2018 Holiday Shopping Guide By Age & By Developmental Specialty

“What should I get them”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone. So here’s what we’ve done this week. We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices. Because some toys, just like play, are timeless, we’ve keep some favorites from year to year and we’ve added in new finds.

This year we’ve added 4 NEW special lists. Families often ask us for toys for a specific developmental purpose so we decided to share with you what we share with them. In addition to our lists by age we’ve added lists that suggest specific toys to promote motor, language, and visual development. We also added in a list of favorite games because games promote desperately needed social skills and family game night should be celebrated regularly!

We’ve combined all our lists by age right here for you and hope you’ll find it helpful. What would you add to our lists? What do your kids love?

1 YEAR OLDS

2 YEAR OLDS

3-4 YEAR OLDS

5-7 YEAR OLDS

8-10 YEAR OLDS

10 & OLDER

MOTOR TOYS

LANGUAGE TOYS

VISION TOYS

LIST OF GAMES

Don’t forget 1-2-3 Just Play With Me for the expecting or new parents on your list! Empowering them with 3 years of education and purposeful play suggestions is a perfect and practical gift! We ship every day (free in the US. Contact for fair quotes internationally) and can include a customized gift card message just from you!

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide -Toys to Promote Language Development

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.   Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We’ve given suggestions by age but here we are sharing some of our favorite LANGUAGE toys! However with toys to support language development it is MOST important to remember the magic is not in the toy but in the interaction you have with your child and the language  you model for your child while playing with the toy.  It is best to pick toys that do not light up, make sounds or talk for the child.  Often children are drawn to those types of toys (that require batteries to work) because of the flashing lights and sounds, however it takes the work out of the play and lessens your interaction with your child because the toy does that for you.  But YOU are and ALWAYS will be the best “toy” for your child to learn from!  These toys range from infant through preschool age.  We’ve picked toys that support join attention, offer opportunities for repetitive modeling of words, singing, early pretend play and vocabulary building.  But most importantly these toys are FUN and TIMELESS!   PLAY ON and Merry Christmas!!









2018 Holiday Shopping Guide – Toys To Promote Vision and Support Vision Loss

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.   Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We’ve given suggestions by age but here we are sharing some of our favorite VISION toys! Toys on this list include items that we or other therapist like using in children who have vision loss and/or are working to strengthen their visual abilities with conditions such as CVI. Just like kids, vision and visual abilities are very unique, so please consult with your child’s vision specialist, but here are some great ideas to try.   Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Dimpl Duo –

This sensory toy gets rave reviews. We love that it strengthens fine motor muscles and includes braille for early learners.

Baby Sees Colors Book-

Love this high contrast book including colors baby sees best early on.

Mini Rainmaker-

With simple activation of a soothly sound with touch, this is an easy choice.

Shakin Eggs-

Easy cause and effect toy with simple movements. Great for practicing imitation.

Orange Slinky-

Versatile for draping over just about anything, and in a color motivating to many with vision challenges, slinky is fun for grabbing and batting at.

 

Hearth Song Light Up Shoe Strings-

We love the fact that these illuminate feet to enhance motor skills with a highlighter for vision!

Heart Songs Liquid Color Tiles

While an investment as a set, these are sold individually and could be illuminated from behind for motivation for movement and exploring!

 

Rocket Tent-

Sometimes closing off the clutter of the world outside helps us see the beauty of the things we bring in…and tents like this fun one are a simple way to do just that.

Koosh Ball-

Easy to grab, easier to see, even more easy to play.

Mirror-

Babies loves to look at faces and what cuter one than their own!

Red Rope Lights-

These are a staple for any vision specialist and they can be used in a variety of ways to motivate play and illuminate a child’s day.

Red Pom Pom-

Shiny, textured, with a fun sound to touch. We are giving a cheer for this!

Speaker With Light Show-

Bring the vision party to any room with this great speaker.
** Do not use with children with seizure disorder without discussing with physician first.

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide – Toys To Promote Motor Development

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.   Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We’ve given suggestions by age but here we are sharing some of our favorite MOTOR toys! Toys on this list include items that motivate kids to move – both with their larger muscles for gross motor movement (rolling, crawling,walking, running, jumping, climbing and more) and fine motor movement (pointing, plucking, squeezing, scooping and more!)   Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Poke A Dot Farm –

Wonderful for promoting isolation of the index finger for pointing – am important fine motor skill!

Hop & Count Hopscotch Rug-

Even when it’s chilly inside, kids can work on balancing and coordination while having fun! Could also be used in non traditional ways by having them jump to a particular color or number.

Climb & Crawl Foam Play Set-

Could be used in many ways from early positioning to toddler tumbling!

