Christmas is just around the corner and now is a great time to think a little more about presents that will keep on giving the gift of language learning well after the tinsel has been torn from the tree by your toddler!

The best present for your little one is something that will last for years and years to come. It doesn’t need to cost the world, in fact some of the very best toys are cheap or even things you can make yourself. Toys that can be refashioned depending on the age of your child (like a push along trolley that turns into a doll’s pram, or puppets originally used for peek-a-boo play that eventually star in your child’s very own theatrical production).

Here are five quick questions to help you choose the best toys for language learning this Christmas:

  • Is it fun and will it keep my child’s attention? Children are learning when they’re engaged.

  • Does it encourage interaction with another person? Children learn language through interaction with others.

  • Can I use lots of different words when playing with this toy and my little one? Think about describing words, actions words and location words (not just the names of things).

  • Does it encourage imagination and pretend/make-believe play? This helps develop your child’s creativity and will encourage them to make up their own stories.

  • Can you use this toy in many different ways? This encourages problem solving and innovation.

On the list of ideas below, you will see the number one item for each age group is books. Reading aloud to your child is the single most important thing that you will do to help your child learn how to read. I really can’t emphasise how fantastic books are, and a good book will be enjoyed over and over and over again by both you and your little one.

Here are my top 10 Christmas present ideas for babies, toddlers and preschoolers:


  • 1. Board books (check out my top twenty books for babies here)

  • 2. Mirror (unbreakable) and scarves for peek-a-boo

  • 3. Cause and effect toys – these are toys that light-up, make noise, move, shake, rumble or spin when your baby plays with them.

  • 4. Activity gym/mat or soft play mat

  • 5. Farm animals

  • 6. Musical instruments

  • 7. Soft blocks that make sounds when you roll, shake or knock them over

  • 8. Textured balls

  • 9. Bath toys

  • 10. Puppets


  • 1. Board books (check out my top twenty books for toddlers here)

  • 2. Watering can and sandpit toys including diggers, cars, tractors

  • 3. Inset puzzles (check out this great animal sounds puzzle)

  • 4. Crayons, textas or outdoor chalk

  • 5. Puppets

  • 6. Duplo/building blocks

  • 7. Playdough (find a great DIY recipe here) and cooking utensils for pretend play

  • 8. Beach tent – this can be used not only at the beach but also at home as the best cubby house (indoor or outdoor)  

  • 9. Bowling set

  • 10. Magnetic animals


  • 1. Books, Books, Books (check out my top twenty books for preschoolers here)

  • 2. Simple board games and sorting, matching and opposite games

  • 3. Puzzles – check for the age range on the box

  • 4. Textas, crayons, chalk, paper

  • 5. Magnetic letters

  • 6. Ice block/icy pole moulds and a kids cookbook

  • 7. Zoo membership

  • 8. Kids craft activities, gardening kit or simple science experiments

  • 9. Water balloons

  • 10. Doll’s house, castle or train set