Easter is right around the corner! This means many of you will be out there buying all of the fun things to fill your kiddo’s baskets up! As therapists working in child development, we are often asked during the holidays for a list of recommended activities, games, and products for different age groups.
Below, I put together some of my personal favorites! They are all tried and true activities that are loaded with so much developmental skill stimulation for the varying age groups. I hope you will find this list helpful when choosing gifts to add to your baskets.
This is the perfect opportunity to fill up their baskets with some sensory stimulating play items! Infants love looking in the mirror, and the All About Me Mirror is the perfect size to prop up in front of them as they get their tummy time in for the day. It is also the perfect size to take on the go for some developmentally stimulating play during restaurant, park, and shopping outings!
18Months – 2 Years
There is a TON of development that occurs between 18 months and 2 years, but often times you can continue to use the same toy throughout this time – just with a little adaptation as they develop more advanced skills. Some of the things this age group really enjoys are open/close concepts (containers, pots, pants, etc) – the Peakaboo Learning Farm is a fun way to engage them in color concepts, open and close, animals, as well as number concepts. The animals also turn into finger puppets which is a great way to work on finger and hand muscle development.
The “I’LL DO IT!” stage! These kiddo’s seemingly want to do EVERYTHING themselves. For this age group, I recommend activities that include lots of opportunities for independently succeeding in a task. Plastic Easter eggs that have patterns or designs so that they can find and match pairs, small bubble sets that allow their little finger to hold and blow themselves, small crayons for their small hands, chalk for outdoor play and building up those foundational handwriting skills, Alphabet Blocks are great for color identification, fine motor coordination, as well as for simple letter recognition tasks – I recommend starting with the letters of their name so that they can visually recognize their name when they start school. Peg Friends Stacking Farm is a fun way to encourage visual motor integration as well as early building and matching skills.
This age group we look at a lot of the school readiness skills. Some of the activities that I really like are fine motor strengthening skills and the Froggy Feeding Fun game provides lots of opportunities to increase intrinsic hand muscles by squeezing the froggys mouth open. As they approach 4, the Alphabet Acorns game is great for letter recognition, visual perceptual tasks, as well as more advanced find motor coordination! Try adding the letters into a sensory bin for some added visual figure-ground searching skills.
For this age group, activities that have academically pertinent tasks built into a fun game is always a sure hit! Sight Word SWAT turns sight words into a fun fly swatting game. Try placing the words on both horizontal and vertical surfaces. Or you can even hide them around the room for some added visual scanning skills. The whole family can join in on the fun making it an engaging and fun task to learn new words. Penguins on Ice turns math concepts into a fun activity using colorful penguins as manipulatives which is great for fine motor practice as well. If your 5-7’s have younger siblings, this is a fun activity for the young kiddos as well – instead of practicing math concepts, they can build patterns, work on color recognition, or even just simple fine motor manipulation!
For the 8+ year old’s, on- the- go activities are always great as these kiddo’s tend to have busier schedules and limited “play” time. Mental Box Go! is a great visual perceptual thinking game for any downtime. Easy to carry with you and play anywhere, anytime! Geoboards are also a fun, easy activity to set up. Use rubber bands to create shapes, patterns, designs, etc. These activities also provide lots of opportunity for social participation and engagement such as problem solving together which is a great developmental skill.
While this is a short list of just some of the fun basket fillers that have great developmental value, I hope this article has helped you in deciding what fun skills you will be filling your baskets with this year!