Does anyone else find yourself drowning in toys? Please tell me I’m not the only one! I’m convinced that my children have every toy that has ever been made in the history of all toy making. Though we love to spoil our kids and are fortunate to be blessed with parents who love to spoil our children too, I often find myself cursing their names (…and my own!) as I organize all of the puzzle pieces, toddler miniature people, and princess dress-ups. I’m pretty sure I spend just as much time telling my kids to pick up their toys as I do changing diapers (and with three kids two and under, that’s a lot of diapers).
On my better days, clean-up time usually includes me on all fours trying to scoop up play tools, toss balls into their buckets, and organize my superhero son’s Avengers gear. Now, on my not-so-patient days (which rarely happen, *cough, cough*), I am typically found setting a timer and threatening to bring up a garbage bag to collect what is still left on the floor once the timer sounds. Falling into frustration, I find myself really considering throwing out all of the toys, despite my children’s desperate tears and pleading to keep all of them. It is usually at this point that my children remind me what Daniel Tiger would do, instruct me to count to four instead of roar, and then so kindly ask me, “Is there anything else we can do for you, Mom?” I’m such a pushover.
Having both boys and girls means that we have quite the collection of superhero smashing, princess pretending, excavator digging, soux chef cooking, construction tool fixing, race car racing, and Little People imagining toys. However, amongst all the variety, we definitely have a “top five” list of toys that actually get played with every day, rain or shine, by both my boy and my girls. These few and faithful are the toys that, even on my bad days, I would choose to keep.
ONE :: Magna-Tiles
If you’ve spent any time in the Itty Bitty Magic City at the McWane Science Center, chances are your child has played with Magna-Tiles. They are the perfect durable toy that, if you were to ask my children, makes the best towers, race tracks, castles and treasure boxes. I personally love that I can use them to teach shapes and letters to my preschoolers. Unfortunately, they are on the more expensive side, but I snagged them last year during Target‘s 30% off toys sale. I haven’t regretted one dollar spent on these. We are even considering adding the Glow-in-the-Dark set to our collection this year.
TWO :: Kid K’Nex
If any of your children are creators, they will love Kid K’Nex. You can purchase the smaller kits or the larger kit. Each set comes with a booklet of ideas about what to create, but let’s be honest, the best creations are the ones your child makes up! My kids especially love the silly faces included — kind of like a modern-day Mr. Potato Head meets Lego Set. Those of you without preschoolers will find that your older children will likely enjoy their sets for older kids. Check them out!
THREE :: Duplo Legos
As much as I hate cleaning up Legos, I try to do myself at least one favor and encourage Duplo Legos as long as possible! How do you moms with millions of teeny tiny Legos do it?! #momgoals My little ones absolutely love playing with our basket of Duplo Legos. We have a combination of the big pack, construction pack, princess packs, farm animal packs — you can only imagine the creativity that comes out of little toddlers and preschoolers with all of those. My personal favorite has been walking in on my son and daughter rescuing princesses from farm animals with a heavy duty front loader. You can’t beat that the pieces are large, and though there are many, they are fairly easy to clean up. Our basket of Duplos makes its appearance every day with my boy and girls.
FOUR :: My First Microscope
If any of your small children are little explorers, they will really enjoy the Educational Insights GeoSafari Jr. My First Microscope. My kids love collecting everything from sticks to rocks to leaves to bugs during walks or while playing out in the yard. What can be better than further examining how cool all of your new treasures truly are by putting them under a microscope? (Well, maybe begging your mom to keep everything?!) Having your very own kid-friendly microscope also provides a great opportunity to teach your little ones about plants, flowers, and bugs! (Plus, order from their website and receive 30% off your order.)
FIVE :: Learn with Homer
We recently discovered the Learn with Homer App and we are loving it. Though this isn’t officially a “toy,” I still wanted to include it because it has been something I have started using with my four year old daily. You do need a computer, iPad, smart phone, or tablet; however, I find it to be a great learning tool if you have access to the technology (plus, there is no clean up!). I have made profiles for my two year old, four year old and six year old based on their interests, current skill levels, and abilities. Though I have not used it yet to teach my children to read, I do love that it teaches sounds, letters, and shapes while providing lots of stories and games to stimulate a child’s imagination. My six year old’s profile includes stories she can read and then a series of questions about the story she has just read, which has helped her reading comprehension greatly. It also has a vocabulary section which is helping to broaden her vocabulary. My four-year-old son has (finally) gained an interest in learning his sounds and letters and a few sight words. My two year old’s profile teaches her colors and shapes and a few basics to jump-start her learning. Now, don’t get me wrong … I love a good PBS Kids show and Netflix to kill some time on a rainy day (okay, or on just a regular day), but there is nothing better than a little screen time that actually teaches your child something in the process!
Make sure you check out these toys if you don’t already have them! Maybe you can even snag some as gifts during the upcoming holiday sales?!
I hope you enjoyed my family’s Top Five Toys, but I also want to know what your go-to toys are! In the comments below, share some of your favorite toys to help the rest of us mommas out!