We asked parents and experts for a list of toys that may provide the best opportunities for fun and learning:
Simple First Words: Let’s Talk
Look at the picture. Locate the matching button on the sound bar. Then, press the button to hear the word. That’s it! There are no other sound effects or music to distract youngsters from learning the simple, clearly spoken words. Reinforce finger-pointing skills by having the child use one isolated finger to activate. For those unable to isolate individual fingers, encourage them to use several fingers or a whole hand movement. (Board Book; 22 pages)
2-in-1 Snug ’n Secure Swing
This molded-plastic swing provides a fun-filled way for little ones to help improve their vestibular function while developing visual, spatial, perception and postural control abilities. A removable T-bar rotates downward for easy loading/unloading. In addition, the high seat back, safety belt, deep seat well and high sides provide an extra boost of confidence to children beginning to explore motion.
Log on and learn! The color-changing LCD screen adds to the excitement and keeps children’s visual attention as they problem solve their way through numbers, letters, phonics, typing, music and more. Six learning modes offer a wide range of learning and creative expression opportunities. The touch-screen, QWERTY keyboard reinforces cause-and-effect learning as users make a direct connection between what they press with their fingers and what happens on the screen. Convert for tabletop use to make the tablet more accessible for children who need extra stability.
Melissa & Doug
These sound puzzles provide a wealth of skill-building opportunities as problem-solvers see, listen and learn! Children use their pincer grasp to lift each puzzle piece by its knob. When the piece is placed correctly on the board, players are rewarded with realistic transportation sounds! These auditory responses provide positive reinforcement and motivate continued play. Also, the corresponding illustrations on the puzzle board provide visual cues and help place success within reach. Choose from Train or Vehicles.
Disney Mickey’s Color Adventure Playland
This inflatable clubhouse offers engaging sensory and social opportunities. Older children will enjoy big-muscle challenges as they grasp and toss the balls into the top, while younger children visually track the primary-colored balls as they swirl down and around, then spill out and fill the ball-pit floor. Encourage social interaction by having one child pick up a ball using one or both hands, then handing it to another player to throw into the top
Jumpsmart Electronic Trampoline
Kids will jump for joy as they bounce along to fun learning games and silly songs! As they bounce, children receive stimulation and input from their joints that can help regulate and provide inner balance, positively affecting attention and organizational skills. Best of all, every bounce is rewarded with sounds or music! This instant reinforcement helps further cause and effect learning and motivates kids to keep jumping. (Sturdy enough for children up to 80 lbs.)
Calico Critters Family Camper and Cherry Cruiser
Sized right for tabletop or floor-time fun, these toys provide opportunities for imaginative play, as well as language and vocabulary development, as children tell travel tales about camping adventures. The top hinges on the camper open and a side folds out for easy access. And when it’s time to call it a day, hitch the camper to the Cherry Cruiser and head on home! Critter families sold separately.
Hungry Hungry Hippos
It’s fun to find out who has the hungriest hippo! Use an isolated finger or an entire hand… because one repetitive movement is all that it takes to start the frantic feeding! Plus, no reading is required. Players are also introduced to the concept of competition using parallel play—instead of turn-taking— for a less-frustrating, more fun-filled, first gaming experience! (For 2-4 players. Includes game base, hippos, levers, marbles, stickers and instructions.)
Xbox 360 4GB Gaming System with Kinect
You’re the controller! The Kinect sensor uses full-body tracking that recognizes players and mirrors their every move. Exploring with the on-screen avatar helps provide children with a sense of self-awareness and movement. Kinetic stimulation comes into play by way of weight shifting, jumping, balance, and arm and leg movements. Visual tracking, attention, processing and reacting also play a major role in each game
Bop, pull and twist your way to victory! Players listen to the auditory prompts and then respond quickly with manual movements that employ a whole-hand grasp. These various actions offer fun opportunities to reinforce listening skills and the importance of following directions. And the better players get the more skill levels they’ll unlock. So, get ready to think fast!