These Are a Few of Camden’s Favorite Toys

Last week, Camden’s teacher emailed me to say how much he loved a certain toy. The Track Racer.  It made me smile because it reminded me of Camden’s first big ABA reinforcer. The Penguin Race. Seriously interesting (to his mama) how much delight he got from this contraption. It was so noisy and annoying. I’ve shared before about Camden’s visual stim and how he loves when things move across his line of sight. If you read the Amazon reviews, you’ll see how many other kids on the spectrum gravitated toward this as well. penguin racer

 

ECI Penguin Race
Camden with his Penguin Race and our beloved ECI team back in 2011. These people pretty much saved my life.

Then I just started thinking about the toys that Camden has really enjoyed. I recall early on, a friend insisting that I get him a water table. The boy hated playing in water. My mom and brother bought him a sand and water table for his 2nd birthday. Through OT, we worked on sensory issues, and were delighted when Camden would touch the sand or play in the water. Over time, we found ourselves getting a bit perturbed when other kids would come over and make an absolute mess mixing the sand and water. Camden kept it so tidy. Why didn’t the other children? When our little guy, Carson, was old enough to play at the sand/water table, we realized it was a very normal thing for neuro-typical kids to want to do. Who knew?! *If you are still tracking with me at this point, I am essentially strolling down memory lane with this post. sandwatertable

 

Boys at Water Sand Table
Camden and Carson playing at the sand/water table. Check out Camden on the sand side! We were thrilled! March 2012.

 

Camden at the Construction Table
Camden playing appropriately at the construction site table. This is becoming more and more the norm. YAY! Nov 2013

Okay, so here are a few of Camden’s favorite toys/playthings. And I would LOVE to hear about your kiddo’s favorite toys. And for this post, I will focus mainly on “appropriate” toys instead of the untraditional items Camden’s has fixated on in the past, like the tv remote, my hair, keys, coins, etc. As you probably  know, “appropriate play” is a challenge for many kids with autism. We’ve observed Camden stimming over rolling cars back and forth just to watch the wheels spin. Seeing him play appropriately at our construction site table is a joy! And in case any of you are thinking, “Well, that’s not uncommon. Lots of kids like to play with things that aren’t really toys.” We’ve all heard people remark on how oftentimes it seems that a child is more interested in the box or packaging than the actual toy. What I am referring to is quite different.

In no particular order: These Leap Frog alphabet flash cards. We love and learned a lot from the Leap Frog movies. These sturdy flashcards combined his love of Leap Frog and the alphabet. A beautiful mix. Leap Frog flashcards

Boys and Flashcards
Carson, Camden, and the Leap Frog flashcards. Those letters were lined up MANY times across our house. July 2013

 

Camden number cards
Then he pretty much loved any flashcard. We bought out the Dollar Tree’s flash cards during that phase. March 2012

Camden’s first love of trains came from the GeoTrax. He got them for Christmas one year. Then we found a big ole set of them on Craigslist and expanded our Trax. Trax

Camden Trax
Camden with his first GeoTrax set. Christmas 2009

 

Camden Trax 2
Still loving the GeoTrax. March 2011

Right before Carson was born, we got Camden a wooden train table. We still have it and he plays with it almost daily. train table

 

Camden Train Table
Camden playing with his beloved train table shortly after his little brother was born. March 2010
Due to Camden's gross motor issues and the fact that he was super cautious, I recall how shocked we were to walk in and find him on the table. Jan 2011
Due to Camden’s gross motor issues and the fact that he was super cautious, I recall how shocked (and pleasantly surprised) we were to walk in and find him on the table. Jan 2011

I am not entirely sure when Camden’s fondness for Thomas the Train started. It seemed to happen so gradually, that it just kind of sneaked up on us. Since he can sometimes be a bit challenging to buy gifts for, Thomas is an easy go-to. He has no shortage of the wooden Thomas trains and the Take-n-Play metal ones.

Camden's initial interest in Thomas. Sept 2010
Camden’s initial interest in Thomas. Sept 2010
Camden's fondness for Thomas continues. Feb 2011
Camden’s fondness for Thomas continues. Feb 2011

We found this 3-lane slip-n-slide at Costco a couple of years ago, and it’s been a big hit. Camden is still a bit cautious to run down it, so Brian either pushes him (lovely on the back) or he sits on one of the inflatable pillow-things that came with it. We tie a bungee cord to it and pull him through the water.

