For as young as I am, I’ve worked for a long time with children. I’ve worked with a wide variety of ages, in different settings, and with all types of kids. And, I’ve been to a LOT of birthday parties. It’s Baby Miss’ 2nd birthday party this weekend, which has gotten me in a “present” state of mind (pun completely intended) :). It always baffles me how many absolutely terrible presents kids get. And no, I’m not talking socks and underwear. I’m talking toys. There are a lot of ridiculous toys available today; mountains of plastic, no creativity needed, and poorly made. It drives me bonkers.
But, I am here to save you from all craziness. I’ve put together a list of fabulous toys for all ages, as well as list of my favorite retailers so you can find your child’s new favorite toy!
There are five different types of toys; Dramatic Play, Active Play, Puzzles and Games, and arts and music, and sensorial. I’m going to give you some ideas in each category. Ready? Here we go!
Dramatic Play: So important for kids to be able to engage their imaginations
scarves, stuffed animals, puppets, pretend food and kitchen supplies, dolls (of all cultures), dress up clothes (my favorite place to get these especially for school age kids is Goodwill or Salvation Army), play house, doll house, cars and trucks, mailbox, plastic or wooden animals and barn (or equivalent).
Active Play: Indoor or outdoor, kids need to move!
bikes, trikes, jump ropes, balls (of all sizes, materials, textures, etc), tumbling mats, hoops, tunnels, scooters, bean bags, bowling sets, horseshoes, hula hoops, ribbon dancers, balance boards, mini trampolines, cones, domes, hopscotch mat, mini parachute, yoga mat and book or dvd, skates, etc.
Puzzles and Games: Great for fine motor skills, problem solving, and turn taking
Candyland, Tic Tac Toe (travel set), The Storymatic, Charades, Tangrams, Colorforms, 3D puzzles or models (for older kids), Twister, Guess Who, Connect Four, memory games, dominoes, Chutes and Ladders, Go fish, puzzles of all sorts, etc.
Arts and Music: Let’s your kid’s creativity shine with art supplies and musical instruments
Music of all types, instruments of all types, twirly skirts (as Little Miss calls them), scarves, ribbon dancers, playdough and rollers, cutters,etc; stamps and ink, markers, crayons, paper, watercolors, glue, construction paper, paint, art smocks, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, glitter glue, foam, felt, con-tact paper, scissors with all different edges, paper plates, beads, pom poms, stickers, rhinestones, popsicle sticks, chalk, etc.
You could make your own “craft kit” by throwing lots of different supplies in a super cute basket or box. Trust me- they’ll love it!
Sensorial: Great for fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and so much more
Blocks (wooden, foam, all colors and types), moon sand, playdough, construction sets, legos, magnet sets, threading boards, lacing beads, a light table and accessories, water and/or sand table, water toys, felt board and accessories, wooden pattern blocks and picture cards, clay, Floam, etc.
Now there are two other gift ideas that I have that don’t fit under either category. One is, books. I can not say enough about how important it is for you to read to your child every day… ok, end of my speech. 🙂 Second, would be activities. These could be coupons for ice cream, ice skating, trips to the zoo, museums, and more. Children love getting out and exploring new things as well as spending time with their parents.
Here are some of my favorite retailers:
http://www.discountschoolsupply.com/ Great for art supplies, manipulatives, dramatic play, and more
http://www.melissaanddoug.com They have amazing puzzles, games, pretend play toys, blocks, and tons more.
http://www.uncommongoods.com/ They have toys, books, puzzles, and great gifts for teens; things that you can find no where else!
And let me just say: I am not paid by or sponsored by any of these websites or products, I just really like them.
Please let me know if you have any questions. 🙂