Monday, October 10, 2016

{31 for 21} Favorites - Toys Over the Years.

Now that Ellie is "big" and five and in Kindergarten, parents of younger kids often ask me what we did to work on various skills.  This happens most often on Instagram, where people want to know how this or that toy or book has helped and where it can be purchased.

So here are some old and new favorites in our house, grouped by skill.  I'm also offering comments on how we used the toys with Ellie.  I did a separate post about reading.  This is just products that have worked for us.  These are affiliate links, and I also list if there's other shopping options I've tried.  How we used the products is far more important than the specific product.  Keep reading to learn more.

Gross Motor

We used the easel for both fine and gross motor.  There's certainly other brands.  The Melissa and Doug is super sturdy.  We ended up with a less expensive brand, but I wish I'd picked one with a whiteboard on one side.  Obviously, this is a fine motor toy too, but it really helped Ellie work on standing.

BOTTOM LINE: Play that must be done while standing helps kids balance.

Fine Motor/Working Memory

WARNING: This is the most annoying book in the world, but it helped Ellie learn to turn pages.  It was her favorite at age two.  She's five.  I can still sing the songs.  You've been warned.

BOTTOM LINE: Tabbed pages and high interest books are awesome.

Shop Memory Game >
Santa got this for Ellie last year because Santa knows that working memory is an important skill for children with Down syndrome.  Santa knows that pictures of family and friends are super engaging.  And Santa knows that flipping cards is good fine motor work.  Santa also suggests ordering this early for holidays because it's customized and therefore isn't Amazon Prime Now.  (How did we shop before Prime?!)

BOTTOM LINE: Memory Games work on working memory.  Pick one that interests your kid.

These flashcards come up on Zulily under their special needs and reading collections fairly frequently.  They're cheaper there, but you have to pay shipping, so shop around.  I got these because they're similar to the Montessori sandpaper letters.

BOTTOM LINE: Tactile!  Multi-sensory!  Use play dough to make letters.  Or get other textured flashcards.  Or make them. 

Speech/Imagination/Pretend Play

Matt likes birdwatching.  While I'm not sure that Ellie has ever used her binoculars to look at an actual bird, she loves talking about the birds she "sees" with them, even inside the house.

BOTTOM LINE: Pretend play!  Tools!  Kid cameras!  Something where they can do a real job!

We replaced this with a bigger kid dollhouse a few years ago, but this was our first one and Caroline now plays with the doll family.  (Well, with what's left of the family after a several years.)  A dollhouse, a toy firehouse, action figures or toy animals all call for pretend play, recited lines, etc.  "Hi, I'm Mommy.  What do you want to play?"

BOTTOM LINE: Pretend play is the best!

A video posted by Megan Landmeier (@meganlando) on

And some other ideas...

COOKING!  So good for fine motor!  (And I got to post this cute old video!)

DRAWING! So good for fine motor!

PLAY DOUGH! So good for fine motor!  Double dip by making your own - cooking + play dough.

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1 comment:

  1. So glad you posted about toys! I get questions all the time about what my daughter (4 on Oct 31) "needs". I have found it is great to ask for toys with Purpose. Our favorite is her tea set. Her dramatic play, complete with conversation, has vastly improved her gross motor and fine motor are also positively affected, with standing to pour, passing out tea cups and saying "cheers"! It also helps us, as we are struggling to get her to drink from a cup. Thanks for your blog! Hugs to your sweet Ellie, and to you, Mama!


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