Play is the way our little ones learn. A few simple, imaginative, skill-building toys are wonderful tools for helping your little one learn and grow. These are some of our favorites in our home.
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Every kid should have a set of blocks. We enjoy these colorful ones from Melissa and Doug (also available through Target) because they can be used to help learn colors and sorting skills. Don’t worry – if you’re more into neutrals, they have a natural wood set, too. We do a mix of colors and natural wood ourselves.
These little blocks are great because they provide lots of learning opportunities. We can do object identification when they’re real little and letters and numbers as they grow (also available through Amazon).
Wooden train sets are great for little ones, great for imagination and problem solving skills. We love the high-quality and simplicity of this set from Melissa and Doug (also available through Amazon). We also love that you can add in other sets, like this added circular set, for more tracks.
These are a great “first Lego” for little ones. We have a John Deere set which Levi loves to play with, and I never had to worry about it being a choking hazard for Lucy. They come in a variety of styles and colors (also available through Target).
pretend and role play
Lucy received this sweet doll as a birthday gift, and both she and Levi love to play with her and take care of her. She’s soft, has a good weight to her, and comes with a magnetic pacifier. Stella also comes in different sizes, skin tones, genders. I’m a firm believer that dolls are great toys for girls and boys. Perhaps your little guy would be interested in a doll in an NFL uniform like these offered from Target!
We all love this little cleaning set. Our children use it both for play and for actually helping around the house. It’s wonderful! (Also available through Target.)
We didn’t buy these yet for Levi, but they are definitely on his Christmas list (also available through Amazon). Every time we go to the library, he plays with the puppets. Puppets are great for story-telling, and they also allow children to process their own social and emotional lives through the puppets.
puzzles and games
Wooden puzzles like this one have been favorites of our toddlers. They’re easy to manipulate and fosters hand-eye coordination. You can find a variety of styles on their website.
Puzzles are a great activity for problem-solving and motor skills. Mudpuppy’s Jumbo Puzzles are a great size for little hands. Levi has a space explorers one that he loves to complete. I especially enjoy how colorful and educational their puzzles are. They have a variety of styles, such as forest friends, construction site, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and more.
A great game for littles, memory match is fun and this one is super affordable at $5. It’s small, so it’s great for travel. We have this style, but the Mudpuppy brand also offers their Mini Memory Match game with cats, unicorns, princesses, “Little Feminist”s, dinosaurs, Eric Carle’s characters, outer space, and transportation, so you can choose the style your child will like best.
educational and creative play
Affectionately called “noculars”, Levi loves taking his binoculars around and look for birds and animals while we go on nature walks.
We spend lots of time looking at birds at our bird feeder. These flash cards, which I originally bought for myself, have been so exciting for the kids to play with. They love to identify which birds they see at the feeder with the cards. It’s one of their favorite things!
This instrument set is so fun for the kids. We do music time a lot in the mornings, and they use this to play along. It’s a “loud” toy that’s totally worth it.
Any sort of play-dough or modeling clay is great for kids. Levi thoroughly enjoys making snakes, snacks, and all sorts of things out of it. It is creative play at its finest.
These paints are amazing. They present like a glue-stick, but have rich color and are easy to use. The best thing – they dry on contact, so you can enjoy all the fun of painting with zero mess.