Whether you have been practicing play therapy for a long time or you are just starting out, it can be very helpful to have a go-to list of items and supplies to either equip or re-stock your play room so you have everything you need when you need it!
But what if you could only have 5 items? What 5 would you choose?
While traditionally pure child centered play therapy experts will teach that certain items have no place in the play room, I have found in my own work over the past 16 years utilizing prescriptive play therapy, that it is very helpful to be prepared to go beyond pure child centered play therapy when children present in certain ways and with certain issues.
I teach therapists in my live webinars, my in-person workshops, recorded play therapy trainings and in supervision that the essence of child centered play therapy should always be the basis of AlL play therapy. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s essential to meet children where they are developmentally and in context of their current circumstances. It’s so important to watch, observe, listen with reflection and tracking from a place of compassion, sincere interest and curiosity in all of our play therapy. Based on this foundation, we can introduce more facilitative play based activities to support a child in having particular experiences that can be healing and foster learning and growth.
To learn all you will need for setting up a play room (traditional, multi-use or mobile) I invite you to take a look at the one hour recorded webinar I have on this topic to get you started called What’s in a Play Room?. Beyond what you’ll learn there I will share with you here 5 of my top favorite play therapy items to have on hand at all times.
If I could only take one play items with me to see a child I would take my lego collection. Building with legos® provides so many therapeutic opportunities there is actually something called Lego® -based therapy! You can use legos in individual play therapy or in groups. The benefits are countless! Here are some resources below:
This book presents everything you need to know in order to set up and run a LEGO® group for children with autism spectrum disorders or related social communication difficulties and anxiety conditions.
This guide explores the power of play, introduces the basics of brain plasticity and attachment theory, and shows exactly how to set up and run an effective Thera-Build group. A wide range of imaginative games and activities is included.
And this is my FAVORITE lego collection kit! The children love this. . .
2. Fresh Crayons
We can all relate to the feeling of opening up a fresh box of crayons. And in Dr. Rosalind Heiko’s 2 hour training webinar called Using Projective Drawing Tests, Techniques & Activities in Play Therapy she teaches us the importance of having fresh, un-broken crayons for children in the play room. And honestly, I only use Crayola Brand Crayons because frankly I’ve found the off-brands just are not the same quality.
This is something you have to replace regularly because the children will mix it sometimes and sometimes it will dry out. You can find it at your local super supply store or you can order online like I do. The tactile, manipulative substance is magical for so many play based activities for children.
This is a 24-Pack Case of assorted Colors in 3-Ounce Cans only available on Amazon. I like to stock up and keep PLENTY of PlayDoh on hand!
This tool kit comes with Includes 5 cookie cutters, 21 stamper cutters, 10 cans of Play-Doh and more.
4. Dollhouse, people and other items
Absolutely have to have a doll house for your play therapy equipment supply and it’s important to have people and all the essential items to go inside the dollhouse. Here are several options you can find online or in your local super store. Here are some places to start.
This option Includes 4 levels of decorated, open space and 13 fun furniture pieces. People have to be bought separately.
Dr. Beth Onufrak is a Clinical Child Psychologist for children ages 3-8 and in her article called “You can tell me anything! I’m a puppet!” Why Play Therapy Works she explains how and why puppets are so effective in the course of play therapy. I don’t know what a play room would be without puppets. You can grow your collection of puppets over time and you can start with these resources below.
Start with a collection of 8 multi-cultural people puppets!
And be sure to have some animal puppets with moving mouths like these!
The puppet that has gotten utilized the most in my play room is my turtle. His head can pull into his shell when he’s feeling shy.
Now it’s your turn! What would YOUR 5 top picks be if you could only have 5 items in your play room? Comment below!
*Some of the links in this article are affiliate partner links and if you should choose to purchase from these links I will receive a small % commission which allows me to continue providing free training and resource information for my community.