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It is commonly
known that the holiday shopping season is very important to the toy industry.
Just last year U.S. retail sales of toys topped $18 billion. Interestingly, there is
a trend that could save you money instead of having you spend it if you gift
your child the opportunity to embrace his or her creativity. The biggest theme
from this year’s Toy Fair in New York seemed to be maker toys, playthings that
encourage children to create, innovate, and design which they make and modify
with their own hands. These toys often consist of constructional pieces and may
include initial instructions to start a project but also allow for a child to
take on the challenge to create something new.
occupational therapist, I am in the position to play with children daily to
prepare them for the responsibilities they face in school and at home. I
consistently recommend to parents constructional toys and craft activities
because the benefits are numerous. They improve the developmental skills of the
hands, enhance thinking and strategy skills, keep a child engaged for long
periods of time, increase self-confidence and self-esteem, and are fun and
educational simultaneously. These benefits are not only good preparation for
their childhood learning but for their future. Many businesses are now
employing concepts like design thinking and prototyping to solve problems and
improve products and services. In November, the city of Miami hosted Miami Make
Week, where individuals signed up to join teams to make innovative solutions
for the home that save resources. Participants also attended workshops and
lectures on additional topics including robotics, 3D printing, software
development, and traditional craftsmanship. It is great to see that this is how
the future leaders of the world will be working, using creativity involving
both the mind and the hands.
For this year’s
holiday season, I invite parents to think outside the traditional wrapped box
and consider giving your child an open box full of items to create with
including: cardboard, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, paper clips, construction
paper, glue, markers, tape, scissors, and aluminium foil just to start. If this
is too abstract or your child is too young, consider buying constructional toys
or maker sets that give your child the chance to be creative and build. There
are many brands like Lego, ThinkFun, WabaFun, and Funnybone Toys selling
products that encourage the imagination and can turn your little ones into the hard-working,
toy-making elves they are meant to be.
I hope you find
this tip helpful. If your child struggles with activities with that involve
planning, creating, building, assembling, or completing age-appropriate tasks,
talk to your pediatrician about consulting with an occupational therapist. Have
a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L, The Smart Play
Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational
therapist, award-winning handwriting author, and founder of Playapy. For more
information about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com or email email@example.com.
***Check out this video for some inspiration.***