Considering purchasing some toys for a gift soon? Today I’m sharing my favorite toys for boys and girls that have lasted us through the little years and are still in constant play.
Long-Lasting Toys for Children
Over the years we’ve seen many toys come and go in our household and I’m sure if you have children, you’ve seen the same. But some toys tend to stick around longer (and in some cases, MUCH longer) than others. Some toys get played with and asked for over and over again, while others collect dust and eventually make it to my thrift store pile.
This year I wanted to take the time to compile a list of these toys for you in case you are ever looking to get toys for a gift for your children or the children in your life.
We are not one of those families that does not have any toys or that doesn’t believe that you should only play with things outdoors. Toys can be extremely beneficial to development and growth. Play is the most important job that your child has when they are young so providing them open-ended ideas for their imagination and creativity to soar can be so helpful. For more details on the importance of play, I recommend reading the book, The Power of Play.
However, we are also not one of those families that have so many mountains of toys that the kids can’t even see to the bottom of the stack. We use a very calm system where we keep almost all of our toys separated into small plastic totes so that the children can just pull out the ones they really want to play with and not have everything out at once. After having worked through years of occupational therapy with our children, I can tell you that there are definite ways to keep them engaged in play instead of feeling overwhelmed (and consequently, bored) with the things they have to play with.
–For more ideas on how I organize our toys, see my post on How to Organize and Downsize Toys.
Toys for Boys and Girls
Back to my main purpose for this post and that’s to share with you our favorite toys that have lasted through the younger years of 3 children (and are still getting played with!).
I used to see these on other toy lists and couldn’t see why they were so special until we decided to get them for our children. I’m not sure if it’s the pretty colors or just the fact that they are so open-ended but these magnet tiles get so much play in our house! We were unable to afford the name brand “Magnatiles” so I went with the less expensive Piccasso Tiles on Amazon and I haven’t regretted it. They are holding up very well and all 3 children love to play with them on a daily basis.
Last year we stayed at an AirBnB and my son found these Baseball Guys in the toys that the owners had left for kids to play with. He played with them the entirety of our stay and I decided he needed a set when we got home. He loves to set these up and “play baseball” in his room. The company makes sets for boys and girls and also makes them in a variety of sports (basketball, soccer, football, etc). These are a wonderful toy for any child who can’t get enough sports!
We’ve had a variety of marble runs over the years and the kids always find them fun, but none of them comes close to how much fun they’ve had with this Building Set Marble Run. The pieces are similar to Duplo Legos (and can attach to them) and your child can build their own marble run while they are building blocks. This set is the top toy in our house right now and has been for quite some time. We ended up getting 2 sets of these for building bigger marble runs!
Playing with various types of animals has always been fun for our children from the oldest to the youngest. I was lucky enough to find a set of Schleich animals at the thrift store when we first started collecting but I’ve added to our collection since. We’ve found the Safari Ltd. animals to be of similar quality but more budget-friendly and we like to buy the Toobs for other projects as well. (The Space TOOB is a favorite of my oldest son, you can see it in action in some homemade slime above.) We bought a set of the Dinosaur Safari Ltd toys for our middle son for his most recent birthday and he loves to play with them, especially outside in the mud. We also have quite a few “barnyard” animals which the kids play with in their wooden barn. The kids like to get these dirty, either in the mud, sand, or some kind of sensory bin, so I like that they clean up easily.
Whenever I find that the kids are in need of some inspiration in their play, I pull out the box of Wedgits. We’ve had these for about 6 years now and have had to buy a larger set and more idea cards because they find them so fun to do! Think of a puzzle but in 3D form. My oldest son played (and still plays) with these quite a bit but my middle son just loves them and can do even the hardest challenges by himself. I see that Amazon now carries some knock-off brands since they can be a little hard to find.
We jumped into a large Playmobil set back when our oldest was about 2 (we started with the 1-2-3 series which has larger pieces) and it’s still a favorite years later and with all 3 children! Now my older boys are getting into the regular Playmobil sets which have smaller pieces and more complicated setups. I seriously wish I had these when I was a kid, they are so neat!
