Do you have any toy recommendations for toddlers and preschoolers? I am tired of the plastic toys and clutter that take up space in my house that is rarely played with. I’d like to give my kids some toy presents this year that they will actually play with and enjoy. Thoughts?
Oh the clutter of plastic toys! With so many options out there for toy buying, it can seem both overwhelming and discouraging to look for appropriate toys that will encourage imaginative play.
When choosing toys, ask yourself the following questions:
Does it look fun?
Can it be used for multiple purposes?
Does it encourage creativity?
Is it durable?
Does it have loose, interchangeable parts that can be manipulated, moved around and explored?
Will it encourage your child to be active when using it?
Can it be used interactively with others?
Is it portable and able to be used both indoors and outdoors?
The answer to the questions above should be a resounding yes!
Now consider these questions:
Is it trendy?
Does it have only one specific use?
Can you recall a catchy slogan used to promote it?
Does your child already have something similar at home?
Will it cause your child to be sedentary and isolated?
Does it require a battery?
Does it come with step by step instructions?
The answers to the second set of questions should ideally be no or limited to a very small number of items.
The toys children enjoy playing with are toys that they can use in multiple ways. A block can be used for building a structure, or at another time, the same block could represent food put on a plate.
Here are some of my favorite toys for kids ages 2-4:
Wooden blocks of various sizes and shapes
Interlocking blocks (such as duplo/lego)
Baskets and containers to put and carry things in
Transportation related toys (cars, trucks, diggers)
Dolls and figurines of various sizes and textures representing multiple roles (genders, occupations, etc) including animals
Generic dress up clothes (fancy dresses, an old blazer, scarves, hats, shirts, aprons, overalls etc.)
Other items that are great for young children:
Music with rhymes
Craft items (not kits):
Paper of various sizes and colors
Play dough (one big container of a single color is better than a variety of small ones)
Large beads (and pipe cleaners for stringing them)
Some of the best toys are things you already have around the house:
Pots, pans, wooden spoons and measuring cups
Old purses and bags
And perhaps the most important gifts you can give your children to help them play is: