Tag Archives: special toys for Special kids

First Special Toys for Special Children

“When you’re raising a child with a disability or a complex medical condition, you need to adopt a new mindset when it comes to fostering their development and finding the right tools to support it.” J. Kim, The New York Times, June 23, 2021

Photo- New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: These First Toys for Kids With Disabilities Have Universal Appeal by Julie Kim, The New York Times/Wirecutter June 23, 2021

In 2018, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic deletion that causes a range of developmental delays. Over and over again, doctors would ask me if she had reached this or that milestone. Each time, I answered flatly: no.

Photo- Sarah Kobos

I struggled to square her ‘failure’ on these tests with the strong, happy baby I held in my arms…‘We don’t use milestones,”’said Marybeth Finch, MSPT, a physical therapist and infant development specialist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, who coordinates a developmental program for babies and toddlers with intellectual and physical disabilities and their caregivers. ‘We’re trained to use toys as tools—that’s what separates us from a typical playgroup,” she explained. “We break child development down into many steps, small pieces of big milestones.’  When it comes to assembling your own toy toolbox, what should be in it?… Some of the recommendations are from Wirecutter’s guides to the best gifts for kids, some are from the bags of therapists, and others are toys I’ve discovered on my own that engage and delight my daughter (and, often, my 8-year-old typically developing son).”

Small maraca rattle. Photo credit- Julie Kim “Many wooden or plastic ‘baby’ rattles are too heavy for some babies and children to hold. Weighing in at a quarter of an ounce, this brightly colored, woven maraca is pure magic. An occupational therapist introduced it to my 8-month-old daughter by rubbing the slight ridges across her palm; the maraca was the first object she held on her own.”

VTech Spin & Discover Ferris Wheel. Photo- VTech “When my daughter was 9 months old, she loved this ferris wheel spinner—a “therapy kid” favorite—right away. Even a gentle pat of the animal-shaped levers results in a vigorous and satisfying whirl.”

Playskool Play Favorites Busy Poppin Pals. Photo- Playskool Playskool’s Busy Poppin’ Pals, a favorite from Wirecutter’s guide to the best gifts for 1-year-olds, has been around since 1980. Today’s version is made from thick, durable plastic, includes a carrying handle, and has been updated with a color palette of bright pastels… With every push, twist, or flick, a corresponding cuddly animal pops up with a crisp snap…And even for this pandemic-weary parent, the animal figures are irresistibly cute.”


To View Additional Toys for Special Needs

Awareness Toys Sensory Solutions for All Ages & Abilities!

Learning Resources  Top 5 Toys for Special Needs

Today 26 best gifts and toys for children with special needs in 2021

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 60 minutes.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and of the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. When you’re raising a child with special needs everything is important.
  2. Parents need to assemble various tools to help their child.
  3. There are many good recommendations from reliable sources.
  4. Therapists are one of these sources.
  5. The toys and gear in this guide cover many of these areas.
  6. Each individual child has a different personality.
  7. An occupational therapist introduced it to my 8-month-old daughter to this rattle.
  8. The single bell inside gives just the right amount of auditory feedback.
  9. The  toy rattle also gives tactile feedback.
  10. The Ferris Wheel also has a  catchy tune that keeps  playing in my head.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org


 Grammar Focus: Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error.  Identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.


  1. Were trained to use toys as tools.
  2. We break child development down into many steps.
  3. I first spotted a stack of Bilibos in my son’s kindergarten classroom.


  1. My daughter started occupational therapy when she was 8 months old.
  2. The first several sessions we’re challenging for her.
  3. The clerk at a local children’s boutique recommended this adorable penguin.


  1. Many fabric swings are less expensive.
  2. Cocoon swing are a niche product.
  3. We found the canvas material  to be a bit stiff.

Reading ComprehensionFill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentencestaken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

My ___started ___therapy when she was 8 ___old and recovering from___. The first several ___were ___for her, so the___ made sure to begin with an ___she enjoyed. The therapist placed the___ on the floor, and, as my daughter ___in it, gave it a few gentle___. The Bilibo became her favorite___, hands down.

WORD LIST: twirls, reclined, Bilibo, activity, therapist, challenging, sessions, surgery, months, daughter, occupational, warmup,


III Post Reading

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. Do you or someone you know have a special needs child?
  2. What tools do you use with your child to help with their development?
  3. In your opinion, how important are the first toys/tools for special kids?
  4. Out of all of the toys described in the article, which ones do you think are the best?
  5. After reading this article write down three new ideas that you have learned about this  topic from the reading,  two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing that you would like to know that the article did not mention.
  6. List 3 questions that you  would like to ask the author of this article. Share questions as a class.