Toys are a big deal in our household as they are in most homes with preschoolers and toddlers galore. Every mama has a niche where she likes to spend a little extra time and money on her children. For some of us, it’s smocked dresses and monogrammed sunbonnets; for others, it’s bounce-house birthday parties and ballet lessons; and for me, it’s toys.
I strongly believe that childhood is a time for exploration and unstructured, imaginative play, and I want our playroom to reflect that. I enjoy providing high-quality, classic, open-end toys for my children.
I dabble in the Waldorf philosophy of education that promotes hours of imaginative play for littles. Around holidays and birthdays, I spend an embarrassing amount of time researching toys. While we do have our fair share of plastic toys around the house, I really love to buy playthings that are beautiful and made from natural materials. Etsy and Ebay are both great places to find vintage toys, and Bella Luna Toys is an excellent online store for eco-friendly and old-fashioned toys.
Since we have three boys and one girl, most of our toys are geared towards little boys; but as I am sure many of you have found, boys and girls do play with a lot of the same things, especially when they are young and have not put a gender label on it.
Here are some of my favorites:
Magna-Tiles are hands-down, no competition, absolutely the single best toy we have ever bought our children. This past Christmas, this was the big item our children received from Santa Claus. I read several blog pieces about these where mothers and teachers raved about these magnetic blocks, and on amazon.com it gets more than a thousand positive reviews. When the tiles arrived, I was a little skeptical that I had paid $120 for shoe-size box of plastic pieces. But this was the best money I ever spent! My children have spent at least an hour (usually more) every day since Christmas playing with these. They are great for a wide range of ages. My 4.5 year old loves them, and my 18 month old does too. I even get into building things with them. As an added bonus, since they stick together, it makes clean up a cinch, and they take up very little space. Last month, during one of our long snow days, I also bought Learning Resources All About Me Family Counters, so that my kiddos could put little people in the Magna-Tiles house they built. These have been a great addition.
Sarah’s Play Silks was another item I was bit skeptical about at first. I watched a series of educational videos by a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, and these play silks were one of her top recommendations for imaginative, open-ended play. These are pretty simple: just large, square pieces of silk.
However, the possibilities with them are endless. They are lightweight and tie easily as a cape–and one of my sons wears a cape daily. These have become a permanent fixture in our dress up box.
Sarah’s Soft Silk Sword are another toy that get daily use. Boys will always be boys and will always play war. It’s inevitable. When they are older, I will give them all wooden swords and shields like these; but until they have a bit more self-control and won’t completely clobber each other, I am arming them with these soft, foam swords. They can hit each other as hard as they want and it doesn’t hurt. These definitely do not last forever though. We have had ours for about two years. One of them has bit the dust, but we have gotten more than our money’s worth from it.
Schleich figurines are versatile and durable. They have a wide selection of animals, action figures, knights, and dragons. These are well-made and will last a long time. They are a little more expensive than run-of-the-mill plastic figurines, but worth the extra money.
These are great for adding a little dramatic play to a castle built from blocks, and can also go in the bathtub or an outdoor sandbox. We have a collection of animals as well as knights on horses, and all of them get played with regularly.
What are some of your children’s most-loved and played with toys?