Favorite Product Review! Textured Grabber XT

Textured Grabber XT

Item # AP3662


“Easy To Store, Easy To Clean, Easy To Use, Durable, ‘Soothing!'”

“My grandson has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and has a tendency to bite his hands when upset or excited. Give him the grabber xt and his attention is immediately focused to chewing not biting.” – A satisfied Achievement Products Costumer

Product Overview:
Our popular chew tool now comes with 3 different textured surfaces! Each surface serves to add extra tactile sensations to the lips, cheeks, gums, and tongue. Can also be used to assist in transitioning individuals with sensory issues from puree to textured foods. It is sure to spark the interest of all age groups. For added interest try the scented versions. An XT version is also available for individuals who exert more jaw pressure. FDA approved. No latex.

To shop this product and similar products please click here:

Activity Guide – Squeeze and Feed Frogs

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Squeeze and Feed Frogs.

Squeeze and Feed Frogs are rounded, pliable frog faces that open their mouths when squeezed to “gobble” foam bugs. The resistance provided when squeezed is excellent for the development of hand and grip strength, and manipulation of the small bugs assists with finger dexterity and in-hand manipulation skills. The set comes with both a number die and a color die for ease of grading the activity to children of various ages. The dice also provide the opportunity for social play as Squeeze and Feed Frogs can be used as a game.  The bugs and the frogs are both visually appealing which increases the motivational component of the game.Activity ideas:

  • The simplest activity is to have the child squeeze the frog and place the bugs inside the mouth with their other hand. Have the child place his/her thumb on one side of the frog’s mouth with the other four fingers on the opposite side forming a cupping of the palm when squeezing. To increase the challenge, have the child try to pick up the bugs using only the frog and not their other hand.
  • Play a game using the die. For younger children, use the color die and have them race to get as many of the colors as they can into the frog’s mouth. For school-aged children, have them use the number die for number recognition. To increase the challenge, have the child use both dice and see if they can pick up the correct of number of the correct color.
  • Develop social skills. Have the child use the frogs for conversations. Have the child make the frog talk by squeezing and releasing the mouth. In a small group with two children, or a simple 1:1 adult/child situation, the frogs can have a conversation with each other.
  • To develop bilateral integration skills, use one frog to pick up a bug and have it feed the bug to other frog.

For more information about the Squeeze and Feed Frogs and other great items please visit http://www.achievement-products.com.

Activity Guide – Toppletree

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Toppletree.

Introduction:Toppletree is a fun and challenging fine motor game. Starting from the base, players try to build a branch of the tree with four consecutive color pieces without toppling the tree. The game requires fine motor precision as the child must use muscle coordination to grade his placement of the pieces without toppling the tree. This game also assists the child in the development of planning and reasoning skills as they must be able to see how to get to their piece in the correct order while not compromising the tree’s balance.

Activity ideas:

  • Use the tree as a simple construction toy. Rather than following the actual game rules, allow the child to simply build the tree and see how big they can make it without toppling it over.
  • In a small group, each player selects a color and must build their branches using only that color. Taking turns, they must find a way to connect four consecutive pieces of the tree with their color.
  • Develop color identification skills. Specify which color piece you want placed at any time and have the child place it. Increase the challenge by telling the child which color you want placed on another color (ie. “Place a blue piece on a yellow piece”).
  • Using the idea above, develop social skills by having one child be the leader, calling out to the other children where they want different color pieces placed.

For more information about the Toppletree and other great items please visit www.achievement-products.com.

Activity Guide – Balancing Hat

The team at Achievement Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items into daily classroom activities or curriculum. Scott has provided some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments. Today we will look at the Balancing Hat.


The Balance Hat is a fun way to work on body awareness, gross and fine motor control, social skills and pre-academic skills. The lightweight foam pieces provide comfort when it is worn as a hat, safety if/when it is dropped, and ease of use due to the light-weight and easy grip material. The different colored and sized pieces allow for a wide range of pre-academic categorization options.

Activity Idea:

Simple stacking activities. Have the child use the “hat” as a simple stacking activity without putting it on his/her head. Discuss the sizes, shapes and colors of the blocks while the child familiarizes his/herself with the “hat”.

