My toddler was so blessed by the fantastic gifts he received from friends and family this year for Christmas. While we really, truly appreciated all of them, I want to draw your attention to five in particular that touched my Mama OT heart. Maybe they will inspire you in your future gift-giving endeavors.
1. Personalized photo book
One gift-giver went above and beyond by putting together a 8″ x 8″ photo album of objects and family members my son interacts with on a regular basis. He is in a stage right now where he points to everything he sees in print, so this was right up his alley. He likes to point to every single picture in the book as we name it for him, and he also loves to search for certain people or pictures as we ask him, “Where is _____?” He exclaims and points to Mama, Daddy, Nana (banana, his favorite food), and many others. This scrapbook-style photo album came ready-to-fill and now contains photos of familiar family members, toys, and animals. It has become his prized possession and he has been walking around the house with it EVERYWHERE! What a fantastic way to promote communication and relational skills while personalizing and capitalizing on a child’s love of books.
2. Toy phone
Like many toddlers these days, my son loves to play with phones, especially if it belongs to Mommy or Daddy. So this gift is a perfect way to give him opportunities to expand his pretend play and language skills!
3. Push and go toy
My little guy is still learning the concept of “push” when it comes to operating toys and container lids, so this is a great one to help him develop that cognitive/language-based skill while also encouraging his upper body strength as he pushes down on the driver’s head.
We are in a big button-pushing phase and, boy, does this toy offer lots of buttons to push! And not only that, there are a variety of settings that will last us for at least a couple of years as they encourage skills such as visual scanning, visual and auditory memory, and following a sequence of verbal directions. Settings include the following: 1) music and sounds associated with each letter, 2) letter and number identification 3) find the letter/sound and 4) follow the sequence. Additionally, this toy also comes with a “music book” that shows how to play several different children’s songs on the “piano” by pairing a number (1, 3, 7, etc.) with real music notes, and then sequencing the notes number by number so you can play out the song. It’s so cool! I now know how to play Row Row Row Your Boat and Old MacDonald Had a Farm…score! Hopefully my little guy will learn how to play them someday, too.
5. Multi-bin toy organizer
This couldn’t have come in more perfect timing. Our cardboard boxes that were filled with toys and shoved under side tables just weren’t cutting it anymore. Plus, my little guy is starting to understand the concepts of “clean up” and “put away”, so this gives him the opportunity to develop some more independence in these areas since he has easy visual and physical access. Just yesterday he decided he was done playing with his ring stacker and, without any prompting, he started putting all the parts back in the empty bin. I was so proud! In addition to the natural categorization of toys that comes with having several storage bins, you can further encourage clean-up independence by taking a picture of the toys that go in each bin and then taping each photo onto its respective bin. This way, each toy/bin combination has its own “parking spot” and your child (plus anyone else who helps with clean up) knows exactly where everything should go. Many pediatric therapy clinics use visuals like these as a way of enhancing children’s language and cognitive skills, so why not carry that strategy over into the home to help your own child as well?
Thank you to friends and family who so generously gave such wonderful holiday gifts. Wishing all you readers a safe and happy new year!
*Some of the links in this post to recommended products are affiliate links. That means if you click them and wind up purchasing through Amazon not only will you get a great product your child will love, you’ll also be helping Mama OT pay back her grad school loans!