We are quickly approaching the busiest shopping season of the year. And parents will spend countless hours searching for the best Christmas toys for their children.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify toys that are safe, fun and support your child’s development.
Tips to get you started:
- Avoid noisy toys. Some toys are so loud they can cause hearing damage in children. And a child’s short arm length means those noisy toys are pretty close to their ears. If it sounds too loud to you, it will be too loud for your child. Furthermore, noisy toys do not encourage talking. If you are very keen on a toy that happens to be noisy, simply remove the batteries or apply tape over the speaker!
- Pick toys that encourage pretend play. Play of this kind organically fuels children to use their imaginations and generate words and sentences describing what they are doing.
- Look for toys that will hold your child’s attention, and encourage her to interact with the toy. Interactions promote opportunities for your child to use her language skills to express herself.
- Choose toys you think look fun. The best way to stimulate language development is for you to join your child in play and talk about what he is doing. Therefore, choose toys you will both enjoy playing with.
These are what I believe to be exceptional toys and games. These toys, through their design and quality, promote play that advances language development at different ages.
Toys for 1-3 years
Where’s Bear by Peaceable Kingdom
Offers opportunities to model vocabulary related to spatial concepts, asking and answering where questions, and language associated with problem solving.
Features five types of games that will stimulate your child’s mind and language. Use simple phrases to narrate your child’s actions.
GearZooz Roll and Roar Animal Train by VTech
Your child can customize his own animal train with spinning gears. There are interactive songs and phrases about animals, places and instruments. Language building activities have been incorporated into questions that stimulate thinking and following directions.
Includes two small plush pets, stethoscope, syringe, thermometer and keys to open colour coded doors. This toy encourages imaginary play and action word vocabulary.
Toys for 3-6 years
Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Truck by Leap Frog
Your child will pretend to run her own ice cream truck. Provides opportunities for extensive vocabulary through role play. She can learn numbers, colours, flavours, and skills such as listening and following directions.
Better Builders Emotions Toy Set by Guidecraft
Contains six interchangeable bodies, faces and feet. Faces express different emotions and help children learn to name, identify and regulate their emotions. Features magnetic ball and rod construction.
Story Train Firefighters by Janod
The inclusion of people with the train encourages more talking. Your child will tell stories about what he does with the train and the firefighters. Opportunities to use concept words and opposites.
What a better place for pretend play then in the tub? Add bubbles to the bath for shaving. Opportunities to practice vocabulary and phrases associated with getting a haircut.
Toys for 6-9 years
Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright
Pottery Cool Studio by Spin Master
Fingerlings – Interactive Baby Monkey by WowWee
Play six possible games that reinforce matching, reading, vocabulary and phonemic skills.
It is my hope that this list of toys and games is helpful and brings some ease to your Christmas shopping experience.
A final word of advice regarding toy safety. Remember that typical wear and tear can result in once safe toys becoming hazardous. Check your toys regularly to make sure the are in good condition.