Top Ten Toys For Kids
Gimmick toys come and go, action figures change and fashion dolls wax and wane but the basics stick around for decades and never go out of style.
I am the oldest of seven kids, helped raise them, had three of my own, took in foster kids, fed and entertained the neighbor kids as well as babysat others so as you can see I know what children like.
I’ve seen toddlers open a gift, toss the toy and play with the box and wrapping paper for hours to the dismay of the parent who paid a bundle for the latest “It” toy. Babies don’t care what commercials tell them to like; they like what is fun.
Kids don’t need a lot of toys, in fact if they have too much they become overwhelmed and have too many to keep up with. Without proper organization and storage space it eventually just becomes a pile of rubble. Initially older kids will be pleased to have what the media has told them they have to have but after a few days they soon learn that advertising isn’t always right.
I realize I didn't list books here but I don't really think of them as toys and in my opinion all children should have a library or at least be able to borrow books from a public one.
I’m doing this in a top ten way but as you know all kids are different and what your child like’s best may not be in this particular order but I assure you every child unless they have limitations will enjoy all of these toys no matter gender.
These are by far the best toys known to man. They tend to be pricey but people will buy them anyway. Put a tub of them in the attic today, pull them back out twenty years from now, set them in front of a five year old and you won’t hear a peep out of him until lunch time.
They never go out of style or lose their appeal. Just try to walk by a Lego store with a small boy and see if he doesn’t beg, bargain or fall on the floor until you take him inside.
I say boy but really girls love these just as much as boys. They promote creativity, improve fine motor skills and keep them away from the television aka boob tube.
If you are lucky you can sometimes find these second hand but they are hard to find because kids don’t want to part with them even when they are technically too old for toys. My grown sons still have theirs and play with them with their college buddies. Shh, don’t let them know I told.
2- Swingset/playground equipment
Swings, slide, monkey bars or anything they can climb on. Kids loved them in the 50’s, they love them today and I guarantee you in thirty years that same set, if still in good condition, will still be fun to their offspring.
We had a really old set that was metal and had been repaired a few times but rust and time had taken its toll. My sons are grown and my daughter a teenager so we took it down and hauled it to the metal recycle shop. My oldest son came home, realized it was gone and whined, “I got that for my fifth birthday.” Didn’t matter he was too old for it or that it was falling apart he couldn’t part with his old friend.
Playground equipment gets kids outside in the fresh air, exercising and staying fit. Too many children veg-out in front of screens all day and don’t play outdoors enough.
Another timeless piece. In the mid 1800’s some genius invented this wonderful mode of transportation that really isn’t a toy at all but since then we have many smaller versions and children start riding them as soon as they can walk.
You can start them on the three-wheeled version; the tricycle or get one with training wheels but kids of all ages love them.
4- Homemade friend
I don’t want to say baby because some macho boys don’t want anyone to think they play with dolls, although there is nothing wrong with it. Boys grow up to be daddies and take care of children just as much as girls these days. For generations little boys have had stuffed teddy bears or other pals to sleep with.
It’s been my experience that children love the homemade imperfect variety more than the store bought hard plastic dolls. This is why those funny looking misshaped monsters are so popular. If you can’t sew don’t worry, just find a stuffed baby/friend that is soft and huggable. When little people are in trouble, things aren’t going their way or they don’t feel good that piece of fabric can ease many ills.
Every so often check to make sure arms, legs and eyes are still sewn on well because there is nothing more traumatic than Sally’s arm coming off. To a three year old these loved objects are real and no amount of talking can convince them otherwise so treat them like you would a member of the family that just had a leg come off. You either fix it or take it to the hospital (seamstress that does emergency repairs) and take care of it immediately otherwise everyone will lose sleep.
Make sure if the toy is for a young child it doesn’t have eyes or nose made from buttons or other objects that can be chewed off and swallowed.
My kids had the old fashioned metal variety without guardrails and lived to tell about it but if you are afraid they might fall out or that they might bump their face on a hard metal surface there are wonderful plastic types that won’t rust. Little Tykes is one of my favorite brands and about the only thing that can go wrong is fading but you can even paint them now. RustOleum has a special paint that will recoat plastic, so if you bought a pink one for your daughter but now have a son who wants a more masculine color it can be repaired.
Kids can pull toys, each other or whatever they choose around in these. Not only that I’ve seen parents pull children who are a bit too old for a stroller around in them when going to the park or outdoor event.
There are several versions of these, some connect together and some are just plain old wooden blocks.
When my kids were young I took half-gallon milk cartons, cleaned them well, cut the peaked top off and slid one inside the other making rectangle blocks. You can cover or paint them if you like but I left mine plain. They do take up a bit of space so you might want to think about this but they make great forts, houses and other interesting structures.
7- Coloring books/paper
Children love to color, draw and make things out of paper. When my kids were young I had a large basket in the corner of my living room with coloring books, colors, markers and pencils for kids to create their own fun. You can sometimes get paper at an office that are printed on one side but still have a good side to draw on. In the old days you could get end rolls of paper from a newspaper company for kids to draw on. You might check a small publication and see if they have anything like this.
With our world becoming a paperless society someday kids may do most of their creating on a screen but for now you can still get paper for them to make pretty pictures on. After all, you can’t hang an electronic gadget on the refrigerator.
I recommend washable markers for young ones.
FYI- You can get crayon off of walls, plastic tables and toys with WD40 and a rag.
8- Play Dough
You can buy the ready made kind or in less than ten minutes you can make your own.
Keep away from carpet as this stuff sticks very well and has to be cut out.
Kids of all ages love to create and clay is a great medium for making all sorts of fun things. It won’t hurt them if they eat it as you can see everything in the recipe can be found in a cookie.
Homemade Play Dough
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of salt
Food coloring in desired shade for tinting.
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan along with whatever color dye you want. Stir constantly over medium heat until firm. Keep an eye on it or it will stick. Let cool and hand over to your budding artist.
Store in plastic bags or recycled food containers. The salt keeps it from molding and it will keep for a long time or until junior forgets to put it away and it dries out.
9- Toy Vehicles
Boys and girls enjoy these and you can find them in all sorts of shapes and materials from metal, plastic or wood. Once again, my favorite brand is Little Tykes. Plastic is safe if they fall on it, less damaging to furniture and they last through several kids.
10- Toy Animals
These are usually plastic but I’ve seen some nice wooden varieties. Anywhere from jungle animals, dinosaurs or farm critters. Kids enjoy moving them about, making them moo or growl and can take them along to boring doctor’s visits.
Some will say I forgot balls. Actually, I didn't forget them it's been my experience that not all children enjoy playing with balls. I didn't care for them nor did any of my kids. It's typically people that like sports who find them fun so in my opinion they don't belong in the top ten.
That’s it. I’m sure you have some additions I haven’t thought of here but I assure you no matter what country a child is from they will find any of these toys enjoyable.