2022 Holiday Gift Guide-Small Gifts and Stocking Stuffers

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This is one of my favorite gift guides to put together each year and often encourage parents to look back at it when they are looking for birthday gifts for their children or for friends and family. I have tried to gather gift ideas that will not only work on developing a variety of skills, but will also be fun and motivating for kids so the “work” is hidden. I also tried to include items that are appropriate for on-the-go fun to keep kids entertained while traveling, eating at restaurants or while waiting in waiting rooms. Everything that I have chosen helps with developing at least one of the following kinds of goals: improves grasping and manipulation skills, encourages visual motor and visual perceptual skills including visual tracking, works on building executive functioning skills and encourages creativity and imagination. I also tried to find things that kids could play with independently and that don’t require a ton of directions.


  1. Boogie Board Drawing Tablet –Another great on the go, screen-free toy that has always been a big hit with kids (and their parents) when I have recommended it. I consider this the modern day Etch-A-Sketch but easier for kids of all ages to use for drawing, writing, playing games and so much more. It’s small and easy to throw in a bag for use while traveling and a great tool to practice writing letters, numbers and learning how to make shapes. It’s also great for playing games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman, the Dot Game and so much more.

  2. Gobbies DIY Keychain Kits –I discovered these adorable DIY beading keychain sets at the end of the summer and bought tons of them to help get my kids excited about going back to school. These are super cute and easy kits that kids can finish quickly and with minimal assistance required. They are great for working on a variety of skills such as improving fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills, improving bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, visual motor skills and helps with focus, attention, planning and organizational skills. Younger kids were able to complete these but needed a bit of help with sequencing and following the steps properly.
  3. Hairball Kitty-fun little toy that will crack your kids up. Little do they know as they are making the hairballs fly as far as they can, they are working on increasing grasping and manipulation skills, improving hand-eye coordination and increasing grasp strength. If you want to work on improving visual motor skills, you can set up a little target for the kids to aim at. This will also help with developing visual attention skills, focus and attention and motor planning and organizational skills.
  4. Aarons Doodle Putty-I have been a fan of Aaron’s Thinking Putty for years to help with increasing grasp strength and manipulation skills. I use it in a variety of ways including hiding little objects in the putty to make it more fun and motivating for the kids. A great thing to do is hide coins in the putty and then have them put it into a piggy banks….that’s really motivating.
    This new version of Thinking Putty comes with dry erase markers that kids can use to write on the putty. It’s been a fun way to get my kids to practice writing letters, numbers and shapes, One of their favorite parts is when they magically make whatever they made dissapear so they can keep making new things.
  5. Fashion Fidget Toys-Kids are suckers for fidget toys and I am all for them, especially if they work on developing skills. These fidget toys are perfect for you kid who loves fashion, dolls and fidget toys! There are 18 different ones and they have 3-4 features that the kids have to figure out which works on developing problem solving skills. These are also a fun way to work on developing fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills. I like that these small fidgets can easily be taken on the go to not only keep kids entertained, but may also help with providing kids with some calming input when they are feeling overstimulated.
  6. Lego Dots Bracelets-You can’t really go wrong with anything Lego and these bracelets have been a big hit with my kids for years. The nice thing about them is that they are not permanent and kids can keep changing them as they want. These are great for working on improving fine motor skills, grasping and manipulation skills, bilateral coordination and hand-eye coordination. For children who have a harder time coming up with their own patterns, there are suggested patterns which is great for working on improving visual motor and visual perceptual skills.
  7. OOLY Mini Mazes –parents are always asking me for toys, games, etc. that can be easily taken on the go and Ooly has the corner market on these products for me. These sets come with 24-double sided cards with mazes on one side and tic-tac-toe on the other side. Not only will these keep your kids entertained, they will work on improving visual motor, visual perceptual and visual tracking skills while improving focus, attention, motor planning and organizational skills. While these are not reusable, if you have a laminator (highly recommend), you can make these reusable and use with a dry-erase marker or a gel crayon for easy cleanup.
  8. Set the Scene Magic Transfer Sets-I was obsessed with magic transfer sets when I was younger and I was so excited when Ooly came out with a whole series of them. I am always looking for out-of-the-box ideas on working on graphomotor skills and this is a great way to work on improving a chid’s pencil grip while taking away the pressure of actual writing. Kids also work on improving grasp strength, hand-eye coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills and organizational skills while creating a scene with stickers. I have recommended these to speech therapists who are also looking for a more hands-on approach to work on language skills, such as telling stories.
  9. Light Up Pop Tubes –Pop Tubes have been a staple in my occupational therapy toolbox since day 1. They are a simple tool to work on improving grasp and upper extremity strength, bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination and motor planning and organizational skills. Kids love the silly sounds they make as you pull them apart and push them back together. These light up ones have been really motivating to my kids and are a great tool for parents to have at home as occupational therapy homework. When we use them in therapy, we try and incorporate it with some kind of big body activity or in an obstacle course which is also easy for parents to do at home.

  10. Personalized Name Crayons-I discovered these adorable personalized crayons while searching on Etsy for other things and I was so excited. Kids love when they know that something was made just for them and it will often get them to be more motivated to try trickier things. I love these crayons for a variety of reasons including that they are a great size for little hands who are in the early stages of coloring and drawing skills. They are also a fun way to work on letter and color recognition with young kids in a hands-on way.

