/Press-Here-Herve-Tullet/dp/0811879542/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480363720&sr=8-1&keywords=Press+HereThe Book With No Pictures
Pete the Cat (various)
- Pop the pighttps://smile.amazon.com/Pop-Pig-Game-Improved-Belly-Busting/dp/B00CYQ24QG/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1480364659&sr=1-1&keywords=Pop+the+Pig
Bridgeway Academy is a Columbus, OH non-profit organization with a mission to meet the educational and therapeutic needs of children with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you are looking for a classroom, therapy department or teacher gift this holiday season, be sure to check out the organization’s Wish List or make a donation to the organization’s annual fund campaign. All document in-kind and cash contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.