Best toys. Toys that have a long life, encourage imagination and kids continue to play with day after day.
As we’re getting ready to move into our new house I’m wanting to fill it exclusively with these kind of toys. That means getting rid of the buckets of toys that create a overwhelming mess and are rarely played with (besides being dumped out) and stick with these smarter toys instead.
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This list is generally geared for younger kids, my kids are currently 1 and 3. The toys listed are ones we use, ones my mom friends rave above and the ones I saw mentioned over and over again in mommy groups.
Almost all the toys on the list encourage creative thinking, open-ended play and can be used in a variety of different ways. And most of them are fun for mom too, which means I’m more likely to sit down and play with my kids. Win-win!
11 Best Toys My Kids Actually Play With
This is my current list of toys we own + a few I’m hoping to add to our collection soon (these will be marked with an *).
1. Ride On Toys
These are my absolute favorite and an absolute must in my book. They are great for gross motor and getting the kids to move daily – we keep ours inside so the kids get lots of movement even on rainy days!
We gave most of ours away during our move since they are a little bulky, but we plan to re-collect once we’re in the new house!
- Plastic Scooter Cars — similar to this one that you can sit on and/or push each other on.
- Balance Bikes — we got Carmen one when she turned two, at three and a half she’s still using it inside and outside.
- Little Tykes Coupe — this is one we’re considering for the new house.
- Wheels Bugs — another one we’re considering, come highly recommended by a friend, used for years and years in her house.
- Wagons are also great!
2. Waldorf Rocker Board*
This is one I discovered while searching online forums, it’s a little pricey but everything I’ve seen and read about this has me in love! It can be used for so many things. Teaching kids all their awesome OT skills and imaginative open-ended play! Kids can rock, play, balance, drive their cars on it, rock their babies, etc. Turn it upside down and it becomes a stage. Rest it on the edge of something (like a tall step) and it turns into a slide.
I could go on and on listing ways to use it. Plus, it’s gorgeous and easy to clean up.
We don’t own one yet, but it’s on my wish list (maybe next birthday!). I’m thinking Etsy might be a good place to buy one.
3. Blocks and Building Bricks
Every home needs a set of wooden blocks (we have this set) and a set of age-appropriate Legos. We have a set of Mega Blocks (they are great for little people, we got our daughter her first set on her 1st birthday) and they are played with all the time. Duplos are another option and are also great. And then there are classic Legos once the kids are older.
4. Cars and Dolls
We have a small collection of both including baby dolls, small doll figurings, small cars and big cars. I love having both cars and dolls for both genders.
The smaller doll figurines and little matchbox cars are especially great for taking with us when we go places. And big cars for at home, like this one or this one. The sturdier the better because the kids are going to hold the tops and push them everywhere! They’ll probably even sit on them too!
Great for motor development! We have a collection of sizes.
A good collection of books is a must. We have a bin that’s always at the kid’s height that they can look at anytime. They are used most right before nap time and bedtime. My little guy loves board books and usually looks at them upside down. 🙂 The goal here is just getting them familiar with books so it becomes something they love as they grow.
7. Musical Instruments
My kids go crazy when daddy pulls out his guitar, they love helping him strum and banging gently on the strings. We also used to have an old keyboard that used to sit on the ground that they would bang on.
But since selling the keyboard and since daddy’s guitars can only be used with supervision I want to get them a little set of instruments they can use anytime. It might be something as simple as egg shakers and an old pot with wooden spoons for a drum. Or I might go fancy and get this little Parum Pum Pum Drum kit. I’m still deciding.
8. Puzzles & a Shape Sorter
Magna-Tiles are another great open-ended toy. I want toys that my kids can play with in a variety of ways, this one fits the bill. They can build garages for their cars, homes for their dolls, rockets, castles and more. I feel like my daughter (3) is finally getting to the age to really start using these to their full potential. Everywhere I look these are a top mentioned toy, with moms raving that their kids use them daily.
I did a little bit of research on magnatiles vs. similar brands, from everything I’ve read magnatiles are worth the extra spend, they have stronger magnets, are easier to clean up and have better shape.
We’re hoping to add these to our collection of toys soon.
10. Little People*
When my daughter turned 3 we got her a nice wooden dollhouse (it wasn’t a hit). I’m still hoping she grows into loving it but I’m wishing I would have got her a set of these Little People instead.
11. Outside Toys
Shovels. Sand Boxes. Slides. We’ll pick a few toys for our backyard that encourages more outside play but I won’t clutter my yard with too many items because nature has already done a lot of the work for me and filled it with so many great things kids love like sticks, rocks, trees, flowers, and dirt – all of which encourage exploring, imagination and learning.
Have a toy to add to the list? Leave it in the comments!