Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Favorite (Dual Purpose) Toys

Christmas is over, and we are having a great time playing with the new toys and relaxing after all the business of the season. The boys loved all of their toys this year, and I especially loved the toys that are "dual purpose"- great for both play and therapy. While the boys inevitably play with each others' toys, I will separate the toys out by the child (and thus, age) they are intended for.

Here is my list of our favorite toys for Nolan (age 2):

  • GloDoodle: A drawing toy, which has the obvious fine-motor and creativity benefits. I also use it for several language activities. With the GloDoodle turned off, I draw a picture and have Nolan guess what it might be. Then I turn it on and we can see if the guess was correct. It glows, so we can use it on night drives as an in-car entertainment toy, too.
  • Blocks: We got a great set of unit blocks made by Melissa and Doug years ago. This year, we received the architectural blocks add-on set. Blocks might be the greatest language toy ever created. The great set of zoo Duplos we got also falls into this category- the language opportunities are simply endless.
  • Doctor kit: The ability to role play and set up a pretend animal hospital has endless language opportunities. Hopefully, this will also help alleviate his anxiety about going to the ENT's office and our pediatrician's office.
  • Shake and Go Race Cars: These cars are great. They're easy enough for Nolan to operate on his own, they go really fast, and are really fun. We can also count the number of shakes needed to make the car go, set up an obstacle course with our blocks, and race the cars side by side to get the concepts of "first, second, and third."
The best toys for Matthew (age 4) are:

  • Automoblox: These things are simply great. We got a three-pack of the "Automoblox Minis." To be honest, Nolan plays with these as much as Matthew. They're great for fine motor skills, spatial relationships, and that unending need for boys to take things apart. Matt doesn't have a language delay (articulation issues only), but we never pass up the opportunity to discuss positional words and to emphasize the /s/ sound on "wheels." I love these things. Simply love them.
  • Marble run: Another building toy- one that requires a lot of planning, fine motor, and spatial skills. As with any open ended building toy, there is a lot of talking going on while building the run. We pretend it is a roller coaster, we try to copy the patterns from the box, we come up with our own inventions. Nolan likes to drop the marbles in and watch them swirl around, but due to the obvious choking hazard, this toy is really designed for those in the 4-and-up category. We do get some frustration, as Nolan likes to play Godzilla and destroy Matt's intricate creations.
  • Tag reader: Matthew received the Tag system made by Leapfrog for Christmas. I love it, and he loves it. The computer-pen can read individual words scanned, or can read the story page-by-page. The books have games, and the pen records the child's skill progression. Currently, the books have placed Matt into the kindergarten (for reading) and first grade (for vocabulary) levels. There is an associated website that tracks your child's "learning path"- currently Matt's' vocab is off the charts (perfect scores on the games) and his decoding skills need a little work (considering that he just turned four last week, I'm not surprised). The only difficulty with this system is keeping Nolan's hands off of it. He's quite interested in it, but the system is really meant for the 4-8 year old set (meaning that 2 year olds won't quite "get it"). There is a Tag Junior system out there, but we figured we'd just wait another year and get Nolan the regular Tag system when he's old enough for it.


Megan said...

Thanks for putting all those links on for the Christmas gifts. Very fun. We are all toyed out right now, but I'm going to put some of those ideas on our wish list. How fun!

leah said...

We're pretty "toyed out," too, lol. But I do have ideas in the back of my mind for next year (unfortunately for Matt, his birthday and Christmas are 3 days apart... so he has a long time to wait for new toys)!

The automoblox look expensive (the original sized cars ARE expensive) but the "minis" are decent size and come 3-to-a-pack for $30. That's $10 per car, which is more reasonable. Matt's been playing with them for DAYS and hasn't tired of them yet.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Sounds like a lot of fun to me!

We're starting to grow out of a lot of our toys and it's kind of sad.