December Gift Guide: Part 2

We all know when the holidays roll around it is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of toys and gadgets on the market. How do you know which toys are appropriate for your child's age and developmental level? That's where we come in. As pediatric therapy staff, we have collaborated to select our favorite toys for your child for each stage of life to support their developmental milestones.

In Part 1 of this series, we described milestones and gift ideas for children aged 0-18 months. In Part 2, we explore what to expect for children all the way to age 5!

19-24 months:

Motor milestones: At this age, pretend play skills begin to blossom. A child's fine motor skills should develop to be able to build a tower of 4+ blocks and draw a vertical line. His or her visual motor skills should support completing simple peg puzzles and beginning to snip with scissors. Gross motor skills should include kicking a ball, walking up and down stairs, and sidestepping.

Speech milestones: Children should start to answer simple what, where, who questions when given choices. Around 2 years old, children should start to combine 2-word phrases. Parents can model vocabulary expansion by repeating words back that their child says. (i.e., child says, "car" parents can say "blue car").

  1. Melissa and Doug cleaning set
  2. Pretend food
  3. Simple peg puzzles
  4. Hammer toys
  5. Scissor skills activity book
  6. Easel
  7. Kickball or Soccer ball

2-4 years

Motor milestones: Around 2-2.5 years, a child should build a tower of 4+ blocks, rip paper, string 2-4 beads, and draw horizontal lines. He or she should kick a ball and walk up and down stairs while holding a railing or hand. By 3-4 years, he or she should draw a circle and cross (+), manipulate toys, buttons, and levers, complete 3-4-piece puzzles, and turn pages of a book one at a time. A child in this age group should cut a piece of paper in half and begin to unbutton large buttons as well as begin to use a fork successfully. Gross motor development should grow to include jumping over objects on the floor, pedaling a tricycle, and standing on one foot for a few seconds. By 4 years old, a child should be able to pour liquids from a cup and begin to copy some capital letters.

Speech milestones: Children should use a variety of nouns, verbs, describing words and begin to use 2-4 word phrases. Children 3-4 years old start to use words to express feelings and emotions, which leads to less frustration and fewer temper tantrums. Children should be understood about 100% of the time by the time they turn 4, but they may still have some sounds in error.

  1. Stringing beads
  2. Simple games (Pop the Pig , Pop the Pirate, Beware of the Bear)
  3. Fine motor tools
  4. Nuts and bolts
  5. Magnatiles
  6. Color sorting toys
  7. Water wow pads
  8. Play-doh set
  9. Kinetic sand set
  10. Letter/number puzzles
  11. Button boards
  12. Snack friends
  13. Small trampoline
  14. Grocery store set
  15. Feelings activity set
  16. Balance bike with helmet
  17. Pouring and measuring kit
  18. Handwriting workbook

5+ years

Motor milestones: By age 5, a child should demonstrate the ability to draw a square and triangle, write some letters and numbers independently, and cut out simple shapes. He or she should be able to fold paper in half while lining up the edges and color within a border. Utensil use should expand to include using a knife at mealtimes.

Speech milestones: Children 5 and older should use a variety of sentence structures, and verb tenses. Children 5+ should talk to others and keep the conversation going. Children may still have a few errors in their speech sounds (omitting clusters: poon for spoon), which can still be age-appropriate until 6. They may also have errors with the s, z, th, and r sounds, but should show that these sounds are emerging. 

  1. Tool kit
  2. Glow in the dark drawing board
  3. Tangrams
  4. 24+ piece puzzles
  5. Scooter board
  6. Yeti in my Spaghetti
  7. Sneak Snacky Squirrel
  8. Perler bead kit