Toys and Games Our Kids LOVE – Some of our favorite toys and games for younger kids! Awesome beginner games and classic toys that will last you YEARS!
Gift giving for my kids feels pretty high-stakes sometimes. We don’t really buy toys or gifts like this any time other than birthdays or Christmas, so I really want to make those gifts count.
Everyone has their own balance of gift-giving and their own opinion on how many toys kids really need. I feel like that’s one of the best parts of being a parent–YOU know your family best! You know what your own kids and family (and sanity!) need and don’t need.
My own philosophy was shaped by a lot of the therapists we’ve been blessed to know over the years. They told me that play is the work of childhood. Children learn as they play. They develop gross and fine motor skills, make sense of the world emotionally, expand their creativity, and hone their social skills as they play (among many other things).
I don’t feel like I’m a super-duper minimalist with toys, but I am a little particular about the kinds of toys we buy. When we buy toys and games, I spend the most money on what I feel will be long-lasting or open-ended toys. Things that they can use a lot of different ways or get a lot of use over time. Then, I fill in with their current interests, whether that’s Paw Patrol, or Cars, or Disney Princesses, or My Little Pony.
I though it’d be fun today to share a few of the toys and games for younger kids. These are the ones our kids LOVE and have played with over and over. They’re family favorites that we haven’t lost interest in, and they’re not phases we’ve easily passed through. In no particular order…
These are the toys that get repeat play at our house and have been going strong for YEARS. We fill in with smaller toys that match the phase they’re in (Barbies, cars, etc.)
- Melissa & Doug Train Set. We got this set right before Milo turned 2, and it’s still being played with three years later. I loved how many things you could do with this set and opted not to get a train table because my kids love getting creative with the configurations.
- Wooden Blocks. Similarly, this set of wooden blocks has been in constant rotation. They’ve built towers and castles, but they’ve also made horse stables, garages for vehicles, princess houses, cities, racetracks, obstacle courses, etc. So many ways to play!
- Legos. I was never into LEGOS as a kid, but both Milo and Sophie LOVE them. We’ve mostly stuck with classic sets that can be built a bunch of different ways, then occasionally fill in with character sets for birthdays, etc. If you’re starting out, I recommend this set (and maybe an idea book to get your wheels turning, and a base plate to keep things from breaking apart too easily).
- Model Magic. This gluten free play dough is AWESOME. It holds its shape and doesn’t have that PlayDough smell. We store it in zip-top bags and it lasts for a long time! I order from Amazon or use coupons at Michaels.
- Art Supplies. A package of recycled paper and a brand new 96 pack of crayons was one of the best gifts we’ve ever given! It’s inexpensive and so much fun! (Don’t need crayons? Try our favorite washable watercolors or a new package of stickers)
- Paint By Sticker Books. These were a HUGE hit this year. My kids love them. They’re exactly what they sound like, and the end results really look great!
- Boogie Boards. These are my FAVORITE, especially for places where we need to be quiet or hold still–church, car trips, doctor’s office waiting rooms, etc. They’re little drawing tablets that you can “erase” as many times as you want. They don’t require batteries or charging, are endlessly reusable, are super lightweight, and take up very little space. We use them for practicing math, writing letters, drawing pictures, creating mazes, playing games, etc.
PS – Other ideas:
- Dress-Ups are great for imaginative play and can be just about anything from Goodwill clothing finds to fancy-pants dress-ups.
- Outside toys–bikes, scooters, buckets and shovels, sidewalk chalk, outside balls, etc.
- Memberships or passes to favorite places–children’s museums, the zoo, the science center, train park, etc.
I skipped traditional games like Candy Land or HiHo Cherry-O in favor of some you may not have heard of…
- Sleeping Queens. This game was invented by a little girl, and although the rules might sound a tiny bit tricky the first time you read them through, kids seem to completely get them! Milo has been able to play this one since he was just barely 4 and it’s a favorite for both kids (and adults!). I love that the rounds are quick and it can be scaled easier or harder depending on your kids’ math skills.
- Eye Found It. We’ve shared this one a few times but if you have an I-Spy lover at your house, they’ll love this game. It’s a race to find hidden items in each picture card. It helps that each card is Disney themed, so you’ll also see lots of favorite characters along the way. (They also have a more grown up version for older kids if you prefer.)
- Family Book of Card Games. I gave this to Michael last year for Christmas and we have absolutely loved it. Lots of classics–Old Maid, Go Fish, Speed, etc., but also plenty of new-to-me games that our kids have loved. Pair this with a cute set of playing cards like these donut cards or these Harry Potter ones!
- Hoot Owl Hoot. (For your littlest game players) If competition (or game comprehension) is still tricky, this collaborative game is a great option. Everyone works together to get baby owls to the nest before morning. It goes pretty quickly and since you’re all working together, you’ll have a lot fewer fights about winners and losers.
- Rainbow Jenga. Almost the same as regular Jenga, but the pieces are colorful and cute. (You roll a dice with colors on it and choose a piece with the color you roll.) My kids also use the pieces for blocks and building. We love this one!
- Pancake Pile-Up. This is a relay-type game where you have to create a pancake stack that matches your picture card. It’s a good one when everyone has a lot of energy and you can play with teams if you’ve got a crowd or want your kids to work together.
Your turn! What are your favorite toys and games for younger kids? Any family favorites we’re missing?
PS – Need more ideas for kids? Try our Stocking Stuffers for Kids posts!