Jen’s 2018 Holiday Buying Guide – A Speech Language Pathologist Perspective

I usually do a parent education workshop about this time of year on the Power of Play and the types of toys I recommend for children. Unfortunately,  as I get older the years seem to get shorter and I have not had the time to put the presentation together this year. Instead here is my holiday buying guide for 2018, blogger-style! Check-out my 2017 holiday buying guide (still some of my FAVORITE things).

When searching for holiday gifts this year I caution you on two things:

  • Overbuying one specific theme or type of toy. Many times when children have favorites (e.g., princesses or trains) parents tend to buy more of the same. Instead I encourage you to change it up and introduce new toys with their favorites. This will help expand play and give a variety of options.
  • Buying “learning toys” – if they say “learning toy” (including iPads), have flashing lights, make beeps, boops and buzzes, you may want to minimize these types of gifts. Many times children have much more meaningful play when they themselves make the beeps, boops and buzzes! Creativity at its best! Try a technology diet! Here is a great article for your reference: Electronic Baby Toys Associated with Decrease in Quality and Quantity of Language in Infants

SPIN AGAIN from FAT BRAIN Toys – Okay this one makes the top of my list two years in a row! Ages 1-4, but you will see older kids flocking to this spinning sensation. With the Spin Again spinner we target fine motor, turn taking, colors, language, and come up with challenges to see what little animals or toys will stay on the spinner while they spin. Fat Brain Toys hit it on the head with this dizzy toy!


SHARK BITE– Ages 3-6, start game play early on! This fun interactive, never know when he will bite shark game, keeps kids on their toes. We use this game all of the time and it is a favorite here in our clinic. We target turn taking, waiting, fine motor (pinching the fish and crabs out with our fingers when we are brave enough), colors, attention to task, sharing, sportsmanship and so much more!  


ANOMIA Kids– Pre-readers to adults. Anomia Kids is a quick paced, fun game that keeps you on your toes. Literacy skills are embedded and kids don’t even know it! Be the first player to shout out a word that starts with the same sound as the picture on your opponent’s card. This one has been a popular game with the kids at Children’s Therapy Services!


SPEEDY SNOW– Ages 2-Adult, Yes SNOW people!  You can pick-up this bucket from Lakeshore Learning for hours of snow making fun. We recently did this activity at one of our Sensory Saturdays and in our Preschool program and it was a favorite. When making the snow, try adding different color to your water to make vibrant snow and watch as the snow comes to life in front you. Kids cannot get enough! 


BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS – Don’t forget to add books to your list this holiday. Usborne has a great selection!  The new favorite is the ALL BETTER book by Usborne where children get to put band-aids on the animal’s boo-boos. It is a MUST! For younger children choose interactive books with flaps, see through pages, textures and pop buttons. Interactive books helps young children stay engaged. Check out my previous blog post Jen’s top 21 favorite books for toddlers to age 5 years!


Remo Drum – ALL AGES! AGAIN, this one stays on my list for 2018!!! One of our top requests at the clinic! This drum is very versatile, you can even turn it upside-down and use it as a car! Children love putting objects on top o the drum to watch them bounce. This drum has a beautiful sound and very young children can tap with their hands. When your ears have had enough, put it away and transition to a book!


MELISSA & DOUG Cleaning Set– Ages 2 and up.  This miniature cleaning set will have your little ones helping around the house in no time. We love this cute cleaning set because who says 2 years is too young to start doing chores! Awesome for encouraging self-help skills, pretend play and independence around the house. Get those kids up and cleaning, make a visual chart with pictures to help them know what to clean or just take some time to play house with your child. 


BJOREM SPEECH SOUND CUES– (I may be a little bias) Ages 18 months and up depending on developmental milestones. I created this cue set to help with acquisition of speech and literacy. The set is an evidence-based picture cueing program designed to help young children acquire sounds by giving each sound a meaning that is developmentally appropriate. The set contains 22 consonant cards and 12 vowel cue cards that are intuitive and make sense.​We have so many fun creative ways to use the cards to help with early speech acquisition, motor planning of speech sounds, speech sound therapy, phonological awareness and early literacy!  The cues can be used with all children learning sounds and sound to letter correspondence.  This cue set is great for travel and on the go. The box is small enough to fit in your purse or bag! Your kids will love them! Check out my YouTube channel to learn more! 


STACK O’ FUN BALL CUPS– Ages 1and up  This is a newer updated stacking ball drop than the one I own. This one comes with sounds and lights, so unless your child needs the sounds and lights, I would suggest passing on the batteries. The stacking and dropping balls as well as interacting with you will keep them plenty entertained. We love searching for other toys and small animals that can make their way down the tower! When playing with toys try to remember to play with them in different ways too. The bottom of the stack makes a great house for animals or garage for cars. Turn them over and they nest together. 


MAGNATILES – YUP… again these are one of my must-haves, go-to favorites… Ages 1 and up, oh the ideas are endless with these magnet wonders. YES they are expensive, but the investment will be worth it! One of my favorite go-to toys for therapy and at home to keep little hands busy and creative. Build house, forts, castles, icebergs with these awesome see-through magnet wonders. Wonderful for hand-eye  coordination, spatial relationships, color sorting, and pretend play.  If you have a light table or light box, they almost glow! Kids love looking through them to see many colors!


MELISSA & DOUG Ice Cream Counter – Ages 2 and up! I love this darling interactive ice cream shop! A step-up from the regular ice cream set, this set comes with a menu, different flavors, cones, cups and toppings! Wow the possibilities and pretend play! This is a must have for your little ice cream love! I will be putting this on my list this year! I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice scream! YOOHOO!


WHAT DO YOU MEME –  ADULTS or UPPER TEENS – okay I had to add in an adult game this year! If you are looking for a hilarious party game, well this may make you pee your pants! We took this to Fargo for Thanksgiving and played it every night! While some cards are quite inappropriate, they come wrapped separately so you can avoid those for family situations. This game is a must have this holiday season!

What about last minute stocking stuffers? Check out my blog post on Unconventional Stocking Stuffers, your kids will be sure to love them!

Happy Holidays & Happy Shopping!!!!

Jen Bjorem, M.A., CCC-SLP


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