It’s the holiday season! As we approach the end of December, plenty of parents have been inquiring about appropriate and educational toys and games that encourage speech and language growth, fine and gross motor development, and problem solving skills. Below are some of our favorite toys that we believe would make great additions to the family toy closet:
Baby toys (birth-24 months):
- Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
- Why we love it for infants: brightly lit colors encourage basic skills such as eye tracking which helps facilitate gross motor skills like rolling and reaching across the body’s midline. These multi-sized rings are also the perfect size to encourage the baby to start using a gross grasp and release pattern, which is integral for fine motor development. The baby can learn basic discrimination skills related to sizing and colors which is necessary to develop basic problem solving skills. These rings allow the baby opportunity for oral exploration without hazard of choking, and the product boasts that the material is safe for teething.
- Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board – Wooden Educational Toy With 15 Solid Wood Pieces
- Why we love it: Facilitates tactile discrimination, encourages basic language skills by introducing names of basic shapes as well as different colors, facilitates fine motor development (particularly pincer , tripod, and lateral tripod grasp usage), and requires basic eye hand coordination to stack and unstack items on and off the centerpiece.
- More suggestions: Caterpillar Play Gym, Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers Airplane, Busy Poppin’ Pals, Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Count and Color Gumball
Toddler Toys (3-5 years):
- Pop Up Pirate
- Why we love it: This is a fan favorite for kids and therapists. We use it in OT, PT, and Speech, and the kids love it because of the uncertainty of who is going to make the pirate pop out of the barrel. Therapists enjoy using this toy to encourage direction following, visual motor integration skills, and fine motor coordination. When played in a small group, it provides a great opportunity to learn some basic impulse control and encourages turn taking. This is a great game for kids who may still have difficulty playing games with 2 or 3 step directions, as there are no rules other than waiting your turn to place the sword when directed.
- Sneaky Snacky Squirrel
- Why we love it: Great game to address basic social skills and direction following. This game can be played with 2-4 individuals, and can help to encourage turn taking and fine motor control to manipulate a set of squirrel-shaped tweezers. This game also helps to build frustration tolerance, as children must learn how to react when losing their turn, or having a peer take away one of their acorns. It’s also easy to understand, and there is no reading required.
- More suggestions: Wooden Shape Sorting Clock, Pop the Pig, Spot It, Zingo, Elefun, Hungry Hungry Hippos
Grade school toys and games (6-9 years):
- Games for balance, coordination, and core strength: Zoomball, Twister, Labyrinth Balance Board
- Games for fine motor development: Operation, Barrel of Monkeys, KerPlunk, Angry Birds, Jenga, Operation
- Games for visual perceptual and problem solving skills: Rush Hour, Rush Hour Junior, S’Match, Marble Runs, Cartoon It
- Games for Social skill and cooperative play: Race to the Treasure, Stone Soup, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Adolescent games (10-15):
- Games for Executive Functioning : Logic Links, Qwirkle, Mastermind, Labyrinth
- Games for Visual perceptual and problem solving skills: Knot so Fast, Blokus, Rush Hour
- Games for Social development: Life, Scattergories, Scrabble, Apples to Apples
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!