You fabulous Nater Tater fans!  You sent Ms. Susie on two wild, crazy shopping sprees for her fabulous pre-school students, including Nate!  She spent half of the gift at the end of last academic year and held onto the rest to use this fall after she got to know her new students better.  You know how when you’re given freedom it’s sometimes restrictive?  I kept bugging Susie for what she bought and she kept saying, “It’s all in my Amazon cart!  I’m just scared to pull the trigger!”  Sometimes it’s overwhelming to have so much choice — but we are very grateful that you fans  supported Nate’s 4th Birthday Wish so Susie and Mollie could get brand new and engaging toys for kids with special needs.

Susie gave me this list a while back and I held onto it until now in hopes that these purchase may inspire some holiday shopping of your own.  Almost all of these toys are new to me.  They’re not what you find in Toys R Us.  They’re engaging, nutritious, and, most of all, fun!  We keep a running Amazon Wish List so that friends and family can purchase items that support Nate’s current academic and therapy goals.  We’ve added many of Ms. Susie’s purchases to the list for Santa!

Here’s Ms. Susie’s purchases, many of which are modeled by the cutest boy I know!

Drill

Design and Drill Activity Center by Educational Insights ($23.99)

You get colored pattern plates, you get colored screws, and you get a plastic drill.  Who wouldn’t want to participate in this game? The description says it “builds coordination, imagination, creative thinking, and fine motor skills” but I’m pretty sure the kids will all say blah blah blah to that and holler, “Gimme the drill!!!”  This one is going to be a winner.

discovery boxDiscovery Language Sorting Boxes by Lakeshore Learning Materials ($49.99)

Even though this toy is geared for ages 9 months to three years, this set of sensory toys gives older kids an opportunity to both play and encourages verbal language.  Each “box”–a house, a lunch box, a barn, and a “toy box” — holds four items.  You can also sort by color or type (e.g. food, animal, furniture).  Note that, if you’re an Amazon Prime member like we are, this product isn’t covered under its free shipping policy.

Popsicles

Smart Snacks Alpha Pops by Learning Resources ($15.16)

Match the colored popsicles to find the upper and lower case versions of a letter.  And you can pretend to eat a popsicle to boot!

BeeHive

Preschool Bee Hive by PlanToys ($19.70)

A fun way to develop the pincer grasp (with fingers) or use forceps to develop fine motor skills.  Once that’s mastered, the hive cells can be stacked and kids can practice getting the bees in and out of the hive without knocking anything over. Susie also loved that this company was extremely environmentally friendly.

Fishing Game

Fishing Game by PlanToys ($16.29)

This tricky fishing game is from PlanToys’ PlanPreschool line.  Unlike most of the fishing toys out there, which are magnetic, this requires the player to figure out how to use the hook to “catch” a fish by the rope loop on the top of its head.  The fishing rod lengths can be adjusted from beginner to advanced levels.

Sorting Cupcakes

Smart Snacks Shape Sorting Cupcakes by Learning Resources ($14.39)

This one is Nate’s favorite purchase!  It encourages pretend play and also gives kids an opportunity to practice matching skills.  The frosting and cake separate; the bottom of the frosting has a shape that fits into the cupcake.  Match them up and then pretend you’ve got an awesome treat to eat!

Positional Words

Positional Words Resource Box by Lakeshore Learning Materials ($29.99)

This one is pretty cool.  It teaches kids to follow positional instructions and work on listening skills .  There are four sets of six cards; each set comes with two items.  For example, the yellow cards come with a duck and a pool.  Each card asks the child to do something different with the two items, e.g. put the duck in the pool, put the duck in front of the pool, etc.  If they play on their own, a picture of the correct image is on the back of each card but, when playing with a peer or an adult, it’s a great way to work on paying attention to what someone is saying.  Like the other Lakeshore product, this item does not participate in the Amazon Prime shipping program.

Lovebug

Vibrating Plush Love Bug by Sensation Products ($59.99)

This is a big purchase but provides Nate and friends with great input during occupational therapy breaks.  It provides a “therapeutic vibrotactile experience,” which really just means it wakes up Nate’s senses and helps him focus a bit.  It is soft and squishy like a bean bag and Nate’s using it daily as part of his sensory diet.

Ms. Susie also purchased some art supplies, including washable stamp pads (because the “washable” ones she had accidentally stained Nate’s shirt) and triangular crayons, which help kiddos learn how to properly hold a writing utensil.  But friends, I saved the best purchase for last.  Are you ready for this?

Hair ClipsMs. Susie swears that she and the ladies aren’t wearing these at school or to fancy parties but, rather, she’s used them to create fun and engaging shakers for the kids to play with at circle time.  I’m not really sure I buy that excuse but we’ll give Susie a pass on that one…. ;)

So, dear Nate is Great fans, this is concludes the shopping extravaganza that you made possible through Nate’s 4th Birthday Wish.  (Check out the other two posts here and here.) These toys help the four students in Susie’s room, the many students that Mollie works with throughout the day, and will help students with special needs for many years to come.  We are very grateful for the generous way you honored Nate’s 4th year on this earth.

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