Best Toys to Give as Presents

What are some of the best toys to give that can also promote development? Here are some toys used in therapy by therapists that are not only fun but also promote developmental fine motor and gross motor skills.

Infant and toddler toys (under the age of three):
Balls of various sizes.

Toys that pull apart and push together (like Bristle Blocks, Large Duplos Legos). These types of toys promote use of both hands, gross motor skills, and fine motor strength.
Magnetic stacking blocks. Developmentally, children will learn how to knock over blocks before building them, but magnetic blocks help promote stacking skills. They are also another great toy that can be pulled apart to work on bilateral hand use.
Shape sorter and large wooden puzzles with large knobs and large coin piggy banks. These toys that require putting items into containers promote fine motor and visual motor skills.
Spin Again Spinning Stacker. Placing various sized round gears on a peg gets really fun as they spin round and round down a corkscrew. This is a kid favorite.
Pound a ball and hammer toys. Toys with tools are an easy and fun way to promote fine motor development.
Mr. Potato Head. A classic toy that is great for fine motor development and teaching body parts.
Bath toys. Especially ones that involve pouring water can improve fine motor skills and self help skills.
Large foam gym blocks. These large durable blocks are great for encouraging gross motor development by climbing on and over. They are also great to work on stacking, have many uses for pretend play, and allow the child to jump and crash on safely in the home.
Musical instruments.

Ages 3-6
Painting and writing on vertical surfaces promote proper fine motor and pencil grasp development.
Large crayons, fat colored pencils.
Aquadoodle, water-based writing activity sets.
Cooking toys and food sets with utensils.
Pretend play with toy foods helps improve fine motor skills and helps kids learn how to use utensils.
Kid-sized gardening tools. Gardening is a great sensory experience for children, and garden tools are great to work on upper body strength.
Dress-up dolls and costumes. Dressing dolls and putting costumes on and off provide great practice for working on dressing and self-help skills.
Wind up toys and fidget toys. Great for fine motor skills and can also be used to help improve focusing when fidgety.

Gross Motor:
Grocery baskets. These miniature realistic grocery baskets are more stable than push toys. They are also great to put items in the basket (can even put heavy items in to weigh it down) to push it around and improve gross motor skills and lower body strength.
Plasma car. Great gross motor car that incorporates motor planning and whole body work, and safe indoors.
Small trampoline or hippity hop ball. Great for jumping, gross motor skills indoors, and fantastic tools to get the wiggles out, especially on
rainy days.

Classics for kids 6 and up:
Simon, Memory, Bop It, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Etch a Sketch, AquaDoodle, Magna Doodle, Lite-Brite, Ants in the Pants, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Operation, Battleship, and Don’t Break the Ice.

At any age:
Tents, bean bags, large cushions, tunnels. These types of items are great for setting up a cozy corner at home. Cozy corners can offer the child a safe place to reset, regroup, or relax with a book.
Kinetic sand, modeling clay, floam, model magic, Play-Doh, slime. Multi-sensory toys that encourage sensory exploration through touch, decrease touch sensitivity, and promote fine motor skills.
Art supplies. Pastels, oils, finger paint, dry erase markers and crayons, chalk. The younger the child is, the shorter and fatter the paint brush or art tool should be.
Toys with tongs. Tongs are great to improve fine motor skills and an easy way to work on when incorporated already into a game. Fruit Stand Avalanche is a favorite.

Many of these toys are not only for these ages. They can be used across age ranges. Use best judgment as to what the child would like to engage in most. These toys will provide endless fun while also improving so many areas of development.

Newsletter Signup

Your Weekly guide to New Orleans family fun. NOLA Family has a newsletter for every parent. Sign Up