  • Have the child stack the blocks on their head while standing still. Place the blocks on a surface that allows the child to be able to reach the blocks without bending, and stack the blocks in the correct order. Doing this activity in front of a mirror can help the child with poor body or spatial awareness and can also assist the child in finding the correct order with the visual clues seen in the mirror.
  • Increase the stacking challenge and the motor coordination of the child, by having the pieces positioned on surfaces of different heights that require the child to reach up, bend down, and stack the blocks all without the tower spilling.
  • Introduce balance into the activity by placing the pieces on different surfaces around the room, then have the child move from place to place, putting each piece on their head without spilling the tower.
  • For group or individual play, complete a relay race. Separate the pieces so that child must walk back and forth between two surfaces to achieve the correct order of the stacking. If working in teams, each player must pass the hat successively to the next for the placement of the next piece.

Other relay ideas: the teams must first work together to create the stack in the correct order on the table. Then each team member takes a turn wearing the hat while walking a fixed distance. The hat must be passed between teams members as a baton would be in a relay race.

Don Peek: Getting Ready for School

This post is authored by Don Peek, a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Funding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.

Getting Ready for School

As everyone knows, summer is fading fast.  Students have a full spectrum of feelings and attitudes about the beginning of school each year.  Both parents and teachers have to recognize that fact and prepare students for the very best start possible.  This is true for special needs children just as it is for other students.

For students who have felt bored during the summer, the start of school may be an exciting time.  Going to buy school supplies and getting to shop for new school clothes can be an adventure.  Typically students who do well in school look forward to school opening more than other students, but that is not always the case.  When students are very social and have been cut off from their peers during summer vacation, they will likely look forward to going back to school regardless of how well they actually do in their coursework.

Special needs children who do not do well in school and do not do well socially may dread the beginning of school.  Parents and teachers need to work and plan to make the transition from summer vacation to the beginning of classes as painless as possible.  That’s not always an easy task, but it is possible.  Buying clothes and school supplies may not be fun, but if you go to a game room and an ice cream parlor while you’re out shopping, it might at least make the trip tolerable.

I also want parents and teachers to know that just because a child hasn’t done well in school before and has never looked forward to starting school in the fall, it’s not out of the question for that pattern to change.  I’ve mentioned before that I have an autistic grandson.  He went to intermediate school and part of middle school in one state, then my son took another job and had to move him to another state.

The transition for my grandson was amazing.  When he went to the first school, he never had anything good to say about his teachers or his school.  Since he has attended his new school (now in his senior year), he has always looked forward to going to school and for the school year to begin.

He’s still autistic.  He still has the same problems at school and outside of school most associated with autism, but his attitude toward school and how well he does in school has changed dramatically.  I can’t help  but think that the attitude and actions of his teachers, the way the special education program is run, and the way other students are taught to respect special needs students all have had an impact on my grandson and his education in his new school.

Yes, his teachers have had to call home because of his behavior at times (especially when he changed his medication).  And, yes, some students have made fun of him at times (we are talking about a real middle school and high school here), but overall his experience with school has been dramatically different.

If you are a parent, regardless of the disability of your child, give some special thought about the problems your child might have returning to school this year.  If you are a teacher, think long and hard how you can make each special needs student feel welcome at school and as successful as possible.  Both the attitudes and actions of parents and teachers can have a dramatic impact on students as they return to school.  Never doubt that.  Be just as positive as you possible can with every special needs child.


Grant info:
Grant Name:  Tommy Wilson Memorial Grant

Funded By:  American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation

Description:  The Tommy Wilson Memorial Grant supports recreational programs for individuals with disabilities

Program Areas:  Disabilities, Special Education

Recipients:  Public School, Private school, High Ed, Other

Proposal Deadline:  December 1st each year

Average Amount:  $500.00 – $1,500.00

Availability:  All States

Don Peek – Are You Protecting your Students

Special Needs Topics with Don Peek

Are You Protecting Your Students?

It seems that bullying is standard practice for some of our students these days.  The spectrum runs from just being obnoxiously rude to physical assault.  Unfortunately, special education students are far too often the targets of this abuse.  Do you have procedures or a program in place to protect your students?

It is fine to provide students with the very best academic program possible, but if schools fail to teach their students to get along with one another, stand up for the weak, and promote fairness and equality, have we really done our jobs as educators?   

Not as many parents are doing a good job in this area.  Not as many students attend church and follow religious principals which might prevent this type of abuse.  It is one more job that has fallen on the shoulders of teachers, administrators, and counselors.  That may not be fair, but it is the reality of the situation.   

