What’s in Your Bag of Tricks?

Posted on June 8th, 2012 by Reach Therapy Center | No Comments

By Denise Koonce OTR

You can never have a big enough “bag of tricks” when it comes to pediatric therapy treatment.  I have used this term hundreds of times over the years when speaking to therapists.   I have used it in reference to equipment, to the toys and items we use during treatment, and sometimes to continuing education training.  However, there are times that space or lack thereof may create a problem or limit your bag of tricks.  This is when you need to have core items to create “the biggest bang for your buck.”  When this is the case or when you are first starting out, “what should be in your bag of tricks?”

Below are some of the items I have always used and thought helpful:

Soft rubber ball about 1’ in diameter        Small bench or step stool

1” and/or 2” blocks                                   String or shoelaces with 1” and ½” beads

Stacking rings or stars                             Paper, markers, pencils, and painters tape          

A small bucket                                          Bubbles, non spill container and various wands

Flavored gloves                                       Sour spray, lolly pops, gummy worms

Vibrator                                                    Couple of Dr. Seuss books

Cards with different shapes, colors, numbers, letters and words

Batteryoperated toy that lights up and makes sound when activated by the child – can have shapes, animals, etc.

A therapist’s own body                                                                 24” Therapy ball

Most of these items can be used or incorporated into treatments across disciplines.  The toy/activity itself can be the focus or can be used to achieve a desired developmental skill, milestone or movement pattern.  Regardless, the above items can provide you with a plethora of options.  Be creative and think outside the box.  For instance, blocks can be used for color recognition, counting, banging, stacking, building designs, putting in and taking out, matching, tossed  into a bucket, or hidden like Easter eggs to gather.

One of the nice things about this list is it is simple to put together.  You can also do it where it is easy on your budget.  Garage sales are an incredible place to find slightly used kid’s toys.  Because children outgrow toys so quickly the toys you will find at garage sales are generally in really good condition and just need a good cleaning or perhaps batteries.  You have to go early, though, because children’s items can be one of the first things sold at garage sales.  Other great places are Goodwill Stores, resale shops, dollar stores and discount department stores such as Ross.  No matter where you begin collecting, you will never stop adding to your “Bag of Tricks!”

Please share with us some of the items you have in your “Bag of Tricks” and tell us how you use them.

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