Christmas Gift Buying Guide – Ages 1 to 5!

The holiday season is quickly approaching. With all of the options out there, it can be challenging to choose gifts for children that are both fun and exciting while promoting learning and development. We have decided to take some of the difficulty out of the search! Here are toys and games that are recommended for each age group based on developmental milestones!

Age 1:

Now is a good time to focus on exploratory and curiosity building skills as well as imitation and word development.

Exploring various textures can encourage a healthy curiosity and get’s started on those book skills such as: how to hold a book, how to turn a page, what direction we read the books

Also known as pop up toys. These help a child develop understanding of cause and effect and imitation skills i.e. you show them how it’s done, they copy!

Helps introduce colour and shape vocabulary as well as works on motor skills.

Works on developing problem solving skills, can introduce concepts such as “big” and “little”

Age 2:

This is a big year for the development of language, creativity and independence. Toys that promote pretend and cooperative play are a great way to support this.

Playing with animals and people open up opportunities for the development of verbs and short sentences

Construction toys begin to become interesting, the mega blocks are big enough that if they end up in a mouth, they aren’t going to go any further!

Pre-writing skills through experimenting with fingers as well as some sensory fun! Also a great activity for imitation skills!

Not just great for throwing and catching! Focus more on rolling, and hiding! Hide and seek encourages the development of object permanence!

Wanting to copy what mom and dad do begins to spark interest. Play food helps to encourage pretend play as well as functional activities such as holding and eating with utensils!

Age 3:

We are 3, hear us roar! Age 3 is a big year for learning skills that will be used throughout school and social interactions with others.

Promote the pretend play and often the learning of factual information associated. There is also some interesting new research regarding dinosaur knowledge and intelligence

Time to practice for those skills that will make that desired independence more possible, these boards can be done as a DIY (  or purchased

Learning about the parts of the face and their functions (i.e. we use our eyes to see/look and ears to hear/listen) can help with readiness for school.

Time to get creative! Taking on different roles and coming up with story lines can promote language development and understanding a story’s format (i.e. beginning – middle – end)

Time to up that functional play with all that pretend food to include aspects like counting!

Age 4:

Whether school is happening now or is just around the corner, learning is happening in abundance! Toys that develop problem solving and pre-reading skills will fit right in!

Spatial awareness, problem solving and trial and error practice makes puzzles a great option at any age!

Not only are these mesmerizing to watch, but they often involve strategy and planning to ensure that things go smoothly.

Awareness of shapes combined with the ability to build anything from a birthday cake to a race car make this popular toy a winner!

A bit of a step up from cars due to the involvement of building tracks. The track can be different every time but still requires some planning in order to make it all fit together at the end.

Working on that pencil grip as well as reading and writing skills, at the same time as allowing creativity!

Age 5:

By age 5 children begin to interact and converse in “adult-like” fashion. These skills should be prompted and encouraged through a combination of structured and unstructured play.

That next step up from dress-up is learning how to narrate a story line from the perspective of more than one character!

Encouraging physical activity is always a positive in the technology ridden world we live in. It also allows for increased attention span and participation when it is time to sit down and learn.

This game is absolute gold! Building up the parts of a story through pictures allows for the development of complex and compound sentences!

Learning the important lessons: winning versus losing, taking turns, waiting and often an element of counting! These styles of games are oldies but goodies!

There are so many options out there for presents, it is hard to pick apart the ones that are both popular and educational, from a fad! A good rule of thumb to use is that games that can be played more than one way, this will provide more engagement for longer periods of time!

I hope this guide helps you to make a great choice that will provide ample fun, with a sprinkle of learning for your loved one! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!