Top Ten Toys and Games 2014 – 2015


In the nearly 28 years that I’ve been a mom, I’ve seen my share of toys come and go. I’m not a fan of toys that break easily or only hold a child’s interest for two days. I want toys and games that will last for years.

I hope you enjoy our family favorites and find new toys and games your children will love.

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1. Active Toys

Last year Little Man got a Pogo Ball and a Hopper ball for his birthday; both are fun for everyone, even adults. They can be played with inside and out, which makes them especially wonderful when the cold weather hits. Another favorite year-round toy  is the indoor basketball hoop. Stomp Rockets provide lots of fun and laughter for kids and adults. Riding toys are also big favorites, especially when my children were too young for big bikes. I have fond memories of my little ones riding their Radio Flyer Tiny Trike.

2. Games


One evening we had a crowd of high school and college kids here, so I took a poll of their favorite games. These are the ones they spontaneously offered: Candyland, Trouble, Guess Who?, Clue, Rat-a-Tat Cat, Uno, Dutch Blitz, The Amazing Labryinth, Connect 4, Life, Stratego, Settlers of Catan, Imaginiff, Blokus, and Apples to Apples. The games below are all games we own and play – maybe you’ll find something new, or remember an old favorite!

3. Educational Toys and Puzzles

I have to confess, I love educational toys because they teach while allowing for creative fun. I also love puzzles and have to resist buying more and more.  Our favorites are floor puzzles, Lauri puzzles, beautiful Ravensburger puzzles, and colorful Melissa and Doug Puzzles.

4. Trains, Trucks, and Cars

We began collecting our wooden train set when we lived in Ithaca, New York, more than twenty years ago.  Little Man and Eby love it.  I keep it out for awhile, and then store it away, often trading it with the big bin of blocks.  Even college kids have been known to come over and build a train.  You can start small, with enough track to make a circle or figure eight, and add to it over the years. We also have Russ’ electric train that he had growing up and he likes to set it up around the Christmas tree.

I can’t even guess how many different trucks and cars we’ve owned over the years, but they provide hours of fun play. I included  a couple of airplanes in this list too.

5. Castles, Doll Houses, and Adventure Toys

My nephews who are now 25 and 23, passed their Fisher Price Castle and Pirate Ship to my kids many years ago.  Eby and Little Man call them their “bad guys” and still love playing with them.  If I were to purchase a set today, I would probably go with something like the ones below, although if you can find a used castle, my guys love theirs.

We also have a dollhouse that originally belonged to my niece and has given my kids hours of fun play.  It resides in the girls’ closet now, but we pull it out when younger children come over to play.

6. Blocks and Building Toys 


We have two large bins of Duplos that have been played with for over twenty years – I’m not kidding.  Eby and Little Man have moved on to Legos, but the Duplos get pulled out for young friends. Legos occupy Eby for long periods of time and he is slowly accumulating some special sets. A couple of years ago I found my older boys’ set of K’nex and Sunshine fell in love with them. She built creations daily, and particularly loved following the diagrams to create cars, etc.

Our big set of wood blocks has been played with for 22 years; you can’t go wrong with classic blocks.

7. Art and Craft Supplies



Good art and craft supplies are worth hours of fun.Some art supplies are expensive, but they often last for a very long time. We still have a large set of Prismacolor pencils that belonged to Mimi years ago. We love our art sketchbooks and recently began experimenting with watercolor pencils in our nature journals.  Sunshine received a Moleskine sketch book for her birthday last year and it is lovely.  She packs it when we go places where there just might be something worth sketching.

My younger set spends hours playing with paper, glue, paints (they love the little inexpensive watercolor sets), markers, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, and tape. Extra exciting items are fuzzy pompoms, foam stickers, pipe cleaners, glitter glue, and googly eyes with adhesive backs. This can also get super messy, but I give them a large plastic bowl for their scraps which helps with cleaning up. As they’ve gotten older, they enjoy Spin Art and they’ve recently begun doing origami, following instructions in YouTube videos.

8. Dolls

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We love baby dolls and have saved many special ones. It was especially nice to add more ethnically diverse dolls to our collection. I hesitated to share this sweet picture of Little Man because the little boy doll he is holding in his right hand was handmade especially for him. What I want you to see is the Gloworm in his left hand – he loved that for a long time and found it comforting because of the soft light it gave off when he hugged it.

9. Imaginative Play

knight in armor

These toys provide hours and hours of fun. Truly. Trust me on this.

10. Electric Snap Circuits, Marble Run, and Other Cool Things My Kids Like

There are so many toys that don’t quite fit into one of the earlier categories, so I’ve put them here where you won’t miss them.

I hope you enjoyed looking through our family favorites and maybe even found some toys and games that will be great gifts this holiday season.

Thank you for reading!


[One Thankful Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.]

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Emily
    November 8, 2014

    I saw under arts and crafts you posted the Secret Garden coloring book- have we talked about this? I have this at my house and kids who come over LOVE IT. Like, ask to come over specifically so they can color in it. It's beautiful, intricate coloring designs have kept girls from age 7-13 occupied for hours- alone or together, working on connected pages. Sometimes they will spend a couple hours (seriously!) just doing part of one page- even girls who are normally really hyper :-). I love that it stays at my house and they sign when they work on it- it feels like a guestbook now.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 8, 2014

      You're the one who shared this with me! You brought it to Whidbey Island and I loved it – I'm thinking of having it available as a quiet activity while we read, or when a child is done with dinner and there is lots of conversation still happening.

  2. a portland granny
    November 8, 2014

    Lisa, what a wonderful post–Even this old Grandma enjoyed it–found some good gift ideas for friends,some gifts to give to a friend who is a brand new grandmother, and last but not least, some things to add to my toy shelves!! Thanks for taking the time to do this post! (I'm thinking the Secret Garden book I will get for myself!)


    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 8, 2014

      I'm so glad you liked the post! Please share it with friends. I want the Secret Garden book too; it's as pretty as it looks.

  3. Christine
    November 8, 2014

    Loved looking at the post! I thought I would let you know about a game that all ages can play we found. It is called Deer in the Head lights. We can play this with the whole family ages 8 to 40. We have played with 9 people before. I Love when I find games every one in the whole family can play, and enjoy together.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 9, 2014

      Thanks for the suggestion, Christine. I haven’t heard of that game before; I’ll check it out!

  4. crissy
    November 10, 2014

    Hi Lisa, I am new to reading your blog. I enjoy it very much! Jen Summers is one of my dearest friends.
    We live in OK and are in the process of adopting 6 and 9 year old brothers from foster care. They have lived here 5 months. Thanks to you and others who have gone before and are encouraging in this journey.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 10, 2014

      Hi Crissy, thanks so much for introducing yourself; Jen is such a great friend. You'll be glad to have her support on your adoption journey. I hope you find encouragement and practical help here on my blog. Blessings to you.

  5. Lisa H.
    November 10, 2014

    Fun list! We have so many of the same things. Here's something else you could add to your art supplies. We've loved these books and there are many different themes for boys and girls:

  6. Sara
    December 16, 2014

    Nice Post! That is an amazing list of wonderful toys.

    I like how you have selected many styles of toys, from manipulatives, to art, to toys that foster the imagination.

    Well Done!


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