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Girl in a ball pool - Special Needs Essentials

Why is sensory play important to early childhood development?

Like most adults, children learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favorite childhood memories are associated with one or more of our senses: the smell of a summer rainstorm or a song you sang with your family. Now, when your nose and ears are stimulated with those familiar smells and sounds, your brain triggers a flashback memory to those memories.

Sensory toys for children with special needs help teach hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive growth and social interaction. Sensory toys are not specially geared towards a particular age group. Rather, they are focused on the developmental level of the toy, not the specific age of the child.

Because specific developmental needs of each child varies, sensory toys designed for a certain age can be tailored to the specific need at hand. For instance, older children with autism can derive great benefits from toys that are designed for a younger child, like blocks or balls. By giving children the opportunity to investigate materials with no preconceived knowledge, you’re helping them develop and refine their cognitive, social, emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skill sets.

Many children with special needs can be less responsive to sensation. These sensory seekers benefit from toys that provide an intense experience with touch, texture, sound, pressure, light and balance. Sensory toys respond to a child’s actions. They offer feedback, like light and sound, that can help focus attention, soothe anxiety and decrease hyperactivity.

For sensory seekers, we offer a wide range of toys that provide a intense stimulation. These toys offer light, sound, varied textures, and vivid colors to provide a safe sensory experience. Toys that rock, spin, move, balance, and bounce are part of the sensory toy category. Others toys will encourage a child to move, balance and build. Here’s our Top Toys for Sensory Play.

Oddballs - Special Needs Essentials

Sensory Balls: Oddballs

What do you call four unique balls that come in gorgeous patterns and colors? Oddballs, of course! Perfect to bounce, kick, squeeze, roll, chase and love. Each ball feels different, offering a unique sensory experience. They are either soft or firm, covered with spikes, flowers, spirals and more. BPA free.

Finger paint - Special Needs Essentials

Sensory Art: Finger  Paint

Finger painting is a wonderful way for young children to develop manual dexterity, creativity, and self-expression through art! 6 brightly colored, washable finger paints with no-mess caps! Includes red, yellow, pink, green, blue and purple (3 oz. each). Don’t forget the finger paint paper, or our finger paint paper and tray.

Play Mat - 6x6 Foam Letter Puzzle (36 pieces)- Special Needs Essentials

Textured Puzzles: Play Mat – 6×6 Foam Letter Puzzle (36 PC)

Boost your child’s logic, reasoning and motor skills with the Play Mat – 3×3 Foam Letter Puzzle (10 PC). Each 12″x12″ tile has multiple removable puzzle pieces and textured tops for easy grip play and skid resistant bottoms. These fun, interactive tiles feature friendly animals, trucks, boats and more. The large, interlocking foam puzzle tiles doubles as a specific play area to enhance your child’s lifestyle.

Adorable Hippo Bath Set - Special Needs Essentials

Water Toys for Beach and Bath Time: Hippo Bath Set

Encourage Fun in the Tub with the Hippo Bath Set! This adorable purple Hippo organizes all of your bath tub clutter and strikes a cheery presence in the bathroom. The Hippo Bath Set also includes 41 colorful Wet & Stick Foam Letters to encourage creative play as well as fine motor skills, logic and reasoning, gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. When playtime is over, just drain the Wet & Stick letters in hippo’s mouth to drain and dry.

Edushape Magic Bix

Blocks: Magic Brix Building Blocks

Spark your child’s creative side with the Edushape Magic Brix Building Blocks (72 PC). The Magic Brix offers soft and flexible building blocks especially designed for little hands. These nubby, interlocking bricks connect from practically every angle, making construction simple. The kit includes wheels and axles to build race cars, robots, houses, animals and more. With the Edushape Magic Brix Building Blocks, the sky’s the limit!

Drop by our Facebook page and tell us about your favorite sensory toy for a child with special needs. And if you have any suggestions for toys you’d like us to carry, we’d love to hear from you!

Edushape Play & Learn Mat - Special Needs Essentials (2)Colorful, safe play mats offer many important benefits for early development in babies and children. That’s why we stock a variety of play mats with interesting textures and shapes. An early development essential, play mats are one of the most versatile products on the market.

They encourage children to develop fine-motor skills, visual sensory development and hand-eye coordination. Play mats also teach valuable logic and reasoning skills. Plus, they are a fun way to spend parent/child bonding time working on communication and sharing skills.

Early Development

Play Mats are specifically designed to be educational and encourage child development. Most mats have interactive features like removable puzzle shapes, fun tiles and different sights and sounds. Well-designed play mats encourage children to develop fine-motor skills, visual sensory development and hand-eye coordination. They also contain vibrant floor tiles designed to encourage child’s logic, reasoning and motor skills. Children learn to recognize  letters, numbers, animals, shapes and colors. Play Mats, like the Play Mat – 6×6 Foam Letter Puzzle (36 PC), feature alpha-numerical tiles to encourage number and letter recognition.

Sensory Stimulation

Playmats incorporate bright colors and a variety of textured surfaces to engage your child for hours of discovery and play. These features provide your child with important sensory experiences. Your child will enjoy touching varied surfaces, removable puzzle pieces and friendly animals. Some play mats incorporate music or crinkly fabric that makes noise when a child interacts with it.

play-Mat-3x3-foam-floor-tiles-special-needs-essentials [edited] (1)

Safety

Play Mats provide a soft, safe and colorful play space for the home, school or office. Our mats have all been tested for safety and made by award-winning brands like EduShape. They are made from non-toxic eco-foam that is hand washable, durable and great at insulating cold floors. Our play mats, like the Play Mat 3×3 Foam Floor Tiles, feature easy grip play and skid resistant bottoms. Our play mats are recommended for children ages 3 and up. They are not recommended for children under three due to a choking hazard associated with small parts.

Portability

Great in any home, play mats also make traveling with your child a bit easier. They allow you to set up a safe, comfy space anywhere, and the colorful tiles and textures help entertain children for hours. Most playmats fold up or break down easily for excellent portability. When you return from your travels, give them a quick wash to remove any germs or grime to restore their condition. These play mats are hand washable for your convenience. One savvy parent just washes them in the tub for easy clean-up without the mess.

Versatility

Suitable for toddlers and children, play mats are adaptable for years to come. They are perfect for day care centers, play rooms, nurseries, and playgrounds. Play mats make great gifts for birthdays, holidays or baby showers. Though playmats are perfect for infants and toddlers, older children can appreciate baby gyms and the different toys for the sensory experiences they offer.

Want to tell us about your favorite use for a play mat? Drop by our Facebook page and leave us a note!

Special Needs Essentials promotes awareness and facilitates support of families and professionals caring for a person with special needs. For more information, please visit our website.

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