top of page
  • Writer's pictureEgle Piland

Best Busy Toys That Your Child Will Actually Play With

And that empower your child's development.


Every time Christmas or a birthday comes around, I get so excited about the possibility of renewing some toys! I look forward to a new game that will keep my kids busy for longer than what it takes to open the box. Unfortunately, it does happen that someone will gift a shiny toy that is only meant to catch your eye in the store but serves no purpose. None. And there it is...taking up space in our home with no use at all. Ugh...


As a mother, a therapist, and a child development geek, I search and read about toys and games to make sure they are interactive (and busy) and aid in the development of my kids' minds. We don't get electronics. No apps. And no toys that require you to do one thing and then sits on the shelf (if I'm lucky) and do not get touched for months. So to save you from the same frustrations that I have, I compiled a list of toys that your little one will actually stay busy with AND will return to the toy(s) over and over again.

Also under the description of each toy I list a number of skills from the 17 visual skills you need to succeed in reading, learning, sports, and in life! that the particular toy addresses.


This is one of those toys that gets overlooked yet it has so many benefits! In fact, the basic tanagram shapes are used in vision therapy for children that struggle with discriminating differences or even reversing letters and numbers (read: misdiagnosed dyslexia). And with so many pieces and pattern sheets in this set, your little (or big!) will have so many play options with this one toy.

Skills addressed: visual discrimination, matching, color and shape recognition, directionality, sustaining focus at near (if child is assembling the design on top of the picture), shifting focus from near to far (if child is assembling the design with the picture displayed further away), tracking, visual planning, visualization, color perception, fine visual motor, visual perception.




Learning Resources Botley the Coding Robot

Skills addressed: Super STEM Skills: From science and technology to engineering and math, STEM learning help kids build critical thinking and other skills they need for success in school and beyond!

Kids Balance Bike that has almost 10,000 five-star reviews!

Skills addressed: balance, core strength (did you know you need strong core to write and be able to use scissors?!), depth awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, spatial awareness.



Craft-tastic – Make a Bunny Friend Craft Kit that comes with everything budding crafters need to make a stuffed animal themselves along with glam accessories (while learning basic sewing skills!). They'll especially love changing their bunny friend's outfits over and over. Adding this to cart for my crafty animal loving kindergartner!

Skills addressed: fine motor, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.



SmartLab Toys Squishy Human Body with 21 Removable Body Parts with Anatomy Book for your future doctor! My medical side just couldn't help it.... :-) However, the almost 14,000 of 5-star reviews make me think that this might just be the coolest creepy-looking toy ever!

Skills addressed: fine motor, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Glowing Marble Run provides endless possibilities to build creative structures. They'll be amazed at the results when the marbles roll through the mazes they create. and with days getting shorter, a toy that glows in the dark is that much more fun!

Skills addressed: problem-solving skills, localization, binocularity (both eyes working together).



Necklace-making kit like this Encanto necklace activity set or this Princess necklace kit.

Skills addressed: fine motor, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual scan and visual figure ground (both important to reading).


SKYFIELD Scratch Paper Art Set with 100 Sheets of Black Scratch it Off Paper. This set is one of a few that come with stencils in case your little artist needs some inspo!

Skills addressed: pincer grip, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.



And speaking of retro toys, a Playskool Sit ‘n Spin Classic Spinning Activity Toy because it'll bring back so many fond memories from when you were little. Did you know that spinning (and rolling) is good for you? Yep! Do you have a kid that gets motion sick a lot? This toy can help them develop their vestibular system to where they no longer get nauseous on road trips! You're welcome.

Skills addressed:vestibular system development, dynamic acuity, peripheral awareness.



A Wooden Blocks Puzzle Brain Teaser Toy equivalent to playing Tetris but in tactile form that'll exercise their brain without any screen time.

Skills addressed: fine motor, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual scan and visual figure ground (both important to reading), and problem solving.



A pack of Crayola Globbles. Stick 'em, squish 'em, stretch 'em. NO mess!

