Toys for Therapy and Development

Sharing Developmental Toys During Toy Takeover 2023
Sharing Developmental Toys During Toy Takeover 2023 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

We are so excited that it’s December because that can only mean one thing… The 2023 Toy Takeover is finally here! Each year, our team works together to create a list of our favorite toys that are not only fun, but help your children work on their developmental milestones. This year, we think that we’ve curated the perfect list of toys and cannot wait for you to try them out with your little ones this holiday season and beyond.  Ready to get to the fun? Let’s get started! 

Here are the toys that made this year’s Toy Takeover list (we know your family is going to love them):

Adjustable Hula Hoop

We would like to introduce you to the first toy on our list – an adjustable hula hoop! Twirl it around your waist, create a bean bag toss, jump in and out, incorporate it into a dance routine, or take turns rolling back and forth. One cool thing about this specific hula hoop is that it can be taken apart and adjusted to fit your child. So, as they grow, you can add sections to the hula hoop or remove sections as needed! 

Pop-up Cause and Effect Toy

We know that your little one is going to absolutely love playing with the next toy on our list. This cause-and-effect toy is from Battat and contains 4 adorable pals that your child will enjoy seeing over and over again. Not only is this toy super cute and colorful, but it will also introduce your child to cause-and-effect concepts while practicing a variety of fine motor skills and stimulating language development. 

Sassy Ring O Links

Sassy Ring O Links is the perfect first toy for a baby’s little hands, as it encourages early reaching and grasping skills. This wonderful set comes with 9 different colored rings, with each ring having its own unique texture. Although this toy is primarily for really young children, you can also use Sassy Ring O Links to help your child work on their color recognition, counting skills, and speech. 

Coogam Matching Egg Puzzle

One final toy we wanted to share with you is the Coogam Matching Egg Puzzle (this may just be our favorite toy to make the list this year!) Infants will enjoy taking the eggs in and out of the carton, and toddlers will love matching the colors and shapes or counting up all of their eggs. As a bonus, we highly recommend getting together with your little ones and playing pretend using the eggs!

From all of us at Pediatric Therapy Network, Happy Holidays! We have had so much fun working with each and every one of you this year, and we look forward to working with you and your family in 2024. We hope you enjoy some quality time with your loved ones this holiday season.

Fun Idea: If you are looking for some snow-themed activities to partake in as a family this winter, check out our Pinterest boards. We have thousands of delightful activities and crafts pinned on our boards that will entertain your little ones and help them work on their skills in the process.

Toy Takeover 2022 – Supporting Local Stores and Sharing Toys Your Child Will Love!
Toy Takeover 2022 – Supporting Local Stores and Sharing Toys Your Child Will Love! 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

We hope you’re ready because it’s finally time for one of our favorite parts of the year… Toy Takeover! Each holiday season, our PTN therapists do their research and come up with a list of some fantastic developmental toys that we know your little ones will love. Not only will these toys help your child work on developing their play skills, but you can even purchase some of them at local toy stores around the city.

For Toy Takeover 2022, we wanted to highlight three fantastic toy stores that could really use your love and support this holiday season – Timeless Toys, Building Blocks Toy Store, and Emmerson Toys, Gifts, & Hobbies. Shopping locally helps our city thrive, and these stores will really appreciate your business.

Toy Takeover 2022 List:

Stacking Music Set (Shop Local)

This awesome toy comes with instruments such as a xylophone, drum, rattle, and scratchboard and is sure to keep your kiddos entertained for hours on end. Your child will have to use their balance and coordination skills to create some awesome music and march to the beat. Then, once you and your little one have made some fun beats, have them work on their speech and language skills by creating some silly lyrics!

Infantino Sensory Balls, Blocks & Buddies

One of our favorite toys to make the Toy Takeover list this year is the Infantino Sensory Balls, Blocks, & Buddies set. This set comes with a whopping 20 pieces, all of which can be used to help your child learn colors, shapes, animals, and textures. Your child can also work on their fine and gross motor skills by stacking the blocks or throwing the balls into a basket!

SmartMax My First Safari Animals (Shop Local)

Get ready to get a little silly with the SmartMax My First Safari Animals! Your little one will have to use their fine motor skills, animal recognition, and matching skills to put the cute creatures back together. Once your child has successfully matched all of the animals, let them show off their goofy side by creating their own animal combinations!

