toys...good and not so good ones.

I was busy asking my Facebook peeps today what their kids favorite toys are. At this stage in the game, we have quite an inventory of toys and books. I've been trying to eliminate the junk and have kept the good stuff that should last their childhood. However, Christmas is upon us, and you can't just give them socks and undies. You also can't give them only books and clothes. They have to get at least one good I'll tell you what theirs are so far, as long as you tell me what yours are.

The must-haves, in our home.

Hands down, the best toy ever invented. Period. It is timeless. It is good for boys and girls. Worth every penny and then some. If treated kindly, will last forever. We have saved up quite a bit over time. It was our priority last year, and we even had the Lego advent calendar to boot. DUPLO as well, is loved around here. I am not a big supporter of Mega Blocks, though their duplo-sized stuff has been great and comes in Diego and CARS theme sets.

2. Craft supplies
Liam will vouch for this one. He is one crafty guy. It isn't so much the coloring books that he makes use of, but plain paper, bits of fancy paper or foils, felts, glue, tape (his favorite), pipe cleaners, stickers, feathers, stamps, etc. I have a roll cart with 5 drawers full of stuff to create with. Big time useful investment.
Playdoh also falls into this category. We have a drawer dedicated to all the rollers, cutters and playdoh gadgets.
For toddlers, Color Wonder books with pens have been awesome, as it doesn't write on anything but the special papers (ie. no ink in nostrils). Paint with water books are awesome for toddlers as well, as the real paint can make an awful mess on everything.

We are just really entering this realm, as usually I pull my hair out while game pieces and paper money is flying around the room. I am sure that we will eventually have a family-games night, so we are starting the classics of Monopoly, Clue, and Battleship. Shea is starting to put together 24 piece puzzles and loves them.

This is a boy thing for sure. They never tire from new Hot Wheels or tracks. We never did invest in the whole Thomas train track set, though our boys are magnets to them at our friends houses. Shea has borrowed a few trains from his cousin that he plays with daily.

We intend to buy each boy a new snow toy this year as we are hoping to do a pile of sledding over the holidays. If you don't have the classic saucer, crazy carpet and inflatable tube...those are some good things to have around (as long as you have the snow to go with it of course!).

6. Wii
All three of our boys have played on the Wii and love it. They have played games with their friends, older cousins and grandparents and with us. It is fun fun fun. Somehow it seems more interactive and social than the old-school video games. You seriously need to watch Shea run a race with Riley on Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games!

7. Sport Toys
If you have the space, a net, a few mini sticks and balls will keep the kids busy in the basement when they need to burn some steam. Bikes, skateboards and scooters are not so great at Christmas time, but get used all summer long.

8. Gift Cards
Riley got a $5 gift card for Tim Hortons from his SS teachers, and he was SO thrilled. He bought us all a box of timbits and had gift money left to spare. I may just have to sneak a few into his stocking...maybe McD's, iTunes, Zellers?

9. INSTRUMENTS and music
I found some super cheap toy electric guitars (like $5 each at Superstore) and though they don't play their crazy tune anymore, they use them and dance around like rock stars with them all the time. We also have an electric piano, wooden drum, real baby guitar, shakers etc. Kids love music. They do not grow tired of noise, hence they love their instruments. Books that come with a CD have been fun for Shea.

10. DRESS UP clothes
I keep a box of old halloween costumes or funky vests, capes, masks, hats etc. in the bottom of Rileys' closet. Without fail, if we have company over, you will see a few Darth Vadars or ninja's in the house, playing spies. They use these outfits over and over. I suggest you stock up on these items after Halloween when they are 70%off, or at the thrift store.

Things I thought would be great...but aren't so much...(in our house, anyway)

Tinkertoys. We had these as a kid, and got a large set last year, but the pieces do not stay together well and just frustrate them.

Fisher Price Little People. This was my favorite as a child, and we have a whole tub of Fisher Price including a house and barn, but it requires so much imagination on their part and just doesn't thrill them. I did buy the Fisher Price nativity set in hopes that since they already know the story, they will act it out with the little people.

Transformers. Maybe my boys are a little too young or something, but they don't really play with them at all, and are pretty frustrated as they try to move the parts that will pop off if twisted wrong. I will keep them around in hopes that they will grow into them.

Rescue Heroes. Again, like the Little People, I think it requires too much imagination for them to act out stories with them. They are almost like the boy version of Barbies or something, but "playing house" is not a natural thing for my boys and unless I'm initiating some sort of story for them to go along with, they don't play with these for more than 2 minutes. The playmobile people are more flexible and come with more things that come on and off, so they much prefer those.

The kids are sometimes bombarded with crazy commercials, which make them think they want something they haven't even tried or seen. For example, our boys saw Battle Strikers on T.V. and desperately want them. We're trying to avoid it, but if any of you have them, please give me your opinion.

Anyway...happy shopping! but most of all, good luck with finding special things that will LAST and making memories that will count. I want to make sure that my older two are involved in buying a present for their brothers so they can experience the gift of GIVING as well.



Bloggy Mama said…
Nice work. We love most things by Discovery Toys. Zip Track and Marbleworks (your boys would probably love this one, Sarah). We also adore games. If you want to find out some great kid games: Kids of Carcassonne, Cat in the Hat: I can Do it, Horton hears a who game:You to the rescue, Guess Who... oh there are so many great games. I love what games say, too... that time together is important.
Anonymous said…
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Kristin said…
Great list Sarah!

We are keeping thing minimal too, and also planning on getting gift that are for both Marin and Corban to share instead of separate gifts for both of them.
Christina said…
Hey, my kids do have some Battle Strikers and they are actually quite fun. :) They get to build them and control them and stuff. I play with them every now and then and enjoy it, plus they're not really that expensive compared to a lot of other toys on the market. You could definitely do worse!
Jen said…
I was advised to try the monoply deal game. MY kids LOVE it & it can travel. Easy to slip into a bag or whatever. It sells for about $9. A bargin for an afternoon full of fun. Even Owen has it down to a science. And you can play an entire game in just 15 minutes!
WOW that's a great list. We have lots of that stuff too even though we have girls (cars and trains...they LOVE them especally Portia) :D. The craft list...AWESOME! We got through that stuff like it's candy. :D So much fun! And you gave me some great ideas :D. That was fun to read through.
Hey - why does the comment from Anonymous look like gobbledygoop to me? is this my computer or hers? can Greg explain that to me? ;D curious nanny
Sarah said…
Yes mom, it was just spam...I deleted it.

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