I had the great pleasure of writing two articles for Autism Spectrum Quarterly this fall, one of which was a Holiday Gift Giving Guide that suggests gifts that educate and inspire -- while being 'pocketbook friendly'.
While I was doing the research, and final writing for the piece, I was moved by the generosity of the companies that were included in the Holiday Gift Guide -- they wanted to give away some of their toys! And who am I to say no to that?
We are talking some SERIOUSLY COOL toys -- those that kids actually want!
You can win one of 2 GRAND PRIZE PACKS worth over $150 each. They will include:
3 sets of Citiblocs (52 pieces each)
1 Dressing Vest from Fun and Function
1 Make Your Own Gum Kit from Glee Gum
5 tubs of Aroma Dough
1 science kit from Kits for Kids
Yes, two lucky people will get the opportunity to win ALL of those -- tell Santa he can skip your house, because we've got you covered!
Here is a portion of the article that I wrote for Autism Spectrum Quarterly (so you know just why I think these toys are awesome), the other items I suggested can be found inside their Family/Holiday issue, which is available now!
CitiBlocs – My boys were infatuated with these new blocks before they even came out of the box! Made of lightweight pine, these non-toxic wooden “blocs” are all the same size and shape, making them easy to manipulate even for little hands. They come in multiple colors including natural, red, and blue, and with an illustrated guide full of ideas to get your little builder started. This construction toy provides an opportunity for children to enhance their creativity, motor planning, fine motor skills, cooperative play, language, and social skills. My recommended age: 3+ Starting at $19.99 USD from http://www.citiblocs.com/.
Dressing Vest: Playing dress up is a great way to spark the imagination! This innovative dressing vest from Fun and Function gives your child the ability to pretend to be a “Firefighter” at the same time it provides him or her with practice on large and small buttons, zipper, buckle, hook and loop, and tie and snap closures. The best part? Weights can be safely added to pockets inside the vest to provide calming deep pressure input. This imaginative toy gives your child important sensory experiences and enables him or her to practice language, fine motor, social, and cooperative play skills. My age recommendation: 3+. $34.99 USD from www.funandfunction.com.
Make Your Own Gum – Glee Gum offers this mouth-watering kit that lets kids (and adults!) make their own all-natural gum using chicle, the sap that comes from the Sapodilla tree. Everything you need is included in the kit, including simple instructions and a choice of flavors. This fun and innovative project gives your child the opportunity to expand his or her understanding of science while getting great sensory input (proprioception, touch, taste, and smell!). Each kit makes 50 pieces of gum. My age recommendation: 8+ (but be sure to avoid this one if your child has any oral-motor or other issues that predispose him or her to choking!). $13 USD from http://www.gleegum.com/.
Aroma-Dough: This takes playing with dough to an entirely new – and gluten free – level! The dough comes in original and unexpected scents like Groovy Tutti Blue, Lolipop Lime Green, Rootin Tootin Root Beer and Cherry Cola Fizz. It is non-crumbly, and because it was invented by moms, it cleans up easily – even from the carpet! This great dough will give your child opportunities to strengthen fine motor skills, receive proprioceptive input, and practice motor planning and language skills. My age recommendation: 2+ (with supervision for younger children and those with a penchant for putting things in their mouths). $16.95 for 4 min-tubs from http://www.aroma-dough.com/
Kits for Kids – Created by a kid for kids, these simple-to-do science experiments were a big hit at our house! The kit comes with everything you need to perform the experiments. With four different choices—Plant Pals, Awesome Insta-pets, Polymer Power, and Crystal Explosion—my only suggestion is to buy more than one kit, because your kids will want to do all of the experiments! Your budding “mad-scientist” will also benefit from practice with motor planning, science exploration, sensory input, math skills, and of course, problem solving. My age recommendation: 8+ (or younger with adult supervision). $14.95 USD from http://www.kitsforkids.com/