Early Child Development

Fling sock

Ideas

  1. Standing six to eight feet away toss a FlingSock on the floor. Each player tosses his/her FlingSock to see how close it lands to the first without touching. The closest player gets two points and throws first. Anyone that touches your FlingSock loses a point so watch your tails and remember the one that is the closest gets to throw first.
  2. All players are in a circle. Have players start passing the FlingSock around the circle until the music stops. The player holding the FlingSock is out and you continue again until one person is left the winner. For different variations have them pass under one leg, toss up in the air then pass, or spin around before passing.
  3. Target practice – place a bin a short distance away and encourage children to toss their FlingSock into the bin, each round move the bin farther away!

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Fling Sock

Fling sock is a bean bag with a tail. It requires very little strength and movement to throw. Various games can be played.

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Giant Obstacle Course

Set up an obstacle course and encourage children to complete, play some music and for older children make it a race.

Combine the foam gym set, tunnel, scooter boards, sensroy disks and teeter poppers for a fun and challenging obstacle course that encourages balancing, climbing, crawling, problem solving, turn taking, partnering up, you name it!!

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Foam Gym set

6 piece set including a tunnel, steps, slide and mats. All pieces connect together.

Tunnel

Excellent fun for developing cooperative play and movement.

Scooter Boards

Plastic scooter board with wheels and handles can be used in obstable courses and games to improve posture and coordination and balance skills.

Sensory Disks

10" and 4" discs. Match the large disc on the ground to the small one the child is holding in their hands. Can play memory games using a blindfold.

Teeter Poppers

Just like bubble wrap, stand, sit, rock, tilt and balance, while suction cups go poppity-pop.

River Stones

Builds children's confidence when jumping, judging distances, coordinating and balancing. Each stone has different slopes on each side.

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Ball Play Type Activities

Consider using a variety of balls from our ball selection to incorporate with the many activity ideas provided. Listed activities are ideal for children 0-3yrs of age.

1. Use balls with a variety of textures to encourage different sensory experiences.  Let your child explore the feeling of these balls.  Examples of balls with a variety of textures around the house may include: basketball, rubber “playground” ball, ping pong ball, soccer ball, tennis ball, softball/baseball, football, nubby ball, Koosh ball.

2. Roll a ball (of any variety) back and forth with your child.  Sitting in just one spot is a great way to work on balance for very young children.  For this activity, make sure to work with your child on keeping the ball on the ground.  It is not uncommon for children to get excited and throw the ball instead.

3. Now it’s time to throw the ball!  For working on throwing and catching balls, young children tend to have more success with larger balls.  A beach ball (or slightly smaller ball) is perfect for younger children.  As they grow older, you can work toward throwing and catching with smaller balls.

4. An extension of throwing balls is the activity “Knock Down a Tower.”  You can build up a block tower, put empty plastic bottles around, or use some other easily knocked over object as a target for your child to throw toward.  Children will typically be very excited for this new way to knock over objects.  (If you have a “no throwing in the house” rule, you may want to do this activity outdoors as to not confuse your child when you encourage them to do something that is against the rules in your home.)

5. Solo Throw and Catch – You can model for your child how to (lightly) throw the ball in the air straight up and catch it.  This is a harder skill for very young children – be prepared that the ball may go everywhere.  This is great to try once your child has the hang of throwing and catching with a partner.

6. Work on kicking a ball (playground ball or larger) that is stationary.  While it may be tempting to roll the ball to your child for them to kick it, definitely start with a ball at rest first.

7. Once they are pros at stationary kicking, move to rolling ball kicking.  When beginning this, roll the ball very slowly.  As their skills progress, so can the speed that you roll.  As with any activity, it’s fun to reverse rolls and have your child try to roll the ball for you to kick it as well.

8. Textured Ball Fun – There is a lot of free play that can be done with any ball that is quite a bit different from your average ball.  This could include balls like a Koosh ball, textured balls, nubby balls, and stress balls.  While these activities are good for all children, this is especially good for children to experience who have displayed some sensory defensiveness

9. Rolling on a large exercise ball can be great fun for young children!  Other balls that are similar to exercise balls might be (very sturdy) beach balls or very large playground type balls.  Have your child lay their belly on the ball as you gently roll them from side to side.  You can also try this with them sitting on the top of the ball as you bounce them.  This is a great activity for working on spatial and vestibular skills.

10. Bowling with soda bottles – If you have empty bottles (such as two liter soda bottles), a ball can be combined with these to have some impromptu bowling right inside the house.

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Easy Grip Ball

Unique finger hold texture allows small hands to grip better. Sting free play

Gator Skin Ball 2.75’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 3.5’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 6’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 6.5’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 7’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 8’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gymnic Ball

8" soft bouncy ball with no-sting surface. Easy grip and huggable.

Omnikin Ball 36’’

36" Omnikin ball that is easy to handle due to its size and lightness.

Omnikin Ball 72’’

72" Giant Omnikin ball great for outdoor use. Ideal for group activities. You can roll it, pass and move the ball in a team or make a tag game.