Play food has been a fun toy for all 3 of my children at all stages of their younger years. We have sets from Melissa and Doug, Green Toys, and Learning Resources. All types get played with but if I had to guess which ones get played with the most, I would say the Learning Resources play food because it’s the most realistic.
All of the toys above have endured at least 5 years of love by 3 children and they are holding up extremely well. All toys are favorites in our household, whereas others have come and go. Our children have gotten older toys as gifts over the years that might be shinier or do more things, but they always get tossed aside for these trusty standbys.
Toys with an Honorable Mention
This is a newer addition to my list since this is only something that my younger 2 have had. I say the younger 2…we actually bought them for my middle son but our toddler daughter loves to play with them just as much! We have the truck and trailer set and the dump truck. I found both at Target on sale. They seem well built and sturdy and they are really big. They do have Micro Sets but my children seem to love the big ones!
We like these Tegu blocks and they’ve been holding up for a long time. My youngest child, in particular, seems to gravitate towards these. My hangup on them is that you need quite a few to make something neat and they are pretty expensive. It’s fun to have a smaller set for road trips though.
This would have landed in the category above had all my children shown interest in them, however not all of them did. Hot Wheels Cars are long-lasting and the cars are relatively inexpensive. We’ve found that the children that play with them tend to stick with the cars only, not the fancy tracks or other plasticky setups. These have been fun to play with inside and they also enjoy taking them outside to race in the dirt as well.
Another honorable mention just because the kids haven’t been playing with these for very long yet but they do seem to really enjoy them and they hold their attention well. We’ve been sticking with a basic Lego Building Set instead of the various little building sets that are more expensive and the kids seem to enjoy using their imagination to build whatever they desire.
Dress Up Clothes
Something else that the kids enjoy playing with is dress-up clothing and props. (We’ve found that props actually get more play than the clothing.) They will play with this for a while but it doesn’t necessarily hold their attention as long as some of the other toys mentioned. For all the dress-up clothes and props that we currently own, I’ve found it as leftover Halloween costumes or from the thrift store. I would love to get some of the Melissa and Doug Dress-up clothing sets but they haven’t fit into my budget yet and probably won’t unless the kids play with what we have longer.
There are many other things that my children play with but they aren’t necessarily considered toys. We have our art supplies out on a daily basis and they love using things like old tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls to invent new things. The only toys we have for outside play are balls and bikes, otherwise, they take advantage of sticks and rocks and anything else they can find when playing and exploring outside.
Of course, all children will have different interests and there might be other toys out there that will captivate your kids’ attention even better than those that I’ve listed. When I’m considering buying a new toy to add to our collection, I take it seriously. We don’t want to add extra clutter to our home and we really don’t want to waste money on something that the kids will not play with for long. Here are some things that I ask myself that you can use the next time you are considering a purchase.
- Is this toy something they can play with and be creative with or is it something that thinks for them? (Things that think for a child usually include toys with batteries or a screen.)
- How will they play with this toy? (This is to give more consideration to the clean up of the toy than what your child will actually do with it. Will they need to play with it at the table? Will it require my assistance? Are there crucial pieces that could easily get lost?)
- What does this toy promote? (For us, if a toy promotes a character or television show, it’s an automatic no. We are looking for a toy that promotes imagination and the creativity of open-ended play.
- Am I only buying this because I can’t afford the quality (longer-lasting) version? (If you a making a purchase out of guilt: ie: buying a lower quality toy that won’t last as long because you think your child needs that particular toy, reconsider your purchase or consider waiting or saving up to buy the better quality. It’s usually worth it.)
And there you have it. A list of our favorite toys for boys and girls that have proved to be long-lasting and played with often. I hope this list and the questions will help you as you make future decisions about toys to purchase for the children in your life!
If you are looking for toys that you can make here are some Homemade Gifts for Kids ideas. Also if you are looking to have a holiday or a birthday without any toys at all, I have some ideas on this post here about Talking to Family About Gifts.
What are your favorite, long-lasting toys for boys and girls? Do you have any of the toys on my list?