Toys for Strong Vision 2012

A colleague has prepared a list of toys that boost visual skills, I’ve modified it and reproduced it below. The timing is right, given the season, but what is most remarkable about the list is that electronic ‘brain boosting’ toys are absent. Developmental specialists, from optometrists, to occupational therapists and reading therapists, will understand that reading and academic skills are the result not of reading practice so much as a simple exposure to reading combined with a solid base of exploration before reading is ever encountered as a formal activity. These toys provide many fun avenues to explore the world in a way that boosts those skills and abilities that allow children to succeed in school.

Developmental specialists … will understand that reading and academic skills are the result not of reading practice so much as simple exposure to reading combined with a solid base of exploration before reading is ever encountered as a formal activity.

General rules to follow when choosing gifts for children:

  • Avoid electronics and other gaming systems that pull the child away from the physical world. A child’s understanding of the symbolic nature of words comes from learning about physical reality first.
  • Choose ‘open-ended’ games as opposed to ‘closed-ended’ games. A great example is Lego sets where only one ‘thing’ will be built. A better option would be a mound of varied Lego blocks where the child can build anything.
  • Choose games that require interaction and lots of eye-hand coordination and/or balance.
  • Prefer physical play in young children over forcing reading too early.
  • For reading practice, read with and to your child and expose them to fun stories if in the pre-school years. Avoid structured reading programs that purport to accelerate reading in preschoolers.

My personal favourite games include Jenga blocks and Dominoes (both played with freely for building/toppling, as well as according to the ‘rules’), Scrabble, playing cards (Old Maid, Go Fish, Memory, War), and something called a ‘Perplexus‘ ball. Ensure games are age appropriate, and don’t be in a rush to force reading in young children – if the foundation is there, reading will follow.

Here is the list. Keep in mind that regular every day activities can also be very beneficial. For example, having a child help to prepare dinner by cutting vegetables, stirring, and measuring are great ways to develop eye-hand coordination, balance and control, and math skills.

Building toys – Develop eye-hand coordination and visualization/imagination.

1. Building Blocks

2. Legos/Duplos

3. Lincoln Logs

4. Tinker Toys

5. Erector Set

Fine motor skill toys – Develop fine motor skills including visual skills and manual eye-hand coordination.

6. Light Bright

7. Pegboard and Pegs

8. Coloring Books and Crayons

9. Dot-to-Dot Activity Books

10. Finger Paints

11. Playdough/Silly Putty/Modeling Clay

12. Chalkboard (24” x 36”)/Easel

13. Bead Stringing

14. Sewing Cards (craft)

15. Paint or Color By Numbers

16. Sand Art

17. Stencils

18. Bead Craft Kits

19. Models (car, airplane, ships, etc.)

20. Jacks

Space perception toys – Develop depth perception and eye-hand coordination.

Within arm’s length:

20. Jumpin’ Monkeys

21. Flippin’ Frogs

22. Ants in the Pants

23. Fishin’ Around

24. Operation

25. Pick-up Sticks

26. KerPlunk

27. Jenga

28. Don’t Break the Ice

29. Marbles

Beyond arm’s length:

30. Oball (good for kids who aren’t very good at catching)

31. Ball (any kind!)

32. Pitchback

33. Toss Across (tic-tac-toe)

34. Ring Toss

35. Nerf Basketball

36. Dart Games (velcro)

37. Ping Pong

38. Cuponk

39. Elefun

Visual thinking toys and games – Develop visual thinking including visualization, visual memory, form perception, pattern recognition, sequencing and eye tracking skills. These skills are important basics for academics including mathematics, reading and spelling.

40. Color Blocks and 1” Cubes

41. Parquetry Blocks

42. Attribute Blocks

43. Make N Break Game

44. Jigsaw Puzzles

45. Rory’s Story Cubes

46. Card Games (Old Maid, Go Fish, etc.)

47. Dominoes

48. ThinkFun Bug Trails

49. Checkers

50. Chinese Checkers

51. Perplexus

52. Qwirkle

53. Battleship

54. Labyrinth

55. Blokus

56. Connect Four

57. Rush Hour/Rush Hour Jr.

58. Regatta

59. Perfection

60. Tactilo

61. Bingo

62. Memory Games

63. Chicken Cha-Cha-Cha

64. Simon Flash

65. Bop It

66. Hyperdash

67. Blink

68. Set

69. Loopz

70. Racko

71. Sort it Out

72. Tangrams/Tangoes

73. Mancala

74. Q-bitz

Balance and Coordination toys and games – Develop large motor skills.

75. Hoppity Hop

76. Jump Ropes

77. Sit and Spin

78. Slip ’n Slide

79. Trampoline

80. Stilts

81. Twister


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