2015 Holiday Toy List: Recommendations from the Emerge Therapy Team

“What is the best toy for my child?”

“What toys can I find to work on these specific skills at home?”

As the holiday season approaches, our families often ask what we recommend they purchase or make for their child as a gift. Whether you want to develop a specific skill or work on expanding play with your child, there are many toys, games and electronics out there to choose from.

Check out our “staff favorites”:

Fine/Visual Motor
Staff Favorite: Honey Bee Tree

“Honey Bee Tree is a great fine motor game, for 2-4 players that addresses many skills through set-up and game play. Set up involves inserting sticks (“leaves”) into holes in a container (“bee hive”), (works on grasp and visual motor coordination). Once set up is complete, pellets (“bees”) are placed into the cylinder, and leaves are removed one at a time, taking turns, until all bees fall from the cylinder. Whoever has the least amount of bees wins. Game-play addresses attention, organization, turn taking skills, math and spatial thinking skills. Clothespins can be used to remove the leaves, working on a more refined pincer grasp.) All around, a great game for children ages 3 and up. “
-Andrew Klein, MS, OTR/L

Staff Favorite: Design & Drill

“This game is great activity for early tool use, consisting of many parts, including “nails” and a “drill”. This game addresses bilateral coordination with also a focus on visual-motor skills and motor control. The drill also provides good tactile feedback with vibration when pressing the button to push the nail into the board. The game can be expanded to address other fine motor skills by placing the nails in putty to address strengthening or hiding them in a tactile bin to work on tactile discrimination.”
– Katie Woolard, MS, OTR/L

Visual Perceptual
Staff Favorite: Rush Hour

“Rush Hour is the perfect game to promote the development of visual perceptual skills and is a favorite for staff and children. The concept is simple: place the cars on the grid to match a picture, then slide the cars to allow the ice cream truck to drive out the door. The game encourages a child to use his/her visual memory, visual sequencing, and visual spatial skills to solve the puzzles. There are 40 cards of increasing difficulty, with each level building on the problem solving lessons learned in previous scenarios. Puzzles can be solved again and again because it is practically impossible to remember the solution sequence.”
-Brooke Brees, MS, OTR/L

Sensory Processing

Staff Favorite (Tactile): Ned’s Head

This game specifically addresses tactile discrimination, which is the ability to distinguish and recognize objects based on touch. It can easily be incorporated into a seated table task or movement game, depending on how much physical activity you want to provide.

Staff Favorite (Proprioception/Vestibular): Mini Trampoline and Hoppity Ball

Both of these items are frequently used in therapy sessions, but are also often recommended items for home programs to build sensory diets. Both pieces of equipment can take up little space, but be a great opportunity to provide your child with organizing proprioceptive and vestibular input.

Language Enrichment
Staff Favorite: Mr. Potato Head

“Toys with multiple parts are great. Children can use language to request specific parts with single words (eye) or multi-word phrases (I need an eye). Mr. Potato Head is also an excellent way to facilitate descriptive words (e.g., I want the yellow hat, I need two ears, I want the arms with the muscles). It can be used to work on plurals (eyeS, earS), location concepts (put the eyes ABOVE the nose), and actions (Mr. Potato Head is JUMPING. Now he’s SWIMMING. What is he doing now?). “
– Kelly Jones, MA, CCC-SLP

Cooperative Play
Staff Favorite: Feed the Woozle

“Feed the Woozle is an excellent cooperative play tool. It offers multiple ways to play, which make it easy for grading based on age and level of development. This game addresses gross motor play, sequencing a multiple step task, along with cooperative play. It provides a fun way for children to work together to one goal, rather than emphasizing a winner of the game.”
-Katie Woolard, MS, OTR/L

See the entire list of toy recommendations, including categories for fine motor, visual perceptual, gross motor, sensory, cooperative play, imaginative play, language enrichment, and infant/toddler toys here: HolidayToyList_2015.pdf

If you have any questions about these toys, please talk with your child’s therapist.
Happy holidays!

Katie Woolard, MS, OTR/L
Pediatric Occupational Therapist