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10 Cool and Unusual Sensory Toys for the Classroom

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, there is almost no way that you have evaded the fidget craze. It started with fidget spinners and has evolved quickly to things like squishies, putties, slimes, PlayFoams and fidget cubes.

For children with Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, ADD, or individuals who just have trouble focusing, fidgets can be a saving grace. Fidgets and sensory toys work well in the classroom because they give additional sensory input to children who are not getting enough from their environment in a quiet, often discreet way.

Classrooms, homes, and clinics can benefit from having a few fidgets and small sensory toys. They’re fun, relatively inexpensive, and helpful, so why not?

  1. Chew-A-Roo Robot Pencil Toppers

Bite marks on pencils aren’t just unsightly, they’re also kind of unhealthy. By biting pencils, they may be putting germs in their mouths, ingesting pieces of wood, graphite, metal, and eraser bits. Some kids chew on pencils or pens in schools because of a need for stimulation, others because of stress or anxiety. Why not just pop a safe, washable chewie on the end of their pencil?

  1. Ez-Squeeze DNA Ball

Squish your way to focusing. It’s a ball filled with smaller, squishy balls. What can be better? If you want to see how it works, click here.

  1. Mini Gamer Fidget

Gaming is really all the rage, and has been since PacMan first hit the market. The Mini Gamer Fidget brings the repetitive motion of gaming to a small, handheld device.

  1. Pencil Finger Fidgets

Can be better than a fidget spinner, especially while a kiddo is testing.

  1. Hairy Tangle Jr.

Provides tactile feedback while being a kind of fun, unsolvable puzzle.

  1. Rubbabu Standard Ball Assortment

     

    They’re squishy, tactile, velvety, and fun. Kids can play their way to some sensory feedback.

  1. CanDo® Standard Circular Gel Squeeze Ball

These are great tools for building hand strength, focusing, and providing tactile feedback. These toys offer high resistance and gentle tactile feedback,

  1. Bug-Out Bob Squeeze Toy

Bob is classic, hilarious, and quite charming. He’s like the perfect first date, only in fidget form.

  1. Bouncy Bands For Elementary School Chairs

Yes, you read that right. Those kiddos with a little extra wiggles can get some of their tapping energy out by bouncing their feet on this band.

  1. Goop Ball

This is easily one of the weirdest things you’ll ever play with. Essentially, the Goop Ball is contained slime. Cleaner than slime and easier to take away, that’s for sure.


Why weighted blankets?

Weighted blankets, explained

There’s a huge market for weighted blankets right now. Their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, blowing up on social media and flooding store shelves this holiday season. There’s a pretty good chance someone has already bought you one as a gift this year. So what’s going on with the weighted blanket trend? Should you think about getting one for someone in your family? Let’s talk about it.

Why weighted blankets are so popular

Weighted blankets have been around for a while as most occupational therapists go-to solution for helping children and adults with diagnoses such as ADHD, Autism, Down Syndrome and insomnia relax and de-stress. In time, word of the “magical” properties of weighted blankets got around to others simply wanting a way to wind down after a bout of anxiety or rough day at the office.

Of course, there’s no real magic involved. What weighted blankets really do is engage the body’s proprioceptive sensory system by applying comforting pressure to the legs, hips, and torso. The body responds positively to the “hugging” feeling weighted items provide. That feeling tells the brain “I’m safe and secure,” allowing the user to calm themselves naturally. Add some chamomile tea and binge watching a show on Netflix, and you’ve got the soothing sensation that’s making weighted blankets a very popular item.

Buying a weighted blanket

Ready to jump into the weighted blanket trend? Before you make the leap, here are a few things to think about.

Consult a professional

Weighted blankets can be kind of spendy. Before you drop a bunch of money on one for you or a loved one, check with a therapist, pediatrician, or doctor about whether one is right for your situation. If you’re buying for a child in your family, talk with the parents first to make sure they not only want one but also know how to use it.

Age & Ability

Weighted blankets are absolutely not recommended for children under 3 years of age. The child should also have enough mobility and upper body strength to easily get out from under the blanket. This goes for older individuals, too. If grandma or grandpa have trouble getting in and out of bed or experience joint weakness, a weighted blanket may not be appropriate.

Weight & Size

The general rule on choosing how heavy a weighted blanket should be is simple: figure on 10% of the user’s body weight, then add a pound or two. For example, if the user is a 40-pound child, a 5-pound blanket will work nicely. If the user is a 140-pound adult, the best choice is a 15-pound blanket.

Be mindful of how the size of the blanket, too. Every weighted blanket should get larger as weight increases. Something too small and heavy won’t distribute the weight well, reducing the blanket’s ability to sooth and calm. Check the sizes to ensure you find the best fit for the user.

