The Play Forum is a collection of voices from parents and people in the toy and children’s entertainment industries. Read what’s on their minds, and join the conversation.
It’s getting warmer outside, and the threat of snow is lessening. It’s time to start thinking about how to entertain the kids outdoors! My autistic son loves being outside, and there are quite a few toys that can help him with key skills he needs to work on while enjoying the sun. Here I’ve listed our top five go-to outdoor toys that sneak in some therapeutic fun.
Little Tikes Turtle Sandbox
Nothing says spring and summer like a sandbox! Work on sensory play with the texture of the sand. Add a little water for a “muddier” texture. Getting used to different textures is an important part of therapeutic play. Kids can also work on fine motor skills by scooping the sand with various small shovels and spoons and work on supination (twisting the forearm from the hand facing up to facing down) by pouring them out.
Step 2 Tropical Island Resort
Another great sensory exploration! This time with water. Again kids can work on scooping and supination by using different sized cups and toys in the water. Water is very calming and soothing to a lot of kids so this is one activity that can have a lot of uses throughout playtime.
The Original No-Spill Bubble Tumbler
Bubbles are one of the best therapy toys. You can work on a host of skill with just one simple tumbler. Work on fine motor by putting the wand in the slot to reach the solution. Hand-eye coordination is taught by bringing the wand towards the face and the best part is oral therapy! By blowing bubbles, kids are working on mouth placement and air movement that can be translated over into speech. They teach lip rounding for the sounds /w/, oo, and /o/. Plus, they are fun!
Marvel Heroes Turbo-Air Spider-Man Hero Launcher
Stomping. Something kids are going to do anyway, so why not make this gross motor skill fun?! The Hero Launcher is the perfect way to learn how to balance on one foot, stomping and cause and effect. When they stomp on the launcher, the rocket goes up! The harder they stomp, the higher it goes. This one is a big hit in our house!
Disney Mickey Mouse Happy Hauler
The Happy Hauler is perfect for teaching balance and gross motor skills, making this a great toy for younger kids with special needs. Work on balance by simply sitting on the toy with feet slightly off the ground, or work on gross motor by sitting and moving it with their feet. Older kids can work on pushing and pulling with the hauler in wagon mode.
By using toys you have around the house, you can make therapy time fun and exciting. Kids won’t even realize they are fine-tuning their skills, or working on a new one, when toys are involved. Having the kids at ease during these key skill building times will make it easier for them and you! Now that I showed you five of our favorite toys, what are your go-to toys for outdoor play?