Shana and I created an Ultimate Toy Gift Guide that lists out ALL of our favorite toys we’ve fallen in love with throughout the years. You can take a look at it here or by going to the top of your screen, pulling down the Holiday bar, and selecting The Toy Guide.

It is a MONSTER guide that goes through toy gift ideas for five different age groups, as well as our favorite Forever Toys that our kids have played with at ALL ages. Don’t worry…there’s a table of contents with links, so you can get to the age group you’re looking for fast.

Top Kids’ Gifts For Ultimate Toy Guide

Readers, this is where I need your help. Take a look at the Ultimate Toy Gift Guide and let me know in the comments of THIS post, toys that would have made YOUR Ultimate Toy Guide List. Remember we’re talking about insanely good toys: the toys you are excited to play with as moms, the toys your kids play with over and over and over again, and the toys that YOU yourselves buy as gifts for all of the other kids in your lives that you love. Also…let me know if you have any toys from the categories below (that I’m thinking about adding) and if you think they’re worth me exploring.

What are your top insanely good toys: the toys you're excited to play w/ as moms, the toys your kids play with over & over, & the toys YOU buy as gifts?

1. Another Marble Run

Our Quadrilla Marble Run from Hape gets A TON of use in our household. It is fabulous for keeping the interest of older kids, as well as teaching persistence to younger kids. I know that there are a lot of really good marble runs out there though, with different strengths. Although I do love our Quadrilla set, it takes up a lot of room. Something smaller, like this Gravitrax would be perfect for tabletop marble run fun. This Q-Ba-Maze also looks like so much fun. I’m a big fan of Mindware toys, and I like that this one seems to offer a ton of creative building exploration in a different way than our Quadrilla sets. Lots of fun accessories, too.

What are your top insanely good toys: the toys you're excited to play w/ as moms, the toys your kids play with over & over, & the toys YOU buy as gifts?

Gravitrax Starter Kit | Q-Ba-Maze

2. A Photography “Toy”

Shana and I went around and around and around with this. So many creative and imaginative and artistic worlds open up when kids have access to a camera, but in the age of iPhones and digital editing, it’s complicated. When we are on vacation I HATE (and I don’t really use that word lightly) having my kids taking photos with an iPhone or iPad. It leads to them wanting to look at the photos and edit them constantly (in my eyes that’s “screen time”) or even worse, checking their team’s scores or playing mind-numbing video games when we’re supposed to be enjoying family time.

We’ve considered getting the kiddos a GoPro because they look like SO much crazy fun, are super-durable, waterproof, easy to use, and have really cool video/photography features for all sorts of activities. The Go Pro is high quality enough that it could obviously be used as they get older (and by the grown-ups) as well. We’ve also considered the possibility of getting my older son a used DSLR camera to learn more in-depth photography skills. Are either worth it, though, when they can borrow our iPhones and take amazing photos with them?

What are your top insanely good toys: the toys you're excited to play w/ as moms, the toys your kids play with over & over, & the toys YOU buy as gifts?

Go Pro | Canon Digital SLR Camera Kit

3. A “Building With Real Tools” Kit

I’ve noticed my kids LOVE putting furniture together with real tools, real screws and real nails. Whether it’s a new bed frame or a storage rack for the closet, they are super-eager to help put it together. I don’t know if there’s a toy that fulfills that same type of desire and builds on that skill set. Here are a few I’ve looked at:

OffBits Maker Set: We have an OffBits small kit (made up of real nuts, bolts, springs and etc.,) that my kids played with intensely for a while, then forgot about. I always thought if they had a bigger version with tons of parts and more room for open-ended building, it would be awesome. They now offer the full Maker Set, but it’s expensive, and I can’t decide if it would get consistent use or be played with and forgotten like the small set. Thoughts?

Young Builder’s Tool Set: Maybe we should just get the kids this and let them do more real household repairs and projects?

Montessori Screw Driver Board: I wish we would have gotten this or one of the other Montessori toolsets for the kids when they were younger. They enjoyed our plastic screwdriver building sets, but none of them had that weight and satisfaction that real tools do. They would have LOVED screwing and unscrewing and screwing and unscrewing with this guy.

