Let’s talk about toys today. Now that we are 5 years into the world of toys, I think it is safe to say we have a good idea of which toys have staying power vs. those that are bought and quickly forgotten about. Hands down, open ended toys get the most use and playtime. And not only that, but they are the best for imagination, fine motor skills, logic, engineering, and creativity.
So without further introduction, here are the toys that my nearly 3 and 5-yo kids are enjoying the most.
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1. DUPLO LEGO
At least once a day, the DUPLO are dumped out and played with. We started with a basic set like this and have added to it when birthdays roll around (my girls like the Disney sets like this Minnie Mouse and Daisy one and Frozen). Eventually we will upgrade to LEGO but for now, we like the size of DUPLO!
2. Play silks
This 6-piece silk set… I honestly was hesitant to buy because, really? Silks? But truly… kids love these things. They use them to make forts, cribs for their babies, blankets for their babies, costumes, capes, dancing scarves… so many uses. If you are a skeptic, take it from another skeptic… these will be played with!
3. Baby Dolls
We have quite a few baby dolls and they just love to be mommies. We like these simple dolls from Target. Over time, we added in baby bottles and strollers. The strollers in particular are used all the time for babies and stuffed animals.
4. Wooden blocks
You cannot go wrong with a classic wooden block set. These have lasted for years.
Can you tell we love building materials? But Magnatiles are worth every penny. We continue to add to our collection each year and they never tire of them!
6. Animal Figurines
7. Art Supplies
I keep a a decent stock of art supplies on the ready. I did not get this all at once (we have added over time and a lot are these things are gifted for birthdays or Christmas). But here’s a list to pull inspiration from:
- Construction paper
- Drawing pads & sketch pads
- Large drawing pads
- Colored pencils
- Crayons – this big tub is worth it
- Colors of the world crayons, markers, and pencils
- Oil pastels
- Scissors – regular and craft
- Glue sticks and bottles
- Colorful glue
- Glitter glue
- Loose glitter
- Watercolor paper
- Tempera paints
- Paint sticks
- Dot markers
- Variety of brushes
- Extra toilet paper / paper towel rolls
- Popsicle sticks and rainbow popsicle sticks
- Rainbow tape
- Pom poms
- Pipe cleaners
- Googly eyes
- Air dry clay and rainbow clay
My girls are changing a million times a day thanks to the dress-up bin. I am sure you can relate! We keep a nice stock of different dresses, hats, shoes, glasses, doctor’s kit, tutus, wings, etc. A good way to add to your dress-up bin inexpensively is shop for Halloween costumes after Halloween when they are discounted.
9. Dollhouse and Figurines
A simple dollhouse and figurines will spark a lot of imaginative play. We have this house and my girls use a variety of small figurines. They really like Little People as well as Disney character collections (like Bluey, Mickey and Friends, etc.) My youngest also loves these Daniel Tiger ones.
Puzzles of all kinds! Floor puzzles are a blast as well as tabletop. Some of our favorites:
- United States
- Beginner animal puzzles
- Alphabet and Numbers
- 12, 24 and 48-piece puzzles
- 100 piece puzzles (we do these together)
- Human body
- 4-layer seasons puzzle
The Dollar Tree has a great selection of kid’s puzzles (24, 48, and 100 piece in particular).
11. Loose Parts
If you have really young children, you will want to wait because choking hazard, but my girls are finally past that stage. I keep lots of nature bits and pieces on our nature shelf (think pinecones, acorns, rocks, shells, crystals, etc.) My oldest started a rock crystal collection and she is constantly organizing and cleaning them and reading her rock guide along with it. It is amazing what kids will do with loose parts! This also includes math manipulatives. A few that we have are these math cubes, tangrams, and counting chips. Through loose parts, my kids sort, organize, count, and make up the most random games (it’s really fun to watch when they are deep in their play).
12. Play Kitchen
Last but not least, one of the best investments was a play kitchen (IKEA) with play food, pots, pans, etc. I also love going to the thrift store to find measuring cups, measuring spoons, whisks, funnels, whatever. My kids are constantly playing restaurant and whipping something up in their kitchen.
If you are on a budget, I shared a great post in the past with budget-friendly alternatives to popular open-ended toys here. I have also shared our favorite outdoor toys, infant toys, and toddler toys. I hope that these are helpful if you need gift ideas for birthdays, holidays, or simply to curate your child’s own collection. x
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