Floortime Props and How to Organize Them

In the beginning, finding activities to do for Floortime is easy since it is the child who chooses the activity.  You are then looking to keep engagement and open and close as many circles of communication.   Following the child’s lead is really important especially while the child is becoming more self-regulated.  When that time comes, as it has for my children, itemizing and organizing props for Floortime can make play easier for the parent to begin a therapy activity.

To be honest, I have struggled with this from the beginning.   Soon after starting Floortime, I quickly had an “ah-ha moment”: as much as I wanted to be organized and have scheduled Floortime activity time with toys at our fingertips, our children got into EVERYTHING!  The desks to play school quickly became planks to jump off of.   So back to the drawing board and the desks left, but the coffee table became a raft so when the ‘crocodiles’ swam away we could jump back into the water.  The play transformed and as the children became regulated, our play activities needed to change as well. As our wonderful behavioural therapist says, “always ante it up.”   Now we are ready to “ante it up” and here is a perfect way to organize it!

I stumbled on an amazing website called Circle Stretch.  Their motto is “Go for the gleam in the eye.’ It has many resources for Floortime/DIR from how to get started, to an easy-to-use observational checklist.  One section in particular was Props for Floortime which I instantly gravitated to.  The main idea was having different types of play such as Empathy and Nurturing to Others and Art Play all stored in clear plastic ‘shoe box’ containers.

However, I would take this one step further and add labels to each of the boxes.  I found an incredible website at Daycare Resource that has many labels to choose from to make colour copies.  The ideas for props are from the website Circle Stretch and I found it necessary to change a few items or add additional information to help in the set up.  Here it is:

 Props Needed for Floortime

 Food:

  • plastic vegetables and fruits etc.
  • plastic foods: chicken, hot dogs, eggs, bacon, French fries etc.
  • plastic dishes, cups, forks, knives and spoons
  • plastic or paper soup cans and boxes of foods
  • plastic cooking utensils, pots, mixer, toaster etc.
  • play kitchen with table and chairs

Transportation:

  • minimum of 12 match box size cars, trucks, etc.
  • tool kit to fix cars, e.g.: screwdriver, wrench, pliers, etc.
  • garage road signs, play road
  • road construction equipment
  • other forms of public transportation: airplane, boat, bus, train

Empathy and Nurturing of Others:

  • minimum of two dolls, one boy and one girl
  • minimum of two bottles
  • plastic figures of a family whose sex and number of members matches the child’s family, plastic figures of helpers in the community: doctor, nurse, fireman, construction person, police , doctors kit to help  a doll include Band-Aids, a white sock with toes cut off to be a cast
  • tool kit to fix objects owned by dolls
  • doll house for plastic family blankets and clothes for doll
  • play bath equipment for dolls play crib or bed for dolls

Fantasy Play:

  • plastic animals from the jungle, zoo, water and farm plastic dinosaurs
  • Fisher Price or Play School: farm, pirate ship, airport, school, store etc.

Communications:

  • set of two telephones
  • chalk,  white board or easel

Reading:

  • books on a variety of topics which are age appropriate
  • word signs around the room labelling objects
  • display posters of letters of alphabet and numbers 1 to 10 on a wall
  • school desk for dolls or child to pretend school

Construction Play:

  • wooden block set
  • plastic block set
  • tool kit for construction e.g.: play saw, hammer, screwdriver etc.
  • Lincoln log set
  • construction equipment: truck, earth mover, etc.

Art Play:

  • crayons and paper
  • tempera paints, brush and paper
  • finger paints and finger paint
  • Play Dough and tools for sculpting

Rough and Tumble Play: 

  • list rough and tumble games you play together on index cards:  ‘Tickle Monster’ or ‘Chase’
  • include a “You’re it!!” card or hat for chase games

Outdoor Play:

  • sand box, pails, shovels and other sand toys
  • containers for water different sizes
  • play table, gym set with slide, swings and ladder
  • rubber football and/or baseballs to throw and catch
  • rubber soccer ball and/or basketball to kick

* Constructive Obstruction Props to Create Problem Solving Skills:

  • bubbles to be blown while playing with other props to help children cope with a distraction
  • balloon or light ball to bounce  to sabotage play (so the child may notice you to tell you to stop or come and play at the activity)
  • a blanket to hide the desired objects under (Where is the fruit?  I thought it was on my plate?  Where can I find it?)
  • bunch of sponge balls to throw to create an obstacle which needs to be attended to
  • rubber bands, to fix or bind things together
  • tape, to fix or bind things together

* This is a very important and necessary part to inject when doing Floortime.  Making a problem to help solve during play will help the child learn problem solving skills and to become a dynamic thinker.

Prop Storage:

Keep theme related props in “shoe box” size transparent plastic containers (available at Wal-Mart) with covers so the child can see inside and select a theme to play with.  Some container may need to be larger to store some items such as Construction Play items or Blocks.

This will make it easier to keep a play room neat and organized.   When Floortime has ended the child can assist you in putting props in their respective containers.

I hope this helps those who are struggling and to feel more organized.  So when your child brings you her Barbie and the leg is out of its socket, grab the Doctor’s kit from the Empathy and Nurturing of Others box and let the dramatic play begin.  Happy Flooring!

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