What are your top insanely good toys: the toys you're excited to play w/ as moms, the toys your kids play with over & over, & the toys YOU buy as gifts?

OffBits Maker Set | Young Builder’s Tool Set | Montessori Screw Driver Board

4. A Coding Toy

Although I would love for my children to play with wooden blocks and dollhouses forever, I can’t ignore that that they’re interested in technology, and there’s a lot of potential for creativity and imagination, as well as practical skill-building in that type of play. Of the coding “toys” we’ve looked at, though, none of them seem that fantastic. My kids have played with some programmable robot toys and have lost interest pretty quickly. I’ve found the programs on the computer actually hold my kids’ interest more (even though I would prefer them experimenting with more hands-on toys…especially the younger one). Ideas??

ThinkFun Coding Game: I love ThinkFun Games. We are big fans of RushHour and Laser Maze, and this Coding Game seems like it’s created along similar lines.

Coding Robot: This is intriguing for younger kids. It promotes that it’s a screen-free way for kids to play with coding–no tablet or iPhone required– which sounds appealing to me. I’ll be honest, though, this looks like one of those toys that would get played with a ton the first week and then forgotten. I think the Coding Game has better longevity potential.

What are your top insanely good toys: the toys you're excited to play w/ as moms, the toys your kids play with over & over, & the toys YOU buy as gifts?

ThinkFun Coding Game | Coding Robot

5. More Musical Instruments

We definitely need more instruments in the Ultimate Toy Gift Guide. It is beyond heart-warming to watch my 11-year-old try to teach my 6-year-old a new chord he learned in his school’s rock band club. We have a ukulele, an electric piano and this gathering drum in the toy guide (and at home), but what other instruments should we include? My little one is getting this 1/2-size guitar and we’re thinking about this Djembe as well.

What are your top insanely good toys: the toys you're excited to play w/ as moms, the toys your kids play with over & over, & the toys YOU buy as gifts?

1/2 Size Guitar |Djembe Drum

Remember YOUR job, readers? Chime in with toys that would have made YOUR Ultimate Toy Guide, as well as your suggestions from the categories above. Thanks in advance!

-Linzi

18 COMMENTS

  1. My 2 have an almost 4 year age gap at nearly 5 and 8.5 and yet they both still play with our collection of Schleich animals daily. Our favourite wooden blocks are the Brio ones that are stained not painted and Kapla. We also love our Grimm’s wooden toys. The stacking cups are great for a baby but are such nice objects that my kids still use them as bowls in cafe/cooking games or as parts of imaginary setups as a tower or as ponds for animals etc. We also have the Grimm’s building boards, medium rainbow and earth element, and the cones (sold as a “forest” I think) They are expensive but high quality and super open ended for both building and pretend play which is great because my girl and boy gravitate to very different play styles.. They also are aesthetically pleasing when scattered all over the floor. Haha.

    Art supplies are our other must-have. We like the huge paper selection pack sold at IKEA and for a less obvious choice, the Crayola light up tracing pad is great.

    • Allison–these suggestions are awesome! I don’t know how I could have forgotten about the Schleich animals…they’re SO good! My kids played with them a ton too. And we have the Grimm’s rainbow and nesting cups as well. I love how they look (gorgeous!!) and we still have them out (with kids age 6 and 11) primarily because they’re pretty, but they also get incorporated in their play every once in a while. Excited to take a look at the Crayola tracing pad. Thanks for the comment. So appreciated!

  2. Santa is bringing this camera for our seven year old who loves our GoPro and ‘Mommy’s big camera’ but who is still pretty hard with delicate equipment. He can attach it to his bike and make all the pretend YouTube videos he wants 🤣

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B073QN5SDZ/ref=sspa_mw_detail_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyV1ZHOURWSjYxOUNEJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDQ2OTQ2M0xWR1NCUDY1Nk4zMiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMDk3ODUwM043WVFGNk82WTNETSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX3Bob25lX2RldGFpbCZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdA==

  3. Marble maze lovers here. My 11 year old still loves both the QB A Maze and gravitrax. The QBA Maze because of all the cool attachments and Gravitrax because it is fun to build out.

