The Holidays are upon us, and we’ve heard the question…. “What toys do we recommend?!” We LOVE all questions, but this one, in particular, is FUN to answer! In general, most novel items or toys are a great way to teach your child new skills! Like all other moments of the year, FAMILY TIME is the best gift. Break out a family photo album, cut back on screen time, make a “family dance party” playlist, bake together (recipes are great for reading comprehension and following directions), or go explore the great outdoors (play “I spy” on a walk to work on visual-motor integration and describing).
Think back to a toy that you received as a kid to share with your mini-me! Ditch the expensive electronic light-up toys and go for “old school” blocks, train sets, or pretend musical instruments. Bring back family game nights; with Pictionary, you can work on fine motor skills and labeling. Board games that you played as a child, like Candyland or Hungry Hungry Hippos, are awesome to work on taking turns, following directions, and fine motor skills.
We already know many of our SmallTalk family loves Legos, but did you know how great they are for therapy goals? To work on therapy targets, you can talk about what you’re building, give directions, or give only a few blocks and have your child ask for more. Try larger blocks Lincoln Logs, or magnet building sets if Legos are too small. Puzzles are also a go-to, working on fine motor skills, picture matching, and labeling.
Hands-on activities and craft sets are awesome for all kids! We recommend Play-Doh, sticker books, puppet theaters, Kinetic Sand, water tables, or make your own jewelry activities. You can work on verbs in all of these activities and following directions. Costumes or dress-up items are fantastic to work on making narratives (telling stories) and pretend play. Make reading more interactive with books that have craftivities.
Gifts to get our bodies moving are always wonderful, especially for our sensory-seeking friends or if gross motor skills are a challenge. We’d recommend small trampolines, swings, sports equipment, Twister, or Spike Ball. A simple ball can be used to roll back and forth to work on turn-taking, use to work on saying names, or can be thrown at a hoop to work on coordination. For our smaller movements, check out the 50 Piece Fidget Popper set on Amazon or stretchy toys like Goo Jit Zu characters.
Before you buy…
Before buying a new toy, think about your child’s specific way of PLAY! For example, avoid small pieces if your kiddo is still exploring with their mouth often, and avoid toys with gel or slime inside if they may love to bite, squeeze, or stomp.
Prepare for Changes in Routine!
- As always, it is important to talk about changes in routine, such as visitors or traveling to new places.
- Discuss how your child is feeling about changes in routine and ask how you can help them (i.e., bring a familiar toy to new places or show pictures of where you are going or who is coming over).
- Remind family and friends about how best to greet your child- do they prefer high-fives or big bear hugs?
If this year has been hard on your family, like so many, check out this link to see local resources to help with the holidays.
We wish you and your families a fun and festive holiday season!
Kendall Harrington, M.S., CCC-SLP