April 12, 2018

Rachel Grapes

Games for Diverse Little Learners

Topics: STEM Education / Play, Learning at Home, Learning Through Play, STEM


Playing games is not only a lot of fun but can also provide numerous benefits for people of all abilities!

Although we have covered the benefits of gaming for toddlers, families, and colleagues in the workplace, this blog post is about the games and the benefits one family has experienced with their 7-year-old daughter, Maggie, and 3-year-old son, Sammy, with Down syndrome. In their own words, here are some of their favorite games to play as a family and the benefits they provide:


Battat Sound Puzzle Box


Recommended to us by the Down Syndrome Clinic at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, the Battat Sound Puzzle Box is also used by our local therapy center. The openings are unforgiving and require accuracy beyond the typical shape sorter – something we were looking for to help refine fine motor skills. Our favorite part of this particular toy is the kazoo built into each shape that makes a wild, fun noise that keeps Sammy (and daddy) coming back for more.

Key Benefits: fine motor skills, cause/effect, problem solving



ThinkFun Roll & Play

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This little gem showed up in our Instagram feed several months ago and rocketed to the top of our list of must-haves. The soft block is something easy to grab, roll, and even chew on if the mood strikes. But the real benefit of Roll & Play is in the interactive game of color recognition and associated action cards. When we play this as a family, we roll the block, draw a card, and all take turns performing the action – it gets a little wild and that’s ok!

Key Benefits: building vocabulary/speech, wide range – counting, emotions, colors, etc.


Melissa & Doug Puzzles (with and without sound)


Simple, fun, and engaging, the Melissa and Doug classic knob puzzles and more refined sound puzzles have been a tremendous resource for helping our Sammy refine his motor skills and identify basic shapes and other items. Various sizes of “pulls” or knobs on the puzzle pieces provide the opportunity to increase the difficulty of the task and keeps it interesting for Sammy.

Key Benefits: fine motor skills, vocabulary




Joe & Rachel Grapes are both teachers in Jackson, Tennessee where they live with their 7 year-old daughter and 3 year-old son with Down syndrome. You can find more of their favorite games for development and the family on Instagram @coachgrapes and @grapesbunch.


Color Cube Sudoku