Omnikin Balls 18’’

Omnikin 6. A set of six 18" balls. Use feet, hands or head, bounce, jump sit on the ball and more.

Rubber Playground Ball

8.5" rubber playground ball with stipple finish.

Sensory Ball

3" knubbly ball. Perfect for little hands.

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Omnikin Ball Soccer

Instead of using a standard soccer ball, swap out for any sized omnikin ball - these balls are lighter and larger to make the game more fun and challenging.

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Omnikin Ball 36’’

36" Omnikin ball that is easy to handle due to its size and lightness.

Omnikin Ball 72’’

72" Giant Omnikin ball great for outdoor use. Ideal for group activities. You can roll it, pass and move the ball in a team or make a tag game.

Omnikin Balls 18’’

Omnikin 6. A set of six 18" balls. Use feet, hands or head, bounce, jump sit on the ball and more.

Teach coping techniques

Teach your child simple coping techniques (take a deep breath or count to 10) when they become frustrated

Parachute

Providing parachute games for our toddlers is a wonderful way to blend music and group interaction. Children can have fun learning how it moves up, down, and around; they can also have the opportunity to go under and on top.

Benefits of parachute play:

  • Builds social interaction
  • Develops a sense of rhythm
  • Builds language skills
  • Encourages taking turns
  • Strengthens the upper torso

Ideas:

  1. Complete the actions to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" clap your hands, stamp your feet, shake the chute, turn around (while holding the chute), pass the chute (to your neighbor), pull it high (above your head).
  2. Complete the actions to the tune of "The Wheels on the Bus" the wheels on the bus go round and round (pass the chute or walk in a circle, if standing), doors on the bus go open and shut (pull chute forward and backward), the wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish (shake the chute), the babies on the bus go waaa, waaa, waaa (use the chute as a handkerchief), the horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep (pretend the chute is a horn and beep it!)
  3. Shark Attack: Have the kids sit with their feet under the chute. Crawl under (either parent or child and take turns doing this) and pretend to be a shark biting their toes. Have them yell out "SHARK ATTACK!"  For extra fun, play the "Jaws" theme in the background.
  4. Place almost any light object (stuffed animals, foam balls, leaves, rubber insects etc.) on top of the parachute and encourage children to shake until all the items have fallen off (the more items the more work). Once all the items are on the ground, have the children race to hide the objects under the parachute – children can then take turns retrieving the hidden items under the parachute while the rest of the children shake and move right to left or left to right in a circular motion.

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Parachute

30' parachute with handles. Great cooperative group play and body movement.

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Praise

Praise your child at each attempt, celebrate the small success.

Teeter Poppers

A teeter board that can be used to rock, roll, sit in or stand... kids can use in whatever way they can imagine.

“POP-POP-POP... POP-POP-POP!” Senses go for a ride every time children play with the teeter popper. 

A cinch to maneuver - stand, sit, rock, tilt, wobble, wiggle, spin. How children play is however they choose. 

Kids find themselves teetering on the brink of perfect physical play. No special skills needed. In playful exploration, Teeter Popper improves core strength, stability, leg strength, balance, coordination and gross-motor skills. 

Curiosity wakes up, senses come alive, imagination engages, and creativity gets moving! 
Ideal for children ages 2-10yrs old with a weight limit of approximately 110 lbs.
 

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Teeter Poppers

Just like bubble wrap, stand, sit, rock, tilt and balance, while suction cups go poppity-pop.

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Play with Others

Give your child lots of opportunities to play with other children.

Consistent Routines

Have consistent routines to help your child feel secure

Bilibo

A rocking toy that will engage your child's curiosity, imagination and physical abilities.

Kids think it's a turtle shell, a rock, a stepping stone, a rocking bowl and so much more, and parents think it's an awesome way to develop their kids' strengths. Crawl under, climb on top, walk across, rock inside or spin endlessly inside this magical plastic shell. Use at home, at the park, at the beach, in the water, and even in the snow, Bilibo provides hours of stimulating play. 

Great for individual play or group activities
Ideal for kids with sensory processing disorder and autism
Helps with motor planning and balance training
A good source of vestibular input
Ages 2-7

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Bilibo

Is it a rocking chair, a turtle shell, a step, or slide, let your child decide. Encourages creative play.

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Rubber chicken & pig

  1. Play a simple game of catch, increasing the distance in between each child as they get more confidant in throwing and catching.
  2. Hide all of the rubber chickens and pigs, encourage the children to go on a treasure hunt and catch the chicken and pigs. Divide by color or type ex: can John find only the green chicken and pigs. Encourage children to sort the items by color and kind at the end of hide and go seek.

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Rubber Chickens

What can't you do with a rubber chicken? Perfect for throwing.

Rubber Pigs

What can't you do with a rubber pig? Perfect for throwing.

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Hot Potato

Hot potato is a party game that involves players gathering in a circle and tossing a small object such as a beanbag or tennis ball to each other while music plays. Swap out for any sized ball! The player who is holding the "hot potato" is out when the music stops. Play continues until only one player is left.

