December 6, 2021
multigenerational family playing mancala game sitting on floor

With gaming systems, “smart” toys, and other electronics in short supply this holiday season due to a microchip shortage, it’s an ideal year to give clients, students, or patients and their families ideas for holiday gift alternatives that boost language and learning, social skills, and imaginations—at any age.

Low-tech gifts can be used to foster multigenerational participation. In addition, low-tech gifts often cost less than their high-tech counterparts.

Editor's note: As always, children who use low- and high-tech augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC) should continue to use them at all times—and in an interactive way.

Related

10 Tips for Getting Kids to Go Low Tech This Holiday Season

The Best Toys for SLPs Are the Toys That Do Nothing

Promoting Healthy Communication in a Tech-Driven World

25 Household Items to Boost Your Toddler’s Language and Learning at Home

Below are some suggestions for non-tech gifts—for any occasion:

Ages 0–5
  • Books (touch-and-feel, lift-the-flap, and simple picture books for youngest kids)
  • Shape sorters, ring stackers, and nesting cups
  • Blocks and balls
  • Chunky wooden and knob puzzles
  • Animal and family sets
  • Toy farms and barns
  • Toy vehicles, garages, ramps/tunnels, and train sets
  • Wind-up, pop-up, and pounding toys
  • Pretend tools and workbenches
  • Toy musical instruments
  • Bubbles
  • Activity cubes
  • Pretend money and cash registers
  • Simple craft kits and art supplies such as crayons and Play-Doh
  • Figurines, dinosaurs, dolls, and puppets
  • Costumes and dress-up supplies
  • Pretend doctor/veterinarian sets
  • Toy food, grocery carts, and kitchen sets
  • Building toys (Lincoln Logs, Magnatiles, and Legos)
Ages 5–8
  • Books, graphic novels, and magazine subscriptions (Highlights, National Geographic Kids)
  • Board and card games
  • Arts-and-crafts supplies and kits (drawing, beads/jewelry)
  • Science kits and books of science experiments
  • Slime, Play Doh, and play sand/foam
  • Modeling clay and Silly Putty
  • Dolls and action figures
  • Building toys (Lincoln Logs, Magnatiles, and Legos)
  • Trading cards
  • Cooking supplies (child-friendly cookbooks, kid-safe knives/utensils)
  • Subscription boxes (cooking, STEM)
  • Costumes and dress-up supplies
  • Magic sets
  • Jump ropes and hula hoops
  • Sports and outdoor games for group play
  • Bikes, scooters, and roller skates/blades
Ages 8 to adult
  • Chapter books and magazine subscriptions (Sports Illustrated Kids, Cricket)
  • Journals/diaries and scrapbooks, fun writing pens/stickers
  • Board and card games (silly, trivia, conversation-based)
  • Trading cards
  • Arts-and-crafts project sets
  • Science kits, instruments (telescope, microscope)
  • Subscription boxes (cooking, STEM)
  • Advanced building sets (Legos, snap circuits)
  • 3D/jigsaw puzzles
  • Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess sets
  • Camping supplies
  • Sports equipment
  • Fitness, outdoor/yard, and obstacle course games
  • Age-appropriate tools or gardening supplies
  • Décor for personalizing bedroom

Share more information and tips with clients and families on balanced technology use with ASHA’s Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative at www.communicationandtech.org.

More ASHA Resources:

Be Tech Wise With Baby

A Digital Diet: Managing Technology in Tweens and Teens

Diane Paul, PhD, CCC-SLP, is ASHA’s director of clinical issues in speech-language pathology. [email protected].

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