Having seven children means that I have bought most of the inventory at our local toy store. In the warmer months it often looks like Little Tykes threw up in my backyard. And in the colder months I often think that I should determine my toy purchases based on how the toys will look strewn about the floor of my home. Shopping for birthdays and Christmas is a daunting task.
Every year there is the "hot toy" that every child wants, yet I know that months, or sometimes even days, after Christmas many of them will be cast aside in favor of the old stand-bys. Tickle-Me Elmo was a a hot toy one year, but we no longer have him. Sadly, at some point, he stopped being ticklish and went to the great landfill in the sky. The same happened to the robot room guard, who only lasted a day or two before being tossed into the back of the closet out of frustration.
I have become increasingly particular about the toys I bring into by home. The sheer volume of toys is overwhelming under the best of circumstances. I have compiled a list of kid-tested, mother-approved toys:
- Wooden blocks, the specialty blocks like castle blocks add a fun twist. I bought a huge set of blocks from a company that caters to preschools and daycare centers. They are played with every single day.
- Duplos and Legos
- Brio and Thomas train sets
- Pretend play -- kitchens, small scale brooms, pretend food -- toys that allow them to imitate the world around them
- Play-doh, but not the sets -- those seem to cause more frustration than anything else, they prefer to use real cookie cutters, small scale rolling pins, and plastic utensils
- A relatively new item that has been getting lots of play time in the past few years with my 4-6-year-olds is the Imaginext playsets. They do require some adult help to set up, but they engage the imagination of the children and hold my interest enough not to make me want to gouge my eyeballs out.
These toys are the old standbys for a reason. They stand the test of time.
Although, my children can also entertain themselves with a hole puncher, a few sheets of paper, and a roll of tape for an entire afternoon.
Chris is a writer, artist, wife to one, and mother to seven children. In her free time she works at rescuing her historic New England house from a century of neglect.