  11. The Playhouse Magical Jars-My 12 1/2 year old daughter is as obsessed with these magical jars as my preschoolers at work! That is proof how sensory play and exploration has no age limit. There are so many sensory jars out there but these ones by the Brentwood Magical Playhouse are my new favorite. Each jar comes with a generous amount of homemade play dough and a bunch of manipulative toys and objects that go with the theme of the jar. These are great for working on improving grasp strength and manipulation skills while encouraging imagination and creativity in children of all ages.
  12. Pop-It Pro Light-Up Gamethis is a great stocking stuffer/small toy for school-age kids (would be too tricky for pre-schoolers) and works on so many big skills! Think Simon Says meets Pop-It fidget toys. There are three modes of play which get more challenging. Kids are working on improving fine motor and grasping skills, improve hand-eye coordination, visual tracking and work on executive functioning skills such as focus, attention and increasing frustration tolerance.

  13. Ooly Spot The Difference Paper Games –another great on-the-go Ooly product that can keep your kids entertained while traveling, in a waiting room or while in a restaurant. I LOVE spot the difference games and these double sided activity cards have adorable pictures and themes that keep kids engaged. Spot the difference is great for working on a bunch of visual skills such as visual tracking and visual discrimination. This is a fun way to introduce younger children to the concepts of same and different and kids will work on improving focus and attentional skills.
  14. Plus Plus Critters Fun Pack-Plus Plus blocks are one of my favorite fine motor open-ended manipulative toys but sometimes kids get overwhelmed when they have to figure out what they should make. This critter set is perfect for kids who need some inspiration to begin with and with time will learn how to make their own creations. Plus Plus Blocks are great for working on developing fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills while encouraging creativity and imagination skills.
  15. Scratch and Scribble Kits-Going back to working on handwriting and graphomotor skills in a non-traditional manner, these scratch and scribble kits are great for doing that. Using the stick provided (encourage the kids to hold it with a proper grip), kids can scratch off the top layer of the paper and uncover magical designs. Each set comes with blank sheets which encourages kids to make their own picture, practice letters, numbers and shapes or whatever comes to mind. Not only great for practicing fine motor and graphomotor skills, it’s great for encouraging creativity and imagination skills. Another great on-the-go activity kit that will keep your kids entertained in a screen free manner.
  16. Squirkie Fidget Toys-one of my favorite new finds of this year! These little fidget toys are not only wonderful for keeping your busy little ones hands occupied but also great for working on developing fine motor, grasping and manipulation skills and increase grasp strength. Kids have to use problem solving skills to figure out how each of the little buttons, flips, switches, etc. work.
  17. Hoot The Fine Motor Owl-this is a great little gift for the younger kids on your list this year. It’s a small gift, but filled with opportunities for little ones to develop fine motor and grasping skills. Kids can practice using a pincer grip by spinning Hoot’s eyes, increase grasp strength by squeaking Hoot’s nose and work on hand-eye and bilateral coordination and grasp and release while placing the colored coins in Hoot’s slot. Once the coins are inside, kids use a scissor like movement to flap Hoot’s wings to release the coins from his sides. In addition to encouraging all kinds of fine motor skills, young kids are introduced to learning concepts such as colors, shapes and early number recognition. Like most of the fine motor products from Learning Resources, all the coins can be easily stored inside Hoot.
  18. Pop! Make and Play Activity Scene –These little activity sets (there are 4 to choose from) are great for developing fine motor and manipulation skills. Each set comes with 6 different characters, sticker sheets and a standing play scene. They have to pop all the pieces out and to make the characters and can use the stickers to decorate the scenery. I love how kids can work on developing fine motor skills, while also working on storytelling, creativity and imagination skills.
  19. WikkiStix Activity Set-I am all for a multi-sensory experience when it comes to toys and manipulative and Wikki-Stix is one of the best when it comes to that. Wikki Stix are colored, wax-covered pieces of yarn that kids can manipulate to make different shapes. This activity set comes with 84 different colored Stix, an activity booklet, a little board to put your Wikki Stix on and a bag to allow for easy on-the-go fun. Some of the activities include connect-the-dot pages which is great for improving hand-eye coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills. I love using Wikki Stix to teach kids how to learn how to make their shapes and how to write letters and numbers. The hands-on sensory approach helps some kids learn better.
  20. Razzle Dazzle DIY Mini Gem Kit-another great DIY kit from Ooly that my kids are totally obsessed with at work. Kids make shiny, glittery pictures using different colored gems. They have to match the right colored gem to the number that matches it using a glue pencil that picks up the gems to place on the sticky paper. This is another great activity kit that fools kids into practicing holding a pencil with the correct grip. Kids are so motivated to see the final product that I can get them to sit and focus for longer periods of time. Additionally, kids can work on improving hand-eye coordination, visual motor and visual perceptual skills, visual tracking and focus, attention and organizational skills.

There are SO many other things I would have loved to have shared but these are the cream of the crop. I encourage you to email me at otmeghan@gmail.com if you are looking for specific ideas for the little ones. There’s nothing I love more than being able to help people find the right gifts for kids, especially kids who are developing skills on a bit of a different path. There are so many toys out there and it can be so overwhelming.

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