Unfortunately for disabled students, bullies actively seek out those who are different in any way and especially those who are least able to defend themselves.  A first step in any school is to make it known to the entire population that bullying will not be tolerated.  However, if you only use negative consequences to fight bullies, you may not be as effective as you think.  In fact, it could work against you.  Some bullies will get a rush from the attention and the risk of being caught and punished. 

Don’t misunderstand me.  I believe we should monitor those who tend to bully others, catch them in the act as often as possible, and punish them for their cowardly acts.  Were they adults, many of them would end up in jail on assault charges.

I just believe that you also need a positive program to teach students tolerance and the joy of giving.  When regular students bond with special education students, it produces positive results for both groups.  Special education students get included in many activities they might otherwise miss, and regular education students learn how to take responsibility for others.  They get attention in positive rather than negative ways.

Unfortunately, we have to be aware that there is bullying even within the ranks of special education.  Students who are physically stronger than others may try to take advantage of their weaker classmates.  Good social skills simply need to be taught to all of our students. 

Several companies have packaged programs for dealing with bullying.  If you find one that fits your school, it may save you a lot of time and energy, but don’t feel that you have to go out and purchase a program.  You can develop your own.

I believe that every school should have a strong academic program for every student, regardless of the student’s abilities.  I also believe that it has become imperative that schools teach proper social skills.  A good place to start is to teach regular education students to treat those who may have disabilities with respect.  Not only will that help to protect our special education students, it will make all of our students better people.

Grant Info:

Grant Name:  U-Act Grants

Funded By:  Red Robin Foundation

Description:  U-ACT, which stands for Unbridled Acts, or random acts of kindness, is a character-building initiative specifically for grades K-8, which aims to inspire and encourage students to be kind to others. The goal of the Red Robin Foundation U-ACT Program is to create a sense of neighborliness inside and outside of school settings and eliminate bullying through Unbridled Acts. Through monthly monetary grants, the Red Robin Foundation U-ACT Program honors schools that exemplify kindness to others and show support in their community through Unbridled Acts. If your class or school is between the grades of K-8 and you want to implement a program to encourage kindness among your students, and receive a grant for doing so, then you can submit a request! Simply come up with an idea of how you would encourage and implement kindness in your class or at your school and send it to the Red Robin Foundation.

Program Areas:  At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Disabilities, General Education, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies, Special Education

Recipients:  Public School, Private School

Proposal Deadline:  3/1/12

Average Amount:  $150.00 – $2,500.00

Availability:  All States

Tools of the Trade

Hi, I’m Scott Russo. I work as an Occupational Therapist in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District in California. I also work as a professional consultant for Achievement Products. As an Occupational Therapist who has worked in the pediatric arena for 10 years, I have a love affair with toys. It is this love affair that led me to Achievement Products, the “one stop shop” for all of my personal and professional toy needs.

It is often said that the work of a child is play. Play is the medium through which children learn almost all of their developmental skills. Therefore, professionals who work in the field of pediatric development view toys as the most important “Tools of the Trade”. A pediatric specialist without a good stable of toys would be akin to a carpenter without a tool box.

Skill development at any age is reliant upon motivation. As adults, we are constantly developing new skills on a daily basis. Adult motivation comes from many sources, such as the need for income and the desire to care for family. For children, the primary motivational force is fun. Toys provide a medium for fun and creativity while also providing children with the necessary tools they need to develop skills that will be used later in life.

In a July 14 article in The Dallas Morning News , writer Sean Meehanin describes a program in Plano, Texas, where Legos ® are being used to develop social skills in children with autism. This is a perfect example of using a popular toy in therapeutic intervention. One of the primary challenges facing a child with autism is the development of appropriate social skills. At the same time, one of the particular strengths of children with autism is the ability to construct. Through the use of construction toys and group therapy, this program is using a motivational tool for an autistic child while assisting that child in the development of skills in a challenging area.

Construction toys available at Achievement Products.com such as Magic Magnetic Shapes, Gears, Gears, Gears, and Weighted Bumpity Blocks allow therapists and other professionals in the pediatric arena to work on skills in several areas, including, but not limited to, gross and fine motor skills, cognitive development, and social skills. With tools such as these that provide inherent motivation, pediatric professionals are afforded the opportunity to be highly creative in their teaching methods or therapeutic approaches. Are there toys in your “tool box” you won’t go to work without? Please write back and let us know what they are.