Holiday Gift Guide
by Kids Place Occupational Therapists
Looking for that perfect holiday gift for your little one? Overwhelmed by all the options out there? Here are a few choices from our team of occupational therapists and how each will support development and growth.
For under 2 years of age:
Shape sorters and ring stackers
These come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. They are great for building early cause/effect understanding, grasping skills, and visual spatial skills. These can also be used to develop shape recognition, color recognition, and visual matching skills.
Crawling is a crucial piece of development that plays a role in core and upper body strength, hand development/strength, visual processing, and coordination of both sides of the body. Tunnels like these can be used to encourage crawling, problem solving, social interaction with a parent or peer, and imaginative play.
Larger form puzzles help to develop visual spatial skills and teach relationships, visual matching and orientation. Discussing colors, shapes, and objects can help to improve vocabulary. The knobs also help to develop more refined fine motor and manipulation skills.
For Ages 2 – 4:
Play Doh is one of the best ways to promote hand strength, dual hand use, and fine motor skills. Use utensils to practice cutting: fork/spoon/knife use, cookie cutters, rolling pins, etc. You can form the Play Doh to practice letters, or build imaginative play by building animals, people, or objects.
This age range is crucial for handwriting development. Craft activities are a favorite way to work on grasp development, hand skills, visual scanning, matching patterns, etc. Work with different textures (finger paints, glue, fuzzy materials, puffy paint, etc.) to promote sensory tolerance as well as multi-sensory learning.
Puzzles promote problem solving and visual spatial skills. This particular kit offers letters and numbers to promote learning, recognition, and sequencing. There are opportunities for vocabulary development while talking about the pictures as well.
For Ages 5 to 7:
Lego kits are an excellent choice for this age range. The small pieces help to develop fine motor manipulation skills necessary for handwriting, buttoning, utensil use, etc. Working to follow directions to build the desired outcome builds problem solving, visual motor skills, and social interaction when working with a parent, sibling, or peer. Change up positions (laying on tummy, sitting at table, kneeling at a surface) to promote core and shoulder strengthening.
Board games are excellent for teaching emotional regulation (learning that losing is ok), problem solving, strategy, and turn taking. They are a great way to spend time together with family or friends building social skills and self-confidence. They also promote manipulation of small pieces or cards building fine motor skills and visual spatial skills to scan the board and count spaces.
These are just a few general ideas to get you started. Gifts do not need to be expensive or elaborate to be entertaining and productive. The best way to encourage development and growth with any toys is to spend time playing with your child. Talk about the pieces and the process. Encourage imagination and exploration. Be creative, and have fun!