Unique Gift Ideas For The Holidays!

Unique Gift Ideas For The Holidays!

It’s getting to be that time of year – Christmas shopping time. Parents are often asking for toy ideas to help promote development. There are a ton of lists out there but I’m going to focus on my favourites to help gross motor development!

Action Toys

Action toys are not toys that do things, but instead, encourage kids to be active. I also like to think of them as things that would make an awesome obstacle course (look for a future blog post about why obstacle courses are simply the BEST!).

Some ideas for little ones are:

  • play tunnels (Ikea)
  • balance beams (there are a ton of youtube videos on how to make some)
  • pikler triangle.

Another wonderful toy is the Bilibo! It can be used in so many ways and is great for those kiddos with sensory needs.

For those of us in winter, a toboggan/sled is also a great action toy.

For the older, or more adventurous, you can make your own Ninja Warrior course at home, there are a variety of kits including this Ninjaline Intro Kit.

Ride on Toys

Ride on toys are also an action toy but often are their very own separate category. I know sometimes ride ons are overlooked at this time of year given the winter weather, however, they are still such wonderful gifts to get children to be active and smaller ride on toys can be used inside or down in the basement!

Younger children may enjoy small ride on toys, and if you stick to those where they sit with their legs on either side (as opposed to a bench seat with legs in front) they can start to learn balance, steering and using legs reciprocally!

As they get older, rides ons could progress to balance bikes and plasma cars.

For even older kiddos, these are always great!

  • scooters
  • Y gliders
  • ripsticks
  • bikes

Balls

Balls are a great staple for fun and encouraging active play and coordination. Some ideas for a new twist are:

  • koosh balls (good for sensory kiddos)
  •  Waboba street or moon ball (these balls have unpredictable bounces for extra fun and in my experience lots of running)

For those little ones, kickballs, balls with a light in them and even beach balls are great additions!

Games

There are a few games out there that encourage movement.

My favourite for little ones is a game called ThinkFun Roll and Play. It’s a hit at our house and combines a variety of developmental categories including language, colours and active movement.

For the older kiddos, The Floor is Lava or ChronoBomb are great games to work on motor planning, balance – and they are FUN!

Experiences

As a parent, another favourite gift for my child to receive is the gift of experiences. Sometimes that means someplace fun to take the family, like the zoo or movies. However, the physio in me would recommend something active such as swimming, gymnastics or karate lessons.

If lessons are a bit much, passes to your local community centre for public skating or swimming is a great alternative. It’s often a great way for our children to learn new skills and continue to work on their development.

 

Hopefully this will give you some new ideas for useful Christmas gift ideas! Happy Holidays!

Back To School = Backpack Shopping

Back  To School = Backpack Shopping

It’s that time of year again – the littles (or not so littles in some cases!) are about to go back to school!  It’s the time of year when parents run around trying to get all those back to school supplies and prepare their kids for their return.

One of the biggest and most important purchases is a backpack.  Ill fitting backpacks can lead to back and shoulder pain, changes in walking and potential balance issues which could lead to injuries.

Here is a handy guide on what to look for in a backpack!

Things To Consider

As with any purchase, there are lots of things to consider and, unfortunately, sometimes the biggest consideration for many children/families is what the backpack looks like.  I know that it can be hard when your child has their heart set on a certain colour, character or style but, for the sake of their bodies, here are a few more things that you should you can consider:

1.  Bigger isn’t always better

Especially not for little kiddos!

Little ones should have a smaller backpack that fits well and, if needed, they can carry their lunch bag separately.

2.  Weight of the backpack

When I was a kid we had a ton of textbooks and I know that has changed with the growing amount of technology in classrooms – however, there is still lots of stuff that needs to go into a backpack!

The golden rule is that the backpack should weigh no more than 10-12% of the child’s weight.

3.  Ease of use for your child

Can your child put on and take off their backpack independently?  Can they easily carry it?

Practice if you need to!

This is a great opportunity to promote independence in younger children.  Have your child carry/wear their own backpack, whether getting on the bus or walking to school, right from the first day of school.

How To Choose The Right Backpack

Fit, fit and fit!

Only after finding a backpack that fits consider the internal features.

A good fitting backpack:

  • Should fit snuggly against the back
  • Have wide padded straps that can be adjusted for length
  • The bottom of the bag should be no more than 3-4 inches below the waist line (true waist NOT hips)
  • Has two straps!
  • If your child is older and carrying heavier loads, the backpack should have a clavicle strap and hip straps to help distribute the weight

Internal features should include different compartments, which help distribute the load – and stay organized!

Arrange the heaviest items closest to the back to help minimize the stress of their weight.

A water bottle pocket on the outside is always a good idea as well.

Hopefully this post helps guide you towards a great backpack for your child – happy shopping!!!