10 OT Recommended Math Toys for your Neurodiverse LearnerOct 12, 2023
As an OT, I truly believe and live by the understanding that play is a wonderful way to teach new skills. One of the most powerful factors of play is that it reduces the perceived or actual stress that can come with learning something unfamiliar. Additionally, games and toys often provide visual components that support our Neurodiverse learners. Here are a few options based on the math concept that your child may be practicing!
Being able to identify and sort colors is a foundational math component as it allows children to categorize and group like items. Sorting bears (like the ones below) are a toy we use frequently in therapy, but they come in other animals too! This set also includes dice which support counting skills and following steps of a game. It comes with starter tweezers which support fine motor skills.
Similarly to colors, matching like items and separating different items with a specific shape supports your child’s visual motor skills. Skills such as recognizing a triangle even if it upside down, can later support being able to recognize numbers easily. 2-D shapes support your child’s ability to process and understand 3-D shapes.
Manipulatives of all sorts are incredibly valuable for your Neurodiverse learner to be able to connect concepts with real items. These owl counters are wonderful because they also support fine motor skills. Standard cube blocks, dry beans, small animals, or even socks are household items that you can utilize to support this skills as well.
Learning addition and subtraction can be a tricky skill and is best supported by games with manipulatives or visuals. I like the concept of the pop-it game as it requires the child to be able to add up the numbers on the two dice in order to “pop” the correct number of spaces. It can be a two person game, but can also be done solo. Number blocks are wonderful because they are color coded (see! Identifying and sorting colors are truly a foundational skill). The game provides visuals for your child to match and also targets fine motor strength.
This set is great because it supports fine motor skills (using small beads) and provides a visual to support multiplication and division concepts. It includes little people markers to provide a tangible representation for how division can be used, which can be a tricker concept for our Neurodiverse learners. It does come with many small parts, so be cautious with little ones nearby!
The best way to teach money concepts are to use it in practice! The play set has a variety of ways to engage with the money, including a spinner and visuals to match. Monopoly can be a wonderful game for our learners that do well with multiple steps, as it incorporates both spending and earning money.
I love this clock from Melissa and Doug! It creates an easy visual representation for both the analog and the digital numbers associated with the time. This can be a toy your child explores on their own, or you can engage your child in a turn-taking game by using the cards provided.
Math can be a daunting subject, but through play, you can reduce the stress and practice concepts without the pressure of homework! There are many wonderful games out there, but these are a few that I have found that can be most supportive for our Neurodiverse learners.
Written by Abigail Pichardo MOT License #21520
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