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.
[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]
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.
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.
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
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 Amazon.com and affiliated sites.]
This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.