Kids don’t always choose what’s best for them. That’s why we don’t let them plan the dinner menu, set their own homework schedules, or decide how clean to keep their rooms.
When it comes to toys, kids’ judgment isn’t much better. They are easily swayed by advertising and tend to ask for trendy toys with lots of bells and whistles. But those toys don’t offer much room for imagination, and their play value is very limited. When you’re looking for toys that your kids won’t get bored with or outgrow, it’s best to go with the classics. Here are some great options.
Depending on your kids’ interests, consider building blocks, paint sets, or modeling clay. Open-ended arts and crafts supplies have much more longevity than more restrictive ones, so avoid the paint-by-number sets and building sets that have a set outcome. When you’re shopping for big-ticket surprises, take your child’s specific interests into account. If your little boy loves to paint, he might enjoy an easel and a corner of the playroom devoted to his hobby. If your girl loved playing with building blocks when she was little, go for a massive set of building bricks that will let her create whatever she wants.
If your child enjoys sports, then shop for something new to add to the mix, such as tennis or handball equipment. A bicycle is always a great gift; think ahead and buy one that will adjust to fit as your child grows. If your kids are already set with bikes, a skateboard can give years of enjoyment and outdoor play while improving balance, coordination, and fitness. If you live in a cold-winter climate, your kids might enjoy a new sled, snowboard, or snowshoes for winter play.
Dolls, playsets, cars and trucks, doctor kits, action figures, and puppet theaters are all examples of toys that invite kids to act out scenes of their own creation. Pretending lets kids try on adult characteristics, act out things that confuse or frighten them, and expand their imaginations. The trick is to know your children. Some respond well to a box of theater props or puppets; others would rather play more quietly with a dollhouse or some cars.
Board and Card Games
Board games are a classic toy for cooperative play among siblings or friends. Board games such as checkers, Clue, backgammon, Monopoly, and Scrabble are enduring classics that teach sportsmanship and keep kids engaged for hours. Little kids love games such as crazy eights and old maid, whereas older kids are ready for a standard deck of cards and a book of card game rules so that they can learn to play gin rummy or spades. If your kids enjoy games, consider setting up a cozy game corner for them with a table where they can play.
The trick to buying toys that your kids will play with for a long time is to choose open-ended, kid-directed activities over toys that have so many features that the child’s imagination gets stifled. Choose durable, simple toys that are well-made and that can be played with in many different ways.