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!

 

FOREVER TOYS – What are they and where can you find them?

If you have ever asked Nicole and I for toy recommendations then you are familiar with the term “FOREVER TOYS”. FOREVER TOYS are what Nicole and I lovingly refer to as toys that stand the test of time (and we don’t just mean durability). FOREVER TOYS are those toys that kids can play with for many years, at multiple stages in development; toys that don’t take batteries to work but a child’s imagination instead!

Forever toys are harder to find in mainstream toy stores.  They are NOT toys related to the most popular kids’ movie or television show or iPad app.  They are toys that have no identification to a character.  They are toys that don’t require batteries.  They are toys that occupy their space on the toy store shelf for many years because they appeal to all generations no matter what the latest trend in toy manufacturing.  FOREVER TOYS are most commonly found in small, locally owned toy stores that understand the importance of these types of toys to our kids’ growth and development.  On your next shopping trip take a look at what’s on the shelves of the toy aisles.  Look more critically for toys that will challenge your child, toys that don’t do it all for them.  Consider these types of toys for their next birthday or holiday.  Your child’s imagination will blossom and no doubt, their creativity will impress you!

My mother-in-law saved these Construx toys that once belonged to my husband for many years. My son loves them! With them he has created a multitude of things from a “backpack buddy robot” to a bow and arrow. Although Fisher Price no longer makes Construx, they would qualify as a FOREVER TOY in my book! This building toy could be used to supplement a math lesson about shapes, connected to create a fence to contain toy animals, shaped into letters for a multi-sensory spelling lesson, or used to create weapons for a pretend battle just as my son did!  Manufactured over 30 years ago, Construx have stood the test of time and are most definitely what Nicole and I consider a FOREVER TOY!

What toys do your kids have that would be considered a FOREVER TOY? Do the toys your kids gravitate toward most stretch their imagination and challenge their creativity?

Owen proudly displaying his creations!

An ax, bow and arrow, shield and sword – all made with imagination and Construx!

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

The POWER of LANGUAGE in WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

If you are a follower of our blog you well know by now that I am a children’s book nerd.  I love all kids’ books…even love those without words.  How can that be, you may ask, I am a speech-language pathologist, after all?!  Words are my life!!  Well, it can be because WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS entice more spontaneous language in kids and encourage language development in ways that pre-written stories that are simply read to them can’t.

So what language learning advantages lie between the pages of wordless picture books?

1.  Spontaneous language – wordless picture books allow kids to tell their own story about the pictures they see.  While doing this they are practicing sentence formulation, sequencing and naturally, storytelling skills!

2.  No reading level required – Wordless picture books are “readable” for all kids no matter what their reading level.

3.  Attention to detail – Because there is no predetermined story line, kids are more likely to notice details in the pictures to add interest to their story.

4.  Interpreting and inferring – Again, without words to tell them how characters are feeling, wordless picture books require kids to infer details from the pictures like characters’ emotions.

5.  Infinite options – Wordless picture books can be a new book with a new story each time a child picks it up.  This encourages creativity, imagination and flexible thinking.

Here are a few of my favorite wordless picture books.  Check them out and open up a world of language and storytelling possibilities for your kids!

Making New Ways To Play In Dad’s Old Shop

My Dad is a plumber and a contractor. When I was a kid I loved playing in his shop. I used to stack wooden scraps, bang things together, and pretend copper pipe was my wedding band. (Princesses hang in tool shops too).

Today I got to be a bit of a kid in Dad’s shop again and it was so fun!

I have a few “go-to” gifts that I LOVE giving to my “therapy kids” when they turn 3 and are no longer eligible for my services. They are part “graduation” gift and part birthday gift. Every once in a while though, I have a kid who needs something that is specifically made just for them.

It’s nice having a handy Dad when you are a self employed early intervention physical therapist, creatively making things work for therapy visits in the homes of children. Dear Old Dad has helped me out a few times and today was no exception.

Together (well mostly him), we made this fun board for my special guy and I wanted to share.

photo 6
I liked it so much I decided “we” needed to make 2 so I could keep one for work too!

photo 11

 

I’ve always admired these boards and while they are very focused on fine motor work, I’ll be able to incorporate them into sitting and standing play…maybe even as a motivator for my little ones who are almost crawling but need a bit more motivation!

So if you are interested in making something like this, I’m happy to share that it was not overly expensive. Total cost was about $20 each.  I basically strolled up and down the aisles of Lowe’s choosing mismatched things that were interesting to turn, twist, flick, or flip. (This made the regulars at Lowe’s a wee bit nervous I think).  That part of easy. I will say if you are going to try it you need someone handy and with a few basic tools (electric drill, small saw, nail gun), which worked out much better than my original plan to glue gun everything down!

Here are some of the items I used.


I can’t wait to gift my special guy with his “one of a kind, made with love by my Dad” creation and to try mine out too. Even more fun that playing with these might be the fun I had playing today in the shop.

Like my ring?

 

board ring