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket

Challenge your child’s imagination and pretend play by having an indoor picnic! Your little one will have to use their fine motor skills to carefully place the food into the correct hole and use their speech to describe each food’s color, shape, and size. Another great feature of this toy is that the picnic basket speaks and will ask your child to feed it a specific piece of food. 

Wooden Beehives (Shop Local)

The final toy on our list is colorful and a whole lot of fun to play with. Incorporate fine and gross motor play as well as speech and language skills all in one!  Your child can practice gripping and pinching the wooden tweezers and return each bee to its matching hive. Then, have your child work on their counting and color recognition, or encourage them to stand up and stack the hives on top of each other!

From all of us at Pediatric Therapy Network, happy holidays! To see what other toys made our 2022 Toy Takeover list, follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), and be sure to sign up for our newsletter. All December long, we will be sharing more toy suggestions, fun tips, resources, and more!

Toy Takeover 2021 – Supporting Local and Sharing Fantastic Toys That Your Child Will Love
Toy Takeover 2021 – Supporting Local and Sharing Fantastic Toys That Your Child Will Love 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Toy Takeover is FINALLY here, and we’re ready to get the party started! Every year, we search near and far for creative toy ideas that your kiddos are sure to love. Each toy we’ve selected this year is a whole lot of fun to play with, works on supporting your child’s development, and can be purchased at local Chicago toy stores!

Our local businesses have been struggling to make ends meet since the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s important to support these stores so that they can continue to be a part of our community for years to come. This year, we’re featuring these 4 amazing local stores – Building Blocks, Cat & Mouse, Play, and Timeless Toys. So, if you see a toy on the list that you want to purchase, simply click on the link to be directed to one of these 4 businesses ’ websites. You’ll feel great knowing that you’re supporting local while also getting your little one a fantastic developmental toy. 

With that said, and without further ado, here’s our 2021 Toy Takeover list:

Baby Paper

The first toy to make our list this year is simple and all about sensory exploration for infants. The colorful crinkly cloth paper helps babies with their isolated finger movement, early grasping skills, as well as their midline orientation. Our favorite part about this toy is that it can be brought with you anywhere to keep your kiddos entertained, and it’s washable!


The next toy on our list is a brand new sensory development ball for infants. The OgoBolli has a unique design that’s easy to hold and manipulate, and it helps work on grasping, hand-eye coordination, and fine-motor skills. OgoBolli comes in multiple colors, is dishwasher safe, and is a whole lot of fun for your little ones.

Chutes and Ladders

This classic children’s board game is sure to be a hit with your whole family. Chutes and Ladders is the perfect first board game to help with early turn-taking and listening skills. Take turns spinning the wheel to see how many spaces you’ll move, try to climb the ladders to get further in the game, and watch out for the chutes to avoid being sent back down the board!

Pop Toobs

Bend, snap, and connect with Pop Toobs! Your little one can move and expand the tubes to 4 times their original length and connect the tubes with other Pop Toobs to make awesome creations! This colorful and unique toy works on hand strength and dexterity and will provide hours of entertainment for your little ones.

Shape Sorter

This last toy is a must-have for infants and toddlers. Shape sorters are perfect for matching, sorting, counting activities, and so much more. You can start by taking the top off of the box and letting your little one put the shapes in, and then dump them out. Have your child play with this toy while standing to help them improve their balance and practice stopping down to pick up the shapes.

Happy holidays from our entire Pediatric Therapy Network team! To see more toys on our Toy Takeover list, be sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). All month long, we will be sharing even more great toy suggestions as well as fun tips, activities, resources, and more!

Toy Takeover 2020 – 5 Fantastic Learning and Development Toys
Toy Takeover 2020 – 5 Fantastic Learning and Development Toys 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

December is here!  Can you believe it?  When people say “the year crept up on them”, it really rings true for 2020.  While there was a ton of instability this year, one thing that remains stable is our annual tradition of our December Toy Takeover. There are many wonderful toys that are designed to help with your child’s learning and development, including five we really love for their versatility.

Not only will these five particular toys provide hours of endless fun for your little ones, but they will also help to work on all areas of your child’s development from gross motor and fine motor skills to speech and cognition. The best part? All of the toys featured in our December blog can be purchased at local small businesses in the Chicago area.  At PTN, we believe that shopping local matters and we encourage everyone to support as many small businesses as possible. This especially applies to this year as many of these businesses have struggled during the pandemic.

