2018 Holiday Shopping Guide By Age & By Developmental Specialty

“What should I get them”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone. So here’s what we’ve done this week. We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices. Because some toys, just like play, are timeless, we’ve keep some favorites from year to year and we’ve added in new finds.

This year we’ve added 4 NEW special lists. Families often ask us for toys for a specific developmental purpose so we decided to share with you what we share with them. In addition to our lists by age we’ve added lists that suggest specific toys to promote motor, language, and visual development. We also added in a list of favorite games because games promote desperately needed social skills and family game night should be celebrated regularly!

We’ve combined all our lists by age right here for you and hope you’ll find it helpful. What would you add to our lists? What do your kids love?

1 YEAR OLDS

2 YEAR OLDS

3-4 YEAR OLDS

5-7 YEAR OLDS

8-10 YEAR OLDS

10 & OLDER

MOTOR TOYS

LANGUAGE TOYS

VISION TOYS

LIST OF GAMES

Don’t forget 1-2-3 Just Play With Me for the expecting or new parents on your list! Empowering them with 3 years of education and purposeful play suggestions is a perfect and practical gift! We ship every day (free in the US. Contact for fair quotes internationally) and can include a customized gift card message just from you!

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide – Toys To Promote Motor Development

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.   Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We’ve given suggestions by age but here we are sharing some of our favorite MOTOR toys! Toys on this list include items that motivate kids to move – both with their larger muscles for gross motor movement (rolling, crawling,walking, running, jumping, climbing and more) and fine motor movement (pointing, plucking, squeezing, scooping and more!)   Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Poke A Dot Farm –

Wonderful for promoting isolation of the index finger for pointing – am important fine motor skill!

Hop & Count Hopscotch Rug-

Even when it’s chilly inside, kids can work on balancing and coordination while having fun! Could also be used in non traditional ways by having them jump to a particular color or number.

Climb & Crawl Foam Play Set-

Could be used in many ways from early positioning to toddler tumbling!

Keyboard Play Mat-

Add some music to jumping fun!

Hearthsong Liquid Tiles-
Love these for motivational moving from tummy time to jumping. While they are an investment for the whole set, they can be purchased individually and a few seem like fun!

Knobby Ball Set-
So many motor skills can be taught with a ball – every home should have at least 1! Catch, kick, games, turn taking and more!

Hoola Hoop-

A very simple but versatile toy, they can be used the traditional way or for crawling, stepping, or jumping over and through. Great for directional, “Simon Says” type play and balance and coordination.

Large Fitness Ball-

Great to positioning (with supervision) for young babies, bouncing and playing on for toddlers and kids of all ages, and even alternative seating for meals or homework. One of our favorite ways is playing games over the ball in a plank position to strengthen shoulders (great for handwriting!).

 

Stomp Rocket-

Fun for balance on one leg and jumping.

Tweezers and Eye Droppers-

Creative fun options are endless while strengthening those tiny hand muscles – color sorting games and activities, art creations, and early science (check out our Pinterest pages for ideas!).

Balance Pods-

Love how these can be moved for simple early motion coordination games (close together for a balance beam, farther apart for indoor stone skipping). Great challenge for older kids can be progressed (stand on one foot and play ball!).

Peg Boards-

Wonderful for fine motor strengthening and early “game” playing, patterns, simple math and more.

Animal Pop Blocks-

Loved these items for play on the go (restaurant, plane, car, church) because they have few parts. Great for hand strengthening and early language with animal sound imitation.

Dimpl-

The reviews on this fine motor gem are unanimously outstanding. I may just order one for myself for play on the go.

Crawling tunnel-

Wonderful for encouraging crawling and sensory exploration.

First Slide-

I’m a fan on these outside on warm days and inside on cooler ones. Will occupy kids for hours while working on safe climbing and filling sensory needs.

Trampoline-

As a parent, I wouldn’t have survived toddlerhood in the winter without this in my house. As a therapist, I love it for sensory needs and motor coordination and strengthening.

Shopping Cart-

My go to instead of push walkers for babies learning to walk. Allows for free movement and strengthening with the option of weighing down (and gradually reducing weight) as the child gets stronger and needs less help.

Floor Tiles-

So many homes have wood or tile floors leaving parents nervous and young babies hesitant to explore. I love these because they provide a softer surface that is also smooth, making early belly scooting and crawling on hands and knees simpler.

Activity Mat-

Love these for early reaching, batting, and rolling and this one in particular includes colors that baby sees first.

Indoor Swing-

Motor skills progress best when kids get plenty of opportunity to feed their sensory systems and swings are one of many ways to do just that.

Print or Digital? Which version is best for you?

