Kick Start's Toy Guide 2020
Therapist Approved! Here are our toy recommendations for children ages 0-12 years.
INFANT - 12 MONTHS+
Occupational therapist, Clare Walsh, recommends PipSquigz for infants 6 months and older. These suction cup toys address motor skills and strength while stimulating the visual, auditory, and tactile sensory systems. The large suction cups stick to a variety of surfaces - the floor, walls, tables, or tubs - so your child can reach, grasp, and gain trunk control whether they are doing tummy time, sitting up, crawling, or cruising. PipSquigz will continue to engage your child as they get older and their creativity and imagination grows!
Developmental Therapist, Natalie Notaro, recommends “Poke-a- Dot: First Words” for ages 1+. Learning first words has never been so fun! These books help your little one explore full-color pictures and familiar objects all while encouraging language development, color recognition, and fine motor skills!
Occupational Therapist, Clare Walsh, recommends stacking toys such as Toy Tobbles for children 12 months to 2 years. These stackable sphere-like shapes are great for building fine and visual motor skills, bilateral coordination, visual spatial awareness, and motor planning. They are a fun cause and effect toy as they wobble, wiggle, stack, and crash!
Speech Therapist, Shayna Brickman recommends the Fold & Go Barn. This can be used to expand a child's vocabulary by labeling animals or locations ("in the barn") and targets following directions ("put the cow inside the barn"). This toy can also be used for a variety of pretend play activities such as feeding the animals, cleaning the animals, and putting the animals to sleep.
Developmental Therapist, Natalie Notaro, recommends “Where’s Bear? The Hide-and-Fine Stacking Block Game”. This game focuses on physical, cognitive, and language skills-including balancing, matching, sorting, following simple directions, and so much more!
Occupational Therapist, Kathy Lord, recommends a variety of balls for children ages 3 and up. They address the underlying components needed for mastery in throwing, catching and kicking such as bilateral coordination, postural control, rhythm and timing, graded force control and visual-fine motor and spatial skills. Easily adaptable, here are some unique ball activities beyond the basics. Think spiky, squishy, stringy-koosh, flashing, and/or yoga!
Occupational Therapist, Kathy Lord, also recommends Toy Tweezers
that works on hand separation and pre-scissor skills, graded fine motor control.
Here’s a ready to go tweezer activity, called Bee’s in the Hive!
For work on gross motor skills, Kathy recommends a Hopscotch Mat. This helps kids develop the skills of crossing mid-line, bilateral coordination, and balance.
For a relaxing sensory experience, Kathy recommends Kinetic Sand or SLIMYSAND for children ages 3 – adult. Either one provides an amazing tactile experience for hours of play, but also adds deep pressure and proprioception for calming and relaxing input.
Speech Language Pathologist, Mari Pagone loves this play-doh set for kids as they occupy a child's time and imagination screen free! Play-doh is the ultimate tool for building creativity and story-telling in children. Children can pretend to cook and bake alongside their parents while working on language skills of sequencing, vocabulary and expressive language. They are also wonderful tools for zoom play-dates as children can utilize a quick green screen background to make believe a bakery, restaurant or ice cream store.
Speech Language Pathologist, Seema Choudhury recommends this symbolic play ice cream set. It can target language goals including requesting (ice cream flavors), asking and answering questions (“What ice cream flavor do you want?”), and following directions (“Put chocolate ice cream over the strawberry ice cream”). You can also pair this toy with a toy cash register or pretend money and run an ice cream shop! The possibilities are endless!
Occupational Therapist, Mindy Aharoni, recommends this symbolic play medical kit. It's a great way for children to play out medical themes, especially during this stressful time. It also helps them feel some control while curing everyone’s "boo boos" or safely experience scary situations through symbolic play. This is the most well-made brand of the several she's tried.
Hooray for Fisher Price! Mindy also recommends this car garage. They finally brought back an older version of the toy garage (albeit it’s smaller than the older one). They have finally reached their senses to re-create a toy that allows children to use their imaginations as well as motor skills instead of battery-operated button pushing toys that don’t help kids learn to think. Keep it coming, Fisher Price, you used to be one of our top recommended toy companies!
Developmental Therapist, Natalie Notaro, recommends “Primary Lacing Beads” for ages 3+. Stringing the easily grasped beads promotes hand-eye coordination, fine motor, cognitive and visual perception skills!
Occupational Therapist, Pamela Baylor, wants you to get your kids moving even while you're stuck inside with Turtle Steps! This game targets balance and gross motor coordination, but it comes with extra cards that toss in other challenging moves! Play by the rules, or use the shells to create your own obstacle course or floor-is-lava game; there is plenty of room for creativity! When the snow melts, take this game outside for more fun and some fresh air.
Occupational therapist, Carleigh VanDetta recommends Sling Ball for kiddos 6-10 years of age. This game is great to target visual motor coordination, eye hand coordination and can promote social opportunities too!
To play Sling Ball, you aim your racket towards your partner, pull back on the ball and release the sling to watch the ball fly, then your partner traps the ball in their net! The game is small and compact making it great for on the go and even can be played in the water.
Occupational Therapist, Melisa Valle recommends legos to help engage your child in fine motor development during play. Legos can help develop hand strength, dexterity, a proper tripod grasp, web space, and arches of the hand. It is also an excellent toy to address motor planning, visual perception and hand-eye coordination. Child can either engage in free play with legos or can copy from patterns and designs to further challenge visual motor skills.
Speech Therapist, Rayli Kanter, recommends the board game, Hedbanz, for children ages 6-10 years. This game supports speech and language development and allows for practicing the skills of asking and answering yes/no questions, critical thinking skills, executive functioning skills, descriptive language skills, basic vocabulary, and categorization!
Special Educator, Erika Larson, recommends the game Dragonwood for children ages 8+. A dice and card game, Dragonwood works on addition skills, sorting, cognition and general game strategy. Featuring dragons, unicorns and goblins, it's also a feast for the imagination!