    • Oh Yay! I LOVE that my 11-year-old still plays with our marble run too. Glad to hear that the QB A Maze is good as well. My little guy is getting the Gravitrax this year from his cousins, so I’m super excited to see how him and his brother play with it. Marble runs FOREVER!!!

  4. My kids love the Instax mini. It’s not a “real” camera, but they can get a handle on things like composition and also get the instant gratification of a print.

    • I’ve looked at these! They look like a blast if you can keep up with the film buying/get your kids to be more thoughtful with their photo taking! I feel like I would want my kids to feel free to experiment and not feel totally restricted with their photography, but I also wouldn’t want them to be wasteful with the film. How do you handle that, Rachell? Thanks for writing in!!! You don’t know how many times I’ve thought of getting this.

    • So funny—we got my son something VERY VERY similar and it hasn’t been used at all!!! Ugh! I find it fascinating that when the kids use their “own money” or their “own gift card” and have to decide how THEY want to use it, it can make a huge difference. I think this set look amazing… the fact you can make so many different robots out of the one set and there’s room for open-ended creating with the parts, AND it’s solar powered….I’m glad your guy loves it….and I’m hoping someone else will love it when ours gets passed along! Thanks for the comment, Heather.

  5. This is the gift I give over and over again each year. It is a camera for younger kids. It has very basic skills but it is digital and there are some simple games on it. We only have one in our house and my boys age 7 and 5 still fight over it.

    https://www.amazon.com/VTech-Kidizoom-Camera-Frustration-Packaging/dp/B01FMK17TK/ref=sxin_3_ac_d_rm?ac_md=1-1-a2lkcyBjYW1lcmEgZm9yIGJveXM%3D-ac_d_rm&keywords=kids+camera&pd_rd_i=B01FMK17TK&pd_rd_r=80f9a8dd-24f4-4233-9ae5-9bd199d4ab99&pd_rd_w=FIPwX&pd_rd_wg=mA6Wr&pf_rd_p=6d29ef56-fc35-411a-8a8e-7114f01518f7&pf_rd_r=X1HS1Y8C890DVV51FBRT&psc=1&qid=1576613663

  6. I don’t currently have this and it’s possible my kids may be outgrowing it before I could get one (they sell out every time they have some inventory – developing a back order system soon) – but have you guys seen the Nugget Comfort? It’s a collection of configurable plush-but-firm shapes that can be a couch for your kids to read books, or a fort, or whatever! I’m not describing it well, but the tag line that most appealed to me was “save your couch” (from being constantly torn apart by fort-building kids). Want.

    • Oh this is SUPER exciting! My son’s small city bedroom is literally filled with gymnastics mats and vaulting equipment that gets turned in to forts, obstacle courses, and architectural structures on a daily basis…. my kids would go nuts over this! So cool! Thank you so much for the heads up! Has anyone actually tried these or know someone who has??? Pipe in, please, if you have!

  7. The Way to Play Roads are such an amazing toy. Kids can build road cities inside, outside, in the bath, or at the beach. They are durable and easy to put together but appeal to all ages. This is a seriously cant miss toy.

    Wobble Boards are such a great toy for open ended play. They can be a bridge for cars, a tunnel for crawling through or a board to practice their balance skills on. Total heirloom quality.

    Knights Club The Bands of Bravery is a comic book you can play. It’s like a mix of role playing, comic book and choose your own adventure. So fun and gets even reluctant readers engaged.

    • Rachel! These are such fabulous suggestions! Thank you so much. Wobble boards ARE so good–these toys that can serve so many purposes for different kinds of play are totally my favorites! And I can not wait to check out the other two suggestions…they sound incredible. Thank you again.

  8. Of course! Have to love the original wobbel. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the others. Also, can we talk Osmo? I mean, tablet games with real hands on manipulatives. Even coding…it’s next level awesome.

  9. Our die-hard favorites that aren’t already on your list are: batatat take apart airplane, crazy forts and Legos. Just got my 10-year-old a Kano make your own computer kit and it seems pretty awesome so far and great for learning coding.

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