I think the most important factors that make a toy a good toy is that it inspires the kids and brings out endless play possibilities. I personally like open-ended kind of toys, the ones that arouse and stretch creativity & imagination, and there is never right or wrong in how the kids want to play them.
Below is the list of our favorite toys at home in no particular order..Check it out and share with us your thoughts, comments, or “What do your kids like to play with?”
Boxes – Shipping boxes, amazon boxes, etc..You can turn them all into many cool things, cars, tunnels, cages, houses, etc. Put in some decorations and you boys will be thrilled for days.
Cardboard tubes – My son especially likes to make music instruments, binoculars, or telescopes out of cardboard tubes. It is hilarious to see how excited he could get when we finished with a roll of toilet paper. Paper tower tubes can also do the same. It’s cute.
Sand – not just about sand castles, sand also serves kids hours of fun in some other ways. If you don’t have your own sand box at home , many playgrounds do. Kids would usually like to pretend that they were construction workers, hence, comes the digging, dumping, building, etc. Similar to sand, but lower-key is flour. With any kind of flour, throw in some dumb trucks, backhoes, digger toys and your kids would really dig it. The first time my son got introduced to this was about age 2; he stood there playing with flour and construction toys for almost an hour, ignoring his 2 friends running around like crazy inside the house. I was impressed!
Blocks/Legos – Blocks, blocks, blocks! There are so many kinds of blocks and Legos out there on the market made of different materials, sizes, and shapes. Choose them carefully based on your kid’s age and she can happily adventure out in her own imagination. In a nutshell, these are “bricks” that allow children to build their own “building” “bridge” “airplane” or anything else they could think of. This kind of toy helps kids improve their physical skills & hand coordination( by lifting, building…), math skills (by counting, adding…), social skills (by working with other kids), and absolutely, imagination. I usually prefer the wooden blocks although they are sometimes more pricey and harder to find http://astore.amazon.com/moonshine00-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=103
Puzzle/board games – although these normally are not open-ended toys as you gotta play according to the rules, I figured out that they have somewhat added to my son’s mental development. He likes the feeling of “finish something” when he gets the last piece of puzzle to the right spot. Some of the board games we like are here http://astore.amazon.com/moonshine00-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=102
Play-doh/clay – again, play doh is fun! The elasticity allows kids to make pretty much anything out of the material. With clay, you could also leave your final product out in the sun and it will harden to become a “real thing”. Pretty cool.
[Mom, your birthday cake and present! Let’s blow the candles, mom]
Paint – whether your kid is an artist or not, she would usually pay attention to colors and paint would become a great choice of toy. Genetically talking, I don’t think my son would grow up becoming “a hit” or anything in the art field; but I don’t mind that, plus we never know :)! However, he does have some cute & funny ideas when it comes to painting. Several times already, he has told us that he wanted to improve the look of our silver Prius as “it is tooo plain and needs a rainbow” :).
Balls – I think this is one of our oldest toys that has been following our son since infanthood. To be honest, I have more hopes for my son in sport than in art; and I like it. I think balls can teach kids many interesting things while keeping them stay active and social.
Water – There is hardly anything that is more natural to your kids than water. Just let them get to know their lifetime friend while in the bathtub, planting the garden, or doing some houses chore. I sometimes wanted to kick myself in the legs because I had told my son to turn off the water while he was so enjoying it in the kitchen sink. Oh well, at least I taught him one thing that we need to save water!
Household items – These are by far the most simple (besides water) suggestion; however, they work like wonders. I love it when my son makes a toy out of something so unexpectedly and beautifully 🙂
On the last note, I think it is great to let our children play by themselves once they get older; but twice or more during the day, I try my best to be a “kid” and jump into the game. I think my son loves me and the toys more after every time we get to play together. That leaves me a very pleasant feeling at the end of the day 🙂