From the beginning of our business, we have enjoyed sharing our visions and dreams with you – our friends and family personally, professionally, and those who we have connected with through our shared passion for play as the best way for a child to learn and bond with a parent.

For those reasons and more, we are very excited to share with you the next step in our journey to support those who love and interact with children by truly understanding their development in the early years and encouraging the pairing of it with purposeful play.

We are proud to announce that 1-2-3 Just Play With Me is now available for purchase as an E-book!

To give you a glimpse into why we decided to expand our product to a digital offering and how it can be used, we decided to share with you some questions we are asked repetitively (and some answers too!)

“I love your product, but are you going to make it into an app? E-book? Some digital form? Paper is going to be extinct soon!”

While we both still love the feel of an actual book or product to hold, and the opportunity to give a beautiful gift to someone, we realize that many people prefer a more compact version of 1-2-3 Just Play With Me! We both embrace the qualities of printed work and the convenience of digital work. As soon as we created our product, it was a goal to create a digital version so that we could meet the needs of all customers. We chose an e-book vs. an app because 1-2-3 Just Play With Me has enough information and text that it could be a book, but we wanted the convenience as parents of quickly accessing only the information we needed at a time in card form. The E-book was the best option to present the information digitally in the format we wanted to preserve.

“Which option is best for me? E-book or print version?”

Of course, this is personal preference, but in our opinion, if you are purchasing it for yourself to use with your baby, or as a gift, we recommend the print version. Here’s why. The cards can be physically placed in a useful place like the refrigerator door. This allows you (or another parent or caretaker) the opportunity to focus on only the age/stage where the child currently is, while doing all the other things we do as parents (cook, clean up dishes etc). The cards were purposefully made to be quite durable for these reasons.  Our sturdy, decorative box also makes a lovely addition to a nursery.

We do sell a great number of units to therapists, child care centers, and early childhood professionals. Depending on the professional use, the E-book version may be more practical. For example, Lacy & I both work in early intervention, so we will be loading the E-book on our individual devices to take daily into the homes of the families we serve to use as a quick reference (as a PT, I LOVE this option to reference the areas of development other than my familiar motor area. It allows me to give the parents a comprehensive and appropriate look into which milestones we are working on and how we can tie together goals in several areas of development into a few activities).  The E-book is obviously easier to transport for work purposes than the print version for us, but if you work in a clinic where you want parents to view the cards themselves in a waiting area or interactively with you during therapy sessions or parent conferences, the print version may work best.  Additionally, the eBook version has a table of contents, search engine, and hyperlinks to additional resources that the print version doesn’t have.

“I really like your product. I wish I had it earlier, but my child is 2 years old, so I’m not sure I can justify buying the whole set. Have you considered splitting it up into sections?”

Why yes, we have! We considered this in the early development phases of the print version, but doing so initially would have increased our production costs making it difficult to sell to our customers at a fair price. With the E-book version we were able to meet this request! You can purchase the cards in the first, second, or third year of life separately and each comes with the detailed resource section at the end of 1-2-3 Just Play With Me, including common topics such as potty training, discipline, sleep. sign language, and book and toy recommendations. Simply search for each individual year at the ebook store of your choice!

“I really like the design of the cards. Is that lost in the E-book conversion.”

We do too, so absolutely not! 1-2-3 Just Play With Me is color coded to quickly reference what domain of child development you are looking for and sequentially by age. That was part of our essential original design so we could not lose that in the conversion. In fact, we actually added a table of contents so you can search by age or area and a search engine to look for specific topics and milestones. The only difference is, that in the e-book version, you will not see our colored scalloped borders, but you will still be able to use the color coding system to identify which of the 5 developmental domains you are exploring. The font in the headings of the e-book sections will maintain the same system as the printed cards (red for cognitive, navy for social/emotional, green for gross motor, gray for fine motor, and light blue for speech and language). Here’s a screen shot to give you a sneak preview!

 

horizontal version

 

 

“So how can I find 1-2-3 Just Play With Me digitally?”

We are excited to offer our e-book through Amazon/Kindle, Barnes and Noble/Nook, iTunes.

Simply click the hyperlink above to find the version of your choice and to read a sample.

There you have it. What you need to know about our next step. As with all of our previous steps, we are humbled by your encouragement and support. For reviews of what others are saying check out these reviews and these too! If you share our vision for a world where adults understand what real development looks like and embrace their children through play, will you share with a friend or colleague that might benefit from knowing  about our E-book? Whether you are a paper fan or a digital fan, we know you’ll be a 1-2-3 just Play With Me fan once you experience the detailed developmental information, purposeful and fun play strategies, and practical and unique format we are proud to offer you! Remember you can always order the print version at Amazon, Pro-Ed, and right here at Milestones & Miracles (we’ll happily ship for free and include a gift card for you). You can also visit these lovely spaces that may be local to you to purchase one in person.

