Toy expert Ahren A. Hoffman, manager of Industry Relations & Partnerships, National Lekotek Center, Chicago, knows kids just want to have fun — but that it doesn’t hurt when they have toys and games that help them develop motor skills and language. She has found five gifts this holiday that can handle the double duty.
Go! Go! Smart Wheels Amazement Park Playset
Ages 1-5, V-Tech, $49.99
Racing fun from the top of the tall tower through obstacles, a loop, spiral or ramp builds motor skills. Eight locations on the tract have music or sound effects. The Ultimate Amazement Park is more than three feet long and can connect to other Smart Wheels playsets for creative play.
Ages 4 and up, GameBrotherz, $9.65
Family time gets a hilarious twist with this game that urges kids with special needs and sensory issues a bit out of their comfort zone by using facial expressions to ask for cards from opponents and winning cards by mimicking the faces on the playing cards.
Ages 6 and up, MindWare, $29.95
A construction game that really works on balance and turn taking by trying to out-build opponents with the 12-inch-long playing sticks without causing a crash.
Get Out Play Kit
Ages 5 and up, Waboba, $24.99
Get the kids outside and playing with the textured moon ball. It will have them racing around chancing the manic bouncing. The kit also contains a squishy surf ball that glides on water, a flyer (described as hacky sack meets badminton) and a playbook filled with ideas for all sorts of active fun.
Zoomer the Dino
Ages 5 and up, SpinMaster, $79.99
This dino makes real sounds and roams freely through the house. With dino-sized burps and farts, roars and two-wheeling traveling, this little guy encourages motor skills, language building and interaction.