Advanced search

Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.

Toys for independent play

(15 Posts)
dev9aug Thu 04-Jul-13 15:41:27

We are currently working on independent play with ds1 and I need toys with a start and finish.

We currently have lots of puzzles, Mr potato head, tea party and train sets etc, but looking for inspiration for new ideas. Any suggestions.
TIA smile

dev9aug Thu 04-Jul-13 15:43:25

DS1 is 4 years old with a dx of ASD.

ouryve Thu 04-Jul-13 16:51:34

Simple lego or Duplo sets?

AgnesDiPesto Thu 04-Jul-13 19:06:35

We had lots of Melissa and Doug toys (although I notice ELC do rip off a lot of these, but I am a bit of a sucker for wooden toys). Pattern blocks. Magnetic shape boards or magnetic dress up etc. Button or peg boards eg M&Doug, ELC, Quercetti. Simple marble runs. Threading shapes. Shape sorters. Construction toys eg lego, magnetix, duplo etc you can photograph a pre made shape to copy. Same with sticklebricks. Sticker books eg galts I think do make a silly face one or this bath set is also an animal one. We also had a small automobolox car which is a wooden car and you put 4-5 pieces together and they connect with magnets to make a car but are quite expensive. Mightymind. Fuzzy felt. Tap tap art. Djeco is a lovely make if you feel like splashing out. Even if these are not closed ended you can make them so by making something (or photographing it) in advance and making it into imitation. I would look at SN toy websites including in USA for ideas and then track down something similar via Amazon thats cheaper.

boobybum Thu 04-Jul-13 20:15:55

Hi, I asked something similar a while ago so thought you might find the answers helpful.

dev9aug Thu 04-Jul-13 22:49:13

Thanks Ouryve

Agnes You are wonderful. I love the Djeco toys. I am going to have a look at US websites as well.

Thanks Boobybum Just had a look, I can see I will have to update my shopping list. smile

Thanks everyone.

salondon Fri 05-Jul-13 10:33:09

very very useful and timely thread Dev and thanks for the linke boobybum

I have lots of knob puzzles like this one. My daughter is bored of them now

AgnesDiPesto Fri 05-Jul-13 12:47:53

I know Dev I love Djeco stuff, even though you can get similar things cheaper elsewhere they are just so beautifully designed.

Fatbraintoys is a good US website and has a section for autism. Then once you find something you can search and generally find a UK equivalent. has lots of motor skills stuff for ideas also worth a look

Often you can find US toys in TKMaxx eg they almost always have Melissa and Doug stuff at reduced prices.

dev9aug Fri 05-Jul-13 14:04:48

ooh Agnes, now you are just teasing... At this rate, I will have to build a room for the toys... I have only looked at the fatbrains website and this stuff is amazing... Why can't we get stuff like this here....

I saw one company importing stuff from US for ABA, but the prices were eye watering...sad

AgnesDiPesto Fri 05-Jul-13 16:52:39

I have an American mule!
And I end up supplying the ABA provider with cast offs. That said it does take DS 2-4 years to grow out of a toy so I suppose we get good value. And people never know what to buy DS so I end up offering to buy their gifts too. You can usually track down a uk / cheaper version. I keep finding very obvious copies in ELC of things I have seen made by USA manufacturers.

dev9aug Fri 05-Jul-13 21:44:27

lol @ American mule grin, I want one too. envy

marchduck Sun 07-Jul-13 19:34:28

Lovely ideas here!
DD's favourite Christmas present last year was Orchard Toys "Shopping List" game - she loves it. Pop up Pirates and Buckaroo also great.
Another Djeco toys fan here - if anyone is in Ireland, Avoca stocks some of the puzzles.

Might be a few things you could adapt from this list for fine motor skills by Mrz.

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:
Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker
pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the
hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding
the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use
to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super
strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow
(mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt
"monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run
when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the
"Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes,
small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space
between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios,
macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or
to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto
construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to
the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle
fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what
happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.
Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal,
cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the
Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting
activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles
Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop".
Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar
in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to
the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt,
sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory
awareness in the hands.
Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following
activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It
may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent
switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand
for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by
presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body
through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play
imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line
across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

I also have a busy finger box basically one of those plastic fold out workboxes for craft with lots of compartments

1. Pegs –
You need pegs of different sizes, clothes pegs, small bulldog clips, stationery clips etc. Get the children to use one hand only at a time. I usually get them to peg about 10 pegs of different sizes onto the sides of a gift bag. They might put them on with their left hand and take them off with their right.
They can also try squeezing the pegs between the first finger and thumb (on each hand) then the middle finger and thumb and so on.

