SEN-Friendly Christmas Gift Ideas
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Buying gifts for Christmas can be overwhelming and very stressful, especially when searching for new toys for children. It seems like children these days already have too many toys and we have hardly any space to store any new additions. This time of year we are inundated with a massive selection of new toys and it can be difficult to find the perfect gift for your child and stay within your budget. It is even trickier to find gifts for children with SEN as many toys can cause overstimulation and sensory overload.
Here’s a list of 16 SEN-friendly toys and games which are both educational and engaging for children in a fun and creative way:
Auditory Sensory Toys
These toys go especially well among children with sensory processing disorder (SPD):
1) Wave Drum:
With bouncing, audible beads when it is hit, this little drum is fantastic for the little ones as it stimulates the auditory senses. Beating on the drum also helps develop better hand-eye coordination.
2) Wooden Musical Instruments:
Wooden musical instruments are made of high quality wooden smooth surface for safety – no sharp edges, easy wipe clean, good for kids to play with and experience with instruments and sounds.
Toys for the Touch Sense
3) Kinetic Sand:
This material is great for sensory processing as well as for fine motor skills which help with reading and writing. The sand mimics the physical properties of real damp sand and can be molded into patterns.
4) Hama Beads:
Get creative and make lovely designs, great for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as for the size of the beads.
5) Magnetic Building Set:
This can help with creativity and understanding of geometrical shapes and the way to combine them to create an animal, house, pentagram, heart shape, windmill, airplane, ball and whatever shape that comes to mind.
6) Building Blocks:
Look for wooden blocks in different shapes and colours. Children love building structures, houses castles and more.
7) Design and Drill Activity Centre:
Wonderful for fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. This was a hit in our household, following patterns and designs. Can be used either manually or with the drill supplied.
Toys for the Vision Sense
There are many of toys that can help with hand-eye coordination which will result in better reading and writing, visual perception and spatial orientation:
8) Pattern Blocks:
Pattern blocks are good for visual perception. A collection of geometrical shapes that can be sorted in as part of a picture or pattern.
9) Lite – Brite:
Creating art by putting colourful pegs on a template which is battery operated and lights up. It improves visual detail and hand-eye coordination.
This is a visual challenge game which comes in different types of patterns and different levels of difficulty, fun for the whole family.
A fun family game of speed and observation as images differ in size. It is a fun visual game that can be played anywhere as for its small size.
12) ThinkFun games:
ThinkFun creates lovely educational toys which help with visual perception as well as being fun – this specific game was voted as one of the best 25 toys of the last 25 Years.
There isn’t a specific product I would recommend as the choice is immense, however a puzzle needs to be achievable and challenging at the same time to avoid frustration.
Toys and Games for Gross Motor Development and Regulation/Anxiety
14) Mini Trampoline:
Designed to be used indoors, a trampoline helps with regulation and motor skills, landing on both feet and coordinating the body.
15) Skipping Rope:
There isn’t much to say about skipping rope other than that it’s a great way to work on exercise and coordination, as well as motor skills, while keeping your child active.
16) Balancing Board:
This balance board adds another challenge to the standard board, the 3 colourful wooden balls should be rolled through the labyrinth using feet and legs which makes it so much fun and helps with your child’s balancing skills.
Wishing you all a Fantastic Christmas!
Dana Latter is an educator and a researcher of alternative ways to help children with sensory processing disorders. She has two boys with sensory processing disorder and lives in London. She is the co-author of the book: Against the Odds – Sensory Processing Disorder and the Mum who Transformed her Sons’ Lives.
You can contact her or find more information about her work on her website
If you are looking for SEN-friendly Christmas events, head over to our blog: SEN-Friendly Christmas Events This December