Discovering Vision Therapy Blog

2023 Gift List: 131 Vision-Friendly, Age-Appropriate Toys

2023 Gift List

To help parents pick out toys that will enhance a child’s visual development, we’re sharing our annual list of 131 optometrist-approved children’s toys!  We also label toys with age-appropriate designations.

Before we dive into that list, let’s take a moment to consider the most important gifts you can give your child.


The MOST Important Gifts: Your Time and Undivided Attention

In our busy lives it can be easy to forget the fundamentals of what children both want and need. Here are a few reminders for how to give your time and attention -- the best gifts of all -- to your child.

The MOST Important Gifts: Your Time and Undivided Attention

Read Together

Reading to your child is not only fun but can also have a significant positive impact on their developing reading skills and school performance. Have fun choosing which books you’ll read together, and for younger kids, shoot for reading at least one book a day together.



Play Together

Playing with your kids makes them feel loved and important. It’s also a great opportunity to encourage their imagination and enhance both their academic and social skills. Take the time to play whatever they would like -- and do your part to make it extra fun.


Enjoy the Outdoors

Enjoy the Outdoors Together

Make time to show your child all the wonderful alternatives to screen time by getting outside. A simple game of catch in the yard, for example, provides exercise and can also help develop depth perception as well as eye-hand and eye-body coordination.

Bonus Tip: Fun Money

Consider giving your child coupons or play money that can be exchanged for you to stop what you’re doing and spend time with them. Your child will love it!


Engaging Functional Vision Skills

Of course, kids need to play on their own as well. And the good news is that our vision-friendly gift list below includes toys to promote a child’s visual development, particularly their functional vision skills.

Functional vision is how our entire visual system -- the eyes, the brain, the visual pathways -- works together to help us interact with our environment. 

Matching Toys to Developmental Age


Matching Toys to Developmental Age

When choosing a toy or activity, be sure to align the gift with your child’s developmental age, rather than their actual age. To help narrow down your choices, we include the developmental age appropriate for each toy.

Note that if your child has a functional vision problem, you should always consult your developmental optometrist to choose toys that will enhance their treatment. 

Okay, on to the list!


Building Toys

Develop eye-hand coordination, visualization, and imagination.

Building Blocks (Ages 1+)
Mega Bloks (1+)
Lincoln Logs (3+)
Tinker Toys (3+)
K’NEX (3+)
Magformers (3+)

Photo courtesy of Magformers.

Photo courtesy of Magformers.

Magformers are magnetic construction toys that enable your child to build their very own imaginative shapes and structures. The fun is made possible with Magformers patented “always attracting” technology. 

Legos/Duplos (4+)
Erector Set (8+)
Roller Coaster Challenge (8+)

Photo Courtesy of ThinkFun, Inc.Photo Courtesy of ThinkFun, Inc.

With Roller Coaster Challenge your child can create an amusement park in your living room! This is both a challenging game and a toy that lets kids use their hands to build a roller coaster. The American Specialty Toy Retailer Association (ASTRA) named Roller Coast Challenge a Best Toys for Kids in the Logic Skills category.

VEX Robotics (available for all developmental ages)

A great overview of VEX Robotics and all it has to offer.

VEX Robotics is a continuum of highly versatile robot construction items that allow students to engage in educational robotics while also applying skills important in science, technology, engineering, and math (aka STEM). 


Fine Motor Skill Toys

Help 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+)

Origami Sets (8+)



Paint or Color By Numbers

Bead Craft Kits

Models (Car, Airplane, Ship, etc.)


Space Perception Toys

Develop depth perception and eye-hand coordination.

Within arm’s length:

Don’t Break the Ice (3+)

Ants in the Pants (3+)

Egg and Spoon Race (4+)

Fishin’ Around (4+)

Flippin’ Frogs (5+)

Pick-up Sticks (5+)

Marbles (5+)

KerPlunk (5+)

Jumpin’ Monkeys (5+)

Jumpin' Monkeys

Jumpin’ Monkeys involves players catapulting monkeys into a tree. Whoever gets all their monkeys on the tree first wins! 