We’ve decided to feature two local stores in this year’s blog – Building Blocks Toy Store, and Timeless Toys. If you’re interested in purchasing from Building Blocks Toy Store, below is a promotion that they’re currently having for $5 local Chicago deliveries:

With that being said, let’s get onto the list:


Squigz are one of the most versatile toys on the market. Not only can your child suction cup them to basically any surface around your home, but they’ll also be able to channel their creativity as they build cool structures and unique objects by connecting the Squigz together. Your kiddos will love gripping, sticking, creating, and separating their fun new toy, and you’ll love the fact that Squigz are safe and easy to clean.

Shape Sorting Cube 

We love to use this toy during therapy sessions and now your kiddo can use it at home, too! This vibrant shape sorting cube is wonderful for helping your child learn their shapes, colors, and sorting, while also working on developing their fine motor skills and gripping. You can even start early with this toy by removing the top and having your child practice putting objects in and out of a container.

The set features 12 colorful shapes that your child will enjoy dropping into the provided wooden cube over and over again. Once they’ve figured out where each shape goes, simply have them dump out all of the pieces and repeat the process.

LED Hula Hoop

Did you know that there are plenty of things that you can do with a hula hoop besides actually hula hooping? Yes, really! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Hold onto the sides and sing, Ring Around the Rosey (the hoop can assist with side stepping, weight shifting or transitions to and from the floor if that is a goal for your child).
  • Turn the hoop so that it is standing straight up to create a tunnel that your child has to squat down and walk through.
  • Make a choo-choo train by having the leader in the hoop while others hold the back and take your train for a spin through the house.
  • Create a “pit” to jump or step in and out of.
  • Make a bean bag toss game and use the hoop for your target.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt and place all of your collected items in the hoop.
  • Have a dance contest and incorporate the hoop into your dance routines.

Stomp Rockets

Get ready.. Get set.. Blast off! Stomp Rockets are the perfect gift for those kids who are always full of energy.  Your child will love setting up their glow in the dark rocket onto the launch pad, stomping as hard as they can, and then watching as it soars over 100 feet in the air. They’ll be entertained for hours on end as they keep trying to send their rocket higher up into the sky than the time before, while also working on their coordination and balance in the process.


Bubbles that have a no-spill design and come in a travel sized container? Count us in!  The container is designed so that the Fubbles will not spill out, even when tipped upside down so you can let your kiddos blow bubbles indoors without worrying about the mess! Pop the bubbles by pointing, reaching, clapping, or stomping, and practice counting and turn-taking along the way.  Each set of Fubbles comes in either a red, yellow, or blue container, and contains a bubble wand and non-toxic bubble liquid.  

Believe it or not, we’re just getting started with our Toy Takeover recommendations this holiday season. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter for more great toy ideas, and be sure to follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) as we’ll be sharing even more suggestions throughout the entire month of December.  On behalf of the entire team at PTN, we wish you and your families the happiest of holidays!

At-Home Therapy Activities That Use Your Child’s Favorite Stuffed Animal
At-Home Therapy Activities That Use Your Child’s Favorite Stuffed Animal 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

When you were a kid, what was the one item that you always had to have with you? Was it a blanket? A toy? Well, for a majority of our staff here at PTN, our special item was a stuffed animal. It’s very common that children have a favorite item, and more times than not, you’ll notice that this item is indeed a stuffed animal. This is because stuffed animals bring on a sense of comfort and joy, and they make it easier for children to express themselves, which makes them the perfect learning tool during therapy sessions.

Using your child’s favorite stuffed animal during at-home therapy can be extremely beneficial as it will keep your kiddos motivated and excited to develop their skills. The best part? Your little one will be ecstatic to be learning with their best stuffed animal friend, by their side.

With that said – and in honor of September 9th being National Teddy Bear Day – we wanted to share some of our favorite at-home therapy activities that use your child’s favorite stuffed animal. Enjoy!

Create a Story 

This activity gives your child the opportunity to be creative while working on their speech development. Sit down with your kiddo and ask them some questions about their stuffed animal such as, “What’s your stuffed animal’s name? Where does your stuffed animal want to go? What’s your stuffed animal’s superpower?”. 

