Toys are used in Z’s occupational therapy. In an hour’s time, he gets to use about 3-4 different kinds of toys for different activities. So with that, I have been consciously buying toys similar to what he uses in therapy to ensure continuity in his home activities.
But toys are really expensive. Especially the ones that promote motor skills development. And I also have to keep in mind that I have limited space at home so I really don’t want to hoard a lot of toys. However, there are a lot of things within our homes that can be used to develop fine motor skills. All it takes is a little creativity on our end.
Here’s a few of the things that Z uses for his home activities to support his therapy sessions. A lot of these I got from Pinterest (it is such a great resource for these kinds of activities) and also from other blog sites and websites about motor skills development. These wouldn’t really cost so much as either you can buy them cheap or you can DIY them (as I have on some) if you have a few minutes to spare.
1) Containers out of Tissue Cores
Here’s what you need:
- Tissue cores (I used the ones I got from work as these were the big rolls that goes into the dispenser and has a wider diameter than the regular bathroom tissue. If you don’t have access to this kind, regular tissue core will do as well. Another alternative is using cereal or milk boxes)
- colored art paper
- thick board paper for the bottom part (you can use cereal boxes, milk boxes or illustration board if you have. But if you’re going to use boxes from the get go, you can drop this from the list)
- glue gun
Trace the circumference of the tissue core on to the thick board paper. What I used was the trimmings of an illustration board that I’ve used for a previous project. You can use an old folder or a cereal box, too. Cut out the circles depending on the number of containers you need.
Use the cut out board to cover one end of the tissue core using a glue gun. Using hot glue makes the board stick better to the tissue core compared to regular glue. Make sure that the hot glue is spread evenly and the cut outs cover the exact bottom of the tissue core.
Cut your colored art paper based on the height and wrap it around the core using glue. If you have excess art paper, you can also cover the inside of the makeshift container or you can leave it as it is.
If you find that tissue cores are small for the type of container you need, you can use any boxes available – milk box, cereal box, etc. You can just cover those with colored art paper.
These makeshift containers have a lot of uses: it can be used for sorting activities, color matching, scooping pebbles from one container to another, etc.
2) Coin Banks
What you need:
- coin bank
- different sizes of coins
I got this coin bank (I call it “moo bank” since it is a cow LOL) from Toy Kingdom for Php 99.75. If you don’t have any coin banks lying around, you can DIY one using a plastic container (could be an empty cocoa powder container or pet bottle) or even a box.
Coin shooting is a good activity to develop the pincer grasp. Z has a similar activity in his therapy sessions using big tokens to shoot. Coins are a lot smaller than those tokens which makes it harder as well for Z to pick up and shoot since the coin bank’s opening is slimmer compared to the toy version.
I would recommend starting with the bigger coins – 5-peso and 10-peso coins – as these will be relatively easier to pick up and shoot. Once they got the hang of the bigger coins, then you can incorporate the 1-peso coin until such time that you get to the smallest ones – the 10-centavo and 5-centavo coins. Z is currently doing 1-, 5-, and 10-peso coins.
This is also a good activity to start teaching about savings and investments to young kids. Hey, there’s no better time to teach kids to save than now, right?
What you need:
Another activity to help develop the pincer grasp is using clothespins. Playing with clothespins also help with control. I bought these from a Japan store for Php 88.00. The string in the photo is excess ribbon I had from gift wrapping. I just braided it to make it a bit thicker and easier to use.
This one you don’t actually need to buy especially if you already have clothespins at home. Just choose the ones that are easier to open. I bought a set for Z because I no longer have clothespins lying around as everything has been used for different purposes as well. For the string, you can use straw strings used to tie your boxes of groceries or even the paper strings that some malls prefer to use nowadays. A word of caution though: do not leave young kids to play with strings on their own as these may pose a danger to them. If strings are not preferred, you can use the edge of boards or just clip it on your kids’s clothing. 🙂
4) Puzzle Boards Made of Boxes
What you need:
- diaper box (you can also use any other thick boards like illustration boards)
- colored art paper
- shapes pattern
Cut the diaper box into the size of the puzzle board that you need. You will be needing 2 pieces of the same size. The first piece will be your base. Trace the shapes patterns on to the second board. Carefully cut the shapes out of the board using a paper cutter knife. If in case the shape gets destroyed in the process, you can just trace the pattern on to another board and use that cut out instead as the puzzle piece.
Cover the board cut outs with different colored art paper. Also cover the base board with art paper based on the color of the cut out shape just like what I did in the photo.
Finally, stick the two boards together and leave it to properly dry. You can also seal the edges using packaging tape. Or if you want to be more crafty, you can cover the whole board with sticker paper instead. Just like this:
Yeah, I had a bit of time. LOL! The whole puzzle board took me a little over two hours to finish. And yes, I know, there are a lot of puzzle boards available in toy stores as well so if you don’t have time to DIY, you can just buy. But with all of the options out there, make sure to find one that will fit your kid’s activity requirements, too.
This is actually the reason why I decided to DIY. Majority of the puzzle boards I’ve seen has too many colors and designs going on and what I need is just a basic board with solid colors and simple shapes. Z is still learning the concept of turning a piece in one direction or the other to fit the puzzle and at the same time, I am trying out different activities that will help him understand the concept of colors and shapes. Hence the board I made consists of 3 basic shapes and 3 different ones.
So there. I do hope that these will help somehow give a few ideas on what we can do to support our child’s development. There’s really no need to spend so much on toys. All we need is just a little bit of creativity and patience.
Being able to attend Z’s therapy sessions, I not only see him make progress in terms of development. I also get to learn a lot of things that perks up my creativity. It actually feels nice to be able to DIY a few things for the little boy to use. And I know that this is just the beginning. There will be a lot more DIY projects for this momma along the way. And I am excited!