Each holiday season, Active for Life likes to offer you shopping suggestions for active holiday gifts. Here are some fun toys that develop kids’ movement skills through play, plus accessories that encourage active kids and active families.
Age: 0 – 3 years
This cozy, insulated carrying pouch helps parents to get outside more often with their infants and toddlers on cold winter days. It incorporates a weatherproof shell, plush lining, and elastic hem to ensure a snug, warm fit. Rain or snow, parents can feel assured that their family outing will be safer and more comfortable for baby.
Age: 6 years and up
Fitivities is a board game that requires players to jump, hop, and do other movements in order to progress around the board. It can be played by anywhere from 2 to 24 players, and it allows for all ages to play at the same time. The fun nature of the game is a big plus: any time you can help your kids to associate fun with physical activity, you are nudging them gently in the direction of staying active for life.
Age: 2 – 5 years
The Bilibo is a simple toy that looks like a cross between a large plastic salad bowl and a plastic children’s chair. The clever part is that it encourages toddlers to balance, rock, and spin as they sit in it. Despite its simplicity, small children consistently seem to love it, and it’s well-suited for indoor play during winter months.
Age: 3 years and up
A ball is a natural invitation for active play. If you live in an apartment or a townhouse, check out the classic line of Nerf balls for playing indoor ball games. As a general rule, Nerf balls won’t break furniture, so you can have a lot of fun playing a game of mini soccer or football catch in even the smallest indoor spaces. And if you have a home with a yard or a park nearby, you can just as easily use these balls outside.
Age: 18 months – 4 years
This simple, small plastic slide is ideal for indoor spaces and perfectly suited for toddlers. The wide base ensures excellent stability, and parents are consistently pleased that their toddlers can enjoy sliding with zero to minimal assistance or worry. Climbing and sliding are natural activities for toddlers and preschoolers, so this slide answers the call. It’s also very reasonably priced.
Age: 3 years and up
If the weather outside is frightful, it’s great to have toys and play equipment that work indoors. Like the Nerf balls above, a mini indoor hockey set is great if your home has a basement recreation room or a garage.
Age: 6 years and up
If you have hills in your neighbourhood, or you plan to visit a ski resort this winter, you can get your kids developing their snow sliding skills with an inexpensive plastic toboggan. Toboggans help to develop balance, reaction time, and decision making at high speed.
Age: 2 – 5 years
Balance bikes are simply small bicycles without pedals. They encourage toddlers to get onto two wheels and start developing their balance without the extra challenge of pedaling. After a few months of gleefully “gliding” on a balance bike, kids are better prepared to get onto a real pedal bike. Balance bikes can be made of metal, wood, or plastic. Major brand names include Glide Bikes, Strider, Louis Garneau, Mamma Cangura, Plasma Bike, Skuut, Kazam, Kiddimoto, KinderBike, Prince Lionheart, Runners, Wishbone, and Ybike.
Age: 4 years and up
The classic two-wheel scooter is a source of endless hours of fun. Kids love to race their scooters around the neighbourhood, and they can even ride them to school. From the physical literacy angle, scooters promote balance and spatial awareness.
Age: 5 years and up
The winter months are a great time to visit the swimming pool for recreational swims with family and friends. You can encourage your child to get wet with a good quality swim mask. Instead of old-school swimming goggles which provide very limited range of vision, consider a stylish swim mask such as the ones made by Aqua Sphere. Kids love the experience of seeing underwater, and a good set of goggles may add just enough fun to get your child in the water more often.
Age: 3 – 10 years
This modern-age foam construction pogo stick is specially designed for small indoor spaces. If your kids are bouncing off the walls on days when the weather is simply too extreme to be outside, this toy will allow them to let off steam without damaging your floors or your furniture.
Age: 8 years and up
Video games for physical literacy? There are a couple of interactive dance games that actually help to develop movement skills in a fun and meaningful way. Just Dance 2015 (PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One) and Dance Central Spotlight (Xbox 360, Xbox One) are probably the best choices because they use full motion-sensing systems to assess whether or not the players are accurately moving their upper and lower bodies in the correct way. Also check out Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox 360, Xbox One), which has players “conducting” music from artists including Bach, Coldplay, and Hendrix. These games build full-body rhythm, balance, and coordination while promoting fun physical activity.
Age: 7 years and up
If your child has shown any interest in bustin’ a move, you might want to look at coupons for dance lessons at a local dance studio. Many studios offer kids’ group lessons in everything from hip hop to ballet at very reasonable cost. There’s no question that dance is as much athletic as it is artistic. This could be the launching pad for the next “So You Think You Can Dance” star!
Soccer is probably the most played sport on earth. A big part of the appeal is that you don’t need anything more than a ball. The only problem for tens of thousands of soccer-loving children in the developing world: finding a ball, and then keeping it inflated. Enter One World Futbol, a virtually indestructible soccer ball that can endure extremely harsh environments and rough surfaces—and requires no pump. You can puncture it and even compress it, and it will simply “inflate” itself again. One World Futbol is part of a campaign to bring the healing power of play to disadvantaged communities around the world. You can contribute to the movement by purchasing a ball, whereupon the One World Futbol organization will donate another ball to agencies working with disadvantaged communities. If you don’t need a ball of your own, then you can simply buy balls and One World Futbol will donate them on your behalf.
These “Savvy Mom Approved” safety reflectors will get kids out playing, walking, and biking safely in all kinds of weather. Children will love the fashionable designs and parents will breathe a sigh of relief that their kids are visible even when it’s dark out. These reflectors make great gifts for Advent fillers, stocking stuffers, Chanukah presents, and loot bags. Simply attach the safety reflectors on jackets, bikes, dog collars, strollers, purses, and backpacks; anything that needs to be more visible in the darker hours. Available for only $4 with discounts on family packs at ActiveKidsClub.com.