My daughter will be 13 this year and over the past year, we sorted through all her toys and passed on all the things that can be passed on for others to play with. I reflected on the things that got played with the most and the things that just lingered. I also thought about the things that stood the test of time and did not break over all the things that we had to bin, not fit for purpose anymore. If I had my time again, I would be a lot more forward of what type of toys I would allow the house to enter. The list below features my top 5 of best toys – naturally given the seal of approval by the kid.
Hours and hours spent building things with blocks. We had all sorts of blocks (most of them bought from Myrida Online (https://www.myriadonline.co.uk/) – I am not getting paid for saying this, I genuinely love their stuff. The blocks have been passed on to a 12 month old last year and apparently and I am sure she loves them. The play value of blocks is amazing. My daughter played with them from about 8 months until 10 years old. They featured in play with other toys or by themselves. They became houses, castles, money, food, roads, minecraft inspiration….
2. Schleich Animals
They were coveted in my childhood – mainly the Smurf figures they did back then (and still do), but the child loved them. Often played with in combination with the wooden blocks, incredibly portable, durable and the items I find the hardest to part with. I not her. It is amazing how many of those you can collect over 10 years and thanks to birthday gifts, she has a great selection and I love them. But more importantly, she loved them. They were constantly played with, inside and outside. In the bathtub. On holiday. Yes, they are not cheap, but they are such good quality that several generations of kids could play with them. (https://www.schleich-s.com)
My daughter was never into dolls, but she loved cars. We made a point of buying die-cast model cars, which you can often find in charity shops. In fact, most of her collection came from there and they scrubbed up nicely with a bit of soap. Again, not a cheap item to buy new, but second-hand, we often got a car for 50p.
4. Cookie cutters for play dough
I would lie if I said we only use the cookie cutters for play dough, essentially it is my selection but yes, we did use them a lot and we made a lot of play dough over the years. I prefer the home-made version because it is cheaper, smells better (hello cinnamon play dough) and is less crumbly. Also if they accidentally eat it, it’s fine. Play dough is always a reliable distraction on rainy days, but I had 10 years old quite happily playing with play dough.
5. Pens and paper
This may be a no brainer, but I think my approach has always been: Buy the best possible drawing material possible. Printer paper is fine, but rubbish pencils and pens will frustrate any budding artist.
When she was a toddler, I got her Stockmar wax crayons. (Again Myriad Online stocks them). I used them in Kindergarten when I was a kid and they are still good. They last forever as well and in fact, we still have loads of colours (she used the black completely for scratch out pictures) and yes, they still get used.
When she got older, I got her Faber Castell pencils. Seriously, the best colouring pencils in the world. Some friends thought I was crazy, but I believe that good tools will just give you more enjoyment and again, the pencils lasted for years. I got her for Christmas a new set of the polychromous since after 6 years, most colours were used up. She will spend pocket money on special colours in art shops. Needless to say, she loves drawing and art. And I credit – at least in parts – access to great quality pencils for this. Yes, they are expensive, but buying tons of sets of bad ones, will cost you more and give the kid less enjoyment.
If I had to do it over again, I would say to friends and relatives: Get a couple of Faber Castell pens or another Schleich animal or even a die-cast car from the charity shop. She will be happier for it and her imagination will be nurtured.
What was your favourite toy as a kid? What was your kid’s favourite toy?