Camden PA Slide
Fun with the cousins on the slip-n-slide. So proud of him! July 2013

 

Camden Bungee
Camden utilizing the bungee cord method. July 2013

We’ve got a lot of memories around this bead maze table. My little guy held on to it as he cruised around the living room. Camden still shows a lot of interest in these bead mazes when he sees them out and about.

Carson and Camden Bead Maze Table
The boys at the bead maze table. Jan 2011

Have you seen or heard of the Chevron cars? We have a kid friend that loved them and played with them, and I remember thinking how cute they were. I bought someone’s Chevron car lot off of Craigslist when I was pregnant with Camden. He actually had several of them in his 1-year pictures, but I can’t seem to find them now.

Camden with his favorite Chevron car, Charlie Chaser. Jan 2010
Camden with his favorite Chevron car, Charlie Chaser. Jan 2010

He played with the Fisher Price school bus for a long time. School buses were actually Camden’s first big interest. We live near the school bus depot, and since we went for walks so much, he’d get super excited to see them all whoosh by. FP bus

Camden played with that school bus for a long time. Excuse me while I smooch those cheeks! Jan 2009
Camden played with that school bus for a long time. Excuse me while I smooch those cheeks! Jan 2009

Early on, books were just about Camden’s favorite. Not sure if he actually enjoyed the stories, but he loved having the pages turn and has always gravitated to letters. Here we are reading some of his favorites when I was pregnant with Carson.

Camden and his Books
Camden and Mommy reading some great books. Nov 2009

Another HUGE ABA motivator was the bubble machine. We’ve been through several of them over the years. We’d take the machine outside and Camden would chase them and watch them float. He still enjoys the bubble song when we go to Gymboree.

The boys gets excited about his bubbles. Dec 2010
The boy gets excited about his bubbles. Dec 2010
Camden enjoying the bubble machine outside. Jan 2011
Camden enjoying the bubble machine outside. Jan 2011

 

Gymboree Bubbles
Camden catching bubbles at Gymboree. July 2013

 

Camden PA Bubbles
Camden in PA this summer, popping some big bubbles. June 2014

One of his other early faves was the Fisher Price farm. We held on to that for a long time. FP farm

Camden loved to play with his farm and peek through the little window as he watched Dora. Dec 2009
Camden loved to play with his farm and peek through the little window as he watched Dora. Dec 2009

We got so much joy out of the Step 2 Up and Down Coaster. A friend let us borrow theirs to see if the boys would like it. Then we found one on Craigslist. It was HUGE for Camden’s gross motor development.

Camden on the Coaster
For as long as I can remember, Camden has bounced as his primary means of sensory-seeking. I recall when he was just a year old, seeing him in the baby monitor and how stunned we were with how high he could bounce. My dear friend, Danielle, got this Galt trampoline for Camden. We went through three of the replacement bungees before it was all said and done. That thing had some awesome bounce!

That sweet boy LOVED that trampoline!...even more so when the bubble machine was one. Oct 2010
That sweet boy LOVED that trampoline!…even more so when the bubble machine was on. Oct 2010

 

Bouncing boys collage
Every time my boys jump on our trampoline, I think of that sweet lady, Barb, from Craigslist that gave it to us. It’s been a great thing for the boys to do together!

Other than the trampoline, the swing has always been a favorite for Camden. Great for sensory for him, and very calming. I’d pay good money to know how many swing pushes I’ve done with that boy. We started out with the Little Tykes Secure Swing, and then moved to this half bucket swing. Camden had/has low muscle tone, so the bucket swing was perfect to give him support that he needed.

 

Camden Tykes Swing
Camden taking a rare snooze in his Little Tykes swing. June 2011

 

Camden in the bucket swing
Camden enjoying a bit more freedom in the bucket swing. June 2012

We have a couple other favorites, but can’t find pictures of the boys playing with them. Camden uses his Fisher Price tough player every day. I download his favorite songs and rotate them from time to time.