Fabric & Style

The weight inside a weighted blanket might be the most soothing thing in the world, but it won’t mean much if the exterior is uncomfortable. And if you’re buying for someone with sensory processing issues, choosing the right fabric is essential.

Take some time to consider texture and feeling before you buy a weighted blanket. eSpecial Needs offers cotton weighted blanketspoly-blend and flannel options, and even a slip cover to keep you “covered” all through the night.

Using a weighted blanket

Weighted blankets look simple, don’t they? They’re sneaky that way, because they’re actually kind of complex to use. To get the most benefit from your weighted blanket, there are several tips to keep in mind.

When introducing a weighted blanket to a child, especially one with sensory concerns, don’t just lay the blanket on top of them at once,  like you would with a typical blanket. Instead, start at the feet and slowly slide the blanket up their legs and on to their chest, stopping along the way to ensure the child is comfortable.

While weighted blankets are a comfort to many children, some kids really don’t like the added weight. If it seems like the kiddo just isn’t into it, fold it up and put it away for a while. You can always try again some other time. You might also offer it to another family who could use one (we hear they’re pretty popular).

It’s easy to get cozy in a weighted blanket but please, no human burritos. Never roll up in one or allow a child to do so. This can be very dangerous and can lead to entrapment or worse.

Instead, the blanket should lie flatly against the body. If the user is sitting up reading or enjoying some screen time, the blanket should lie in the lap. Some people like to pull weighted blankets up to the shoulders and that’s fine, but a weighted shawl might be a better option.

Don’t put the weighted blanket in the microwave. First of all, how would you even fit it in there?! Second, there’s a good chance you’ll melt the beads inside. That’ll ruin your blanket, your evening, and possibly also your microwave.

We’ve got lots of weighted items here at eSpecial Needs. From weighted blankets to vests, lap pads, and even ball caps, we can give you a hand in finding the perfect weighted product for your needs. Take a look at our Weighted Blanket selection or visit our whole weighted wearables category for more.

 


Top 10 Best-Selling Products from eSpecial Needs in 2018

It’s almost the end of 2018, can you believe it? Honest to goodness, we can’t either. We are excited to announce our top 10 best sellers of 2018! Here at eSpecial Needs, we try to give our customers the best selection of adaptive equipment and therapy solutions.

10. Convaid Cruiser Stroller

Sleek, elegant, functional, and practical, the Convaid Cruiser Stroller claims the #10 spot. The Convaid Cruiser offers a compact-folding positioning systems.

 

9. Kool-Stride Special Needs Jogging Stroller

Say hello to the Kool-Stride Special Needs Jogging Stroller. With all-terrain capability, a stainless steel frame, and a built-in canopy, this stroller goes wherever you go.

8. Maclaren Major Special Needs Stroller

It’s no wonder this sturdy stroller made this year’s top 10. It’s discreet, compact, and durable while being made specifically for special needs kiddos.

 

7. Fatwheels Training Wheels

Everybody loves Fatwheels. They’re great tools for helping kids of all abilities balance on their bikes. Made of simply the best, sturdiest material, they can take just about any hit.

 

6. Freedom Pushchair Stroller

What’s all-terrain, durable, rugged, and specifically designed for special needs kiddos? The Freedom Pushchair Stroller, of course! Ranking #7 in the best seller spot, this amazing pushchair can do just about anything you need it to.

5. Roosevelt Car Seat

 

Available in a wide array of colors, the Roosevelt Car Seat is a great option for special needs kiddos to stay safe and supported in the car.

 

 

 

4. Sensory Hugs Washable Weighted Blanket

Practical in so many ways! From the fact that it can help kiddos sleep to the fact that it is washable makes it easily one of the best things we offer here at eSpecial Needs.

3. Rectangle Budget Ball Pit & Giant Budget Ball Pit

It’s really no surprise that our Budget Ball Pits are on the top 10 twice. They’re too awesome to just be on here once. 😎 They can be used in a home, clinic, or school as a great way to encourage kid’s vestibular activity and enhance their proprioceptive feedback.

2. EZ-On Adjustable Vest For Family Vehicles & EZ-On Push Button Safety Vests

The EZ-On Vests are so nice, they’re on here twice. These vests are great for any little escape artist that sits in the back seat of your car. They can keep your loved one contained for maximum safety.

1. Indoor Therapy Gym

Ta-Da! The Number 1 best seller is our very own Indoor Therapy Gym! Made of elegant Baltic birch wood, crafted with care and intent, our Indoor Therapy Gym is one of the best gifts you can