Top Toys for Occupational Therapy in Mind

By Rebecca Fry | Toy Guides

Dec 10

Integrating occupational therapy practice into the home is an essential part of growth and improvement for an occupational therapy program.

Attending therapy with a therapist once a week isn’t enough to make lasting changes.  But bringing this work into the home can seem difficult if a child is resistant to participating.  When work becomes more like play, making occupational therapy part of your everyday routine is fun for all involved.  Intentionally choosing gifts that encourage fine motor movements results not only in toys kids will love, but also helps them develop important skills.  This guide will point to some classic fine motor toys as well as toys you may not have thought of that can be integrated into at home occupational therapy work, provide ways to use them in your home and the targeted skill areas.

Dimpl Duo

Textures, colors, shapes, and words!

Ages 1+

  • A unique tablet featuring silicone buttons, textured shapes, and words written in Braille
  • Encourages sensory exploration, tactile learning, shape learning, color learning, reading skills
  • A beautifully tactile early learning experience
  • On one side, buttons embossed with shapes, labeled with shape names in English and Braille
  • On the other side: Buttons are smooth, colors labeled in English and Braille
  • Buttons are a delight to feel, push, and pop

Sloth Popper

Builds hand strength, hand-eye coordination, and pincer grasp.

Ages 4+

  • Simple and engaging design that will entertain the whole family
  • Amount of hand strength needed can be adjusted based on how tightly ball is placed into the mouth
  • Placing the ball into the mouth encourages hand-eye coordination as well as precise hand movements
  • Work towards squeezing with just the thumb and pointer finger to encourage pincer grasp
  • Draw a target on a piece of paper or try to knock over a block tower to turn this popper into a game
  • Poppers come in a variety of characters

 

 

Boogie Board
Play N Trace

A mess-free and portable way to practice handwriting, pencil grasp, and graphomotor skills.

Ages 3+

  • Includes a variety of letters, numbers, and pictures to trace; builds visual motor skills and letter recognition and formation
  • Can also be used as a free drawing platform to encourage creativity
  • Includes three sizes of writing tool which makes it ideal for practicing pencil grasp across ability levels
  • Artist pallet grip encourages the use of both hands
  • Perfect for on the go OT practice in the car, at restaurants, or waiting for appointments

Slice & Bake

Cookie Set

Encourages bilateral coordination, grasping, hand strength, and hand-eye coordination

Ages 3+

  • Promotes pretend play for sustained attention
  • Slicing the cookies requires one hand to use the pretend knife and the other hand to stabilize the dough, utilizing bilateral coordination
  • Taking cookies off the tray and removing the icing builds grasp and hand strength
  • Using the spatula to remove cookies from the tray utilizes hand-eye coordination

Basic Skills Board

A classic toy to practice functional skills and work on fine motor movements.

Ages 3+

  • Enlarged buttons, snaps, zippers, buckles, and ties allow individuals with limited fine motor abilities to practice the mechanics of self-dressing skills before trying more challenging smaller fasteners
  • Puzzle pieces can be removed and easily packed into a bag for on the go portable practice
  • Buttons, zippers, buckle and tie all encourage bilateral coordination
  • Snap and clip build hand strength
  • Grows individual’s independence and self-confidence
  • Bright colors and bear design make this toy inviting and approachable for younger audiences

1-2-3 Build It
Train, Rocket and Helicopter  

Building toy that works bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, and hand strength

Ages 2+

  • Larger pieces are ideal for grasping for young kids and individuals with limited fine motor abilities
  • Bright colors and automobile theme are inviting and exciting for young kids
  • Requires use of grasp and hand strength to put together objects
  • Because many of the pieces are used in more than one of the objects, the individual is encouraged to take apart objects in order to build a new one which further works on hand and grasp strength as well as bilateral coordination
  • Simple picture instructions encourage sequencing skills and following directions  

Catch & Count
Fishing Game  

An interactive game that builds hand-eye coordination, sequencing, and motor planning.

Ages 3+

  • Fish can be ordered by number or size. Have individual collect fish in numerical order or from smallest to largest to work on sequencing
  • Maneuvering the magnet on the rod over the desired fish and reeling it in requires motor planning
  • The reeling motion encourages the use of both hands
  • Having the individual flick the spinner included with the game using their pointer finger works precise fine motor movements
  • The game can also be tailored to lower skill levels by having the individual hold at different places along the string rather than the rod.  The closer he/she holds to the magnet the easier it will be to catch a fish

 

Two Bros Bows   

A fun way to sneak in a variety of OT work for adventure seekers

Ages 8+

  • Pulling back string works on hand strength.  Have individual use different fingers to pull strings in order to work on finger isolation
  • Use of bow requires two hands and builds bilateral coordination
  • The process of loading and shooting arrow requires motor planning
  • The weight of bow works arm, hand, and grip strength
  • Loading arrow uses precise fine motor movements in order to place the string in the slit on the bottom of the arrow

 

Spooner Boards

A gross motor activity that can also be used for preparing to do fine motor work

Ages 3+

  • Spinning and wobbling motions provide vestibular stimulation which can enhance bilateral coordination
  • It is helpful to use Spooner Board prior to beginning occupational therapy activities
  • This is also a great product for working on physical therapy skills such as core strength, balance, and gross motor planning

Crazy Aaron’s
Thinking Putty

Putty that comes in a variety of textures, colors, and effects that make it perfect for play-based occupational therapy work

Ages 3+

  • Firm textured putties are great for hand strengthening activities
  • Softly textured putties provide unique sensory and tactile input
  • Pinch and pull putty between different fingers to work on finger isolation and pincer grasp
  • Hide objects in the putty to encourage bilateral work and fine motor movements
  • Roll putty into a ball and squeeze in hand to work on hand and grip strength
  • Rolling putty into a ball or snake in between both hands works bilateral coordination
Rebecca Fry

About the Author

Rebecca, originally from Texas, migrated to Michigan with her husband and two boys aged 2 and 5 years old. Rebecca is currently a stay-at-home mom but has a background is psychology with a special interest in early childhood development and parenting. She keeps up to date in the latests techniques in both areas whenever she can!