As a mom, it pains me to recommend a toy that the kids can throw around the house. But guess what - winter is coming, and the kids will need to get their energy out and run wild. So... why not? Maybe just clear the room a bit?

Skills addressed: depth awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, spatial awareness.



A Hot Wheels City Ultimate Octo Car Wash basically the most action-packed toy in existence with a water-spraying octopus, color-changing car, elevator, and loop and spiral race tracks — really an unbeatable combo.

Skills addressed: eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, and wanting to leave your parents alone for a minute.

Do your kids like playing make-believe and wish they had their own castle? A color-your-own Fairy Tale Castle is a perfect busy toy to fill a rainy day with creative shenanigans.

Skills addressed: visualization and hand-writing! Coloring on a vertical surface engages a whole set of muscles vital for handwriting that your regular coloring at a table does not.



Ok... I said we don't do electronics, but this toy is everything! My STEM obsessed future engineer is absolutely hooked on this Pixicade mobile game maker. If screen time is going to happen in your child's life (and it will. No one is judging!) it might as well turn into a creative time that will sharpen their scientific minds.

Skills addressed: fine motor (the games have to be drawn on paper first!) eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), visual integration, visual scan and visual figure ground (both important to reading), and problem solving.



A sight word Bingo game. I got this game when I first started homeschooling my then kindergartner and we played this game every single day! Such a fun way to learn the sight words instead of just memorizing for hours on end... Zzzz...

Skills addressed: fine motor, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near and far, simultaneous alignment at near and far, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual scan and visual figure ground (both important to reading), visual memory.




A Gravity Maze game to challenge kids to use spatial reasoning to solve the puzzles and figure out how to construct pathways to get the marble to drop to the final cube. It is a marble race on steroids! The game comes with 60 challenges that range from beginner to expert so it will hold their interest as they work their way up to the trickier ones.

Skills addressed: spatial reasoning, visual integration, visual perception, fine visual-motor,, color perception, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity).



A Stomp Rocket launcher because they'll have such a "blast" as they jump on the launchpad, countdown to liftoff, and watch the rockets shoot up to 200 feet high into the air. While this toy doesn't really address any particular developmental areas, it does helps kids get outside and stay outside, which means they will be active instead of lounging around.

Skills addressed: depth awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, spatial awareness.



A scavenger hunt card game so you can send bored toddlers on a mission to discover "treasure", a.k.a. toys, books, clothing, furniture, and other objects around the house. It has simple and clear pictures for non-readers too! I used to draw and write lists of things for my kids to find during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this card set is everything! Saves time and has way more ideas than I ever came up with.

Skills addressed: all of the above as they explore their environment.


An affordable drone because most kids have probably been begging for one for months. This will propel you to instant fave status.

Skills addressed: depth awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination.


No access to a sand box? Here is a construction-themed folding play set that comes with kinetic sand, a dump truck toy, and a working crane with a wrecking ball and bucket attachments so they can dig, build, and crush to their heart's content without making a colossal mess indoors.

Skills addressed: spatial reasoning, visual integration, visual perception, fine visual-motor, color perception, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity), eye-hand coordination.


A budget-friendly Lego set 3in1 Mighty Dinosaurs that'll win you fave status with any dino-loving kid, letting them create three different dinosaurs with majorly realistic teeth and claws.

Skills addressed: visual integration, visual planing, visual discrimination and form constancy, visual perception, fine visual-motor, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity).


Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza card game that'll have the whole family in tears from belly laughing so hard. My oldest just got this set for her 8th birthday and we've all enjoyed playing the game so much! Here's to family time on cold winter evenings!

Skills addressed: visual discrimination, color recognition, reaction time.


A solar-powered DIY robot kit so young STEM enthusiasts can get the gears in their head turning as they build 12 different types of moving robots.

Skills addressed: Super STEM Skills: From science and technology to engineering and math, STEM learning help kids build critical thinking and other skills they need for success in school and beyond! As well as problem solving, pincer grip, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.


