Editor’s note: This post was updated on Nov. 20, 2020.
Get straight to the “merry and bright” portion of your holiday without having to scramble for the perfect gift. With the holiday season just around the corner, here are our picks for the best new active toys that will help develop your children’s physical literacy and keep them moving into the new year and beyond.
Kids under 3: Encourage early movement
Infants begin developing physical literacy through play. When they move their bodies in all kinds of ways, they gain spatial awareness and build the muscle strength they need to grasp, sit, stand, cruise, crawl, and more. Regular movement is essential to healthy brain development. The more fun babies have, the more engaged they’ll be in the kinds of energetic play that will help them grow into strong, confident, active children.
Grip & Rattle Ball: This fun and colourful rattle gives babies the chance to grasp, grip, grab, tug, and shake. ($7.99, 3 months+)
Sensation Station: Reach, tug, and bat at the multiple spinning features. The musical ladybug will also have babies moving and grooving too. ($10.99, 6 months+)
Laugh & Learn Pull & Play Learning Wagon: With so many interactive features, this wagon will keep your baby engaged from their first sitting moments right up into their toddler years. While sitting, babies can bat, press, rattle, and flip, and when they start walking, they’ll pull the wagon. The variety of songs and sounds will keep kids of multiple ages enthralled. ($30, 6-36 months)
Related read: Physical literacy checklist for kids aged 0-2
Bounce and Spin Puppy: With music playing and lights flashing, kids can’t wait to climb and bounce on this cute puppy. A baby’s coordination and balance skills are strengthened with each happy hop. ($44, 12 months+)
3-in-1 Triple Splash T-Ball Set: There are so many fun options for kids with this T-ball set. With the T in place, kids can step on a pedal to automatically load a ball to be batted. Remove the T, step on the pedal, and the ball launches straight up for more of a challenge. And for a whole lot of splash fun, a hose can be connected to the set to keep the ball floating on a stream of water. ($20, 2+)
Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat: Attach a hose to this bright and sunny play mat and watch your kids jump, slide, and splash. With room for up to three kids, the intensity of the water on the mat can be adjusted to a small amount for kids wanting to sit and splash or raised to approximately 4 feet for those wanting a fuller soak! ($15.99, 3+)
My First Flybar Foam Pogo Jumper: By replacing the classic narrow spring with a rectangular soft and durable base, kids can jump indoors and out with confidence. This version of a foam pogo jumper comes in various colours and themes, including a firefighter jumper with sirens and lights. ($52, 3+)
Related read: Physical literacy checklist for kids aged 2-4
Chasing Fireflies Game: Kids love a great game of run and catch. But instead of a ball, frisbee, or bean bag, kids chase after sparkling fireflies and drop them into a team jar. With sparkling green and blue fireflies, this is a perfect game to play in the dark inside or out. ($34.90, 3+)
Kids ages 4-7: Encourage active play
In preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school, the best way to help kids develop physical literacy is to encourage active free play, including supporting kids to challenge their limits through age-appropriate risky play. Children this age need to run, tumble, throw, catch, hop, jump, skip, and learn to ride a bike.
Developing physical literacy isn’t just about practicing movement skills: it’s also learning the social and emotional skills to play with others. This is the perfect age to introduce games with simple rules that teach kids the basics of turn-taking, winning, and losing.
KidiGo Walkie Talkies: With a range of 650 metres, kids can engage in adventurous conversation and send animated messages in games limited only by their imaginations. ($39.97, 4+)
Go Ape: Go Fish goes ape with this game of monkeying around. Two to six players act out monkey movements found on their cards—sticking out their tongue, rubbing their tummy, or waving their arms in the air—to ask other players if they have a matching card. This is a hilarious game the entire family will love. ($14, 4+)
Portable Collapsible Corn Hole Board: A classic yard, fair, or beach game, this cornhole board can be folded into a small bag and brought anywhere for one or multiple players. And with lots of bean bags included, kids can play for hours. ($39.99, 5+)
Related read: Physical literacy checklist for kids aged 4-6
ZAX Axe Throwing Fun: Usually reserved for team-building exercises or adult fun nights, children now get the chance to throw axes! Fortunately for all parties involved, this axe uses foam suction cups rather than sharp ends to stick to almost any indoor or outdoor surface. With a lightweight handle, kids from 5 to 95 can play alone, with others, or in teams. ($19.99, 5+)
Stomp Rocket Stunt Planes: Completely kid-powered, the stomp rocket comes with three planes—one that loops, one that does amazing tricks, and one that soars up to 100 feet. Kids can change the angle of the launch stand to fly into, or with, the wind. ($39.59, 5-12)
Kids ages 8 and up: Challenge kids to try more complex movements
By age eight, kids should be learning basic sport skills and challenging themselves to perform more complex movements, such as learning how to hit a ball with a bat or racquet, how to control a ball or puck with feet, hands, or a stick, and daring new feats of agility, balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility.
Skylighter Lighted Disc: With rubberized edges for a secure grip and a soft catch, kids of all skill levels will be able to throw this disc with ease. And to make it super-fun, the lit disc looks amazing against the night sky. Don’t worry about losing a disc in the dark ever again! ($23.99, 8+)
Tiny Pong Solo Table Tennis Game: Imagine playing ping pong in the palm of your hand! This solo game has kids bounce a ball from end to end of the teeny court. How long can they keep the ball up? Can they stand on one foot while playing? Hours of varied fun to be had! ($24.99, 8+)
Related read: Physical literacy checklist for kids aged 6-9
Ladderball Pro Steel Game: A game that can be carried with you to a beach, campground, schoolyard, or your own backyard, ladderball (sometimes referred to as ladder golf or ladder toss—don’t worry, no ladders are thrown!), is a blast for kids and adults. Set up the ladder, grab the bolas, (think long strings with a ball on each end), and try to loop the ball and strings around the bars of the ladder. ($69.99, 8+)
Whimsical Diamond Kite: There’s something mesmerizing and exhilarating about flying a kite. This kite is super colourful and durable even in gusty winds. ($34, 8+)
Throw Throw Burrito Dodgeball Card Game: Not to worry—no food will actually need to be cleaned off your walls after playing this hilarious family game. Mixing a card game with dodgeball will have players throw, duck, and dodge squishy burritos. ($34.95, 8+)