Friday, December 18, 2009

Ideas for XMAS Gifts to Enhance Gross Motor Skills

Suffering from motor apraxia, I am revisiting my childhood, trying to acquire skills that I always avoided and my parents never emphasized.  (Not blaming you, Mom and Dad... we just didn't know!)

You don't NEED any of these toys  to get your Gross Motor Skills better... but if you're tossing around for some gift ideas, my occupational therapists  at A Total Approach recommend the following:

Mini-trampoline.  Sold with exercise equipment for adults.  The ones for children with a handle aren't as bouncy.  The ones with the black elastic-type fabric seem to work better.  Sports Authority trampoline ($35) is better than Walmart's ($30)Huffy Cranbrook 24-Inch Cruiser BikeSchwinn Prelude Men's Road Bike (700c Wheels)

Zoom Ball - oval ball with hole in the middle that 2 ropes go through, handle on all 4 ends.  Two people stand 10 feet apart and hold handles, pulling hands apart to send ball to partner, putting hands together to receive ball (only one manufacturer in 2000: Prime Time Toys LTD, Kwun Tung Hong Kong)

Soft, big ball to practice catching (basketballs are too hard... It hurts if you're hit by one.  Believe me, I remember this from my childhood.  Kids will shy away from a hard big ball.  I know I did.).  Bench balls work well with a partner but don't bounce well enough for  a kid to play by himself.  Get a size that your kid can sometimes catch using only his hands, not trapping it against a chest or body.  If big balls are easy to catch, then use a smaller ball:  12", 10", 8" diameter or tennis ball.

Big Exercise Ball.  Sold with other exercise equipment for adults, was $12 including foot pump to blow it up.  Sold at Walmart

Tricycle/Bicycle  Be sure it's not too large... My parents got me a too big bike when I was a kid ... It's hard when you don't have a great sense  of balance if the bike doesn't fit you properly.   If you want to be sure,  go to a bike store and get measured properly.   Or look up how to fit a bike on the Internet and take some measurements.

Scooter Board.  Two that hook together if your kid is tall so that the trunk will be supported when lying on the stomach.  Also two or more to use with friends/siblings/parents.  You can custom make one that is the length of the kid's trunk from his underarms to the top of his thighs and the width of his body.  Use wood covered with padding, half casters that rotate probably work best).  It's a good project for those of you in the NorthEast who will be snow bound this weekend.   If you're not handy, or don't have the time for this, one place to get a scooter board is Sonic Scooter by Pull Buoy, Inc. Sterling Heights, MI.

6" Stilts  -- Can purchase or make a pair using big coffee cans with holes punched in the side.  Pass ropes through the side.  The child can stand on the coffee cans and hold the ropes in each hand.  He can walk while pulling the coffee cans to his feet  with the rope.  Another good project,  less involved than the Scooter Board for the handy or the snowbound.  Monster FeetMedium StiltsGeospace Walkaroo Stilts by Air Kicks - Light Weight

Wheely Walker.  It's 2 platforms (each 4" x 10") that are connected by 2 axles with a 3" rise in between the 2 platforms (so one platform is up while the other is down).  Each connected to 4 wheels.  The Child puts one foot  i  n  each platform and then shifts his/her weight so it moves forward.  This takes a fair amount of balance and coordination to do by yourself, so some assistance may be needed at the beginning.

Pogo Stick.  Takes good balance and coordination so maybe not a good toy to start with.  I know.  I was never good with a pogo stick when I was little.  So maybe give this to an older child.  Look at the Pogo Sticks made by Sport Fun Inc, California, CO

Body Blade.  Flexible rod that can be used to make some exercises more fun by having a child shake it to make the ends move while they are maintaining a position such as hands and knees or on the stomach holding the head and arms up, standing on one leg.  Go to  Body Blade

Set of Large Cardboard Blocks.   You can assemble them by folding the cardboard several times so that they are amazingly study.  Largest one is 12'x6'3'.  Kids can step up onto them, jump over them, stand on them or jump down.
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