Friday, July 22, 2011

Fun and games; simple toys made at home.

Making appropriate toys that our children like to play with.  Zach loves it when we take the time out of our day to play with him.  It is a wonderful way to bond and relax.

Zach, like most severely autistic children, likes to play by slipping small things in slots, like under doors, cracks in tables, or through the cracks in the boards on our outdoor deck.

At first I tried to get him to play more “normal” things, but that seemed to frustrate, so now we actually make up “slip through” toys that encourage color recognition, faces in his life and shapes.  We have a shelf full of these handmade toys and “we” play them every morning at the breakfast table and during our afternoon “couch time”.  This encourages bonding, touch, eye contact and generalization (which is very difficult for Zach).

Zach never seems to tire of these games, but some of us do; when I get tired of playing the same thing over and over, I invent a new one by going to ToysRus, the craft store, or I walk the isles in our superstore and gather ideas and supplies to put together something new.  Sometimes they are a hit and other times, not so much, like the one I made out of a shoe box, cut up an old ripped little critter book (after replacing it with a new one), pasted and taped the Grandma and Me pictures on the outside, cut holes in the middle and put small whiffle balls inside; or the time I bought counting bears in three sizes and colors, big, middle and little (this is one of his favorite computer games on Millies Math House). I hot glued three bears of different sizes and colors to the top of a plastic container, cut holes in the top with a hot knife (careful) and offered him the colorful hand made toy.  He didn’t get it.  Oh well, we win some and we loose some.

I got this idea of making my own toys one Christmas when I couldn’t think of anything to buy Zach that would put a smile on his face.  I created a poker chip game by cutting a slot in the top of a tupperware container and filling it with poker chips.  This is one of Zach’s favorite games even today, years later.  He dumps them out in a large tub, or on the floor and we put them back through the slot.  Simple, yes, and this makes him so happy.  He is doing something he can do on his own, it’s something he can teach us to do and I think it gives him a since of accomplishment and encourages him to try similar things.

I imagine you can think of some unique games your child will love playing.  I love to recycle and try to use what I have at home.  It causes the eye to see creativity where it wouldn’t otherwise see fun and games…buttons, shoe laces, poker chips, dice, origami paper, doubles of family photos etc...

You will make your child smile.  What a great reward!

Recycled mayo jug with a hole punched in the top.  Children’s domino (these make a wonderful clacking sound when they are dropped in.  He likes the sound and the smooth cool feel of the dominos. 

Made by one of Zach’s school teachers.  Pipe cleaners wound into circles, a little packing tape and a recycled shoe box
covered in blue construction paper.

Pipe cleaners and a pitcher (I must have been lazy, or very tired).

Popsicle sticks & a food storage container, cut slots, line slots with colored
tape, or color around with permanent markers. 

Fuzzy puff balls; simple.

A noisy contraption, but he loves it!

Photos of family, friends and care givers (laminated) as well as some Winnie The Pooh and Tigger playing cards I found (Zach loves Tigger and Pooh).

Coming soon….When dark clouds hover over life, how do you feng shui that flung pooh?

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