Toys can build connections between kids with special needs and their peers.

July 24, 2014 at 6:30 AM Leave a comment

“Inclusion” is a popular word used around children with special

needs. It reflects the emotional need of every human being to be

included and the desire to share experiences, and there is perhaps

no better place to put the concept of inclusion to work than through

toys and play.

Hot categories of toys this year are electronics, plush, arts and

crafts and sports, so let’s explore what’s new in these areas and

how they can bring kids together.

1

Electronics

Electronic toys are getting more interactive, intuitive and realistic, and children

of all abilities can play together with these better-than-ever techno-toys.

2

Beamz Interactive Music System

($349.95, http://www.thebeamz.com) is breaking the

rules on making music, and Bluetooth capabilities

make the latest Beamz player even more accessible

than its predecessor. This music maker is great

for multiple kids to play together and includes 20

songs to jumpstart rocking fun musical experiences.

The Home Play Bundle includes 10 activities

and lots of information on how making music with

others can contribute to fun and togetherness

with family and friends.

3

Creative Baby i-Mat My Animal World

($29.99, http://www.creativebabyinc.com) might look like just a mat,

but it is much more! The i-Mat teaches language and learning as

babies interact and explore on the interlocking foam floor tiles,

with a visual array of global animals just waiting for a touch of

the talking Voice Pen to activate learning games. Languages

available are Mandarin Chinese, English and Spanish, and the

mat includes two games and exploration exercises.

4

LeapFrog My Pal Scout

($34.99, http://www.leapfrog.com) is a seriously cute, interactive puppy that

helps kids to team up with each other and have literacy adventures.

Trained to know five board books, Scout asks more than 70 comprehension

questions that motivate kids to develop reading skills. When played

with friends, this dog becomes a great leader of the pack.

5

Spin Master Zoomer

($88.97, http://www.spinmaster.com) is another new breed of robotic canine

companion. Disguised as a darling Dalmatian, this eager-to-please

pooch is a great playmate to help kids polish their communication

and language capabilities. Realistic and just waiting for a command to

speak, sit, lie down, roll over or shake, Zoomer understands English,

Spanish and French. Kids love to take turns training this little guy,

and might not realize how much they are learning, too.

 

Plush

Children of all abilities can benefit from the interaction and enjoy the soft, soothing

sensation of having a plush buddy there whenever and wherever they need it.

6

Folkmanis Piggy Puppet ($27.99, http://www.folkmanis.com) is part of a line that has perfected

the balance of realism and being über cute. Equipped with a lifelike sounding grunter that

activates with a squeeze of his pot belly, this cuddly little porker will have kids rolling on the floor

laughing as he comes to life with a workable snout, mouth and front trotters. Puppets are a great

tool to help kids express emotions and share experiences through pretend play together.

7

MI Toys MILO Bear ($199, http://www.milobear.com) was designed with the idea that all children

learn differently. Children of all abilities can use this buddy bear to explore language and physical,

social and emotional development. MILO is filled with opportunities to communicate, interact, develop

and have fun together. His colorful, kid-friendly pockets feature MILO’s Smart Logos that align with eight

different ways that kids can be smart.

8

Senseez Furry Pillow ($39.99, http://www.senseez.com) is a plush pillow built to comfort kids

who need sensory stimulation and feedback. The pillow vibrates when pressure is applied through

squeezing, sitting or lying on the pillow. It’s perfect for kids who need sensory input to focus during

homework or while playing a game with another child.

 

 

Arts and Crafts

Working with art projects lets kids’ creativity take the lead and is a great way for kids to

interact with each other socially while working cooperatively together or independently

on separate projects.

9

Creative Adventures Sand Art Kits

($16.99, http://www.creativeadventureskits.com) combine the sensory element of sand with the fun of

crafts. Kids can create with 12 vivid colors of sand and can use templates provided to make their

own original designs. Easy-to-understand instruction cards provide suggestions for basic techniques,

plus six special effects for more sophisticated artists.

10

Glittertoos

($15.95, http://www.glittertoos.com) combine the fun of temporary tattoos with the sparkle of

glitter. Young kids can express their style and entertain themselves and their friends by

choosing an outline, filling it in with glue and then using a paint brush to add the glitter

onto the skin. Children of all abilities love sharing this experience with siblings or friends,

and the long-lasting tattoos are a great reminder of the good time had by all.

 

Sports

Physical activity is good for de-stressing and calming kids, and helps them maintain focus after getting out some energy. These products will help get kids of all abilities moving.

11

Spooner Boards ($44.95, http://www.spoonerboards.com) combine the balance of a skateboard

with the gliding of a surfboard. Kids can balance and guide these cool boards indoors or

out on carpet, grass, gravel or cement while polishing their moves and building balance and

12

 

Strider Bikes ($109-$169, http://www.striderbikes.com) pedal-less bikes are an easier way for

kids of all abilities to master the first skills of riding a bike. Children push with their feet and

move forward then gradually lift their legs and coast for as long as comfortable, building their

confidence and balance. Great way for a new biker and a pro to cruise the sidewalks together.

 

13

Waboba Water Balls ($7.99-$9.99, http://www.waboba.com) are amazingly versatile balls

that were designed to bounce and skip off water. Kids can play in knee-high to waist-deep

water to enjoy these animated spheres of splashing fun. Moving through water takes more

energy, so kids get a healthy workout, and this is a fun activity for all abilities to do together.

 

This article was written by Ellen Metrick, Director of Industry Relations & Partnerships for the National Lekotek CenterLekotek is a not-for-profit and leading authority on toys and play for children with disabilities. Lekotek is dedicated to providing children of all abilities access to the benefits of play experiences. Visit www.ableplay.org for a complete listing of toys for children with special needs. Follow us on Facebook!

Source: Parenting Special Needs, Spring, 2014 http://issuu.com/nationallekotek/docs/spring_2014/30?e=5110735/7320529

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Learning Not Limited to Classrooms Learning Tools for Skill-Building Fun

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