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Holiday Gift Ideas: 105 Optometrist-Approved Toys

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The countdown to Christmas on! If you still have names on your list to check off, check out our list below of 105 gift ideas for the kids in your life, as provided by The Vision Therapy Center.

These gifts are on an optometrist-approved children’s toy list. These gifts are toys that children will enjoy and that will help to enhance their visual development. This listing of toys was originally compiled to provide parents with gift alternatives, as the time spent by children viewing screens is increasing. Prolonged viewing of screens can lead to worsening functional vision, including poor focusing ability, eye-teaming, and nearsightedness.

These gift ideas are not just for kids with functional vision problems. They’re ideal for any child.

View the New Recommendations for Children’s Screen Time

An Alternative to Gaming Systems

Screen time exposure is a concern for children. So to balance this concern with your child’s gift wish list, we have two recommendations:

1. If your child has a functional vision problem, be sure to check with your developmental optometrist about the types of gifts you are considering buying.
2. When selecting a toy or activity, be sure to align the gift with their developmental age, rather than their actual age.

Building Toys

Develop eye-hand coordination and visualization/imagination

1. Kreo Sets
2. Mega Bloks
3. K’NEX
4. Building Blocks
5. Legos/Duplos
6. Lincoln Logs
7. Tinker Toys
8. Erector Set
9. Magformers
10. VEX Robotics

Fine Motor Skill Toys

Develop visual-motor integration and fine motor skills

11. Origami Sets
12. Rainbow Loom
13. Lite-Brite
14. Pegboard and Pegs
15. Coloring Books and Crayons
16. Dot-to-Dot Activity Books
17. Finger Paints
18. Playdough/Silly Putty/Modeling Clay
19. Chalkboard (24” x 36”)/Easel
20. Bead Stringing
21. Sewing Cards (Craft)
22. Paint or Color By Numbers
23. Sand Art
24. Stencils
25. Bead Craft Kits
26. Models (car, airplane, ships, etc.)
27. Jacks

Space Perception Toys

Develop depth perception and eye-hand coordination

Within arm’s length:

28. Egg and Spoon Race
29. Jumpin’ Monkeys
30. Flippin’ Frogs
31. Ants in the Pants
32. Fishin’ Around
33. Operation
34. Pick-up Sticks
35. KerPlunk
36. Jenga
37. Don’t Break the Ice
38. Marbles
39. Cornhole Bean Bags

Beyond arm’s length:

40. Bowling Zombies
41. Oball (good for kids who have difficulty catching balls)
42. Ball (any kind!)
43. Pitchback
44. Toss Across (tic-tac-toe)
45. Ring Toss
46. Nerf Basketball
47. Dart Games (velcro)
48. Ping Pong
49. Cuponk
50. Elefun
51. Badminton
52. Frisbee

Visual Thinking Toys and Games

Develop visual perceptual skills including: visualization, visual memory, visual discrimination, pattern recognition and sequencing. These skills are important for academics including mathematics, reading and spelling.

53. Color Code
54. Math Dice, Math Dice Jr.
55. Rory’s Story Cubes
56. Amaze
57. Color Blocks and 1” Cubes
58. Bejeweled Board Game
59. Tetris Bop It
60. Parquetry Blocks
61. Attribute Blocks
62. Make N Break Game
63. Jigsaw Puzzles
64. Card Games (Old Maid, Go Fish, etc.)
65. Dominoes
66. ThinkFun Bug Trails
67. Checkers
68. Chinese Checkers
69. Perplexus
70. Qwirkle
71. Battleship
72. Labyrinth
73. Blokus
74. Connect Four
75. Rush Hour/Rush Hour Jr.
76. Regatta
77. Perfection
78. Tactilo
79. Bingo
80. Memory Games
81. Chicken Cha-Cha-Cha
82. Simon Flash
83. Bop It
84. Hyperdash
85. Blink
86. Set
87. Loopz
88. Racko
89. Sort it Out
90. Tangrams/Tangoes
91. Mancala
92. Q-bitz
93. Rubik’s Cube
94. Uno
95. Spot It!
96. Gears!Gears!Gears!
97. Kanoodle

Balance and Coordination Toys and Games

Develop gross motor skills, laterality and bilateral coordination

98. Hoppity Hop
99. Jump Ropes
100. Sit and Spin
101. Slip ’n Slide
102. Stilts
103. Twister
104. Heads Up
105. Snowboard


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Holiday Toy Safety Tips

Tis’ the season for giving, but for many children, what they receive during the holidays can be harmful. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 185,500 toy-related ER visits in 2015 in children under 15 years old.