No longer do I look for the "flashy" or latest toy, but really evaluate it's potential as both an object of play and therapy.
I've found some really great ones that we love and since Christmas is coming up I thought I might share a few with you! I'd also love to hear any of your recommendations as well. I'm always on the lookout for quality toys to add to our play!
These are in no particular order, by the way. Mommy fog prevents me from doing any real prioritizing in that regard, haha - they are ordered in the manner they popped up in my brain while writing this post.
Corbin uses these a lot in therapy play and just playing in general. The stack and nest so you get two activities in one, plus they store well. They all nest so they stay compact. The outside also have animals and letters on them, so it's also a great starting point for learning letters and animals. We have several nesting/stacking toys and this is by far our favorite.
2. Alex Toys Learn to Dress Monkey
I have spent a LONG time looking for a toy to teach self-help and fine motor skills that is NOT a pink baby doll. Also, many baby dolls don't come with the various zippers, velcro, buttons, and snaps all on one outfit. This monkey has snaps, zippers, shoelaces, socks, buttons (with two styles of closures), overalls, and a velcro shirt! If you are looking for a dressing toy, this is definitely it.
3. Melissa & Doug Grill Set
Lacing cards and activities are definitely fine motor skills that are on our list to achieve. However, for a 2 year old, and especially one who is delayed in motor ability, lacing with string can be a very difficult activity. As a precursor to lacing with string, I have found this grill set to be awesome! Instead of "lacing", he is placing the meat and vegetables on the skewers - which incorporates the same skills as lacing, but in a more controlled and easier to manipulate form. The skewers are easy to hold on to and don't flop over like lacing string does. There are also tongs (a precursor to scissor skills) and a knife for cutting. The vegetables form together with velcro for easy cutting. We love this toy and it's a hit with both Hayden and Corbin. It's also a great pretend play activity.
4. 50 Counting Bears with 5 Cups
Oh the counting bears...I don't think I can really express how much we play with these. Corbin can color sort very well, and I think these bears really helped with that. Also, you can buy pattern matching games that go with the bears that are fun to add to. Corbin loves pouring the bears from one cup to another (another great motor therapy) and also plays with the bears in all sorts of other ways. Hayden loves to line them up like army men and Corbin likes catapulting them or having them go down his Little People slides. Besides colors and matching, they are also great for counting and working on numbers. This is the kind of toy that develops and changes as they get older. It starts with simple pouring, works into sorting, then pattern matching, and finally simple math. It's one of my favorites.
5. Shure - Chunky World - Magnetic Fishing
This game is played with almost every day - by both boys. Again, another great therapy toy, but also has endless possibilities for pretend play. My boys have made a boat out of a cardboard box to go fishing. They've used the fishing pole to "catch" other metal things around the house. They've pretend to "eat" the fish. You name it, they've played it.
Okay, so there are five of our favorites. As we get closer to Christmas, maybe I'll post some more if you're interested. Some of these toys are a bit pricier than others. We didn't get them all at once, but gradually added them to our household over the past few years. But, I will say that each one has been worth it's money! They have held up really well and I haven't had a single complaint with any of them.
So what are your "must have" toys?