Only 50 Shopping Days Left ‘Till X-Mas (AAAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!)

Yep–it’s time to start screaming.  Christmas/Chanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/the Saturnalia/the Festival of Mithras/etc. are approaching here in the northern hemisphere.  Shopping is always a challenge for me, and I know it’s extra-challenging for all of us with kids with special needs:  our trek to find that perfect toy for our little guys and gals is a bit more complicated than it is for many other parents.  Not just anything off the shelf will do.

With that in mind, I thought this blog post (and its comments!) would be a good space to start sharing our collective wisdom about good toys for kiddos with visual impairments.  For instance, I just opened a catalog this morning from One Step Ahead (http://www.onestepahead.com), and found lots and lots of toys that look like they’d be awesome for B/VI kids.  If you go to their Web site’s toy store and type in “Sensory” for the key word, you can come up with cool stuff like:

A photo of a sensory toy--it's a big textured ball with holes in it that you can put little differently-textured balls in.

Ballyhoo Sensory Toy, ~$25

Four boxes (books?) of sensory flash cards

Touch and Feel Flash Cards, ~$13

Joyful toddler boy on a safety trampoline with a handle.

Kids’ safety trampoline with handle, ~$100

I’m trying to convince my parents that an AWESOME gift for Peanut for Christmas or his birthday (shortly after X-mas in January) would be a subscription to the National Braille Press’ Braille Books Club ($100 for one year of print/braille children books–one book mailed to him per month).  You can find out more about the club here:  http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/programs/cbbc/cbbc.html.

One of Peanut’s earliest–and favorite–toys was a green sensory ball like the one in this four-pack from Target:

4-pack package of sensory balls.

Edushape Sensory Balls, ~$12

My parents have a big one (about the size of four little balls together) at their house that supposedly glows in the dark that was also a big hit.

Both Peanut and Sprout have also loved the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Puppy:

A picture of the puppy in question.

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Learning Pupp, ~$20

It has two different settings that you change through its paw, and it sings, plays games, interacts and all of that good stuff–and is single-handedly responsible for teaching me “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!”

Previously, I’ve covered these toys on the blog, too:

The Wide Wonderful World of Water–these are better for warmer months, but they’re cheaper now, if you can find them in stores.

The Crocodile Dentist–definitely an easy, and inexpensive, hit at our house.

Bop-It XT–probably better for older children, but lots of modes and fun for the family.

Lauri Shape and Color Sorter–he still plays with this, and so does Sprout (if he lets her!)

See n’ Say–Very easily adapted with braille, and easily located at garage sales.

We’ve found garage sales are a treasure trove of toys, too–not only did we score tons and tons of Thomas and Friends (Peanut’s current obsession) for reasonable prices over the summer, but my parents have found all sorts of toys that light up, make noise, and other fascinating things for reasonable prices.  It can take time and patience–and will probably be out for this year, given the season–but it’s a great way to get neat toys at prices you can actually afford.  For instance:  my parents have a Hokey-Pokey Elmo that they got for a whopping $1.  It cost us batteries to fix it.  The kids go INSANE for it–and watching my parents hokey-pokey with Peanut in the kitchen is beyond worth it for me.

So what sorts of toys do your kids love?  Share in the comments!!!

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