Holiday Toy Ideas to Support Child Development Skills

One of the best things about our job as therapists is finding creative ways to use basic toys and everyday items to promote developmental skills in kids of all ages – from the baby stage through preschool, to kindergarten and school age, and even tweens! Check out this huge list of toys that supports skill development, all endorsed by the Pediatric Therapy Team at Van Wert Health.

Age 1

  • Knob or chunky puzzles: Encourages development of a child's grasping skills

    Climber, slide, or small playset: Toys like this promote a child's ability to pull themselves up. This also works on a child's creeping skills, which is an important milestones and leads to learning to creep up steps.
  • Play Tunnel: Fosters crawling skills
  • Roll & Bounce Tower Toy: Promotes skills to place things in a containers
Roll & Bounce Tower

Age 2

  • Interactive Books: Encourages a child to point to pictures in book when named by adult.

  • Mr. Potato Head: Teaches the names of body parts. 

  • Play food/dishes: These toys are great for pretend play and helps children learn how to put two words together (for example, "more juice"). 

  • 60 Objects Magnets: By 30 months, children should know approximately 50 words. These magnets are a great way to build vocabulary to reach that goal.

  • Shape sorter: Helps your little one learn how to hold something in one hand while using the other hand

  • Stepping stones: These are great for balance and the gross motor skills needed to walk up and down stairs.

  • Ride on toys or balance bike

stepping stones


Age 3-4

  • Farm: Communication skills and question-and-answer play ("where is the pig?" or "what does the horse say?") along with enhancing a child’s fine-motor skills as they experience various textures while they play, depending on the toy’s material.
  • Play-doh: Enhances fine motor skills and sensory development along with encouraging creativity color recognition
  • Beads and string
  • Drawing pad: Help your child imitate lines and circles
  • Mini trampoline: The rhythmic action of tampolining can be very soothing. It can also give kids something positive that they can do to help them calm down after a stressful incident.

Age 5

  • Zingo and Boggle Jr. : Teaches children how to follow rules and take turns in games. Our therapy team also loves these games for literacy development.
  • Write and wipe books: These durable, wipe-clean books and cards are great for beginning writers. Children can trace over the dotted letters or numbers or shapes again and again, helping them to develop the many skills necessary to handle a pen competently and to identify letters and shapes.

Write and wipe book

Non-tech Ideas for Ages 6-12

  • Diamond dots: Various sized gems are available from larger to smaller and can help by increasing attention to tasks for longer amounts of time, strengthening posture at a table, and using small pen-like tool for fine motor grasp practice that is fun and glittery!
  • Orb ball: Throwing and controlling a hover ball working on visual tracking and depth perception to anticipate movements
  • Card games/Board games
  • Craft kits: Great for following directions and building on fine motor skills
  • Air dry clay: Hand strengthening and manipulation of the dough can help kids with sensory integration for calming benefits
  • Stepping stones/balance beam: Allow the kids to play “Floor is lava” with items spaced throughout the living room to better build balance, posture, and body awareness.
  • Saucer swing: Prepare for the indoor months with a saucer swing hung in a wide door frame or the basement floor beams. Kids often need rhythmic movement to organize their body and calm down or just better regulate their emotions when the seasonal blues hit.