Santa is making his list and checking it twice! Who is ready for holiday shopping? This time of year, I always have several parents stop and ask me what toys they should get to help build language skills. Are you looking for toys and gifts that could benefit speech and language? Here are some of my favorite suggestions. I hope you can get a few ideas to pass along.
1. LEGOs! In my opinion, you can’t have too many. Language goals they strengthen: following directions, sequencing steps, visual spatial, and let’s not forget fine motor (yes, it is related to articulation). Get the Duplo blocks and write sight words on the side! Start with small sets for beginners and pay attention to the age recommendations on the box. Get those little engineers building language!
2. Spot It! There are many, many versions beyond the popular Original Spot It (Sports, Freeze, Gone Camping, Jr. Animals, Splash, Shopkins, Disney, etc.) Something for everyone. Great for building visual discrimination and perception, attention, focus, word finding, and since it is a group interactive game- perfect for opportunities to build social language. This is fun for a wide variety of ages. These make a perfect stocking stuffer.
3. Activity books! I found some fantastic activity books at Target that are filled with language goals already written in them! For the little ones on your list, I really liked One of A Kind (A Search-and-Find Book). Some of the questions it asks, “Who’s facing the wrong way?” “Who’s crying?” “Who’s asleep?” So many opportunities to build language here. Another is I Spy On The Farm. On the stable page it asks you to find, “a scared elephant,” “an excited zebra.” These are perfect opportunities to discuss facial expressions and other social language behaviors- along with more visual discrimination. For bigger kids, I like FindIt! A Big Book of Seek & Find Adventures and Highlights Puzzle Mania: filled with coding, matching picture pairs, logic puzzle, and more.
4. Thinkfun brand is always great: I like Code Master (Programming Logic Game) and Gravity Maze. Logic games are incredible ways to help build reasoning, problem solving, and sequencing skills.
5. Create-A-City. You can find this in the arts and crafts section of Target. There is a “boy” and “girl” version. Fantastic opportunities for social language, prepositions, following directions (“After we go to the post office, let’s drive to the grocery store”). Discuss community helpers with the younger kids, how a city works, what makes a city (schools, police, roads, post office, fire, etc.).
6. Green Science and 4M boxed projects. Great for the budding scientists on your Christmas list and most are under $20. I have found these at Michael’s Craft Stores and Target. Specifically the Potato Clock, Tin Can Robot, and Brush Robot. If you are working on following written multi-step directions, these are perfect.
7. Books! I specifically recommend bypassing the princess and superhero books. The vocabulary is weak and sentence length is typically short. Two series I do like:
I Survived. These are NOT scary. They are action-packed, bestselling, short historical fiction chapter books and loved by boys and girls.
National Geographic Kids. Children love reading about animals! Animal Babies, Pandas, Owls, Safari, Predators. These are small enough to slip into stockings.
I hope you gathered some great ideas for your holiday shopping.