This set is one of my favorite choices for toddlers of all ages and interests. Why? It is a safe, fun, clean-able toy that doesn’t require a USB connection or a battery. That isn’t a complete oddity, but it getting more rare every year. This toy is a great choice for kids with ASD, SPD, low muscle tone and hypermobility. And children will play with it for years. I like recommending toys that have the possibility of wearing out before they are thrown out.
In this age of edible pouches and pre-cut meal packages, your child might not realize that corn comes on a cob, or that there is a purple food; eggplant. Learning about food through play is a wonderful way to introduce food preparation and an interest in healthy food choices.
Let’s unpack the benefits of this great set:
- The theme is food; familiar and fun for most kids. It encourages imaginative play and can be used by more than one child at a time.
- The materials are lightweight and easy to clean. The food toys made of wood sound so great, so holistic …until your toddler has chucked one into the flat screen TV in your family room! Or at his sister’s head! And for kids who lick or suck on toys, well, I don’t think most kids should be consuming paint. I’d prefer it if kids didn’t lick toys, but lots of them do from time to time. Plastic is a better choice for kids with a weak grasp as well. Some children will revert to an immature or atypical grasp on a heavy object but can sustain a mature grasp on a lightweight item.
- Different ages can enjoy this toy. Very young toddlers simply connect and disconnect the velcro pieces. Slightly older kids can practice color matching, and preschool kids can practice cutting with the super-safe knife in the set. Even older kids can create elaborate pretend play. I have had three and four year-olds preparing a pretend Shabbos meal, using a Kleenex to cover the bread. Adorable!
- The shapes are primarily cylinders and spheres. Why is that good for motor development? The arches in the hand are developed by hand use, and grasping these shapes encourages the use of the intrinsic muscles, deep in the palm of the hand. Along with the thumb muscles and some of the hand muscles that originate in the forearm, these are the muscles needed to achieve the support necessary for skilled hand use.
A hint for use with the smallest kids; don’t match the shapes. Match contrasting colors and shapes so that it is easier for children to figure out where to place their fingers to assemble and separate the pieces.
A hint for kids with a weak grasp of sensory discrimination issues: Offer them the most textured shapes. The irregular textures will help them maintain their grasp as they pull or push.
Looking for more ideas for hand skill development? Check out The Hypermobile Hand: More Than A Strength Problem and For Kids With Sensory Issues and Low Tone, Add Resistance Instead of Hand-Over-Hand Assistance.