It’s hard to believe its that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and the stores are piled high with colorful, attractive toy displays. During the holiday season, I try to give parents a little guidance for making gift purchases. I figure if they’re spending the money already, they may as well get the most bang for their buck. I’m not a fan of character-themed toys because they do little to ignite the child’s imagination or spur developmental growth.
Instead, I always encourage parents to ask these questions about a toy they are considering as a gift.
- Does this toy help my child develop a particular skill?
- Can this toy be used in a variety of ways?
- Does this toy require my child to problem solve, persist, or complete a challenging activity?
If the answer to even one of these questions is “yes,” that toy is a great buy. If all of them are “no,” it’s probably not the greatest gift, at least from a developmental perspective.
As the holidays get closer, I’ll be featuring toys that help your child work on skills in a variety of domains. This week I’ll be discussing fine motor skills. Here are some of my top picks:
Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank: This chunky swine has a large slot for dropping large, colored, textured coins, perfect for developing dexterity in little hands.
Melissa and Doug Chunky Puzzles: The chunky wood removable pieces for this high-quality puzzle can double as play figures for pretend play because they’re sturdy enough to stand. It is available in a farm, safari, and dinosaur themes.
WEDGiTS Building Blocks: This toy is so versatile because it can be used in very simple or very complex ways. Perfect for children struggling with hand-eye coordination, these building blocks are simple to stack because of their unique nesting configuration. Even big-kid brains will enjoy solving the puzzle cards that come with the more advanced sets.
VTech Sorting Drum: An alternative to the classic shape sorter, Vtech takes it up a notch with their sorting drum. The drum plays sounds and music for correct sorting responses. Perfect for children who need a little extra reinforcement.
Lauri Tall-Stackers Peg Building Set: Little hands work hard to stack this creative system of pegs and foam boards to create unique architecture! Perfect for strengthening hand-eye coordination, as well as building hand and wrist muscle and developing creativity.
Melissa and Doug Cutting Food: This comes in a variety of options including fruits/vegetables, pizza, cake, and even eggs. The toy combines fine motor task of chopping wood-and-Velcro food items with endless pretend play possibilities.
Lakeshore Indestructible Giant Beads and Patterns: This toy combines stringing beads with patterning skills for a fun and funky challenge! Beads are brightly colored and chunky enough for little hands to handle.
By Chaya Glatt