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.
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.
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?
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.
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??
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.
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.
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!