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I have big kids now. Whew, the time really flew by. We’re in a neat position here–we know which toys are the best ones. The toys that last. Like for over 10 years! We’ve had these toys for 10+ years now, and they’re still going strong. Either still at my house or passed down to my nephews because they’re still good–still in good shape, still good to play with, timeless really. If you’re looking for gift ideas for little ones (I’d say 3-years-old and up), try one of these!
Because I purchased these so many years ago, I had a little trouble finding some of the links, so I did my best to make good substitutions. Shopping early for the holidays gives you the opportunity to compare prices across stores and looks for sales, but in all these cases, the price is worth it for the value you get (so many years of play!). Plus, you can then pass the toys down or sell them at a consignment sale or yard sales because they are so durable.
There are so, so many blocks out there, from the old letter blocks we had back in my childhood to the latest Tegu types. But like many families, we just wanted a standard set for building. We bought both the Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Blocks and the Architectural set (because we have twins and wanted twice as many blocks), and they fit the bill. The quality of all Melissa & Doug’s wooden toys is fantastic, and these blocks are still going strong as roads, houses and zoos. Two great ways to save money on these is to keep an eye on them at Amazon (the price often drops to $39.99), or to look for them in craft stores and use a 50% off coupon from the Sunday ads.
Tub of Animals
Seems so simple, a tub of animals (in this case, jungle animals). From my kids’ preschool age, we used these animals for counting and sorting. Then the kids set them up in zoos using blocks or in scenarios acting out stories. With my childcare business, they’ve always been one of the first toys taken out for playtime. We may have lost a few over the years, but they’re still played with (even by my 9-year-olds). Great toy!
Our other “tub of animals” is a big set of dinosaurs, similar to this Animal Planet set. Again, they’ve been counted, studied, given voices and clothes, you name it. And I still find them doing interesting things.
My son received two Tonka trucks for his 2nd birthday (over 10 years now), and they’re still rolling. My nephews ask for them every time they visit. The favorite is a green recycling truck, which Tonka no longer offers, but there are lots of bulldozers and dump trucks to choose from. We’ve used them for both indoor and outdoor play, and they’ve been through a lot! And don’t think they’re just a “boy toy,” girls use them for all the same types of play, plus they’re a great way to get toddlers to clean up all the other toys they dump out.
Back when I was a first-grade teacher, we used these shapes for hands-on math and the students loved using them for building patterns. Once I had my kids, I knew I wanted a set for them as well. As soon as they were past putting-everything-in-their-mouths stage, we bought a set of Geometric Shapes. Yes, they’re great for early math learning, but my kids have used them for so much more, even as play food for their stuffed animals. They’re so versatile!
We’ve had some of our dress-up clothes for almost 10 years, but they’ve since been passed down to smaller kids because they just don’t fit anymore! Over the years, we’ve loved the Melissa & Doug Role Play Costumes, especially the doctor, veterinarian and chef. I’ve also had good luck finding used costumes at yard sales and costume parts (hats, etc.) at the party store. Dress-up is such a great way for kids to use their imagination and play actively, and it even encourages language. These days, my big kids are all about making their own costumes, as they’re more into elves and superheroes.
Moms with big kids–what are you recommendations for toys that last?