Keyboard Play Mat-

Add some music to jumping fun!

Hearthsong Liquid Tiles-
Love these for motivational moving from tummy time to jumping. While they are an investment for the whole set, they can be purchased individually and a few seem like fun!

Knobby Ball Set-
So many motor skills can be taught with a ball – every home should have at least 1! Catch, kick, games, turn taking and more!

Hoola Hoop-

A very simple but versatile toy, they can be used the traditional way or for crawling, stepping, or jumping over and through. Great for directional, “Simon Says” type play and balance and coordination.

Large Fitness Ball-

Great to positioning (with supervision) for young babies, bouncing and playing on for toddlers and kids of all ages, and even alternative seating for meals or homework. One of our favorite ways is playing games over the ball in a plank position to strengthen shoulders (great for handwriting!).

 

Stomp Rocket-

Fun for balance on one leg and jumping.

Tweezers and Eye Droppers-

Creative fun options are endless while strengthening those tiny hand muscles – color sorting games and activities, art creations, and early science (check out our Pinterest pages for ideas!).

Balance Pods-

Love how these can be moved for simple early motion coordination games (close together for a balance beam, farther apart for indoor stone skipping). Great challenge for older kids can be progressed (stand on one foot and play ball!).

Peg Boards-

Wonderful for fine motor strengthening and early “game” playing, patterns, simple math and more.

Animal Pop Blocks-

Loved these items for play on the go (restaurant, plane, car, church) because they have few parts. Great for hand strengthening and early language with animal sound imitation.

Dimpl-

The reviews on this fine motor gem are unanimously outstanding. I may just order one for myself for play on the go.

Crawling tunnel-

Wonderful for encouraging crawling and sensory exploration.

First Slide-

I’m a fan on these outside on warm days and inside on cooler ones. Will occupy kids for hours while working on safe climbing and filling sensory needs.

Trampoline-

As a parent, I wouldn’t have survived toddlerhood in the winter without this in my house. As a therapist, I love it for sensory needs and motor coordination and strengthening.

Shopping Cart-

My go to instead of push walkers for babies learning to walk. Allows for free movement and strengthening with the option of weighing down (and gradually reducing weight) as the child gets stronger and needs less help.

Floor Tiles-

So many homes have wood or tile floors leaving parents nervous and young babies hesitant to explore. I love these because they provide a softer surface that is also smooth, making early belly scooting and crawling on hands and knees simpler.

Activity Mat-

Love these for early reaching, batting, and rolling and this one in particular includes colors that baby sees first.

Indoor Swing-

Motor skills progress best when kids get plenty of opportunity to feed their sensory systems and swings are one of many ways to do just that.

2018 Holiday Shopping List – GAMES

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.   Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We’ve given suggestions by age but here we are sharing some of our favorite GAMES! Games are often forgotten as something fun to do with friends and family and are so important to learn social skills (Buh-bye screens, Hello eye contact!), turn taking, and negotiation as well as problem solving, strategy formation and many other important skills!  Here’s our picks for this group this year!

 

2017 Holiday Gift Guide For Kids By Age

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone.   
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  We’ve combined all our lists by age right here for you and hope you’ll find it helpful.  What would you add to our lists? What do your kids love?

1 YEAR OLDS

2 YEAR OLDS 

3-4 YEAR OLDS

5-7 YEAR OLDS

8-10 YEAR OLDS

10 & OLDER

Don’t forget 1-2-3 Just Play With Me for the expecting or new parents on your list! Empowering them with 3 years of education and purposeful play suggestions is a perfect and practical gift! 

 

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 5-7 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

5-7 year olds are a fun group.  Kids really start to discover interests and love making first real friends on their own so buying for them can be fun and exciting.  Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Hearth Song Animal Caller

Hearth Song Light Up Laces

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 8-10 year olds

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone .
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

8-10 year olds are beginning to figure out who they are and what they like.  Although they typically have well developed preferences when it comes to play introducing them to something new will challenge their minds and broaden their play horizons!  Here’s our picks for this group this year!

 

 Smart Pitch Radar Detector

Box & Balls Game

 

 

2018 Holiday Shopping Guide – Unique Finds for 10+ year old kids

“What should I get them???”
As therapists we hear this all the time.
You know what else we hear often?
“My kids don’t really play with toys.”

Here’s our 2 cents on this as professionals who believe in the power of play. We all play. All mammals. No matter how old. We were designed for play. It’s the best form of stress release. It recharges creative pathways. And most importantly, it brings JOY.

Sometimes as parents the hardest part is finding the right toy for the right kid (or adult). But we believe Santa has the perfect one for everyone. 
So here’s what we’ve done this week.
We’ve made our lists and we’ve checked them twice.

