Summer Play List – Revised

I’m revising my list of top toys for indoor summer play to include some new discoveries. Enjoy!


Because so many of the kiddos that I see have difficulty with coordination, I like building toys that don’t topple easily.  They can build bigger and taller without their masterpiece falling down.  I love: Duplo blocks, Bristle Blocks and Magetic blocks because even the most uncoordinated child can be successful.  This year, I discovered the Duplo Ice Cream kit, ice cream truck and hamburger kit.  I actually built a two week theme around ice cream and used these blocks in my sensory bin.  The kids loved it and practiced so many skills.

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Even nonverbal, highly compromised children can play games.  With games, you can work on engagement, attention to task,  turn-taking and visual/vocal/pictoral responding.  Connect Four, Don’t Spill the Beans, KerPlunk, Zimbbos, Topple and Uno Barnyard Bingo are my old favorites.  My new favorites are sold by Orchard Toys.  Kids of all ages and abilities have had a great time playing the Rocket Game, Pizza! Pizza! and Shopping List.  Slug in a Jug is super for teaching rhyming.  I’ve got Pirate Race tucked away for my pirate themes weeks later this summer.

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When I’m working on increasing overall language production, following directions, targeting a particular sound, social engagement with a peer or extended attention to task, I might bring out:

  • Go Fish
  • BBQ Blitz (Discovery Toys)
  • Hiss
  • S’Match
  • Uno
  • I Spy
  • Animal Soup

hissbbq blitzanimal soup

For higher level playing to work on strategy and problem solving as well as more sophisticated social interaction, my top picks are:

  • Logic Links
  • Outburst
  • Scattegories
  • Quirkle
  • Story Speller or Neverending Stories
  • Headbandz
  • Bag Game (iPad app)

Fine Motor

I often find that when children are having a hard time settling, staying engaged or maintaining focus or are struggling with anxiety, a fine motor task helps pull them together.  Not something that is too difficult, but something that requires their  hands, brains and eyes to work together to complete a task.  After a fine motor activity, they are usually ready to work with me on thinking and language tasks.  Try something fine motor next time your child is figity, grumpy or restless.  Make sure the task is something that they can complete in a reasonable amount of time.  Completion = success in their minds.  I always keep a few of the following on hand:

  • puzzles of varying levels
  • Tinker toys
  • peg boards (my fav is Sort and Snap by Melissa and Doug)
  • coloring with smelly markers (see my post entitled “My Favorite Things”); maybe cutting and gluing
  • shape sorters (for the younger set)
  • Play Doh, clay, Crayola Model Magic

Miniature Play


I love tiny toys.  I collect miniature toys such as collectibles for doll houses, shaped erasers, game token pieces that are shaped like objects…any thing that is tiny. I found additions to my collection this year in sets of Shopkins and in the button aisle of Michael’s craft store.  Keep of box of tiny items to use for special times when you want quiet or focused play.  Mine are stored in a pencil box.

Sensory and Movement

I found a company that makes foam for reupholstery.  They sold me a car load of scrap foam for $40.  I used an electric knife to cut the foam into blocks and filled a small kids tent.  It was great for sensory play.  The blocks were also good for stacking very tall and then crashing.  Consider filling a kiddie pool with balls for a at-home ball pit.  Mini trampolines, tunnels and tents are also perfect for indoor motor play.  And don’t forget to make a sensory bin!  See my previous post for ideas.

So, have fun in the sun!  But when the sun is too hot and the days are too long, stay inside and play play play.  Learn new skills and new words.  One Word At A Time.

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