WILL YOU HELP US KICK OFF THIS EXCITING NEW ADDITION TO OUR BUSINESS? SIMPLY SHARE THE FACEBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT FROM OUR PAGE AND WE WILL ENTER YOU TO WIN A FREE DIGITAL FULL VERSION OF 1-2-3 JUST PLAY WITH ME! DRAWING WILL BE HELD ON FRIDAY 9.19.14. THANKS!

 

What Can You Do With Ribbon, Marbles, Golf Tees and Pom Poms? We Have Some Ideas for YOU!

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Going into homes to serve children can be tricky when it comes to engaging them.  Therapists can be tempted to take in their own toys because the child will quickly join in the fun when a new toy is presented.  But we certainly don’t want parents to feel pressure to purchase the toys we bring into the homes.  Contrary to popular belief there is no magic in our toys!  So it is often best practice to play with what is available in the home and sometimes that is very little.  It can be heartbreaking to be in homes with not even a single book or stuffed animal.  Until I worked as an EI therapist I thought EVERY child owned at least one of each of those.  So in order to help these children have access to developmentally appropriate toys we often help families create toys out of everyday items that can be found in their homes.  At the request of another early intervention therapist we are posting this blog with photos of a few homemade treasures you can share with the families your serve or your own family at home!  I think creating homemade toys is a great way to engage children and their imagination and drives home to parents that it is not the toy that matters but the “PLAYING” with it that does!  We hope you find an idea here you like but if not be sure to visit our Pinterest DIY PLAY board for more ideas.  And certainly refer to 1-2-3 Just Play With Me for more fun PLAY at home ideas paired with developmental milestones for kids ages birth to three.  PLAY BUILDS BRAINS people!  Spread the news!

 

wiffle-ball-creature-3_thumb

Create crazy creatures with plastic golf balls and pipe cleaners

popom

Putting pom poms into a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off or a paper towel roll tube. Then pull up the bottle/tube for an explosion of pom poms! The mirror adds an element of interest as the little one can watch what they are doing.

ribbon-pull-1_thumb

Use a lidded plastic container and a few ribbons. Have the child pull the ribbons through the lid.

qtips-and-playdough

Color matching with play-doh and colored Q-tips.

Activities-with-Marbles-and-Golf-Tees

Fine motor work with golf tees and marbles. To add more difficulty have the child use tweezers to place the marbles.

feed-munchy-ball_thumb

Make a Munchy ball by cutting a slit in a tennis ball. This could be used as a reinforcer as well as work on fine motor strength.

Toddlers Need Tweezers

Hi friends. Happy 2014.

Wishing you health & happiness in the new year. We know that our Milestones & Miracles friends KNOW that regular PLAY (for kids and adults) contributes to keeping us all happy and healthy.

So if you are planning on spending time in creative play this year – we wanted to take a moment to share a fun way to shake up regular play and to make it purposeful play with very little work/effort!

Remember toys that looked like this?

jack_in_the_box_110631windup_toytop

 

 

They made us exercise our hands without even knowing it. They strengthen tiny muscles in the hand that help with handwriting, pinching, poking, pointing, sewing (so I hear?), crafting, cooking, or whatever we use our hands for in our work (hammering, typing, drawing etc.).

Toys that are more prominent in our stores today – like the one below, don’t challenge tiny hands in big ways.

buttons

But have no fear. Just because it’s not easy to find in a store – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek it out. Think of all the ways your child plays. How many of those activities could you add a set of plastic tweezers to? Tweezers are fun for kids (“Really Mom I can use this TOOL?”) and can add that needed fine motor attention that many toys lack.

This set can be found HERE on Amazon.

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A quick glance at our MOTOR PLAY BOARD on Pinterest, shares ideas we found through a quick search, like these.

images

images-1

IMG_5262

tweezer nut sort

tweezers play doh

tweezers bugs

tweezers nature

 

I personally love the bug option! But think beyond these examples…

Why not let your child eat snack with their tweezers?

Picking weeds with tweezers is helpful and fun!

So is sorting socks into matches (and you’ve thrown in a cognitive skill too!)

For larger items – use salad tongs – why not clean up the playroom this way?

Like these suggestions? We LOVE adding purpose to play! That’s why we filled this sweet box with detailed developmental milestones paired with purposeful play ideas that are perfectly matched for your child’s interest at each step along the way! We’d love to send you 3 years of PLAY today – visit us here!

open box

Have you ever used tweezers with your child? Or a child you work with? What creative ways do you like to enhance play with fine motor work with tweezers?