Monday, October 22, 2012

Top Ten Tools/Toys for Toddler

Here's a fun list of toys, activities and equipment that I've found to be the most helpful for entertaining tots (age 1-2) . 

{With the holidays right around the corner, these are great gift ideas to keep in mind for kids in the age range.}

1. Slides- Koala Climber by Step2 and the Step2 Naturally Playful Big Folding Slide
  When my girls were about a year, we brought in the Koala Climber Slide. We added a large pillow below the step up area to cushion falls. I'm certain that this slide was great preparation for the park. They played and climbed and crawled all over this slide and still do. Now they love the Step2 Big Slide. We still have both in our family room for the girls to play on.

2. Water Table
  This is a wonderful mild/warm weather activity. My kids love to play with their toys in it. They also use it as a watering hole for their watering cans and teapots. Toddlers love to pour and water is a big hit, they can fill and refill containers all day long.

3. Legos/Stacking Blocks
  Anything that can be built into a tower is popular at this age. Large Legos are easier for this age group to manage and to pick up:) There are many different brands that can also be found for less at Ross or Marshalls. My girls have even used cardboard bricks from inside a package that was delivered. They were great for stacking. I found that the paper nesting/stacking box sets were ruined in a day. Someone passed down to us a set of the original Dado Cubes (found on amazon). I thought they made a great, compact toy for taking on vacation or to Grandma and Grandpa's house.

4. Melissa and Doug puzzles and coloring/paint supplies
  My little A is a whiz at puzzles. She loves to do them over and over and over again. I think we might have every Melissa and Doug wooden puzzle for this age group. We used the shapes, numbers and alphabet puzzles as learning tools early on. We also had fun with the animal sounds. Now were on to the 12 and 24 piece puzzles. They are a great independent and one on one activity. You can often find these supplies discounted at Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx or HomeGoods.
  Coloring and painting are also favorites around here.  Melissa and Doug have cornered the market on toddler toys and art.  We have gone through several of the large painting pallets and the paint with water coloring pads. We use the oversized notepads for coloring and finger paint.

5. Anything musical including CD's
  Kid Songs CD's can be really fun or annoying. This is something I would buy online and read the reviews, and some even let you listen to the music.  We're currently rocking out to 100 Singalong Songs For Kids found on Amazon. On rainy days we have fun dancing around, singing and playing our musical instruments. You can make your own Gymboree class at home and play rhythm games where you clap clap and pat pat and they try to copy.

6. Wagon
  The Radio Flyer plastic double seated wagon with seat belts has been our go to for many adventures. Whenever a stroller isn't needed we take the wagon. It's been with us to the zoo, the pumpkin patch, farmer's market, the water park and on many strolls around the neighborhood. The girls love to ride in it and I love that it is easy to clean. (BTW, this item is on sale at Target for $69 this week!)

7. Tent w/tunnel
  If you have the room, I recommend getting a tent big enough for you and the kids to fit in. You can crawl in and read stories and join in on the fun. If the tent is too large to have out all the time, you can store the tunnel under the couch and save the tent for special playtime.

8. Chalkboard
  We have a standing, double sided chalkboard. The girls love that they can trade sides and run around and even crawl underneath. They have fun trying out the different colors of chalk and wiping off their designs with a cloth. I also just hung a medium sized chalkboard in our playroom. We've been using it to practice our letters and numbers. Eventually, it will be fun for playing school.

9. Sports Equipment and Balls
  Bouncing, throwing, kicking, catching are all new things for little ones. It is pretty funny to watch them practice. We love to play outside and indoors with balls. I just found a Fisher Price basketball hoop at a yard sale for $4, score! We're using it outside for now, and I plan to use it for indoor play this winter.

10. Books
  As a teacher, I am a huge fan of early literacy. We have a large rotation of books, thanks to the wonderful friends and family that share with us.  You can find books in every room of our house. We take books with us in the car and in the stroller too. I literally have a strolling library. It is the only way I can get in a walk/run and entertain the kids too. Our current favorites are touch and feel books, find the object, and anything with animals or sounds. Flap and pop up books are fun at this age, but are easily destroyed. Be sure to stay with the board books for toddlers.

I hope this helps if you're headed for toddlerhood or are buying a gift this holiday for a little one.

Posted by Liz


Anonymous said...

What a great post! I'm kind of out of the toddler stage, but with a new baby coming, I'll need to get back in--quick! I loved the water table suggestion (never had one of those for older two), and I need to find that puzzle stacker/holder. Puzzles are HUGE in our house. We started with Melissa and Doug, and have moved on to big 1500 piece ones that sit on our coffee table for a few weeks until they are done.

Leslie Swan said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, wishfit! I have seen the puzzles at Target and ToysRus. Good luck with baby on the way!

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