Sensory toys are a must for any developing child. In fact, sensory input is crucial for a child’s maturation and their core foundation skill set. Children often love these activities because they don’t really look like therapy at all! The child is focused on playing with the sensory toys, but don’t realize that they are actually learning at the same time. These toys are used in therapy to improve a child’s daily functioning, intellectual, social, and emotional development, positive interactions in the world around them, and achievement of their developmental milestones. All of these toys are great for group activities! In therapeutic preschool programs, these toys create opportunities for children to create social engagements and spontaneous language with their peers in the classroom. These five toys listed below are fun for any typically developing child, but most advantageous for children who are enrolled in a therapeutic preschool program.
Play Doh, Gak, Foam, etc.
Children need to be able to touch different textures and play with them in order to
develop their own tactile processing. If your child does not necessarily like the feeling of
textures similar to these, it is even more important that the therapist finds other ways to
develop their tactile processing. There are so many ways to make Play Doh, that the
therapist or parent can make it specific to the child.
Sand and Water play stations
Therapists most of the time have water or sand tables located in their classrooms. This
is a great toy to expose the children to the textures of sand and water, but the ideas
shouldn’t stop there! Therapists can get creative in the classrooms using shaving
cream, rice, or beans as different textures.
Toys/pillows that vibrate
Toys that vibrate are other toys that can help to stimulate a child. These toys can take a while
for a child to get used to. Sometimes, the therapist uses these toys to calm the child down.
The usage just depends on how the child reacts to the stimulus. Examples of these toys
include vibrating pillows, vibrating toothbrushes, and massage mats.
Play tunnels and tents
Tunnels and tents can be use for numerous sensory activities! To stimulate gross motor
and bilateral coordination, the therapist can have the child crawl through them. The
therapist can shake the tunnel or tent to stimulate the child’s vestibular reactions. The
children can even use them for a safe place in the case that they become overstimulated in the
Oral motor toys or products
Sometimes children can have difficulty with their oral motor control. To help, therapists
can have them play with toys that stimulate their mouths. These can include whistles,
different textures of foods, textured spoons, and blowing bubbles! In the classroom, the
therapists can assist the child using these toys or products in order to stimulate their
mouths and challenge their skills in motor control.
If you have further questions about sensory toys and therapeutic preschools, click the purple button below or call 773-620-7800 to contact CST Academy, Chicago’s #1 therapeutic preschool!