What’s in my bag?

28 May

I’m sorry but I just have to say that writing about “my bag” makes me think of Austin Powers. (Warning: that link is NSFW).

Now that we’ve got that out of the way: my therapy bag. What is in it? How do I decide? As many of you know, I’m doing some home health for kids 0-3 (mostly in the two-three range). My car and home are filled with toys, but I abhor taking the same toys into homes every week – I get bored, the kids are bored, the parents are bored. It’s like “Yeah, we know, you knock the blocks down and say, ‘UH OH’ – message and vocabulary received.” I like to keep things fresh and exciting. However, I also have to be realistic regarding my time and energy, and the children’s…everything.

When I’m considering what toys are going into my bag, I have to think about my kids. Some kids are age-level in terms of play. They have strong fine motor skills, strong attention, strong cognition: everything is age appropriate with the exception of their language. The toys I take into these houses are a little more complex and require more imagination: baby dolls with food and cups and plates, Little People paraphernalia, high-level puzzles, high level books.

On the other hand, I have some kiddos who do not yet shake musical toys or bang two objects together. Some of my kids have rather limited attention. Some need a lot of sensory breaks. The toys I take into these houses are more cause-and-effect, texture-based,  noisy, etc.

As a result of all of these factors, I keep some good ol’ stand-bys in the trunk of my car. My employer has a few cabinets of “Community Materials” so those, combined with my own toys, give me enough material to change it up once a week. That doesn’t mean that kids don’t frequently play with the same toys, it just means that something new or something they haven’t seen in awhile gets thrown in the mix pretty regularly.

When I pack my bag to go into a house I try to ensure I have: one book, one fine motor oriented toy, one sensory-something, something with pieces for receptive language,   something for turn-taking and social games, and my phone so I have some language-apps as back up.  Some therapists may think this is a lot but frankly, my sessions are one hour long with two year olds. Five or six toys doesn’t seem like that much to me.

Toys from my personal collection that I have a lot of success with? I share them with you now:

BOOKS!

I like books that have manipulative features for the EI population.

I like books that have manipulative features for the EI population.

 

Puzzles!

Think of the different skill sets required to complete each of these puzzles. Something as simple as taking a puzzle to a kid's house takes a lot more thought than you would ever think.

Think of the different skill sets required to complete each of these puzzles. Something as simple as taking a puzzle to a kid’s house takes a lot more thought than you would ever think.

Sensory!

Bean Box! I like these but holy smokes get ready for a mess.

Bean Box! I like these but holy smokes get ready for a mess.

 

This stuff is called "Gazz it" - it's 99 cents at Walgreens and it's a weird alternative if you're sick of play-doh

This stuff is called “Gazz it” – it’s 99 cents at Walgreens and it’s a weird alternative if you’re sick of play-doh

 

Fine motor!

Kids love to bang on things.

Kids love to bang on things.

Shape sorter ball is always a hit. Wooden stacker is a personal fave. And that ball thing is just something different.

Shape sorter ball is always a hit. Wooden stacker is a personal fave. And that other ball thing is just something different.

Social fun times

I just want to bang on my drum all day. And shake shake shake. And pat. And tap. And clap. And imitate motor movement. And sing songs using baby signs. Yay!

I just want to bang on my drum all day.
And shake shake shake. And pat. And tap. And clap. And imitate motor movement. And sing songs using baby signs. Yay!

Cause-and-effect

These poppers are always fun. For early players you can do a simple "POP" and for more advanced kids you can do some receptive "Who is in the trash can? Push the boat. Where'd he go?" games

These poppers are always fun. For early players you can do a simple “POP” and for more advanced kids you can do some receptive “Who is in the trash can? Push the boat. Where’d he go?” prompts.

 

These are just some of my favorites right now, DEFINITELY not a be-all-end-all list. And as an FYI – I get nearly all of my toys at Goodwill. Don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune to get some nice materials. And if you don’t have a lot that is okay, my supervisor always says you should be more interesting than the toy. If you can get a kid engaged and playing with YOU then you are all good in the hood.

NP: Love Somebody – Maroon 5

2 Responses to “What’s in my bag?”

  1. cmcniece May 31, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Love this. Infection control for your next post?

    • weathersby June 1, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

      Ha! Yes! Universal precautions. I clean my toys in between houses. :) and wash my hands. A lot!

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