Here they are, in no particular order:
- Blocks...stacking, nesting, giant cardboard bricks, small alphabet cubes, duplo mega blocks, wood architectural blocks, and Lincoln Logs are all great.
- Wooden Puzzles and rack, and stacking/sorting toys
- Costumes: hats, costume jewelry, playscarves, vests, medical kit, fun accessories
- Musical Instruments: (Preferably wood for a natural sound) Rhythm sticks, drum, triangle, tambourine, moracca/shakers, xylophone
- Baby Doll and clothes, blanket and stroller
- Art Supplies: Crayons, markers, colored pencils; paper:colored construction, sketch pad, watercolor pad, origami papers, colored tissue paper, BIG paper, paper roll/butcher paper; glue (sticks and white glue); scissors; paper punchers; paint: fingerpaint, tempera; modeling clay
- Kitchen set with play stuff: We repurposed a little wooden telephone cabinet we were given by drawing a burner on the top surface and a knob. The play food goes inside the cabinet doors. When our daughter was a baby, she absolutely loved opening and shutting the doors. We have a Melissa and Doug wooden play food set that came in four little wooden crates, and our 4-year-old likes to save empty canisters and boxes and decorate them for his play kitchen.
- Puppets and puppet theater (only because Mommy really likes puppets, so Daddy made Mommy a puppet theater for our son's birthday!) Actually, both kids love the puppets, and we love that they encourage verbal and social/emotional skills. Our toddler goes around with a dolphin hand puppet saying, "Heh-woh! Heh-woh!" (Hello!) The kids often have their puppets "talk" to each other, which is totally cute!
- Books, books, and more books! We LOVE books! We read all day long. Our home library is quite extensive, full of children's classics, but we also LOVE getting books from the public library.
- Cars and trucks of all sizes and a town playmat with roads and buildings...these were all hand-me-downs, but our kids love them. This stays on the front porch in a basket.
We try not to buy electronic toys, but we have a few that have been given as gifts. Sometimes they disappear in the dark of night if they're really annoying or just not played with much. One of our favorites is a Leap Frog alphabet set with letters and word cards...we like this one because it's tactile (the letters are 3-Dimensional) and it sounds out the words and letters. This is an older set, so I don't think they make it anymore.
The key to choosing toys is finding things that:
- spur your child's imagination
- keep them engaged and learning
- grow with your child - avoid toys that have a short shelf life
Above all, it must be FUN!
Check out some other toy recommendations over at Rocks In My Dryer.