I began to develop this idea 2 years ago after I received a basket full of Christmas goodies and had no foreseeable use for the basket. So the “Cool Down Basket” was born! As an Outpatient Therapist, I regularly meet with people who are anxious in my office and need something to take the edge off or children who benefit from practicing various coping mechanisms with me to use at home or school. Parents come to me as well for assistance in helping their child with emotional regulation. The “Cool Down Basket” is perfect, fun, and soothing for all ages!
Start off with a basket, box, or other container to put the items in. Fill it with various “fiddle toys” that you can find at the dollar, party, cheesy touristy, or toy store. I have found many items online at Trainer’s Warehouse or Amazon. For those children who like to draw, include a piece of paper and some markers. The “Calm Down Jar” is all over Pinterest. For children, I suggest making it out of a plastic bottle and hot glue the top on to avoid colored glitter water from getting all over the place! Making your own items or having your child create something for the basket keeps it personal.
Some staples for any basket include:
A stress ball
“Calm Down Jar”
Pinwheel(to practice deep breaths)
Random squishy things
and who doesn’t love “Bug-Eye Bob?”
This idea can translate to a smaller version for the car or school. Therapists can create a similar one for their office and what adult doesn’t like to have a fiddle toy or two on their desk for those stressful days?? Most of all, be creative, have fun, and “cool down!”
Have you walked down a toy aisle or through a toy store lately? Most kid’s toys these days make some sort of sound or require batteries. I do not remember many toys when I was a kid that I owned that did this. Toys with sounds and actions are exciting for children, but also take away from their creativity. Children are forced to use their imagination and create their own actions and sounds when the toys do not do it for them. Young children love engaging in imaginative play.
It is important for children to use these toys because they are being creative and expressing themselves the way they know how. Typically, when engaging in this type of play, children will ask what this object is used for or what a particular object is. Letting a child know that the object can be anything they want it to be helps them be creative while engaging in imaginative play. It is also important for children participating in pretend play to know what the real world use of the object is. In pretend play, many children will also imitate what they have seen in the real world.
Some examples of toys that will increase creativity in children are; blocks, puppets, play kitchens, toy telephones, dolls, trains, and cars.
You do not have to get rid of all your noisy toys, but try something without noise next time you visit the toy store…it may preserve your sanity too!
I recently purchased this art easel from IKEA. One side is a chalkboard and the other is a dry erase board. It doesn’t come with chalk or markers, but with a dowel to attach a roll of paper. This particular easel was $15! I love using an art easel in play therapy.
Easels are perfect for children from age 2 and older. Children love using their imagination and enjoy art expression. School age children enjoy using it as pretend play as a teacher. Oftentimes, I find myself writing on it too!
Art and free expression is left out of many educational programs these days due to the heavy focus on academics. Children need time during the day to express themselves artistically and relieve stress.
This particular easel folds up nicely that makes it easy to store under a bed or in a small space. When I need more space in my office, I can fold it up and slide it between my desk and the wall. The frame is made of unfinished wood, which can be painted or decorated easily. I am thinking about painting mine soon!