Saturday, July 9, 2011

Help. Which toys do I really need?

We do need more of this.

Which toys do I really need? Because I have all the ones we don't use.

Recently I had a discussion on facebook with an early childhood educator from Childhood 101.

There were a few issues discussed but what I took away most was how wrong the toys are in this house. I have often been perplexed at just why my kids can't entertain themselves very well. We don't really have a lot of toys as I just got sick of buying things they never played with. Immy is a big fan of dolls and babies and prams, but Popps has never really had anything that really just entertained her for a half hour or so.

Other than craft, drawing, sticking, writing, gluing, cutting.

Childhood101 was discussing that as a basic, a child should have some building blocks and toy animals to play with.

We had neither. There is a megablocks wagon that is emptied and they use the wagon but the blocks were rarely played with.

As for animals, there are none.

This week a box of Duplo arrived, I had won it over at Ah the Possibilities, it is a car wash with a little mechanic man. Before opening it I explained this was a toy for Immy. Not really expecting Popps to have an interest anyway. Super wrong. She has wanted her hands all over it and happily played on the floor with it while we prepared dinner - only after bribing Immy with another toy so she would give it up.

I bought some plain wooden blocks. Clearly we need more, 100 is just not enough to build the worlds largest castle and fence and playground and...

I have also been watching the boys over at My Little Drummer Boys love playing with Lego, so I purchased a basic box to see how it would go. Fabulous. Another half hour of play without that usual "Mum, look at me, Mum, play with me".

We still dont have any animals. Yet.

So I am now asking, what are the basic toys that you think keep a child engaged. What toys do they keep playing with rather than use once and never see again?


  1. You probably already have one of these for your girls, but I bought my boys a tea set. Not very boysy, I know - but that's the point. Grown ups drink tea and coffee ... so why exclude little boys from playing tea parties and entertaining their toys?
    We now have a tea set, and toy kitchen. I think these are pretty essential toys for little people practicing their big people skills. We combine ours with Playdoh, shopping role playing, tea parties, birthday parties, etc.

  2. Schleich Animals - are expensive, but worth every penny!
    My kidlets love ELC train/plane/rocket etc, thomas engines, postman pat toys - anything that allows them to have imaginative play about situations.

  3. You can't go wrong with Lego duplo it is still the most played with toy in our house. They have a range of pink and more stereotyped Girl stuff Belville. We don't have that :). We still have mr 18 duplo and even he plays with it with his little bros.

  4. I have two boys (5 and 8) - but little kids are little kids, I think.

    This is what keeps my wee ferals amused:

    Trains (we have Thomas)
    Drawing or painting
    Little cars
    Wooden blocks (often get seconded to the train set for extra support and tunnel making)

    Strangely, neither of them liked megablocks at all. Both adore Lego in all its incarnations. Transformers are *really* cool - there's a lot of doing and thinking and fiddling involved; and they also love beyblades - although we argue about whether they are fancy tops or not. They are SO tops! But again, they're a thinking/fiddling/doing toy and not as passive as one would think.

  5. Oh, and a tea set and/or a cooking set. It's important to be able to cook up an imaginary feast! And you can't go past one of those toy checkouts, either...

  6. We struggle with this even though Little T is only 14 months old. When ever I pick him up from creche he seems to be playing in the toy kitchen, stiring and sipping. We don't have any duplo yet, but I might keep my eye out on eBay. I feel like i have bought so many toys that he's done with after about 10 seconds at a time. We move int a new house in a few weeks so I plan to set up a areas for him to play in a little better and hope that helps too.

  7. Clairey, such a great post (and so true!) I've found that the toys that get most use here are:

    Matchbox cars
    Little People (yes, seriously!)
    Train tracks
    Wooden blocks

    My boys even have a tea set which has just come out again (we rotate our toys - and that means they're new again after a week or so), and they are having more cups of tea each day than I do!


  8. Lego in all it's forms. It's the thing both my children played with - plenty of scope for imagination, and easy to bring other favourite toys in to the play.

    Also a wooden train set. We bought brio - expensive, but really worth it. We started with a basic set and added to it over the years. Again something both children played with heaps.

    Toy animals are really good as are some basic people, small ones that don't dictate the type of play - by this I mean barbies or dora etc. You can get some beautiful ones at Steiner type stores. These are felt and wood and don't have faces painted on them - in a non scary way! They are non specific - so they don't tell the children how to play in the way toys that are a character do (if that makes sense)
    These were the types of toys my two played with time and time again over their barbies, transformers etc.
    Another good idea can be their own house hold items for pretend play, op shops are a treasure trove of old dinner sets, cutlery, cooking utensils. Kids love to model what they see grown ups do - and they love to do it with real things!

  9. What great advice from everyone. It really does seem that blocks and Lego are the places to invest, though the wooden ones are pretty cheap.

    We have some little people stuff too, I must get it out again and put it all together.

    I am also thinking a little wooden kitchen might be good to look for on eBay or toy sales, complete with cash register etc for playing shops.

    Might get Santas elves to get working on some more Duplo too!

  10. Thank you for the mention, Claire. When buying a toy, try to think about how much potential it has for all different types of play. For example, blocks and figurines can be houses, shops, ships, anything really.

    I agree with the comments above that a tea set/kitchen are also fabulous for prior to school aged children. And our wooden trainset - which was really reasonably priced at Ikea gets a regular workout - though I would suggest getting more than one set so they can make BIG track formations.

  11. This was an issue for me as I cleaned out all the toys from the older 3boys &had to decide what to keep for the 2year old. The wooden train set is his favorite and any ball and bat or golf stick is a hit as he is constantly trying to do the things his brothers do. I also have a tub full of animals & dinosaurs which he loves. And of course duple and Lego. That's not to say we don't have any of the other expensive plastic licensed stuff etc as they love it for a while but I always find they are very short term presents that I end up getting rid of as they lose bits, break or just take up too much room!

  12. Love this post - am reading through the suggestions and jotting down ideas! There is so much rubbish out there that it's hard to know what to buy and what to walk past.

    I think some little people and animals are a great idea - A doesn't have any of those yet. She tends to use her wooden blocks as her people in imaginary play which is cute.

    I also want to get her a toy kitchen (a friend mentioned she has one her daughter has outgrown, so I'll be following that up!).

    In terms of blocks - A has never paid much attention to her Megablocks, only a little bit of time with her Duplo, but her wooden blocks are a constant source of entertainment - used as towers, houses, bridges, people, pretend food, all sorts of things. Other things that keep her amused? Dolls with a toy pusher and cradle - she spends literally hours each week putting her dolls to bed. She's never played with her dollhouse as much as I thought she would, though, so it's interesting something that seems quite similar to what she loves goes ignored most of the time.

  13. My youngest is playing with Lego owned by his big brother and Dad! Timeless! Also Mobilo is great. Just about to eBay some if you want?

  14. Being a grandparent, I try to be a little "subversive" when choosing a gift for the littlies: I'm currently keeping my eye out for a set of bag-pipes!! But choosing toys is fun: I bought a great game called Ball of Whacks, which is a conglomeration of coloured magnets that you can make into different shapes: unfortunately, I haven't been able to play with it because it's been such a success with the little folk. If you find it, have some fun with it - when the kids have gone to bed!

  15. We rotate our toys {we have waaaay to many}. This is a great reminder to pull the duplo blocks out again! I'd really like a wooden toddler train set too, the kind you build and piece together tracks, bridges, signs and roads to create your own town!
    I just have to find a foolproof way to avoid a full set turning into three left over random pieces by the end of the week. Toy monsters live in our house you see, eating and hiding bits to games! LOL


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