EGWs6uuBZ3pp-zGuVVdmeLgkJG4 Across the Avenue: 2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Language Development Gift Ideas #TheLearningJourney #giftsforkids

2021 Holiday Gift Guide: Language Development Gift Ideas #TheLearningJourney #giftsforkids

 This season we had to include one of our favorite companies for educational toys and games–The Learning Journey! As developmental professionals, this brand has been our go-to for many of the toys and puzzles that we use in our therapy clinic because of the wonderfully engaging ways they help to target language goals. Three new items that we have on our holiday gift-giving list this year are the Learn With Me Shapes Elephant, My First Match It! On The Farm puzzle set, and Play & Learn Stacking Cups. Each of these toys were chosen because of the multitude of ways to have fun and build upon language skills during play with little ones. Check them out below, along with some suggestions on how to use them with kids.

This Year's Holiday Picks

Learn with Me Shapes Elephant: This elephant is appealing from the get go. Kids are excited to see it and want to figure out what it can do. The set includes ten different colored peanut-shaped pieces with a different shapes on each one. Kids place the peanuts in the top of the elephants head. The elephant has two play modes: Discovery and Find It!. These games can be played independently or with others, to help kids learn their shapes and colors. 

How We Use It
We love using this elephant to target goals in a one-on-one setting with kids. Here are some quick suggestions on how to engage in play:
  • We tend to turn the sounds off on most toys for one-on-one play, but we do love turning the elephant on long enough to sound his trumpeting trunk! We model the word 'on', let him trumpet, and then say 'off' to turn it off again. Kids go crazy over it. For play at home and alone, the audio feature is a nice guide for color and shape practice. Plus, that trunk button is irresistible for pushing.
  • Since the elephant requires adult help for most kids to open it, it's the perfect set up to require and/or model requests from little ones. Whether you're working on signing 'more' and 'open', or putting together word combinations,  it's a great way to kick off play.
  • Support kids in identifying and labeling colors or shapes before placing them in the elephant's head. Even if they aren't verbal yet, exposure through modeling is critical! 
  • Practice the spatial concept 'out' when removing the pieces from the elephant and the concept 'in' with each piece that is put in the elephant's head. You can also practice phrases such as 'all gone' after the peanut is inside.
  • When all of the pieces are inside the elephant, we use our sign for 'all done', paired with the words.  Then we wave and say 'bye!' to our elephant as he returns to the shelf.
Since all of the peanut pieces fit inside the elephant, it makes for easy storage. Requires two AA batteries (included). Recommended for ages 2+ years.

My First Match It! On the Farm Puzzle Set - We love matching games like this as a way to teach vocabulary, build pre-reading skills, and work on motor skill development. The pieces in this set are large, colorful and durable, with self-correcting puzzle pairs for guidance. The pictures are bright and the cartoon drawings are engaging. Includes 15 self-correcting puzzle pairs; recommended for ages 2+ years.

How We Use It
  • This set is great for sorting and finding matches. For very little ones, we set the matched cards on top of each other face down. They love to turn them over and try to connect them together to identify the picture. This activity provides lots of opportunity to model words and phrases like 'turn over', 'together', 'help me', and 'I did it!'.  
  • Once puzzle pieces are together, practice labeling what you've made. You can also pull aside two to three matched pictures and ask kids to identify the picture name that you call out.
  • With older kids, practice asking 'What' questions, labeling pictures, using carrier phrases, such as 'It's a ____', and so much more!
  • When it's time to clean up, practice using words such as 'take apart', 'in the box', 'all done', and 'clean up'.

Play & Learn Stacking Cups - Of all of The Learning Journey products we've used, this is one of our favorites! There's so much language to be had with these stacking cups. Build skills related to size, shape, color, and more while working on spatial awareness skills. There are seven nesting cups with bamboo decor on the sides and an adorable panda that sits on top of the completed tower. Each cup is a different color with a different shape on top and all of the pieces are durable enough to build and fall over again and again. The shapes on the bottom of the cups can also be used as a stencil to create color imprints. They make fun bath toys as well! Recommended for ages 12+ months.

How We use It
This is one of the best spatial concept toys because of the bright, engaging colors, ease of stacking and variety of uses.
  • We typically require kids to use requesting skills (signs, words, or core board) to ask for pieces. As the cup is held up, we name the color, then turn it to show the shape and name it as well.
  • Allow kids to stack each cup as you go. When they place a cup on the tower, we announce 'on' or 'on top'.
  • When it's time to place the bear on top, this is an opportunity to practice environmental sounds—growl like a bear! We like to model clapping and announce 'I did it!' when the tower is complete.
  • Practice the word 'off' or (color)+'off' as kids take the tower apart.
  • Make it an active clean up by announcing (color)+'in' and placing the correct nesting cup in the larger one. Announce 'all done' using signs and/or words, then wave to the bear as you say 'Bye, bear!' and place the set on the shelf.

**Pro tip: We hold the top cup as we stack, to stabilize the tower for little ones. If it does fall, we use it as an opportunity to practice phrases such as 'Oh, no!', 'Uh, oh!', 'fall down', or simply just 'down'. 

Whether you're gifting to a special child in your life, a teacher, or therapist, these toys make wonderful gift ideas for the holidays!

Where to Purchase
Head over to The Learning Journey to check these picks out for yourself and browse the rest of their collection as well. Look for The Learning Journey learning toys and games at brick and mortar stores like Target, or online via

Connect with The Learning Journey!

Disclaimer: The products in this post were provided by The Learning Journey. As always, our posts are our own opinions.