Therapist-Approved Holiday Gifts for Kids

Now that the holidays are coming up, I’ve had a lot of parents reach out and ask what gifts they should be considering for their children – so my boss (an amazing speech therapist) and I compiled a list of toys that work on various aspects of physical development and cognition/language development! It can definitely be hard choosing toys that are beneficial for kids development, rather than just another toy that will clutter their play room or bedroom without having a positive impact.

These are all toys that we either use in our practice, or toys that are easy to find on Amazon and popular stores. We have included links to the products (not-affiliated), and different skills each toy works on! Of course I encourage everyone to check out their local small business for similar toys!

Feel free to share with your friends and family, or with your patients, and I hope you all have a great holiday season!


Occupational Therapy Toys

Fine Motor

Silly Suckers

Skills: bilateral motor coordination, visual motor coordination, pinching, grasping, tripod grasp formation (for holding a pencil or crayon), creative play, construction

Jewelry Making Kit

Skills: pinching, bilateral motor coordination, intrinsic hand strength, in-hand manipulation skills, visual-motor coordination, midline play

Mancala

Skills: in-hand manipulation skills (palm-to-finger translation), intrinsic hand strength, impulse control, turn-taking, frustration tolerance

Paint By Sticker

Skills: pinching, bilateral motor coordination, visual-motor coordination, focus/attention, persisting through difficult activities

Art Easel/Chalkboard

Skills: standing during functional tasks, developing appropriate utensil grasp, writing/drawing skills, creative play, imitating and copying pre-writing strokes (vertical line, horizontal line, circle, cross, X, square, triangle)

Bilateral Coordination

Instruments

Skills: bilateral motor coordination, auditory processing, hand grasp, rhythmic movements, midline play

Bow and Arrow

Skills: Grasping, bilateral motor coordination, visual-motor coordination, upper extremity strength

Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots

Skills: bilateral motor coordination, frustration tolerance, impulse control, thumb mobility

Sewing or Lacing Activities

Skills: bilateral manual coordination, pinching, visual-motor coordination, frustration tolerance, sequencing

Twister

Skills: left/right discrimination, bilateral motor coordination, color discrimination, full body strengthening

Zoom Ball

Skills: bilateral motor coordination, grasp strength, impulse control, visual-motor coordination, upper extremity strength

Wobble Board

Skills: bilateral motor coordination, balance, visual-motor coordination, sensory processing

Bucket Stilts

Skills: bilateral motor coordination, impulse control

Visual Motor Coordination

Construction Toys: Legos, Lincoln Logs, or Building Blocks

Skills: coordination, visual-motor coordination, visual memory

Puzzles

Skills: pinching, fine motor skills, visual-motor coordination, visual discrimination, matching

Sensory

Flower Garden Building Kit

Skills: sensory processing, tactile processing, bilateral motor coordination, fine motor coordination

Sand Box

Skills: sensory processing, tactile stimulation, scooping skills, messy play

Water Table

Skills: sensory processing, tactile stimulation, cause and effect, messy play

Orbeez

Skills: sensory processing, tactile stimulation, visual stimulation, fine motor skills

Slime or Play-Doh

Skills: hand strengthening, tactile stimulation, sensory processing, pinching, pulling, rolling, cutting, messy play

Swing

Skills: vestibular and proprioceptive processing, core strengthening, visual stimulation, balance

Obstacle Course Equipment

Skills: balance, coordination, visual-motor coordination, vestibular processing, strengthening

Dressing Skills

Any dress up items – think costumes!

Busy Board

Skills: dressing skills, fine motor skills, bilateral motor coordination

Toys to Promote Speech Development

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Kitchen Set

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child cook lunch with you
  2. Talk about action words: stirring, frying, steaming and boiling
  3. Concepts to Work On: Temperature

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Wash and Dry Dish Set

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child wash dishes with you
  2. Talk about action words: cleaning, washing and drying 
  3. Concepts to Work On: colors, shapes

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Jumbo Blocks

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child build structures with you
  2. Talk about action words: pushing, stacking and destroying
  3. Concepts to Work On: big and small, over and under, on top and below

Costumes

How to Use: 

  1. Play dress up 
  2. Imagine working as a fire person, construction work or police officer

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Doorbell Dollhouse

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child put things in and take things out
  2. Talk about action words: opening and closing, turning, locking, unlocking
  3. Concepts to Work On: inside, outside, on top

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Stickers

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child visit different places
  2. Create imaginary play through naming people and places
  3. Concepts to Work On: following one step directions

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Play House Items

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child clean
  2. Talk about action words: cleaning, sweeping, mopping and dusting
  3. Concepts to Work On: “under” the couch, “in” the room

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Osmo – Little Genius Starter Kit for iPad

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child connect to the iPad and follow along with Osmo
  2. Concepts: getting dressed, creating shapes and early literacy

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Felt Board Figures

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child read along and count with you to the Very Hungry Caterpillar
  2. Talk about action words: eating biting crawling
  3. Concepts to Work On: hungry, categories of food

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I Spy

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child spot objects
  2. Talk about action words: looking finding spotting
  3. Concepts to Work On: matching and following directions

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Animal Figures

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child explore the forest with you. 
  2. Talk about action words: growling, roaring, quacking
  3. Concepts to Work On: matching, sequencing animals

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TCOOME Pirate Funny Barrel Novelty Toy

How to Use: 

  1. Articulation goals 
  2. Repetition of sounds

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Zingo! Sight Words

How to Use: 

  1. Early literacy reading 
  2. Locate these words in a book 

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Wooden Play Food

How to Use: 

  1. Have your child prepare food with you
  2. Talk about action words: cutting, eating 
  3. Concepts to Work On: sorting, matching

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