Monday, November 28, 2016

Gift Guide to Toys That Kids Will Play With Again and Again

When my kids were really little, I heard people saying that their kids played with certain toys "for hours." I was always flummoxed because my kids didn't do anything for hours (including sleep). In record time, crayons got broken, stickers got torn and just-out-of-the-box toys got abandoned.

Once we hit preschool and elementary school age though, we found that toys "that can keep kids occupied for hours" isn't a myth - it's an actual thing. And it is delightful!

We rotate the toys in our house, but these toys always stay in circulation, unless, of course, I banish them for failing to be picked up.

These are our tried-and-tried toys. While they are meant to be played with separately, they often get played in conjunction with each other, extending their lifespan and offering unlimited creative uses. Even if it makes clean-up harder, it's great to see a Manga-Tile train station with wooden train tracks running through it because it means little minds and hands are hard at work.

1. Legos - I have a love/hate relationship with Legos, but no matter how many times I swear to "never buy another set," I always do. Legos truly are the gift that keeps on giving: the build possibilities are endless.  If you need some fresh ideas for your Legos, here are a bunch of outside-the-kit ideas.

2. Magna-Tiles  -  These magnetic tiles draw people in, well, like a magnet. They really are fun for all ages - I even enjoy playing with them. These are pricey but worth the extra dollars; there is something soothing about these toys.

3. Dominoes - My kids love Dominoes not just for the game itself, but because the small rectangles are great for stacking, hauling and knocking down. Best of all, dominoes have a really low price point.

4. Wooden Train Sets - We've put this in the attic a couple of times thinking it had been outgrown, but each time, it comes back by popular demand. We have several different sets, but for the money, the Ikea brand (which is compatible with other brands) is the most economical, even if the plastic connectors can be a little hard to manipulate. The trick, I think, is having a lot of different kinds of track/bridges so that a lot of configurations are possible.

5. Tonka Trucks - I still remember the big reaction we got from our then-toddler son over his massive trash truck. Who knew trash could make a kid so happy?  Years later, much to our surprise, the trash truck and fire truck are still getting lots of play. I think there is something about their extra large size that makes these trucks appealing because despite our many warnings not to ride on them, these toys get ridden on by Barbies and people alike.

NOTE: While most of these are "boy" toys, our daughter plays with them just as much as her brothers do. These are just all-around great kid toys.

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