Banzai Bump N' Bounce Body Bumpers so adults can referee (or participate in!) all the impromptu battles in the yard or living room that'll elicit nonstop silliness and laughs. *...orders adult version*

Skills addressed: vestibular system development, spatial awareness, peripheral awareness, and deep belly laughs!



A glow-in-the-dark fort-building kit for stimulating any future architect's imagination so they can engineer igloos, rockets, and castles and then giggle and scoot in their "secret hiding place."

Skills addressed: problem solving, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near and far, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near and far, simultaneous alignment at near and far, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual perception.


A set of Crayola Scribble Scrubbie pets that can be reused over and over again. My animal-obsessed daughter absolutely LOVES this set and is yet to get bored of it.

Skills addressed: fine motor, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, color recognition.

An LCD writing tablet for encouraging future Einsteins to practice their numbers and letters. Added bonus: They might even consider trading their iPad for this cool gadget that has no harmful blue light!

Skills addressed: pincer grip, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.


A Melissa & Doug activity book with a pair of safe scissors to channel their (ahem... destructive) energy into a creative activity that'll put their fine motor skills to the test. The tape book has four reusable rolls of colorful tape!

Skills addressed: pincer grip, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual planning.



An InnyBin for a challenge that any curious tot will relish — to plunk chunky shapes through the elastic bands into the cube and then pull them back out (all while fine-tuning motor skills!)

Skills addressed: eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), depth perception, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.


A flower-building activity set — a STEM-based toy (literally and figuratively) to make the imagination of horticultural enthusiasts blossom while creating bouquets and gardens. These are so fun to build in a sandbox!

Skills addressed: pincer grip, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), color recognition, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.



A foam pogo jumper far safer than the good ol' pogo stick, with a sturdy foam base to stand on, so little hurricanes can burn off their energy hopping from room to room as grownups secretly wait their turn.

Skills addressed: balance, core strength (did you know you need strong core to write and be able to use scissors?!), spatial and body awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, vestibular system development.



A 14-piece, nontoxic Hape wooden toolbox and accessory play set to lightly and gently hammer home the basics of building and repairing while fine-tuning those hand-to-eye skills. This prezzie will pay dividends when they're older and you need help with actual projects!

Skills addressed: eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), color recognition, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.


An indoor or outdoor Wiwiurka wooden trapeze bar that will give acrobatic kids the gift of strength and balance while they spin themselves round in circles (and hopefully don't puke).

Skills addressed: did you know that monkey bars help strengthen muscles vital for handwriting? You have a sloppy writer - let them play on monkey bars! This trapeze works just as well and can be used indoors!


A two-sided, A-frame art easel with chalk board, magnetic dry erase board, storage, and paper feeder for aspiring artists who are still experimenting with their preferred mediums. Plus it's a great way to teach kids about writing "thank you" notes!

Skills addressed: eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), color recognition, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration. Coloring on a vertical surface engages a whole set of muscles vital for handwriting that your regular coloring at a table does not.



A Hand2mind Numberblocks MathLink Cubes activity set based on the award-winning BBC series that actually makes learning numbers and math fun (and musical) in the best possible way (kids learn, and parents enjoy it too). We use these blocks to measure things in our environment (like toys or shoes) and to practice basic math operations.

Skills addressed: eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), color recognition, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), color recognition and matching, visual discrimination, fine visual-motor, visual integration.


A 3-in-1 LED globe, constellation map, and night-light to illuminate kids about not only the world they live in but the stars in the heavens above. And if that gets way too scary (or deep) that night-light will sure come in handy too.

Skills addressed: Super STEM Skills: From science and technology to engineering and math, STEM learning help kids build critical thinking and other skills they need for success in school and beyond!


A super sweet felt cupcake counting game that'll tempt them into learning numbers by matching the number of sprinkles on the cupcake tops to the embroidered number on the corresponding bottom.

Skills addressed: math, visual dicrimination/matching, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), color recognition, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.


A big, 'ol, 111-piece, made-in-the-U-S-of-A tin of real maple wood Lincoln Logs.

Skills addressed: visual integration, visual planing, visual perception, fine visual-motor, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), visual planning, following directions, visualization.




