131 vision-friendly holiday gifts for children

December 7, 2023
For several years, Kellye Knueppel, O.D., who practices in Wisconsin, has published a list of toys and games that can support the development of children’s vision. Find out what’s on her “nice” list.
Baby playing with todays - AI Generated

Ho, ho, hold it. No digital devices on a list of vision-friendly kids’ gifts for the holidays?

That’s because of reported excessive screen time by children. Vision therapist Kellye Knueppel, O.D., annually composes a list for parents of vision-friendly toys and games that help children develop their visual skills.

“I’ve been putting out a list of toys and games that are helpful for vision development for many years,” says Kellye Knueppel, O.D., an expert in developmental optometry who practices in Wisconsin at the Vision Therapy Center. “The reason is that I have an optometric vision-therapy-only practice and for almost 30 years, I’ve had parents around Christmas always asking me: what should I buy for my child who has vision problems?

“These (toys and games) can be used by people with vision problems or even for proper development,” Dr. Knueppel adds. “Many people don’t realize that vision skills are something that you learn.”

The list appears below, courtesy of Dr. Knueppel:

Building toys develop eye-hand coordination and visualization/imagination: building blocks (ages 1+), MEGA Bloks (1+), Lincoln Logs (3+), Tinker Toys (3+), K’NEX (3+), Magformers (3+), Legos/Duplos (4+), Erector Set (8+), Roller Coaster Challenge (8+) and VEX Robotics (8+).

Balance and coordination toys and games develop gross motor skills, laterality and bilateral coordination: sit and spin toys (1.5+), Hoppity Hop (3+), foam pogo jumper (3+), Walkaroo Stilts (4+), Hoola hoop (4+), Jump Rope (5+), Slip ’n Slide (5+), pogo stick (5+), Twister (6+), balance beam/walking rail, balance board, mini trampoline/trampoline, bicycle, snowboard and skis.

Memory games develop visualization and visual memory: Guidecraft Memory Caps (2+), Memory Game 5+, Loopz (7+), Hyperdash (7+), Simon (8+) and Chicken Cha Cha (12+).

Space perception toys develop depth perception and eye-hand coordination:W ithin arm’s length: Pindaloo (9+), Don’t Break the Ice (3+), Ants in the Pants (3+), egg and spoon race (4+), Fishin’ Around (4+), Jumpin’ Monkeys (5+), Flippin’ Frogs (5+), pick-up sticks (5+), marbles (5+), KerPlunk (5+), Operation (6+), Door Pong (7+) and Jenga (8+). Beyond arm’s length: balls of any kind (for all ages), Elefun (3+), Frisbee Rings (3+), dart games (velcro) (3+), Nerf Basketball (4+), Box & Balls (5+), Frisbee (5+), ring toss (5+), Toss Across (tic-tac-toe) (5+), cornhole bean bags (5+), Oball (good for children who have difficulty catching balls) (6+), ping-pong (6+), badminton (8+), Bowling Zombies (8+), Pitchback, Cuponk (9+).

Visual thinking toys and games develop visual perceptual skills including visual memory, visual discrimination, pattern recognition and sequencing—skills important for mathematics, reading and spelling color blocks and 1” cubes (1+), wooden form board puzzles (2+), jigsaw puzzles (3+), Gears! Gears! Gears! (3), dominoes (3+), Tactilo (3+), Old Maid card game (3+), bingo (3+), Go Fish card game (4+), Parquetry Blocks (4+), Tumble Trax (5+), Tangrams/Tangoes (5+), Color Code (5+), Attribute Blocks (5+), Make ‘N’ Break Junior (5+), checkers (5+), Blokus (5+), Rush Hour® Jr. ( 5+), Perfection (5+), MathLink Cubes (5+), SmartGames IQ Puzzler Pro (6+), Guess Who (6+), Mancala (6+), Chinese checkers (6+), Set (6+), Math Dice, Math Dice Jr. (6+), Connect Four (6+), Qwirkle (6+), UNO (7+), Spot It! (7+), Battleship (7+), ThinkFun Laser Chess (8+), ThinkFun Shadows in the Forest (8+), ThinkFun Cat Crimes (8+), Bop It (8+), Blink (8+), Racko (8+), Q-bitz (8+), Rubik’s Cube (8+),  Color Cube Sudoku (8+), Kanoodle (8+), Rory’s Story Cubes (8+),  Amaze (8+), Bejeweled Board Game (8+), Tetris Bop It (8+), Labyrinth (8+), Connect Four Shots (8+), Perplexus (8+), Rush Hour (8+) and Sort It Out (12+).

Fine motor skill toys develop visual-motor integration and fine motor skills: Finger paints (1+), Kinetic Sand (1+), pegboard and pegs (3+), coloring books and crayons (3+), dot-to-dot activity books (3+), Play-Doh/modeling clay (3+), chalkboard easel (3+), large bead stringing (3+), lacing cards (3+), Lite-Brite (4+), Silly Putty (4+), Rainbow Loom (5+), jacks (5+), stencils, Spirograph, origami sets (8+), paint or color by numbers, bead craft kits and models (cars, airplanes, ships, etc.)

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