Toys That Are Built to Last and Entertain

When people come over to my house for the first time, they almost always comment on the ridiculous number of toys we have. Some of them wisecrack, “So, you’ve got what, 14 kids? You’ve got enough toys for that many.”
Girl with sand toys
We do have a lot of toys. I used to feel guilty about it, but it really helps minimize the fighting when we have play dates. Our neighbors are really great about passing on things their kids don’t use anymore so a lot of stuff we have we got for free. A lot of the toys came as Christmas or as birthday gifts too.
We do throw out toys that break. Sometimes when we get art supplies as gifts, I donate them since we have enough crayons and markers to last a lifetime.
I’ve come to appreciate the few unbreakable toys that require no batteries and continue to captivate the interest of my 3.5-year-old daughter and 6.5-year-old son. The following toys are unisex, relatively inexpensive, and have no choking hazard components either, in case you have a baby.
Pop-up tents and tunnels
We have a set of Play Hut cubes and cylinders. What’s especially nice about the set we have is that you can assemble the pieces into different configurations. The kids have put them together to make trains, castles, and mazes.
When Nate was a preschooler and he would get upset, we would open one of the tents and ask him to go into his “Feel Good” place. It was basically a place for him to sit and calm himself down.
Building toys
My kids both love building with wooden blocks. We don’t actually have a set at home, but Zach’s martial arts school does, and the kids play with it every time we go there. Zach builds space ships, cars, or buildings. Kaylee builds towers or houses.
Toy cars
We’re a big Hot Wheels family. My husband says that Hot Wheels have cost $1 per car since forever. They are durable, but they’re not sharp, which is great. Both my son and daughter love playing with them. There are lots of sets that have ramps and tracks, but my cars are happy just to have a bowl of soapy water and a bunch of cars, and they’ll have a car wash that will occupy them for over an hour.
Sand toys
Sand toys are cheap but most seem to last at least a few summers. My kids love to bring shovels, buckets, molds, and watering cans to the local park. What’s nice is that if you bring a lot of sand toys to the park, you can share and meet new kids and families. I do make a point of labeling our toys with permanent marker, but even when we’ve lost some, I don’t stress out about it much.
Paper and washable markers
Zach can spend hours folding paper airplanes and flying them around the house. He also has a notebook where he writes his ideas for inventions he wants to build some day. Kaylee loves to draw, and I’m really impressed that at 3.5 years old, she can draw a pretty good circle. The only drawback of this of course is how quickly paper accumulates. It’s a good opportunity to teach kids to recycle though.
Dry erase board
We have a dry erase board on our refrigerator to write our grocery list. Kaylee loves to draw on it though, so I’m thinking of getting some for the kids to have on long car drives. Not sure whether it will make them car sick, but I figure it’s worth a try.
What are your favorite kid toys?


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