Happy Thanksgiving! We are wrapping up our holiday speech and language gift guide just in time for Black Friday holiday shopping. We’ve got some great gift guides, so whether you are holiday crazy like Buddy the Elf, or the holidays have you feeling more like grumpy cat, we’ve tried to make gift giving easy on you.
Today’s gift guide is for 3 and 4 year old children. I have a daughter who just turned 4 and I also have many clients in this age range. The toys we’ve selected have their seal of approval. Children at this age are becoming more and more creative with their play, which leads to more language opportunities, exposure to more varied vocabulary and the continued development of pretend play. The toys we chose are primarily open ended, pretend play toys which aid in fostering a language rich environment.
About: These are magnetic tiles, that come in a variety and shapes and colors. They stick together to form a variety of structures. This set comes with 118 pieces.
Why we love it? These magnetic tiles are wonderful for creative and open ended play. Your child can build whatever their heart desires. From majestic castles to hungry crocodiles, your child can build anything in their imagination. This type of creative play creates many opportunities for rich language to be used. You can talk about colors, shapes, sizes and what the child is building. This toy is also great for strengthening fine motor skills as well as fostering creativity and visual/motor development. These magnetic tiles are also great because they are about half the price of the more well known Magnatiles. Any brand of magnetic tiles are great for encouraging expressive language, but we like these for the value and variety of shapes included in the set.
Get it here: PlayMags
About: This cash register has a working calculator, comes with play dollar bills and coins, and has a money drawer that opens and closes.
Why we love it? Cash registers are great for learning to count, do basic math and learn the values of the different bills/coins. It is also great for pretend play. You can pretend a variety of scenarios with a cash register. Your child can pretend to work at a grocery store, movie theater, restaurant, food truck or my personal favorite, Target. Let your child’s creative juices flow and see where the conversation takes you. This is a great way to get your child talking in a fun and exciting way.
Get it here: Learning Resources Cash Register
About: This is a fun squirrel themed game in which children have to collect colored acorns with tweezers. The first person to collect all of their acorns, wins.
Why we love it? If you haven’t played board games with your child yet, this is a great age to begin. Many 3 and 4 year olds can participate in simple, turn-taking games such as this one. This game has been a huge hit with my own kids and therapy clients. It’s great for teaching children turn-taking skills, color recognition, counting, problem solving and for developing fine motor skills. Family game night just got a lot more fun!
About: This 19 piece set comes with variety of play medical equipment in an easy to carry case.
Why we love it? This kit has everything your own little Doogie Howser or Doc McStuffins needs to care for their patients. Doctor kits are wonderful for fostering pretend play. You can discuss body parts, medical equipment, illnesses, feelings and various medical professions. Your little one can verbalize how it feels to be sick, or how to take care of a sick patient. You also don’t have to limit your child’s patients to people. Feel free to include animals in your doctor kit play. Grab their favorite teddy bear or dog and let them pretend to be a veterinarian. There are so many pretend play scenarios that will set your child up for language stimulation with a doctor kit.
About: This is a 60 piece set with animals/dinosaurs from 4 different habitats and accessories such as trees, rocks and coral reef.
Why we love it? This animal figurine set is one of the most diverse I’ve seen. You can easily find separate farm or African animal sets, but it’s rare to find such a comprehensive set of animals as well as dinosaurs. My daughter is an avid animal lover. There is nothing in the world that she loves more than animals and this set was her favorite Christmas gift last year. She plays with it non-stop. Your child can identify the animals, categorize them, talk about what environment they live in, what they eat and use them in pretend play. Just the other day my daughter had all of her animals lined up and ready to board the Polar Express. The possibilities are endless when you give your child creative control of their play.
Get it here: Animal Planet Playset
About: This is an over-sized book that beautifully illustrates over 350 different animal species.
Why we love it? In keeping with the animal theme, this book is a very favorite of both of my children. The illustrations are beautiful and each page has the animals displayed in unique thematic groupings such as “feathered”, “horned” and “spotted/striped”. I like to ask my kids to find a few animals on each page by pointing to develop receptive language skills. There are many animals on each page, so it’s like “Where’s Waldo?” for animals. I also like to ask them to expressively identify the animals that they know on each page. If you really want to challenge your child, ask them to think of another animal that could fit into each category that isn’t pictured on the page.
About: This is a book about a clever mouse and how he talks himself out of getting eaten by several animals by inventing a scary creature, The Gruffalo. The Gruffalo’s Child is the sequel to the beloved The Gruffalo.
Why we love it? These are some of the most read books on our bookshelves. They have been read hundred of times and to be honest, I never get tired of reading them. Julia Donaldson is brilliant in the way that she weaves beautiful language, humor, a wonderful plot and rhyming together. Reading her books is like singing a song, the words just roll off your tongue. These books are wonderful for exposure to rhyming and new vocabulary. I also really like them for introducing how to retell a story. The mouse meets a series of animals, and I like to ask my kiddos to tell me who the mouse met first, next and last. This sets up the foundation of how to retell stories and events. Julia Donaldson is also the author of Room on the Broom, another one of our all time favorites. If you need to step up your book game, anything written by Julia Donaldson is sure be loved by you and your child.
Get it here: The Gruffalo
And: The Gruffalo's Child
We hope that this series of holiday gift guides has been helpful. We have really enjoyed putting them together for you. You can find the gift guide for children ages 0-1 here, 1-2 here, and 2-3 here. Good luck on your Holiday Shopping and please refer back to our guides if you need gift ideas. Everything we featured is offered on Amazon, so save yourself a trip to the store and shop online. On this Black Friday Eve, I wish you all good luck. If you are brave (crazy) enough to venture into a physical store, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
But in all seriousness and in the spirit of Thanksgiving we want to be sure to thank all of you for following along with us on this new journey. We are so thankful to have the opportunity and platform to share our knowledge with you. We hope that you and your families have a wonderful holiday season. Stay tuned for more speech and language tips!
*Disclosure: This post includes links to items listed on Amazon. ToddlerTalking is an Amazon affiliate.