Developing Skills Through Toys


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When choosing toys and games for children with hydrocephalus or spina bifida, it is important to consider not only what will provide enjoyment, but whether the toy will also help all round development.

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Developing Skills Through Toys

  1. 1. 42 Park Road Peterborough PE1 2UQ 01733 555988Developing Skills Through ToysWhen choosing toys and games such skills and could help in thefor children with hydrocephalus early years.or spina bifida, it is important toconsider not only what will provide It must be stressed, that to gainenjoyment, but whether the toy will the maximum play and learningalso help all round development. value from these toys and games, adult supervision and guidance,There are aspects of play with reinforced by talking to the childtoys or games which can be used about what he/she is doing whilepositively for specific learning: playing, will help the child withto develop concentration; to concentration and meaningful play.emphasise sequencing (puttingevents or thought processes in All areas of play and developmentstep-by-step logical order); memory overlap, especially with a youngtraining; perception (size and child, where movement, hearing,shape); manipulation (the use of seeing and thinking are all closelyhand and fingers) and coordination linked and vitally dependent on(especially hand/eye co-ordination). each other. Bearing this in mind,Some of these are the specific although the following toys andlearning difficulties that have now games have been grouped forbeen highlighted as problems specific learning skills, there will beassociated with hydrocephalus. other benefits:There are many good pre-school Mobiles: encourage eye focustoys and games on the market and movement, leading to reachingwhich cover the development of out.
  2. 2. Developing Skills Through ToysBaby gym: encourages eye focus NB Toys containing magnets areand reaching out and hand/eye not recommended for children withco-ordination, as well as being a programmable (adjustable) shunts.reward toy. The next stage may be mosaics,Pop-up toys: (progressing to peg boards, picture templates,hammer balls) encourage hand/eye stencil sets, Etcha sketch, Magnaco-ordination. doodle, paint by numbers and board games. These help thoughtPosting boxes: involve recognition processes, sequencing, logic,and matching of shapes. Hand and memory, prereading, writing andfinger control are required to post number work.shapes. Computerised games: handheldPicture dominoes and lottos: games and games consoles, willrequire matching of shapes, hand/ help with dexterity and hand/eyefinger and direction activity. Help in coordination. It is very easy to leavelearning to take ‘turns’. a child to play with these games but a computer cannot take theFinger paints and puppets: place of a parent’s involvement andencourage hand and finger play. time with Game Boys etc should be limited.Play Doh, modelling materials:materials to develop the feeling of To help the child’s gross motordifferent textures. skills encourage hopping, skipping, balancing, bouncing (eg SpaceBuilding and construction kits: Hopper, trampoline), running andexcellent for hand and finger training well as for learning the positionof objects in space and turning 2D Children will also enjoy usingpictures into 3D objects. These will scooters, ride-on toys and bicycles.include: Lego, stickle bricks, Duplo, The child with hydrocephalus mayPopoids, Kinex, Meccano. need stabilisers on his/her bike
  3. 3. well after his/her peer group have dispensed with theirs. Further InformationImaginative play should be Early Learning Centres sell manyencouraged, although it does not of the types of toys mentionedalways come easily to children with in this leaflet. You can order ahydrocephalus. However, most will catalogue from them on 0871 231enjoy using prams, toy kitchens, 3513 or visit their website at toy cars and garages, dolls, etc. It is how easy it is to constructa ‘house’ or ‘tent’ using two chairsand a sheet!Toys do not need to be expensive- explore the charity shops andlook in your cupboards - pots andpans, plastic colanders, emptyplastic bottles (fill with rice or lentilsto make ‘music’), wooden spoons,sheets and towels will give hours ofplay.Imagination costs nothing!
  4. 4. Help usShine relies on people’s generosity and support so we can help our clientswho depend on us for help and advice - people with hydrocephalus, spinabifida, their families and carers. To donate to Shine please or call 01733 421329.This information has been produced by Shine’s medical advisers andapproved by Shine’s Medical Advisory Committee of senior medicalprofessionals.Shine - Registered charity no.249338To see our full range of information sheets and to find out how to donateto Shine please visit