Gift ideas to help tune your children’s motor skills

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Holiday Gift Guide: For Kids with Special Needs (part 2 of 5)


Par Jess Urcuyo. Meet our children’s therapist team.

We’re excited to give you part 2 of our Holiday Gift Guide, which includes gifts to help tune your children’s motor skills. Here at Canoe, we love finding creative ways to get your child engaged to work. We’ve got five kid-tested, therapist-approved activities to build hand strength, coordination, and dexterity.

1) Discovery Putty. What better way to wake up your hands than by rescuing animals from a mudslide or finding tasty treats in a custardy goo! Discovery Putty puts a fun spin on traditional therapeutic putty exercises and gives kids a workout for their finger muscles without even realizing.


  • Winner of the 2014 Dr. Toy’s Best Vacation Products Award.

2) Eye Popping Squeeze Stress Toys. Next in our workout, these crazy characters, which I’ve graded by level of difficulty based on the amount of force and positioning of the fingers required to pop their eyes out of their heads. The iconic Sock Monkey gives an easier warm-up, with the Dinosaur providing a medium resistance, and the slim-line shape of the Cow proving to be one of the harder challenges. How many times can YOU make those eyes pop in 30 seconds?

3) Happy Puzzles by Oops. As a self-correcting activity, puzzles are a great way to teach children problem solving. Manipulating each piece to fit correctly requires our brains to assimilate both visual and physical skills to be successful. The trial and error involved in completing a puzzle teaches persistence and adaptable thinking skills. Although rated for infants twelve months and above, we’ve found the abstract nature of  Happy Puzzles bring a unique challenge to children as old as five years. And we agree…they make us happy too!

4) Balancing Cactus by Plan Toys. A hands-down favourite, the Balancing Cactus challenges both strategy and coordination. Ideal for turn-taking social play, kids can also play by themselves practicing bilateral hand use by stabilizing the base with their non-dominant hand and positioning the pieces with their dominant hand. Encouraging creativity and abstract design, kids can build their cactus a different way each time.


  • The German Design Prize (Deutscher Designpreis Holzspielzeug)
  • Good Toy Award by Spiel Gut, Germany
  • Good Toy Award by Good Toy Association, Japan
  • Good Toy Award by Thai Toy Industry Association.

5) Stormy Seas by Hape Toys. The Stormy Seas balancing game is a great way to teach a child to grade the force of their movements as they learn to place the items carefully on the deck without tipping the ship off balance. Each type of cargo is weighted differently to add to the challenge. Turn-taking, language development, and imaginative play are all potential extension activities. Roll the dice, choose your cargo, and load ‘er up!


  • Able Toys Awards – Rated Toy
  • Parents Choice Awards – Silver

Learn more about Canoe Therapy services.

Our holiday gift guide for kids with special needs is available in 5 series. Visit series 1, series 2, series 3, series 4, and series 5.

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