Unique and Engaging Gift Ideas For Toddlers
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2017
Are you struggling to find some great Christmas gifts for a 2 year old?
Or perhaps it’s a Birthday gift you are in search of.
Look no further!
Here is a list of 10 toys that are unique, engaging and of course since they are featured on Seeme and Liz, they will promote speech-language development and learning!
And not one is over $100. Actually, most are under $50!
It was really tough to narrow down the list to just 10 toys. I came up with this list based on several different criteria that each toy must meet. Here are some examples of how I chose the toys:
- Majority of the toys are open ended.
- Most are BPA free or made from wood
- Encourage imaginative and pretend play and language development
- Provide learning of skills such as prepositions, opposites, color, fine motor, gross motor etc.
- Come from high end toy manufacturers (the quality will be great)
Top 10 Unique Christmas Gifts For 2 Year Old’s
These are listed in no particular order. To learn more about each toy click on the picture/links!
Working Trio (Discovery Toys)
The Working Trio Truck set does so many things which is one of the reasons I love this toy!
Here are a few examples that make this toy is one of a kind:
- Great for imaginative play! – The trucks can be used individually, or they can tow one another or they can be stacked on top of one another. The truck beds actually move up and down and each truck “drives” through the use of friction (push on the truck and watch it drive). These trucks can go on all kinds of adventures!
- Vocabulary building – You can talk about the parts of a truck, its colors, prepositions (up, down, in, out, under, etc), opposites (fast, slow)
- Size concepts – big, little, small, medium, large, big-bigger-biggest
- Listening Discrimination – Each truck bed makes a slightly different sound as does the hook at the front of the trucks. The motor sounds made by the trucks increases in strength with the small truck being the quietest and the large truck being the loudest. This makes the Working Trio Truck set great for children with visual impairments!
Little Tikes Cook N Grow Kitchen
Kids play kitchens are my go to toy whenever anyone asks me “what is the best toy to promote speech and language development?” Play kitchens offer hours of open ended play where each play scenario can change depending on the child’s mood.
Play kitchens are also great because they are the one toy that you can easily have for 5+ years. The language and learning possibilities are endless.
Do you want a complete list of reasons why every child should have a kids play kitchen? Check out these 3 articles.
I choose the Little Tikes Cook n Grow Kitchen for my Top 10 list of Christmas Gifts for 2 Year Old’s because it is one of the only kitchens that will grow with your child.
It has 2 height settings making it great for younger children and older children.
Castle Marbleworks (Discovery Toys)
I won’t go into much detail about this one as I have an entire article dedicated to this toy. Here is why I recommend Castle Marbleworks as the perfect gift for a 2 year old!
Mega Bloks First Builders
These aren’t as unique as some of the other suggestions, however, I feel that every child needs blocks! And the Mega Bloks First Builders set is a great set to get started with to encourage free play with blocks.
Both of my children got started with this set. Now they are Lego fanatics.
These blocks work well for teaching color, size and perseverance. And they are also great for building creativity.
You can start by building a tower but you can elaborate on it and make a rocket ship. Depending on what you and your child build, you can focus on vocabulary words around that theme.
So let’s take the rocket ship as an example.
You can work on prepositions such as “up” and “down” and phrases such as “blast off”. Talk to your child about going to the moon.
Melissa and Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks
The Melissa and Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks will make a great addition to your list of Christmas gifts for 2 year olds.
I highly recommend all Melissa and Doug toys as they are high quality and each one offers many learning experiences. We could probably open a Melissa and Doug store from our house!
This set comes with 5 (2 sided) pattern boards and 30 shape pieces.
It is wonderful for teaching vocabulary (fish, butterfly, dog, flowers and more). You can also expand on each word. For example, if you are doing the fish puzzle you can talk about how fish live in the water, that they swim, etc.
This is also a playful way to introduce basic shapes and colors!
Fisher Price My First Dollhouse
The Fisher Price My First Dollhouse offers an excellent introduction into dollhouses and would make the perfect gift for a 2 year old.
This is a very basic dollhouse but a 2 year old does not need anything fancy. And it is very affordable (under $50). Many dollhouses start at over $100.
I suggest if you are buying a dollhouse for a 2 year old to go with a simple one to make sure that the child likes it.
We purchased a $150 wooden Kidkraft dollhouse for my daughter when she was 3 years old. No matter how much I tried to get her to play with it she was not interested.
