Every year around this time, I get asked for suggestions for toys by the parents with whom I work. Trying to find toys that are developmentally appropriate and that are going to sustain our kid's attention after the newness has worn off can be quite a feat in this day and age. Not to mention all the toy recalls.
I will admit that I do not take toy purchases lightly. I give careful consideration to what toys come into our home. No, I'm not a toy snob. Rather, I want to ensure that the toys are going to 1) be enjoyed; 2) keep their interest for more than a nanosecond; and 3) possibly have some sort of developmental benefit. Tall order, I know. Given all this, the following are some of the toys that I recommend to parents. This is based on my experiences with my birth to three students, the preschoolers with whom I work as well as my own children.
Toys every kid should have:
- Lots and lots of books!
- Play dough
- Art supplies; easel/chalkboard
- Pretend kitchen; play food; pots and pans
- Pretend farm; farm animals; tractors
- Toy cars; trucks; trains
- Dress up clothes
- Musical instruments
- Board games
- Lacing beads
- Pretend tools
- Wooden blocks
- Legos; duplo blocks
- Doll house
- Dress up clothes
- Pretend kitchen
- Baby doll; bottles; blankets
- Doctor kit
- Bike; tricycle
Some additional ideas for younger kids:
Some additional ideas for elementary aged kids:
- Woodworking kits
- Jewelry making kits
- Lego sets
- Art Kits
- Magnet sets
- Chess set (check out this Shrek Chess Set -- it is one of our son's favorites!)
- Cooking kits; cookbooks; etc.
Of course, always read the label and follow the age guidelines when making toy purchases -- they are there for a reason!
You may have notice that some things are ominously not present -- electronic gadgets. Parents and grandparents often get sucked in by the packaging and fancy claims about how this toy is going to teach your child to read, speak Spanish, and build a boat all at one time. The truth of the matter is, there are lots of other ways that children can learn this skills -- well, maybe not building a boat.
And before I get a boatload of comments about how this toy or that toy taught Johnny his letters, etc., let me be clear that I am not saying that none of these toys have any educational value. My experience has been, however, that over the course of time, these toys lose their luster.
For example, my daughter received an electronic toy that had the ABC's on it for Christmas on year. You know, the kind of toy where you push this button for the letter name, push that button for the letter sound, etc. She played with it frequently the first couple of days. After the newness wore off, it just sat on her floor and she played with it occasionally. Then it went in her toy bin where it has remained untouched for many, many months. Conversely, I picked up a package of alphabet letters and a magnetic board -- she plays with it all the time! I sometimes wonder if kids nowadays get desensitized to all that buzzing, music and such after a while. Hmmmm. Love to know your thoughts on that!
Well, I hope this list was helpful for those of you who were looking for some ideas for the holidays. Did I miss anything? Do you have any recommendations to add? Feel free to share them!