I'm not just a PT, I'm also a parent!

I'm not just a PT, I'm also a parent!

Friday, November 30, 2012

2012 Gift Guide - Sports Toys

Here are some gift ideas for the special preschool and elementary-aged kids in your life who may need a little help with their gross motor skills:

Basketball Hoop

Basketball hoops are fun in general, but they also help kids learn to throw underhand, to throw with accuracy, and to tiptoe and jump to slam dunk.  We have the Fisher-Price Give Me Five Sports Center, which includes basketball, hockey, soccer, football, and baseball.  It may be discontinued, which is unfortunate because it's a great toy that "grows" with your child.  There are several kids' basketball hoops on the market, however, so you'll be able to find a suitable one.

Soccer Net
Soccer drills are a great way to help kids practice balance and kicking with accuracy.  You can make a goal out of something as simple as two plastic cups or cones, or you can get something like the Talk To Me Soccer Set, which gives auditory feedback when a child scores a goal.

Baseball Equipment
Aside from being's America's pasttime, baseball includes a lot of fundamental gross motor skills.  From throwing to catching, from batting to running, it may be perceived as a slow game, but it provides a full-body workout.

A fun gift is a baseball set that includes a tee, a light ball, and a plastic bat.  Children can learn hand-eye coordination as they strike a small, stationary object.  You can always start with a 6" rubber ball, then progress down to a standard-sized baseball.  Once your kiddo hits the ball, it's time to run the bases!

And naturally, what family doesn't play catch?  We recently bought our two older sons (6 and 4) child-sized baseball gloves and within a week or two, they were fielding ground balls and (sometimes) catching slow line drives.  If your child is having difficulty catching, start off with a velcro "glove" and a tennis ball to allow more room for error.


Balance Beam
Gymnastics has grown in popularity over the last 20 years, so your little aspiring gymnast may love to get a balance beam!  Start simple by having your child walk on it with a shuffling pattern with his or her feet parallel and as balance improves, have your child walk on it with a normal gait pattern, walk sideways, and walk backwards. 


For safety, choose a balance beam that is only a couple inches off of the ground.  For younger children, choose one that is about 6" wide, for older children you can use the standard 4" width.

Golf or Hockey Set
Playing golf and hockey will help your child with hand-eye coordination, trunk rotation, and balance.  Besides, it's fun!


Trampoline with Support Bar

If your child is having difficulty jumping, try one of these fun trampolines!  The support bar allows children to bear some weight through their upper extremities so their lower extremities don't have to work so hard.  The bar also helps them to maintain balance.  These are also great for children who seek the sensory input from jumping and the bar will help them to remain safe and in control as they bounce.

Before shopping, don't forget to consider the trampoline's weight limits.  Some models also have removable bars.

This trampoline from Urban Rebouding is designed for adults, so it has a larger weight capacity.  The support bar is removable, but it a bit high for young children.  Another great feature is that the legs fold inward so that it stores flat.

Target Practice
We use this nifty velcro target in pediatric therapy clinics all the time.  It's a nice size, providing a good sized target for your child.  And the fact that the ball sticks to it provides instant feedback regarding the accuracy of his or her throw.   The fact that you can keep score is a plus for those more-competitive kids.

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