Holiday Gift Guide For Kids With Special Needs (Part 5 of 5)



By Nancianne Chin

As we round up our 5-part blog series we take a look at gifts that focus on literacy, an incredibly important life-skill. We’ve complied some great reads for children of different ages. But don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about the parents – we encourage you to check out  a couple highly-recommended books in Part 3 of our holiday blog series.

While shopping for gifts this holiday season, remember that children learn through their play. Which means parents don’t need to feel guilty if they choose to sneak a little bit of education onto the Christmas wish lists. Here are a few gift suggestions for targeting literacy.

Ages 0-2 

For children ages 0-2 literacy is about exposure to books and letters. Visit the 0-2 year old section of your local book store and you’ll find Peek-a-Boo books with flaps to move for any child who likes exploring, and Touch and Feel books to support children who enjoy a sensory experience. These are great for showing little ones that books can be fun. To build on alphabet familiarity choose toys that sing the alphabet, or giant blocks with letters on each one will help your child learn while they build, bang and chew away.

Peek-a-Boo books

Ages 3-5

For ages 3-5, kids are learning the alphabet and that letters make sounds. Try LeapFrog Alphabet Pal Caterpillar for a many footed friend. A letter sits on each one of this caterpillar’s feet and says the letter’s sound when pushed. LeapFrog also makes Word Whammer Fridge Phonics Set. Magnetic letters that move around, and can be placed in the set to sound out your letters, read your words, and provide positive verbal praise.

The Leap Frog Alphabet Pal Caterpillar

Older Children

In kindergarten, literacy ability ranges across the classroom. Some kids are learning letter names and sounds, others are learning site words, and sounding out 3 letter words, while some kids will be reading simple sentences. Boggle Junior and Scrabble Junior are nice games for this age group. Both involve searching for letters that match the given 3-4 letter words with their brightly coloured pictures.

Boggle Jr.
Boggle Jr. is a great game for older children!

Books continue to be good for all age groups. Some kids prefer stories, while others prefer pictures of items of interest. Try a book on pigs for the piggy lover, a book with many tractors for the car lover, or Charlie Brown’s Encyclopedia for the child who generally likes to learn. Starting the tradition now of giving your child a book now will definitely benefit them today, tomorrow and in the future.

Holiday Gift Guide For Kids With Special Needs (Part 4 of 5)


Gifts to Build Your Child’s Language Skills

By Aynsley Warden

Our 5-part blog series has covered lots of great gift-giving ideas for kids with special needs, and now we’ve got ideas that can help build their communication skills and still have fun! Here we focus on great gifts help build your child’s language skills. At Canoe Therapy we are committed to making children’s therapy fun so that you as a parent, as well your child, are comfortable. Here we share some of our favourite books, toys and games that we use in speech-language therapy sessions.


1) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This book builds food related vocabulary, rote counting skills, and descriptive vocabulary. Take things one step further and get real objects and puppets and act out the story with your child to engage them in pretend play.

2) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
This book is a repetitive story that has a fun flow to it and allows your child to remember and say parts of the story easily. Work on animal vocabulary while looking at the bright colourful pages. Start talking about rhyming words that repeat throughout the story.


Some other great books include the following:

  • “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood
  • “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman
  • “Pajama Time!” by Sandra Boynton
  • “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and Bill Archambault
  • “Toes, Ears, & Nose!” by Marion Dane Bauer
  • “Peek-a-Moo!” by Marie Torres Cimarusti
  • “Yummy Yucky” by Leslie Patricelli


1) Barnyard Bingo is a simple game to learn matching skills, animal names, and to practice turn taking.

Barnyard Bingo

2) Cariboo carries an element of surprise by letting your child find hidden balls that will help open a secret treasure. Work on colours, turn taking, alphabet and word knowledge with your child in this fun game!


3) Pop-Up Pirate allows for turn taking with multiple players and can be used to work on colours, counting and as a fun motivator for language learning.



To help encourage a child’s problem solving skills and functional exploration of toys, think about getting blocks, puzzles and shape sorters. These are great, especially for the little tiny tots.

1) Melissa & Doug produces a variety of excellent puzzles that make noise and are fun to touch. These can keep your child engaged and help you highlight new words.

2) Toys that resemble real life activities. Build your child’s imagination and pretend play skills using toys that resemble real life activities. Toy food that you can cut apart and dishes are great for acting out kitchen activities. Dolls and dress-up clothes are abundant and allow your child to play parent.

3) Little People has a variety of toy animals and people that can live in a farm, house, or zoo and drive in buses or planes.



4) The Twist and Drill Set lets your child work with child-friendly tools.Twist and Drill Set

5) The Critter Clinic toy lets your child pretend to be a veterinarian to toy animals.

Critter Clinic

Play With Your Child!

Whatever your child likes to play with and read, remember to join in! Building your child’s language skills is never something limited to their speech therapy sessions but rather something that should follow them home as they develop their social skills. Follow your child’s lead as you play with him or her and have fun!