As they’re telling you the answers to the questions, write each answer down on a separate sheet of paper. Once you’re all done asking questions, get ready to help your child create their very own book. Your child will be able to work on their grip strength by coloring each answer page with an image that fits the text, and once they’re done, they’ll have their very own book based on their stuffed animal!

Partake in Sensory Play 

Another great way to use your child’s stuffed animal is for sensory play. Kids (especially toddlers and babies) love to explore different textures, and most stuffed animals have numerous textures on them. For example, if the stuffed animal is a cat, it may have prickly whiskers, soft or fuzzy fur, and hard eyes. Let your child touch each texture one at a time while you ask them to describe what it feels like – soft, hard, fuzzy, rough, bumpy, etc. 

Play Dress Up

Your child will absolutely love being able to use their imagination while dressing up their stuffed animal, and you’ll love this activity because it works on your child’s fine and gross motor skills. You and your kiddo can make up stories about where their stuffed animal is going, and then, they’ll dress up their stuffed animal to fit the story. For example, if you both decide that the stuffed animal is going to a ball, your child could dress their furry friend in a dress or suit, and if you both decide that the stuffed animal is going to a beach, your child could dress their furry friend in shorts and a t-shirt. Your child will have so much fun looking through all of the clothing options and will be entertained for hours on end.

You can find dress up clothes that will fit your child’s stuffed animal on Amazon, at toy stores, or, you can make them yourself!

Let Your Child Be a Caretaker

Allowing your child to take care of their stuffed animal will bring out their nurturing side, and will allow them to work on their fine motor skills, speech, and gross motor skills. You can have your child feed their stuffed animal, give them a pretend bath, place a bandaid on any owies they may have, or put their furry friend to bed – the possibilities are endless! The best part about this activity? Your child will learn responsibility and compassion in the process. 

Be sure to keep an eye on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest) all month long as we share additional activities.

Top Toys Recommended by Our Therapists this Holiday Season
Top Toys Recommended by Our Therapists this Holiday Season 1000 563 Thomas Chibucos

The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spoil your children (in the best sense). You can go a little crazy with presents without any parental guilt and bring some wonderful smiles to your children’s faces. You can also help encourage development by choosing toys that have educational and therapeutic benefits.

As you know, we at PTN are big fans of providing therapy through play, and there’s no reason why some of the presents you get for your little ones can’t support their therapy needs while offering hours of fun. Here are our top choices for developmental toys for kids this holiday season:

Mr. Potato Head – This classic toy is still a lot of fun for both boys and girls. Your child can practice identifying the different parts, clothes, and associated colors of Mr. Potato Head. You can also practice skills like sharing, taking turns, and requesting desired pieces.

Puzzles – Age appropriate jigsaw puzzles are a lot of fun for parents and children to assemble together. You can work together to identify colors, shapes, and objects on the pieces and practice those fine motor skills.

Bubbles – Bubbles are a simple and cheap stocking stuffer that will entertain kids of every age. Blowing bubbles helps kids practice their oral motor skills, and popping bubbles works their fine motor skills. Bubbles are also great for developing social skills like engagement, turn taking, and eye contact.

Crawling Tunnel – An affordable toy that can spark imaginary adventures in the mind of your child, crawling babies to school age children can enjoy this simple sensory activity while practicing concepts like “in” and “out” and building physical strength.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Cutting Fruit Set: It’s hard to go wrong with any toys from Melissa & Doug, but we particularly like this play food set that lets your kids practice their fine motor skills by “cutting” Velcro fruit pieces apart. Your child will (without realizing it) practice skills like sharing, turn taking, fine motor skills, and vocabulary.

Books – It’s never too early to give your kids books. When they’re infants, you can read to them, and they’ll love the musical sound of your voice, the colors of the pages, and the experience of engaging with you. When they’re a bit older, they’ll start practicing pre-literacy skills like turning the pages and making sounds. A bit later, you can practice identifying characters, colors, and objects together. And ultimately, your child will enjoy reading to him or herself, because it will be a familiar hobby that they have always cherished.

These are just some of our favorite developmental toys for children. If your child could use some help with a particular skill, give us a call or send us a note to ask about other toys that might help them grow and learn as they play. Happy holidays!

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