A Little Help for Playtime

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As many people with children know; it is sometimes very difficult to keep a child occupied. Parents are always trying to find new ways to not only play but also to teach their children at the same time. One toy I have come to love is not only cheap (about $10 at Walmart), but it is very versatile. The Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups! No, they didn’t pay me to say that (but they can if they want to).

If you google this toy; it will show you a nice little yellow ball at the top. My son lost that quite quickly, hence why it is not in the photograph. What’s cool about these is that you can stack them as shown above, or you can take them apart and stack them inside themselves (as shown below).

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Either way; it is a great way to begin those skills needed for other toys. But where the real fun begins is when you pull them apart and create 5 lovely balls.

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For more visual stimulation- Add a glowing ball, glow stick, or pretty much anything that makes a light, and put it in the middle of the ball. It makes the balls glow and gives them something new to look at!

For auditory stimulation- Add something to the middle of the cup and close it to make a ball. You can add anything that will fit and it will make noise when you shake it. Add something of a different size to each ball and they will have 5 different noises to listen to!

Once your child is old enough; these can be a fun and easy way to get your child to learn their colors!

DSCN9452.JPGStart by placing one of each color poof ball into the corresponding color cup. Make sure your child is paying attention when you add a second poof ball to the corresponding poof ball cup. Then give your child the third ball and see if they can put it in the correct cup. If this is your child’s first time doing it, you might want to start with 2 or 3 colors. I chose poof balls because you can get them at the dollar store and they are small and easy to handle. If your child has texture sensitivity, like my little man, they may not want to touch the poof balls at all. In that case, what I recommend is using the large lego pieces (as shown below).

DSCN9451.JPGYou would use the same technique as used above with the poof balls. This is also a good idea depending on your child’s age and comfort near small objects (some children love shoving everything in their mouth and these are much better than poof balls).

As with most plastic toys; these are awesome for inside the bath! I haven’t provided a picture because I don’t need my son’s willy on the net and have him ask me 18 years from now why it is on there. Just trust me when I say that kids can have fun in the tub, and they are easy to clean off.

These are also great for inside a sandbox! Unlike a lot of plastic toys; these are extremely easy to clean after being dunked in sand, even wet sand and mud. They can be used as scoops, used for building sand castles…the sky is the limit. If your child has a sensitivity to the sand, try using a large plastic container (big enough to be a “sandbox”) and poor beans into it. You’ll have to keep an eye on them if they are orally stimulated, but it should be more to their liking for their finger sensations. I have heard of people using sugar or flour for these, but if your child needs oral stimulation, you don’t want them in something that is going to make them sick. Stick with the beans.

Many parents of Autistic children have learned that things you didn’t even consider; are spin-able! If your child is anything like mine; he loves to spin EVERYTHING! These are an easy way to allow them to fulfill their spinning appetite and they are a difficult toy to break. I tried getting a picture, but it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. Just put the flat hole-side down, put a thumb on each side, and move them in opposite directions quickly. Your kid can probably show you how, mine did.

Another way to stimulate their little minds is by hiding an object (like a teddy graham) under one of the cups and having them look for it. Advance the game by moving the cups around and having them watch and find the “treasure.” It sounds silly and easy and that is the point! It’s easier for a child to learn if they are having fun. And food is a great motivator.

If your child is having a hard time with “pretend play” then these can be used as “bowls” for you to put a spoon in and stir like soup. My son watched me stir the plastic bowl his sister has with a plastic spoon and thought I was crazy. I showed him with the cups and he imitated it much faster. Sometimes you have to show them on their own turf.

There’s probably a million other things you can do with these, but these are just a few ideas to get you started. A cheap toy with a bunch of uses. But more importantly; it can keep your child stimulated safely and help you with your sanity.

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