Do you have a closet full of toys, yet only a few are actually used? You’ll get the most mileage out of these picks.
If I had to redo some part of motherhood, I’d redo the toys. Perhaps I’d need to negotiate with the kids on the exact number, but I really think they don’t need most of the toys they own. Did you ever notice that most toys aren’t actually played with; they’re just “taken out” and then they all need to be cleaned up. Perhaps 10% of the toys we own are actually played with.
I’ve narrowed my essential toy list to 5 toys and games that my kids have used over and over again. This would be my must-have, keeps kids busy, basics I would keep. And then I would throw in 2-3 random games to keep things new and interesting.
Sophie the Giraffe – This is the only, and I mean only, toy a baby under 6 months needs. Babies really love it. It’s a great teether (Read all those Amazon reviews and you’ll see how much people like it) and bonus for the moms is that it’s actually cute!
Tomy Hide and Squeak Eggs – Move past the 6 months stage and this is one toy that can keep a sitting baby busy. As they grow older they learn to put the eggs together and place them in the proper shape, but until then they love clacking and playing with them. (Find an imitation version here.)
Magna-Tiles – Once a child hits 14-16 months, this building toy is by far the most useful, played-with toy. It’s worth every penny. Kids up to 10 years old (and even older) enjoy building with this and you’ll be using it for many years. You can buy Playmags for half the price and they’re just as good. Just make sure you don’t mix and match the sets as they don’t stick together.
4-7 year olds need a simple dry erase board and they are good to go. They can draw and erase to their hearts’ content. I write out a, b, c or alef bais and they like to copy it over and over again. I’ve gotten active 5-year-old boys to sit for over an hour drawing on the whiteboard. I don’t recommend hanging whiteboards on a wall because they have a hard time learning that they can’t color on the wall. I place the whiteboard on their lap or on a table and I very clearly state (a few times) we only write on this special board.
Chocolate Fix is a game that teaches thinking skills and it’s easy and fun for young kids. The recommended age on the box is 8+ but I’ve seen kids ages 6 and up figure out the puzzles. Once a child gets the hang of how they want the puzzles to be solved, they need minimal help. It will keep them busy long enough for you to read a magazine on Shabbos afternoon.
Edited to add: So many great suggestions in the comments. I guess with so many favorites this is the reason why our toys keep on growing. Two games I thought worth adding after I wrote this post are Ticket to Ride Jr (adorable jr version of everyone’s favorite board game) and Clics (a classic).
Should we round up our favorite toys for older kids? Sound off in the comments below.