Chunky Chicken has many of these toys already and a few are on
B Sugar Chute Gumball Machine
This toy is excellent for developing fine motor skills for there are three ways to get the balls out of the machine-twisting a knob, pushing down on a lever, and moving a knob forward. Of course there is also just turning the toy upside down sending the balls ricocheting everywhere and setting your cats on a wild, ball-frenzied rampage. If your child is like my daughter, this toys is great for communication. "Ball. BALL BALL BALL BALL!!!!!!"
The B Gumball Machine is what I like to call the "payback gift". It is for all of you parents out there whose children have received loud, lights flashing, annoying music gifts in the past. You know what I am talking about. The ones where the batteries mysteriously disappear and you tell your child that the toy is "sleeping". Yeah. Those toys. Well, this seemingly innocuous toy is the perfect "payback gift". Recall what I mentioned about the balls ricocheting? Those balls will end up all over your house. Just prime for tripping over them.
Fisher Price Learning Piggy Bank
Ellie has been playing with this bad boy for over 2 years now. This piggy is great for teaching colors and counting. Of course, it also helps with fine motor skills. Now, the Bear just likes to carry the coins around in her purse (along with her kitchen utensils) and as thus, I am counting that as pretend play. She is going shopping. Maybe she will start to pay for dinner once in a while. Even more exciting is that the toy works without batteries. As in, you can turn off the songs! Although, the songs are actually not that annoying "Oh I'm a piggy bank. I have a piggy snout. . . " For children who enjoy putting objects "in" and then taking them "out", this piggy bank is a winner.
Mr. Potato Head
"It's Mr. Potato Head and his bucket of parts. Buckets of fun for everyone!" You don't remember that little jungle? Really? Come on! I am not that old!
The obvious is that your child will gnaw on his delectable shoes, ears, hat, and glasses. Oh wait, that is Ellie. Body parts. This is a great way to teach body parts. Hold out two options and have your child request by pointing to the body part on herself. Or have her sign shoes, hat, glasses. These pieces can be rather tricky to insert so again on developing fine motor skills. There is also a big sensory input on this one. Ever try to remove the pieces? It is as though you need the strength of ten oxen. Just me? Yes, I am a wimp. Anyway, the act of pulling out those stubborn pieces provides good sensory feedback.
Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Stack and Roll Cups
This seemingly simple (and cheap!) toy works on counting, colors, stacking, and nesting. If you notice, you can also make balls out of placing two corresponding cups together. Ellie loves to do this. She also loves to then throw the ball on the floor to separate the pieces. I do not recommend this although I completely understand why she does this. For starters, it can be rather difficult to separate the balls and heaven forbid I have her work some more on her fine motor skills, but she also receives great satisfaction in watching the pieces go in two separate directions. Cause and Effect.
Melissa & Doug Farm Animals Puzzle or any Peg Puzzle
Do not, I repeat, do not put the batteries into any of the M&D sound puzzles. . . unless you enjoy listening to the sounds of dying animals. Or you take great pleasure in being startled by a painful sound emitting from the puzzle at random times even when not playing with it. Clearly I am fixated on fine motor skills here, but these types of puzzles have the picture behind the pieces thus making it a wonderful tool for matching. Puzzles are also great for communication. I hold up one piece at a time and the Bear doesn't get the piece until she either signs or tries to say the animal. That's right, I make Ellie work for her puzzle pieces.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board
This toy is clearly to teach your child how to get past those pesky child-proof locks or well, any lock for that matter. Have a keepsake trunk that you keep latched with your antiques? Bam! Babycakes can now open that trunk. Window latches? Bingo!
Learning Resources 1-2-3 Puzzle Blocks
I am not going to state the obvious here. This one is on Bear's wishlist so I am not able to give you an accurate review of this.
Same with the one below.
Learning Resources A-B-C Puzzle Blocks
Shopping cart. Any shopping cart.
Clearly this toy is so that you can have a successful shopping experience at Target. All kidding aside. This toy is not only great for pretend play, but it can also help with those gross motor skills. Pushing a toy is helpful for an early walker. Have a child with sensory issues? Weigh down the shopping cart and your child can do heavy work to self-regulate herself. (toy food included, baby dolls not)
Fisher Price-Bath and Training Set
Given Ellie's propensity to toss her baby into the bath with her, my friend thought it would be appropriate to give the baby her own bath and potty. Be forewarned, the toilet makes noise--"ta da ta ta da!" There is an off switch which you might want to utilize if your child is like mine. Ellie just liked to sit there and repeatedly open-close the play toilet seat so she could hear the exciting sound. (baby in picture not included)
You have to trust me on this. Yes, I know it seems a little wonky that your child would plaster herself to the TV to watch a lady in an orange sweater with multi-colored band-aids on her fingers, but it is true. Kids. Love. Signing. Time. We started Ellie off on the Baby Signing Time series since it is more cartoonish and there is more signing (I recommend Disc 1 & 2 for beginners). These DVDs equal toddler crack. Now, she watches the regular Signing Time videos ( I recommend Zoo Train, Leah's Farm, Family Feelings and Fun, My Favorite Things; Ellie recommends My School, My Favorite Sport [BALL BALL BALL!], Playtime Signs). My daughter can communicate using sign language thanks to this series. She also learned to sight-read a few words. If it wasn't for this show and Ellie's ability to sign, there would be a lot more tantrums in this house. These shows also entertain her on long car rides. I also wouldn't get the chance to sit down and blog. Oh wait. . . no no, I do not use Signing Time as a baby sitter. (fyi, occasionally these DVDs are cheaper on Amazon).
You can get any hopper really, but I prefer the Ball Bounce Sport Fun Hopper because it is really sturdy and similar to a mini yoga ball with a handle. Ellie is still a bit small for this and still needs our help, but this ball is great for that excess energy or if she is craving motor sensory input. Bounce! Bounce! Bounce! For those of you with younger children trying to develop core strength for kneeling, sitting, crawling, and walking, this is a good, cheap (only $10) alternative to those large yoga balls in the PT's clinic.
I hope that this list gives many of you gift ideas when you are out shopping. Happy Holidays!