Luckily my son did show interest in the dollhouse when he was about 2 years old. So we did end up getting our money’s worth.
Dollhouses are a wonderful toy for learning language. They allow for hours of open ended play and the language opportunities are endless.
You can introduce new vocabulary each time you play with it. You can ask your child questions, think of what might happen next in a play scenario and so much more.
Another reason I love the Fisher Price My First Dollhouse is because it does not have any sounds.
This allows for more imaginative play by the child as they have to come up with the sounds and words to go along with the play. They cannot simply be entertained by pressing buttons.
This dollhouse comes with everything you see in the picture. There are add on sets available if your child loves playing with it and would like more characters and furniture.
Wonderworld Little Tool Box
A tool box makes a wonderful gift for a boy or a girl.
As I mentioned above, my daughter had a dollhouse that she was never really interested in.
But, she loved her tool set and would play with it for hours. We had a plastic Black and Decker Toolset. It was a bit flimsy and I wish we would have had something wooden instead.
The tool box by Wonderworld is made out of rubber wood harvested from a sustainable source. The paints, dyes and lacquers are non-toxic and the glue is formaldehyde free. So no need to get overly worried if the tools get chewed on.
Tool sets are great from a language development perspective as you can introduce new vocabulary such as nouns: saw, hammer, wrench, screw driver as well as verbs. You can talk about what you could build or fix. My children loved fixing things with their tool sets.
Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Wooden Barn
A barn is a must have from a language and learning perspective!
It’s a great way for toddlers to learn about animal names and their accompanying sounds.
I selected the Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Wooden Barn because it does not need batteries. And this means that there are no buttons for the child to push to elicit sounds, lights, etc.
While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with these types of toys (my children had many), children often get fascinated with the cause and effect aspects of the toy. Also, when there are buttons to be pushed, the level of parent interaction tends to decrease.
Aside from learning farm vocabulary, you can focus on other vocabulary words with this toy such as “open” and “close” as the barn door slides open.
There is also a fence that the animals can jump over or knock down. In addition, the barn opens up and animals can go into stalls. They can either go on top or on the bottom. These are all vocabulary words that can be targeted!
You can purchase additional sets to go with this one. For example, a tractor and farmer.
If you are a big Fisher Price fan, the Fisher-Price Little People Animal Friends Farm is another fantastic option! While it does require batteries to activate the sounds, they cane be left out.
Learning Resources Pretend and Play Fishing Set
A fishing set is a classic toy for all children. However, there are many to choose from and some are better than others.
I love the Learning Resources Pretend and Play Fishing Set because it is more than just a fishing set.
I see it as more of a kids costume/role playing set. Your child can be a Fisherman/woman for the day. Everything packs nicely into the tackle box which means it can be taken on camping trips or outings to see the grandparents!
With a fishing set, you can talk to your child about fishing vocabulary such as: fishing rod, hook, fish, reel, cast, worm, vest, tackle box, water, “catch a fish”, my turn, your turn, etc.
The pretend and play fishing set comes with a magnetic fishing rod, a net, 3 fish ranging from small to large and 3 accompanying worms.
This toy provides opportunities for working on size concepts as well.
A 6 page write and wipe activity book is also included (crayons needed to write are not included).
*NOTE: The manufacturers recommended age for this toy is 36 months and older. I feel comfortable recommending this set for children 24 months and up. However, the worms are quite small so if your child is still putting objects in his/her mouth, please make sure you are supervising them carefully.
Melissa and Doug Snowman Stacker
Another great toy by Melissa and Doug!
I used the Melissa and Doug Snowman Stacker every winter when I was working as a Speech-Language Pathologist! It is lends itself well to introduce winter vocabulary such as snowman, cold, ice, snowballs, scarf, etc.
The snowman stacker is made up of 8 wooden pieces.
A 2 year old may need a bit of help at first, but they should get the hang of it.
Fine motor skills will be strengthened during this activity.
You can talk to your child about the size of each snowball with the bottom one being the biggest and the one making up the snowman’s head being the smallest.
Parents can also count each snowball as well as how many buttons the snowman has.
Christmas Shopping For A Toddler Has Never Been Easier!
All of these toys are great from a developmental perspective. Your final decision will most likely come down to your budget.
I hope that this list has helped give you some ideas for Christmas gifts for 2 year old’s (or Birthday gifts).
If you feel there is another fabulous toy that I have not mentioned please let me know in the comments. Or if you have one of these toys let me know what you and your child thinks of it!