This time of year can be fun (if you’re me and enjoy shopping!) while looking for the perfect gift for family and friends. While I love looking and hunting for fun, unique things that are “just the right thing”, I do get a little concerned with the amount of STUFF we end up with. Especially when you have kids and especially when those kids have a mom who is a pediatric SLP! That said, I have been thinking of toys that stay in use for a long time and can span multiple years. There are a lot of thematic toys out there that fit into this category. Which is great news, because I feel that cuts down on the quantity, but also gives a focus for relatives and friends for this year, and maybe into the following year.
At my house this year, we are having a “Construction Christmas!”. The 3 ½ year old and 14 month old will get a workbench and tool set. Now, we currently have a tool set (a somewhat sad one and missing pieces, but includes the hat, tool belt, saw, hammer, and drill; and really, what more does a 3 ½ year old need?). I contemplated the need for a new one, but realize the benefit of EACH kid having their own. I am so excited for this gift, as my older one has been into dressing up as a construction worker for over a year now and hammering and drilling. The younger one copies everything she does, and loves hammering. The work bench offers higher level play (pieces that fit together, creative building) and more advanced fine motor (turning the screws, putting them into holes) for the older one, plus more simple skills for the younger one. The younger one can “saw” the Velcro wood pieces and bang in pegs.
Because we’re going the small, cheaper route, our work bench is plastic and therefore will be pulled into the yard come warmer weather. Perfect for giving the kids something to do while we maybe get our own work done in the yard!
With the construction theme comes great accessories: Legos, Magnatiles, Bristle Blocks, and my new favorites: EQB Zoo & Car toys. These cars are different animals and can be pulled apart and clicked back together to make different designs. They are for 3 years and older, but have a simple car that clicks apart into 2 pieces for the 1 and older crowd. My other favorite building toy is the Battat Take Apart Airplane. This toy comes with chunky pieces and chunky screws and battery operated drill. The drill unscrews the screws to take apart, and then comes the problem solving to put it back together again! Appropriate for 3+, but assistance will be needed!
Finally, where is the language piece in all this?? It’s everywhere – in the action words associated with building (hammering, drilling, banging, building, etc); in the negotiating how to share parts, and in the creative play (what are you building, what else can you build? What other pieces can you incorporate?).
Ok, here is the last part for real. If you’re like me, you HAVE to get books for every occasion. Some great construction books:
Tap, Tap, Bang, Bang (1+)
Good night, Good night, Construction Site (1+)
The Tool Box (3+)
Interstellar Cinderella (4+)