December 13, 2011 at 6:00 am
A couple of years ago, a friend brought her children over for a visit.
As she peeked into our living room, she asked me, “where are your toys?”
And to be honest, if you looked in there today, you might ask the same thing. We don’t have a designated playroom full of small bins. Our toys tend to blend in with the wood panelling a bit.
That’s because we tend to favor toys made of natural materials — wood, cotton, wool, etc.
And, we rotate toys. Usually just a few things are out on our shelves. Everything else we store, and we change out the big toys (like the stable, or the fairy house, or the car garage) every week or two.
But my kids dearly love their toys. They play with them for hours, and often find creative ways to mix and match items, like using a basket of blocks and a basket of small animals to create a zoo.
There are a few toys that we own that are very well loved. Every time we bring them out, there is excitement and new discovery. These are our “top” toys, and many of them I have purchased again for family members or friends with smaller children:
- Musical instruments. Family members were a little surprised when these made the holiday wish list several years in a row. But my kids love music. They put on CDs and play the instruments and dance. They bang away frustrations on drums, the shake away extra energy with a maraca. We have had a basket of musical instruments available to kids since they were babies, and they are always a hit!
- Puzzles. We often pull out wooden puzzles (and now larger puzzles with more pieces) on long afternoons. I still envision my kids as babies sitting at the table with an afternoon snack putting puzzles together with their free hand. Puzzles help with dexterity and problem solving, sure — but they are also a nice, calm, indoor activity when the weather gets cold.
- Blocks. Simple right? But I can’t tell you the number of hours we have spent here playing with blocks. Blocks can build so many things. We have made zoos and towers, cities and villages … blocks are useful for finger puppet play scenery and can be combined with other toys for endless fun.
- Play silks. We always have a basket of play silks handy to be used in play. From dress-up to creating “lakes” in a block village, playsilks can become just about anything — baby blankets, placemats, wings, hats … they are such a versatile toy!
- Dress-up clothes. My children love dressing up. They don capes to go to the grocery store, and dog ears to visit restaurants. We have a huge bin filled with hats, vests, glasses, ties, scarves … mostly old and thrifted. The kids loved getting dressed up and I am all for driving a princess and an adventurer to the library.
- Art stuff. Seriously, this isn’t a toy, but we spend HOURS creating with paper, yarn markers, crayons, beeswax, clay, beads … the list goes on and on.
- A play kitchen. Our play kitchen is always cooking! We have lots of pretend wooden and felt food, and the kids spend many hours cooking up recipes. Sometimes the kitchen is a restaurant. Sometimes it is a zoo kitchen making food for the animals, but it is always, always in use.
- A vet kit. This is one of only a handful of plastic toys in our house that gets regular use. But as a family of animal lovers, we are often caring for fluffy friends.
What do your kids play with most?