I always love it when I can find things that my boys can play with together. They love vehicles and I wanted to get them a racetrack one year for Christmas, but wanted one that wasn’t incredibly frustrating. We really like the Scaleextric set. It’s uses cars that fit into the slots on the track. You can adjust the speed too.

Boys Racing
Carson and Camden playing with the slot car track. Jan 2015

SO wish I had a picture of the boys playing with the Stomp Rocket Jr. It’s another toy that has been great for Camden’s gross motor skills. We use it to work on his jumping. Brian and I even have fun playing with it as we compete to see who can catch the most launched rockets.
My sister-in-law got Camden a ball pit tent when he was 1 or 2. We have a lot of memories with that little tent and cleaning up balls all over the house. My boys finally outgrew it and we passed it along to our baby cousins since I couldn’t bare to part with it. My sister-in-law also got Camden a 6-foot parachute for Christmas early on. We’ve had tons of fun with it and still have it to pull out on occasion. When we go to Gymboree and Camden lays under the parachute while it floats up and down, the look on his face is priceless. It makes my heart swell! I need to get a picture and video so I never forget.

I love this picture of Camden from our camping trip last fall. Completely on his own, he grabbed the remote controlled vehicle and got to playing. I think this picture is part of what is making this post SO long (in addition to the fact that it’s just fun to reminisce about the good times) are pictures like this. We’ve really tried (and still do) to get Camden to work on appropriate play. We know that he loves vehicles, so to see him using the remote to drive it around, as opposed to lying on the ground and rolling it back and forth in his line of sight is SUPER EXCITING!!!

Camden driving the RC
Camden driving the remote controlled truck during our camping trip. Oct 2014

I am continually on the lookout for toys that Camden will like. Feel free to share suggestions!

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6 thoughts on “These Are a Few of Camden’s Favorite Toys

  1. Brian Russell January 30, 2015 / 9:11 pm

    Ahhh! A nice stroll down memory lane.

    • Candace January 31, 2015 / 10:32 am

      That’s what I thought! =) Don’t you love seeing Ruxy in his Chuck Taylor’s?! And don’t you so miss that penguin game? Squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak. Good stuff.

  2. Lynn Squires January 31, 2015 / 12:26 pm

    I loved this. Being so far away, I had never seen some of these pictures. It was definitely not to long.
    Love you guys.

    • Candace January 31, 2015 / 2:17 pm

      Aw, thank you, Aunt Lynn!! As family, you may be a bit biased. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting! Really was a fun post for the mama. Love you too!

  3. Kelsey Schwartz March 14, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    I’m behind but I’m catching up on your posts. A lot of the boys in our class will play with music toys way below their level. They are middle school age. We are always trying to find new leisure items for them and new reinforcers for them. We try so hard to stay away from food as reinforcers. But if they aren’t motivated, they won’t work.

    With all that being said, we taught one of our most naive learners to play Temple Run and Subway Surfer on the iPad this year! If you have ever tried those games, they are hard for anyone to play let alone a child with autism! How cool that he can play those games!!! This could open so many doors for other things we didn’t know he could do.

    The unfortunate thing is that at a school there are many more resources (borrowing from another classroom, classroom money, donations) to pull from to try and find new things for our kids. At home, it can be so expensive and some of our kids have almost no toys at home to play with…so sad.

    Keep doin what you’re doing! Did Camden get that bike yet?

    • Candace March 14, 2015 / 2:32 pm

      Hi Kelsey!! Great to “hear” from you! Thanks for posting and keeping up with our sweet, Camden. I love knowing that you are out there at your school loving, encouraging, stretching, and caring for kids like mine! Keep it up girl! =)

      I agree…I think the musical toys are great! Sensory stuff like that can be lots of fun and relaxing. Awesome that you mentioned Temple Run and Subway Surfer! I was amazed the first time I watched Camden play those. We had no idea for a long time. His speech therapist had the games, and Camden selected Temple Run as his reinforcer. Brian and I were stunned watching him. I think it’s great for his fine motor growth. You know, I bet many parents have unused toys sitting around the house. Your colleagues could consider doing a FB post to collect those unused toys to be used at your school. Many people love to support great causes like that.

      Haven’t received the bike yet. Thank you for asking. Should be any day. I can’t wait!!!

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