Operation (6+)

Door Pong (7+)

Jenga (8+)

Pindaloo (9+)

Wiki 640px-Pindaloo_3

Meet Pindaloo! The perfect skill-based toy to stimulate hand-eye coordination. It’s based on a simple but challenging toss-and-catch loop principle. And once your child masters the basics, they can invent endless throwing and catching tricks for continued fun.

Beyond arm's length:

Ball-Related Games (any kind, 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+)

Oball (6+, good for kids who have difficulty catching balls)

Ping Pong (6+)

Badminton (8+)

Bowling Zombies (8+)

Cuponk (9+)


Bean Bag Toss (all ages -- just modify distance)

Bean bag toss

A classic! You can’t go wrong with a set of bean bags and boards. This is a fun activity for children and adults!


Visual Thinking Toys and Games

Help develop visual perceptual skills like visualization, visual memory, visual discrimination, pattern recognition, and sequencing. These skills are especially important in subjects like mathematics, reading, and spelling

Gears!Gears!Gears! (3+)

Photo and description courtesy of Learning Resources.

Photo and description courtesy of Learning Resources.

Assembling things and taking them apart is a great way for a child to engage their visual thinking. Gears! Gears! Gears!® comes with building ideas while also allowing creative play.

Color Blocks and 1” Cubes (1+)

Wooden form board puzzles (2+)

Jigsaw puzzles (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 Jr. (5+)

Checkers (5+)

Blokus (5+)

Rush Hour Jr.(5+)

Perfection (5+)

Mathlink Cubes (5+)

Smart Games IQ Puzzler Pro (6+)

Guess Who (6+)

Mancala (6+)

Chinese Checkers (6+)

Set (6+)

Math Dice, Math Dice Jr. (6+)

Qwirkle (6+)

Connect Four (6+)

Battleship (7+)

UNO (7+)


UNO is the classic number- and color-matching game of cards. It’s fun and easy to learn but also requires attention and strategy.

Spot It! (7+)

Check out this video for a quick way to understand how Spot It! is played.


Spot It! is a matching game of cards that requires players to pay close attention to the multiple images on each card. Can you spot something you can match with a card of your own? Easy to learn and fun to play! 

Thinkfun Cat Crimes (8+)

Bop It (8+)

Blink (8+)

Racko (8+)

Q-bitz (8+)

Thinkfun Laser Chess (8+)


Laser Chess is a two-player strategy game that combines the spatial thinking skills of chess with the high-tech fun of laser beams.” Need we say more?! Winner of multiple awards, including a National Parenting Product Award.

Rubik’s Cube (8+)

Color Cube Sudoku (8+)  

Kanoodle (8+)

Rory’s Story Cubes (8+)

Amaze (8+)

Thinkfun Shadows in the Forest (8+)

Shadow in the Forest

Shadows in the Forest puts players in a dark forest searching for creatures who hide from the light. In fact, you actually play the game in the dark! Winner of a Techlicious Best of Toy Fair award and National Parenting Product award. 

Bejeweled Board Game (8+)

Tetris Bop It (8+)

Labyrinth (8+)

Connect Four Shots (8+)

Perplexus (8+)

Rush Hour (8+)

Kanoodle (8+)

Photo courtesy of Educational Insights.

Photo courtesy of Educational Insights.

Challenge your child with this award-winning, brain-twisting game. Kanoodle is perfect for hours of solo puzzle play and comes in varying levels of difficulty (for players as young as 4). It helps develop problem-solving, strategic thinking, and spatial reasoning skills. 

Sort it Out (12+)


Memory Games

Help develop visualization and visual memory.

Guidecraft Memory Caps (3+)

Chicken Cha Cha Cha (4+)

Chicken Cha Cha Cha

Chicken Cha Cha Cha provides a fun barnyard twist to memory-based card-matching games like Concentration. 

Memory Game (5+)

Loopz (7+)

Hyperdash (7+)

Simon (8+)


Balance and Coordination Toys and Games

Help develop gross motor skills, laterality, and bilateral coordination.

Sit and Spin (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






Happy holidays from The Vision Therapy Center! 


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Posted by   The Vision Therapy Center, Reviewed by Dr. Kellye Knueppel

The content in this post created was written by professional writers and then reviewed and edited for medical accuracy by Dr. Kellye Knueppel of The Vision Therapy Center.   Learn more about Dr. Knueppel's medical background