Last week we found an article and posted it through our FaceBook page. An oldie but goodie, it was a brief blog post on what a great autism tool Tic-Tacs can be. As in… a powerful sensory tool that should be at the bottom of every mothers purse!
That got us thinking… what else can we use to keep those tiny hands and brains busy?
Oh sure, we can find lists and lists of things to buy for a special prize or toy bag, crayons, peg boards, flash cards. There are a lot of ideas out there and truthfully? They are GREAT, I am even taking some of those ideas on a trip with us. But what not so typical thing can you have in the bottom of your purse or back for your not so typical child? And inexpensive to boot?`
This is what we came up with:
Masking tape or painters tape – Ever seen a parent tape two of a child’s fingers together? One from each hand? No? Well, then you probably haven’t been next to us at church, I would say it’s not an uncommon occurrence. Masking tape is not sticky enough to hurt when peeled off the skin and it’s not strong enough to leave a mark if it’s taped on something. This makes it the perfect tool to create art wherever you go. Tear a few pieces off for your child and see what they do with it. Stick it, roll it, peel it.
Silly Putty – This is a two-for-one. A plastic egg for the first… and squishy happy wonderfulness for the other. It’s compact and even adults can seem to keep their hands off of it! Children can see what fits in the egg through trial and error and if something does fit, close it, shake, and see what different sounds things can make.
Pipe cleaners – Make pipe cleaner people, dogs, houses, cars! The soft velvety feel of these channel sticks are a delight to any tactile child and they are just plane fun to play with anyway!
Pipe cleaners and cheerios – Lets mix it up a little and toss some Cheerios in the mix. Children can string the cheerios on to make a lovely (albeit temporary) beaded bracelet. This is great and fun fine motor practice.
Small flashlight – Our tiny flashlights are almost gone as quickly as they appear, keep an eye on yours! See what shadows different items make, make your own shadow puppets. What can you see the light through and what blocks it completely?
Folded square of aluminum foil – This is probably one of my favorites. My kids want to play with aluminum foil any time they can get their hands on it. They want to write letters into the surface (with say, the end of a metal spoon.) They want to see how crinkly they can get it, then how straight. You can make rings! You can make balls, you can fold and refold this shiny, amazing, material. You can rip it into 1800 tiny little shiny pieces!
Travel package of baby wipes – You might already have some of these in your bag. Baby wipes are almost the best things in the whole world, generally speaking, I am quite fond of them! A lot of younger children love to wipe and clean. Hand them a baby wipe and let them go at it! It’s wet and cool to the touch and it can be an enjoyable busy activity. Never expected cleaning to be fun did you?
Travel size spray bottle – Check the isle with the teeny tiny travel items. Sometimes you can find empty bottles but you can also empty and thoroughly clean a travel hairspray. While we wouldn’t recommend keeping it in your bag with water IN it, water can be found almost everywhere! Learning to spray will take some fine motor practice but watch out, with the proper motivation (we would say this qualifies!), children will get the hang of it quickly! Fortunately, small mists of water don’t do much damage at all!
Hopefully this has inspired you to toss an easy, unexpected item in the bottom of your bag to help keep your child’s brain cruising along! Next to the Tic-Tacs of course…
Can you think of anything we missed? Give us a shout in the comments to let us know.