Compiled and written by Teresa Hans, OTR/L & Brittni Barnes, OTR/L
Ever wanted to know what toys therapists LOVE for different developmental stages?
Progressive Pediatric Therapy staff have compiled a list for the different ages and stages to foster development! Check out our favorite toys for preschool aged children! These toys are ideal for ages 2.5 to 5 years old.
(This post contains paid affiliate links.)
- Baby Dolls- We love this basic baby doll that comes in a variety of skin shades! Baby dolls provide endless pretend play for girls and boys, fostering social emotional development, play, and language skills!
- Farm Figurine Toys: For your animal loving kids, you can never have too many animals to choose from during play! This set makes a great small toy set to share with siblings too!
- Lego Classic set: The basic Lego box provides hours of creative and fine motor skill building play!
- Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards: Learn early math skills with these tangram block pictures!
- Safari Animal Toys & Play Mat: This set is great for boys and girls who love animals! Foster language and play skills by playing safari and animal rescue with siblings and peers.
- Play Food & Cutting Set: Great for language and fine motor skill development. “Cook” with your children with this play food set!
- Melissa & Doug Felt Food Sandwich Set: Speech and Language Pathologist Ms. Jacqueline states, “I use this sandwich shop game for categorizing, following directions, turn taking, and social pragmatics!”
- Peppa Pig Playhouse: Does your child LOVE Peppa Pig? Use this toy, or any play house set, to foster pretend play, language skills, and joint play with family members!
- Crayon Rocks: These rock shaped crayons are perfect for helping your child develop their pencil grasp! They come in a variety of colors allowing for creativity during drawing and coloring!
- Balloon Pump: Seems a little silly as a toy right? However, a Balloon Pump is almost as valuable as bubbles! Speech Pathologist Joan shares that a Balloon/Balloon Pump works on so many great skills “PUT balloon ON pump, pull the pump UP and DOWN, watch it get BIG, say READY-SET-GO, let go of balloon and watch it fly in the air. Wait for child to request MORE or HELP putting the balloon back on. After a few trials, wait for child to finish the phrase (Ready…set… ____!) Modeled words: put on, up/down, big, go, wow, wee, more, help Additionally work on joint attention, requesting, labeling, commenting, exclamatory words, directional terms, prepositions, following directions, pronouns, etc.”
- Wooden Blocks : Another classic toy, Blocks have endless uses! Build, create, and share- there is no wrong way to play with blocks together!
- PlayDoh Set: Playdoh is a fun, sensory toy to foster fine motor skills, grasp development, and play! Any playdoh set will do- from basic to character themed sets- your child will have a blast!
- Mr. Potato Head: I KNOW HIM! Everyone knows this time tested, classic toy! Mr. Potato head is loved by all, and is the perfect toy to foster language skills, fine motor skills, joint attention, and pretend play!
- Sports Balls Set: This variety set of sports balls will get any kid excited to move! Great for joint play with others, gross motor development, and playing with peers!
- Table top Kitchen Playset: This playset comes with a portable picnic basket and mini sink/stove for children to play house anywhere! Children love to imitate what they see in real life, and this set even comes with play food for them to make you lunch!
- Bicycle: With or without training wheels, depending on your child’s skill level. Physical therapist, Mary says “Movement outdoors is the most important thing…whatever entertains and holds attention the longest!” So get outside and enjoy the movement and fresh air!
- Play Tunnel: Use this tunnel to set up obstacle courses inside or outside! Can also be used for children to go into for a sensory break. No more boring rainy days when your kids have a tunnel to get them moving!
- Carnival Outdoor Games Combo Set: This combination set of items includes cones, rings, bean bags, and more! Make obstacle courses, have relay races, bean bag tosses, and more with this versatile toy set. Great to get your children moving, running, jumping, and playing!
- Balance Stepping Stones set: Use these stepping stones on their own, or with some of the previous mentioned toys to create the Ultimate Obstacle Course at home!
- Water Doodle Mat: Practice prewriting skills in a fun way! Water doodle mats are fun for all ages and can help motivate children to draw and color!
- Squigz: One of our favorite, versatile toys! Squigz stick to anything, and themselves, providing endless opportunities for creativity! Squigz are great for building fine motor skills and strength too!
- Let’s Go Fishing Game: This game is a great introduction to playing games together! Use this to foster joint attention, turn taking, and social emotional development. You can also use games to learn colors, counting, and more!
- Jigsaw Puzzles: Preschool is a great time to work on jigsaw puzzles with 12 to 24 pieces! These wooden ones make it easy to insert, without bending the sides like with a traditional puzzle. Also check out your local dollar stores too- often they have so many jigsaw puzzle choices with fan favorite characters in 12, 24, or 48 pieces!
- Wheel Walker: Physical Therapist, Namyata’s favorite toy is the Walking wheel from fat brain toys “It is really cool and safe equipment to use for walking. Place your foot on each foot plate and hold a bar on side and go.”
- Water Jet Hovering T-ball Set: Provides 3 ways of learning T-ball! Traditional, water jet, or pop up!
- Standing Art Easel: Draw, color, and creating on a vertical surface helps promote shoulder stability and fine motor skill development! Plus standing during targeted drawing or coloring tasks is helpful for children who are always on the move.
- Lite brite: This classic toy is perfect for preschool kids as is promotes learning through play, fine motor skill development, grasp development, creativity, and is just fun!
- Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game: This game is a fan favorite amongst our therapists. It can be used in a variety of ways to work on color recognition, turn taking, fine motor skills, social emotional skills, and language! It is simple enough for most ages to play, but also fun for older siblings too!