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Easy Grip Ball

Unique finger hold texture allows small hands to grip better. Sting free play

Gator Skin Ball 2.75’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 3.5’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 6’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 6.5’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 7’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gator Skin Ball 8’’

Foam ball with a tactile, non-sting coating that makes it easy to grip. Virtually tear-proof.

Gymnic Ball

8" soft bouncy ball with no-sting surface. Easy grip and huggable.

Omnikin Balls 18’’

Omnikin 6. A set of six 18" balls. Use feet, hands or head, bounce, jump sit on the ball and more.

Rubber Playground Ball

8.5" rubber playground ball with stipple finish.

Sensory Ball

3" knubbly ball. Perfect for little hands.

Tunnel

Tunnels challenge children to move in various ways including the coordination of different muscle groups, turn taking, and evokes problem-solving skills.

Tunnel Play for Babies Who Roll & Sit

You may think of a play tunnel as a toy for babies who crawl but even a baby working on Tummy Time or learning to roll or sit can enjoy tunnel play. Of course, the following activities work well for bigger babies and toddlers as well.

Giant Ball Ramp 
Using pillows, a piece of furniture, or a staircase to elevate one end of the tunnel, roll a soft ball down to your baby. Propping one end of the tunnel allows you to let go to retrieve the ball for a baby who's not yet crawling. 

Peek-a-boo
With either baby or you in the tunnel, pull the top edge of one end of the tunnel down to the floor to close it off. Letting go gives a nice dramatic “Peek-a-Boo!" The guys in my house came up with this fun variation (see photo) - this mommy's abs give out after about 40 seconds of this one!

Shake, Shake!
Sit at opposite ends of the tunnel and show your little one how to shake, shake! This can be especially fun if you put stuffed animals, balls or other toys in the tunnel to shake. Add in some language and direction-following play by saying, “STOP” and “GO” or letting your kiddo call the shots! 

Shake, Shake! (modified for not-yet-sitting babies)
Gather several sections of the tunnel together to shorten it (if yours is long like ours) and stand over your baby as she lays on her back. Peek down into the tunnel as you encourage her to shake her end with one or both hands.

Ball in the Hoop
Use the velcro closures or ties to collapse your tunnel into a hoop. Let your baby or toddler drop balls through the hoop as you hold it. 

Puppet show
Use the velcro closures or ties to secure one side of each opening to each other, making your tunnel into a semi-circle. Use stuffed animals or dolls to sing, dance or play peek-a-boo around the bend so your child can’t see that you’re the puppeteer. 

Caterpillar Hide & Seek
(If your tunnel is big enough for you to stand in) collapse the tunnel down flat on the ground and step into the circle it makes. Let go of the top opening and let it pop up to conceal you. You'll look ridiculous - like a caterpillar doing a headstand! Pull the top opening down to reveal yourself. Don't fit in the tunnel? Enlist the help of a sibling, cousin or neighbor kiddo.

Tunnel Play for Bigger Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Over The Mountain
Tunnel play can get more exciting when you add some throw pillows, rolled blankets and other soft obstacles underneath the tunnel. 

Commute
Little kids love activities such as puzzles or ball/car ramps positioned at one end of the tunnel with the pieces at the opposite end. They’ll have to commute back and forth through the tunnel to complete their task. This is awesome for developing sustained attention and for learning to complete multi-step sequences. A fellow OT blogger mommy, Heather at Growing Hands on Kids Blog does a great job explaining how tunnel play is also great for sensory processing and has a fun Commute - style activity suggestion. 

Popcorn
As your kiddo crawls through the tunnel, shake it until he giggles! Feel free to borrow this little rhyme as you play:  "Popcorn on a string, let's see [your child's name] pop this thing. Pop pop pop, pop pop pa-pop! Pop pop pop, pop pop pa-pop! Pop pop pop, pop pop pa-pop! And now we STOP!" This makes a fun turn-taking group activity.

Water play
Most tunnels are made out of tent-like nylon material that will dry quickly without damage. If yours is, take your tunnel outside for water play - letting your kiddo crawl into a baby pool or crawl under a sprinkler through her tunnel. 

Reading Fort
Remember how much fun it was to get inside a fort as a little kid? Turn off the lights and put a stack of books (picture books work just fine for non-readers) and a flashlight in the tunnel and invite your toddlers or preschoolers to enjoy their new reading fort!

Ball Pass

With you and your child (or two kids) at opposite ends of the tunnel, take turns lifting each end to roll a soft ball back and forth. This can take some trial and error for your kiddo to get the hang of but it’s great motor planning practice and takes teamwork!

Obstacle Course

Combine the tunnel and foam gym set to create a variety of challenging obstacles to promote building, climbing and jumping. 

The following toys can be borrowed from our Toy Lending Library.

Tunnel

Excellent fun for developing cooperative play and movement.

Foam Gym set

6 piece set including a tunnel, steps, slide and mats. All pieces connect together.

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