2. Elastic bands –
Elastic gymnastics! – Start by putting 2 elastic bands (the same size) around the thumb, first and middle fingers, ask the child to open and close the fingers. Then add another 2 elastic bands and so on. The more you have on, the harder it is to move your fingers. These exercises help to develop the muscles which make the web space when writing.

3. Beads –
Get beads of different sizes and thread. Ask the children to thread some beads onto their string. The smaller the hole obviously the harder it is to thread. Develops hand/eye coordination.

4. Ball bearings and tweezers –
Put the ball bearings in one little box and ask the child to try and pick one ball bearing up at a time with the tweezers and place in a second small box. If this is too tricky try using Hama beads and tweezers.

5. Floam / Playdough –
These products are great for squeezing and rolling which provides necessary sensory feedback and helps to develop hand strength. Ask the children to squeeze the dough and roll it with the palm of their hand.

6. Doodle board –
The Doodleboard is just a way of children practising handwriting patterns or letters without having to commit them to paper. Provide some patterns and shapes to copy.

7. Gummed Shapes –
Give the children a sheet of plain paper and ask them to make patterns or pictures with the gummed shapes. Just picking up on shape at a time, licking it and then sticking it down all help to develop hand/eye coordination and the pincer grip.

8. Hama Beads –
Hama beads are good for pincer grip and hand/eye coordination. The children have patterned sheets to copy and peg boards to put them on.

9. Lacing cards –
Also good for hand/eye coordination. Just give each child one card to lace.

10. Bean bags –
Give a child 4-5 bean bags and place a container about 3 feet infront of them. Ask the child to try and get as many beanbags in the container as possible. (Hand/eye coordination)

11. Chalk and blackboard –
If you can, try and wedge the blackboard between two tables and provide the child with a piece of chalk in each hand. Ask them to draw the same pattern with both hands at the same time on both sides of the board. This helps develop bilateral movement.
Allow the children to draw patterns, shapes and letter shapes on the blackboard. The chalk gives sensory feedback and sound simultaneously.

12. Stencils –
Children can use the stencils to make a picture. Helps develop pencil control and special awareness among other things.

13. Feathers –
Ask the children to try and balance a feather on different parts of their body. This helps to develop balance and coordination.

14. Handhugger pens –
Hand hugger pens are the triangular shaped pens. These help the children to establish a better pencil grip.

15. Tissue paper strips –
Place the child’s palm (at the wrist) on the end of a strip of tissue paper. Ask them to only use their middle finger to get the paper to scrunch up under their hand.
Repeat, but this time place the side of the child’s hand on one end of the tissue strip and ask them to only use their thumb to scrunch up the paper and bring it under their hand.
These activities really help to develop the hand arch, web space and muscle tone of the hand.

16. Stickers –
Children love stickers. Just peeling them off provides an opportunity to develop fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

17. Peg boards –
These can be peg boards where the child has to place pegs in the holes, maybe copying patterns.
They can be the boards with plastic pegs already on where they have to stretch elastic bands between them to make patterns.

dev9aug Wed 10-Jul-13 10:33:51

Ellen, I have copied and pasted it from one of your previous posts somewhere else, but forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder, will go through it now.

schobe Wed 10-Jul-13 13:41:13

v simple

these seem fab but are v difficult

lotto games where he's just matching up rather than actually playing the game


yes also to automoblox - DS got a couple as presents, nice and simple (and vehicle based therefore interesting!)

magnetic fishing games

I am hunting round for similar stuff at the moment. I've just got some chunky plastic meccano 2nd hand from ebay as DS struggled so much with the car (2nd link above). We might just start with attaching 1 wheel and build up.

His level of interest varies so much - eg he's doing the Orchard shopping list game as a turn taking activity at the moment and clearly couldn't be more bored. It's hard to know what is going to suit each individual child and you could spend fortunes couldn't you? Some great tips on here for my list though, I can feel my bank account getting scared again!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now