Toys like doll houses, plastic animals, and people, play kitchen, tool set, doctor’s kits, etc. are AWESOME because pretend play is IMPORTANT. Pretend play is the main way children learn at this age. They learn from the adults in their life giving them language input.
Rory’ Story Cubes and Tell Tale are good games for creative storytelling, building sentences and grammar skills, and discriminating between sensical and nonsensical things.
Craft supplies are a great tool for language development! Stickers, ink stamps, and paint dobbers are less messy than regular paint and glue activities. Often times, kids need to ask for help to get these things open and the little hand movements required to use them also help with motor control.
If your kiddo is working on oral motor awareness, these things help facilitate a more mature structure of their oral mechanism: echo-microphones, whistle, kazoos, crazy straws, straw cups, bubbles for blowing, electric toothbrush.
Straw cups are a great way to help kids learn tongue lateralization and promote increased oral motor awareness. Sippy cups that require kids to tilt their head back to get liquid out promote decreased awareness of oral motor mechanisms.
Play-Doh is always a great activity that sometimes need a little extra creativity. What manipulatives can you put in it? Maybe plastic animals, beads, etc. are good options! Talk about the things hiding inside the Play-Doh. Narrate what you’re doing. (Look! I’m going to smash/roll/poke it.)
Shape sorters are great to help solidify the concepts in and out as well as colors. These are also a good way to help with motor skills.
Motor Works Toys and Legos are great for targeting problem solving skills and building vocabulary around that process (I wonder if… Maybe this will…)
Bonus Gift Idea!
Early exposure to literacy is one of the best ways to help your child learn. Even if they like to rip books apart, keep reading! Even if you are just talking about the pictures–kids are still learning about literacy. It helps parent-child bonding, joint attention (the basis for verbal communication), letter identification, and print awareness.
Any kind of books or puzzles that have movement pieces/lift-a-flap keeps kids engaged and gives opportunities to practice using their pointer fingers.
Another inexpensive idea is to personalize a book for your child buy printing pictures of them and put them in a photo album or binder. Kids love to look at themselves doing things because by nature, kids are self-centered. Thinking of other people is a skill they will not master for a long time, so use that to your advantage! Make a book of a vacation they went on, their first year of school/their birthday, etc. and TALK about it.
If they insist on reading it over and over again that’s FINE. That helps them solidify information and concepts like remembering and re-telling stories. These are awesome auditory discrimination/comprehension skills they will need for when they start school and begin reading independently.