Hey Mommies! Looking for some unique toy ideas for your kiddos?
As a pediatric occupational therapist, many of the families I work with, ask about some unique toy ideas for their kids.
I’ve recently come across a few really awesome and unique toys that my son and many of the kids I work with have loved! I have used these toys with 2-5 year olds. Some are recommended for kids who are a little older, but they can be great for younger kids if you provide adult supervision and guidance with play!
1- Kinetic Sand
We have kinetic sand at our house and put it in a nice little Tupperware container. We put toy cars and trunks in it and pretend it’s a construction site. I’ve hidden objects in it for my son to find, and we’ve dug in it with spoons and forks.
Kinetic sand provides a great tactile sensory experience and stimulation for kids. It’s also not too messy which is great. It sticks to itself so you can dab up stray pieces, or easily sweep it up with the broom.
Kinetic sand has entertained my 3 year old son for 30+ minutes and we’ve even taken it to restaurants for something to play with while we wait.
2- Kinetic Foam
Similar to Kinetic Sand, Kinetic Foam is another great tactile sensory activity. It also promotes creative thinking and pretend play. You can mold, shape, and stretch Kinetic Foam. It’s not very messy and can easily be transported to again take to restaurants or places where you’d need to entertain you kiddo.
Magformers have really entertained my son, kids I work with, and adults! The set pictured is one of the simplest sets. You can get them with more pieces or theme building kits like Deep Sea, Carnival, or Construction. Younger kids will be entertained by the pieces sticking together, and older kids can challenge their creativity and abstract thinking to make various creations.
A family I work with had some of these, and they’re great! (In my opinion anyway) They are small balls that have tiny little hooks on them, and all stick together. They also have a small hole in them where you can add the attachments- eyes, notes, arms, sunglasses, etc.
Bunchems provide another tactile sensory experience because they are somewhat scratchy on the hands. They promote creative thinking with building and forming objects. They work on two hand coordination by pushing and pulling apart, and you can work on color sorting!
My son hasn’t gotten to play with these yet, but he’s getting some for Christmas!
My son got some Squigz last year for Christmas. He was about 2 1/2 at the time. He played some but lost interest fairly quick. We recently got the Squigz out again at 3 1/2, and now he really likes them!
Squigz stick together by little suction cups. They are another great two hand coordination activity of pushing together and pulling apart. They can take some strength to pull apart too!
While Squigz are fun to stick together, we’ve made our own fun by sticking them on various surfaces around the house and even throwing them at the front door to see if we can get them to stick! It’s been a bit of a science experiment for my son to see where they will stick.
6- Marble Runs
Marble runs are a lot of fun! I haven’t met a kid yet who hasn’t been entertained by these. Marble runs help promote creativity, problem solving, visual tracking, two hand coordination to build the run, and fine motor skills to manage the marbles!
7- Magnetic Sticks
Any type of magnetic toys seem to be fun and entertaining for kiddos, but these magnetic sticks have been a pretty big hit!
They stick to each other (obviously) or anything else that’s magnetic. We have stuck them to a cookie sheet!
Magnetic sticks are small and provide a great fine motor coordination activity as well as creative thinking! You can also incorporate science by exploring the ends of the magnets and how they attract or repel.
8- Critter Clinic
I discovered this toy quite a few years ago, and still think it’s a great one! You get the pretend play component since it’s designed to be a little vet clinic and comes with “doctor” tools. But, what I really like is the 6 colored doors that come with color coordinated keys!
The Critter Clinic promotes color matching and fine motor coordination skills by having to correctly place a key and turn it to lock and unlock the doors. Kids really enjoy problem solving how to open and close these doors. It’s also fun to hide other little toys in the doors for kids to find!
So what do you think of these unique toy ideas! Have you tried any with your kids? Have any other really fun toys you’ve found? Let me know in the comments below!
By: Emily Bettis, MOT/L
Emily Bettis, MOT/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and mother. She has been working with children birth-5 since 2008 and has been a mother since 2013. Emily is the founder and author HeyMommies.com