Its that time of year again where we are bombarded by advertisements and the lure of consumerism. Advertisements for toys is especially hard hitting. You can’t even walk in to the grocery store these days with out shelves and shelves of toys. There are literally toys everywhere you turn. Advertisements for toys that will help your child be smarter, more imaginative and so on. Unfortunately these are all just marketing techniques, to get you to spend more this holiday season. So how do you pick toys that will add value to your child’s life rather than simply depleting your bank account and taking up space on your shelves… or living room floor if we’re being totally honest here.
Our picks are open ended, multi functional toys that allow our kids imaginations to shine. Simply put open ended toys are toys that a child can use in various ways rather than having a singular or stagnant purpose. A stagnant toy would be something like a robot, or remote control car. Our children interact with the toy simply by pushing buttons, and watching the toy move. Often times these toys are noisy as well. On the opposite end an open ended toy might be a set of silk scarves. These scarves can be used for dress up, creating a scene for a peg doll family and so much more. Open ended toys give our children the opportunity to have a deeper understanding of the world around them through imaginative and pretend play.
If you were like me, this concept of buying more simple opened ended toys make seem a bit foreign and maybe even a bit overwhelming. Maybe you’re kids already have a ton of stagnant single purpose toys? If so check out my post “simplifying your child’s room” for tips on how to declutter their toys and create a space that promotes peace, and positive cognitive development. Once you’ve created a space where opened ended toys, imaginative and pretend play can shine its time to upgrade your child’s toys. The holidays are the perfect time to do so.
Holiday Gift Guide 2019
- Grimms Rainbow and Element stackers. These are on the pricier side but the quality and longevity of these makes them well worth it. The rainbow stacker comes in multiple sizes, if you can afford the large one get it, your kids will be able to play with it well beyond the toddler years.
2. Wood balance board. We were first introduced to balance boards at a friends house and Finley and Lincoln loved them. They can be used in so many different ways. These definitely aren’t just for balancing on!
3. Play Silks. There is a popular brand of play sicks called “Sarah’s Silks” we have a few but personally I wouldn’t spend the extra money on them. There are so many cheaper versions online now that work just as well. You can even order un-dyed silks to dye yourself, which could be a fun craft project for older kids as well.
4. Wooden animal Figurines. There are a few well known brands of wooden figurines such as Ostheimer Wooden Toys, however if you search on Etsy you can find hundreds of wooden toy makers with varying price points. I recently ordered two sets of 10 figurines from wooden ya say on Etsy and am so impressed with the quality and the turn around time was so quick! The sets I ordered are unfinished meaning they can be painted, dyed or stained. Honestly I haven’t decided if I want to finish them or not because they’re so beautiful in their natural state. If you want to shop small I highly recommend this shop.
5. Magnetic Tiles. We bought the kids a set of Magnatiles a few Christmas’s ago and they are still played with almost daily. During Amazon prime day I picked up another set. Get the biggest set you can afford and look out of good deals on them this time of year. When I bought our first set I had a 25% off target coupon!
6. Rainbow Pebbles. I’m super excited to gift the kids these. For only $15 these are a steal! The kids are always collecting rocks to play with, stack, count and so much more. I love that this set gives them ideas of how to use the pebbles to create different patterns. They’re also a perfect manipulative to use for counting, sorting and basic arithmetic.
7. Shape Sorter. This one is more for Emery (10 months) than Finley or Lincoln. However there is a 99% chance they will play with it too. Thats the great thing about open ended toys they span multiple age groups.
8. Peg Dolls. These simple wooden dolls are perfect for little hands. If you search Etsy you can find ones with intricate details, Disney characters and even ones that are representative of your family! I personally prefer peg dolls like the ones pictured below. By keeping the dolls simple, and faceless it allows children to decide what the doll is going to be. One day their dolls might be a band of pirates and the next a group of forest elves. You can also buy the dolls unfinished for only a few cents a piece, and decorate the yourself, you could even make little peg doll cloths out of scrap fabrics.
9. Play Kitchen. There are hundreds of play kitchens to choose from. I love the Ikea play kitchen. I love that it’s made out of natural materials vs plastics and its under $100 which is even better. Ikea also sells super cute felt food, real stainless steel mini cooking / baking sets to go with the kitchen. These play kitchen’s aren’t just cute though. Dramatic or pretend play helps children develop social and emotional skills, thinking and problem solving skills as well.
10. Marble Run. The kids were first introduced to marble runs at our local science museum. We must have stayed and played with it for two hours, building and rebuilding different courses. Its $60 off right now too! Buy it here.