A thoughtful (but still fun) Educational Insights Playfoam "Shape & Learn" counting set so kids can squish, squash, and sculpt not only numbers (based on the included flash cards) but whatever their burgeoning imaginations come up with!

Skills addressed: sensory input, visual discrimination/matching, fine motor, visual integration, visual planing, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity).


A bean bag toss game for kids to develop the most important eye-hand coordination skills necessary for backyard good times.

Skills addressed: depth awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, spatial awareness.



Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker pattern- and color-recognition.

Skills addressed: pattern- and color-recognition, visual discrimination, matching, color and shape recognition, sustaining focus at near, visual planning, visualization, color perception, fine visual motor, visual perception, localization, depth awareness.



Puzzles!!!

This Wooden Jigsaw Animals Puzzles is designed for toddlers, but any puzzle your child works on, addresses an array of visual skills necessary to be a skilled reader and learner.

Skills addressed: pattern- and color-recognition, visual discrimination, matching, color and shape recognition, sustaining focus at near, visual planning, color perception, fine visual motor, visual perception, localization, visual closure, and visualization.


Skills addressed: visual discrimination, matching, color and shape recognition, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual planning, color perception, visual perception, localization, visual closure, and visualization.

Sugar Snap Plush Learn to Dress Montessori Toy Doll. In addition to being a beautiful toy, it also provides children with an option to practice self-care skills.

Skills addressed: self care skills, visual discrimination, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration, visual planning, color perception, visual perception, localization.

Skills addressed: ABC learning and literacy, auditory development, depth awareness, gross visual motor, peripheral awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at far, sustaining focus at far, simultaneous alignment at far, sustaining alignment at far, spatial awareness

Gskyer Telescope, 70mm Aperture 400mm AZ Mount Astronomical Refracting Telescope for Kids

Skills addressed: an uncontrollable desire to become an astronomer.


For younger scientists, there is also this GeoSafari Jr. Talking Telescope that can "talk" in English Spanish, French or even German!


Wooden Building Blocks Set, City Construction Stacker Stacking Preschool Learning Educational Toys

Skills addressed: spatial reasoning, visual integration, visual perception, fine visual-motor,, color perception, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity).

Counting Dinosaur Toys Matching Games with Sorting Bowls

Skills addressed: pincer grip, spatial reasoning, visual integration, visual perception, fine visual-motor,, color perception, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity), midline crossing, laterality/directionality.



JuniorScope Microscope for Kids Microscope Science Kits for Kids Science Experiment Kits

Skills addressed: an unctrolable desire to examine everything under this microscope.


Skills addressed: fine visual-motor, visual discrimination, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), visual integration, visual planning, color perception, visual perception, localization.


Skills addressed: pincer grip, spatial reasoning, visual integration, visual perception, fine visual-motor,, color perception, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity), midline crossing, laterality/directionality.


Skills addressed: pincer grip, spatial reasoning, visual integration, visual perception, fine visual-motor,, color perception, depth awareness, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near and far, central vision (visual acuity), midline crossing, laterality/directionality.



TOP BRIGHT Ice Cream Toy that teaches math, stacking and Fine Motor Skills

Skills addressed: math, visual dicrimination/matching, eye movement control, simultaneous focus at near, binocularity (eyes working together), color recognition, sustaining focus at near, simultaneous alignment at near, sustaining alignment at near, central vision (visual acuity), fine visual-motor, visual integration.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Mega Crystal Growing Lab or Earth Science Kit (with 15 experiments!) or this Science Magic Kit (with more than 20 experiments!) for curious minds. These hands-on kits have everything you need for each experiment and it brings hours and hours of fun!

Skills addressed: depending on which kit (and which experiment) is being done, every visual skill is being addressed.



Also, don't forget your good ol' playdough and silly putty for the stocking stuffers and you will be all set!

Leave a comment if you have (or once you gift) any of these toys and what your child thinks of them. Happy shopping!



From all of us at Well Rounded Child

124 views0 comments

תגובות


bottom of page