We added toys we have in our homes. Toys we’ve learned about in patient’s homes. Toys recommended by therapists around the globe. And toys that span a large range of interests and prices.  Remember that toys and interest vary by age, so something on another list may really interest a child even if it is not included on the list for your child’s particular age.

We are starting with our oldest kids. This crew is sometimes the hardest to shop for. The marketing powers want you to think that this group is too old to play…too old for toys. But we think if you find the right fit, these big kids have the potential to enjoy holiday mornings just like they did when they were younger. Here’s our picks for this group this year!

Fat Brain Toys – Architect 101

SMART BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPPING – making choices that are fun & thoughtful

It’s almost here….can you hear it? In my mind, it’s the sounds of doors opening to welcome family and friends, the fire crackling, the soft snowflakes quietly falling, and parents softly reading Christmas stories to the small ones tucked in the crook of their arms. Ahhhhhh…sounds nice doesn’t it? Might look like this..

The reality is that come Friday, after those delicious leftovers have been packed away, the noises surrounding many of us will be whizzing shopping carts, overheard blaring announcements of deals to be had, and wrapping paper galore dressing up those black Friday deals. Maybe something like this….

Hopefully, your reality will fall somewhere between those two scenarios! Whether you are a black Friday shopper or not (me? I will likely do some online shopping and a lot of yoga come Friday!), most of us make time shortly after Thanksgiving to do some shopping – many of us for children. I’m a big fan of trying not to overindulge my children at Christmas time, with the hope that one day when they off on their own, they’ll have a nice balance of feeling loved and really knowing the Reason we love at Christmas.  Shopping this time of year for children is a fun and exciting opportunity for PLAY in the months ahead. Toys are our children’s TOOLS OF LEARNING – when you think of it that way, choosing toys as Christmas gifts is kind of exciting. Instead of wondering if a chosen toy will end up at the bottom of the toy box, consider what your child might learn from it (and I don’t mean the alphabet all the time — there’s much MORE to learn through play. Want to know more? Click HERE).

Also – use our FREE PDF download from Medbridge Education. It’s a cheat sheet of sorts providing you the age/stage of development with suggestions for toys and activities. (simply scroll towards the bottom of the link and click the icon to download!).

As early interventionists, we get to be a “toy spies” in the homes we visit.  I always find it interesting when come February, I see the “must have” toddler toy in the corner of most homes, while the child I am playing with shows way more interest in a plastic water bottle (how many Christmas mornings have you had where your child just LOVED that box the toy came in?).  In fact, I’ve embarrassed my husband more than once by “helping” a confused grandparent in the toy aisle by providing suggestions of “what the kids really like!”

We decided to compile a list of “what the kids really like.” We arranged our list by suggested age and included toys that we ourselves have either enjoyed with our own children or have seen be consistent hits in the homes where we provide therapy. What was required to make our list? Here it is:

1. Prices varied, but the toys we chose were (in our opinions) a value for the quality.

2. Toys addressed more or one developmental domain of child development (Cognitive, Motor, Language, & Social skills).

3. These toys don’t “do it all” for the child. In other words, these toys leave room for the child to flex their own imaginative muscle, and add their own creativity to play.

4. The toys were consistent favorites with children we know (and continued to be long after December 26).

5. Toys are what we like to call “forever toys”  – toys that can be used in many ways for several years.  For more on this see our article in the months Child Guide Magazine.

Please note that we do not receive any compensation from any of these toy makers (but wouldn’t THAT be fun, though… FREE TOYS!).  We also have provided these as an example of ideas.  We certainly encourage parents to use these as a guide for suggestions, but by all means shop around! You just never know where you might get a better deal! Also, the ages listed are suggested, but as you know, many children play with toys at more than one age/stage — and often in a different way (how cool is that?!)

HERE YOU GO – OUR 2012 TOY IDEA LIST FROM SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO PLAY FOR A LIVING!

Side Note: ** Please see our PINTEREST Page to see a complete list of recommended toys by age and our FACEBOOK PAGE for our photo album of a months worth of FOREVER TOYS!

BABY:

1 YEAR OLD:

2 YEARS OLD:

3 YEARS OLD:

4 YEARS OLD:

5 YEARS OLD:

6 YEARS OLD:

 

7 YEARS OLD:

 

8 YEARS OLD:

 

9-12 YEARS OLD:

 

Likes these ideas? We have more! Specifically – ideas on WHY Play matters and HOW plays is intimately related to development in young kids. Check out 1-2-3 Just Play With Me — a thoughtful gift for parents of young children (plus FREE shipping). SOUNDS like a whole lot of FUN to me!