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What are the best developmental toys for kids?

December 21, 2017

It’s December, and that means one thing to many parents – the holidays are quickly approaching. With countless store ads, commercials and online articles about the ‘top toys of 2017,’ it’s hard to really understand what toys are both fun to play with and good for child development.

To help with this very question, the team in the pediatric rehabilitation department at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children worked together to create a list. These toys are known to facilitate the development of skills in all areas. They are both engaging and motivating and help to evolve anything from gross motor skills to language

Gross Motor Development:

Activities to develop strength and coordination in the big muscles that help us to sit up, walk, run, jump and climb


    Yogarilla cards


    Large plastic stepping stones such as Gonge Hilltops




    Push Toys


    Ball launchers- load in the ball, step on the pad and watch it fly. Great game to interact with pets.


    Ziggle bike


    Toys with parts to retrieve such as shape sorter, pop beads, simple puzzles, barn with animals, cars on tracks


    Sit and Spin


    Jumping rope


    Balance bike



Language Development:

Facilitates learning both to speak and to understand language and build social skills.  


    Barn and barn animals


    Simple puzzles that make sounds. The Melissa and Doug brand is great.


    Books with simple pictures and words such as: Brown Bear Brown Bear, and books by Sandra Boynton, Eric Carle, Mo Willems


    Mr. Potato Head


    Little People play sets by Fisher Price


    Headbands game


    Singing simple songs, especially those with gestures such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”



Fine and Visual Motor Development:

Activities that develop strength and coordination for the eyes and hands for writing, cutting, coloring, table top play and self-feeding.


    Poppers. Load a small ball into the snout of a pig (or other animals), squeeze and watch them fly


    Giant chopsticks such as Zoo Sticks


    Crayon rocks, gems or any other large short crayons


    Filo lacing game with stylus and rubber board


    Large plastic piggy bank made just for toddlers    


    Craft Kits-knitting, knitting loom, sock puppets, pottery


    Old school board games-Candy Land, Trouble, Connect Four, Battleship, Monopoly, Pick up Sticks




    Discovery putty


    Feed the Woozle game


    Hi Ho Cherry Oh! game


  • Princess Cupcake game

  • Design and Drill

  • Art easel

  • Magna Tiles

  • Tobbles

  • Legos-All sizes

  • Tegu Magnet blocks

  • Play Doh

  • Stacking Rings

  • Wooden Train Set

  • Wooden blocks

  • Aquadoodle

  • Velcro cutting food (Melissa and Doug)

  • Lite Brite

  • Velcro darts

  • Lacing activities

  • FantaColor Jr. Mosaic pegboard

  • Crayola Glow Station

  • Tactile books

  • Pull and see books

  • Etch a Sketch

  • Large simple plastic pop beads





Questions regarding the toy list can be directed to Jennifer Smith, Occupational Specialist at Orlando Health at [email protected]. For more information about pediatric rehabilitation at Arnold Palmer Hospital, visit the Pediatric Rehabilitation Program page on our website.




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