Every Thursday I have the privilege of hosting several young mothers as they come to eat breakfast and study the Bible together. Their children play in our basement, supervised by adults who are commissioned only to keep them from hurting themselves or others. Generally, they play together well.
As I look over their options for entertainment for that hour (9:30-10, eating, then playing from 10-11), I’ve figured out my opinions on what toys parents should keep when their children outgrow them. So here, in no particular order, are my observations.
Fisher-Price toys. Children still enjoy Fisher-Price toys our son Josh played with over 40 years ago. When handled normally, they don’t break. Certainly they start to look worn, but they continue to function beautifully.
Wooden blocks. We still have both the alphabet blocks from 1973 and the larger wooden blocks (Fisher-Price, of course!) from 1977. The F-P box finally bit the dust, but the blocks continue to be great playthings for preschoolers and beyond.
Metal trucks and tractors. These things last forever, it seems. Little ones can push them all over the room, over furniture and under, even sitting on them at times, but they sturdily plow on. (Yes, intentional pun there.)
Playable dolls. These dolls are distinguished from collectible dolls or those made only for older children. Mainly stuffed and soft, they may have rubber heads and appendages, and they can be wagged around, shamelessly naked. These are dolls for preschoolers. Barbies do not fall in this category.
Carts or buggies to push. This one has been in use since around 1982 and will still hold several dolls when they’re not being dragged around. Grocery carts work well, also.
My Little Ponies. Yes, these survive. Kelsey loved them when she was young and children still love them. They are simple enough to encourage using their imaginations.
Barbie and friends. Actually, keep the Barbies, too. Once children get older and interested in fashion, these can be played with again and again. Maybe even a little sewing might happen with Barbie, Skipper, Ken, and friends. But keep these out of reach of the preschool hands or heads and arms might fly.
Matchbox cars. Again, these are for older children, but older children need imaginative toys, too. Like Barbies, these should be brought out on special occasions for older children. It’s amazing what a child’s imagination can do with such basic toys.
Books. Of course.
Games. These, too, are for older children, though don’t hesitate to try a basic game or two with preschoolers. You just have to store the games in a safe place so the game pieces won’t get lost. Younger children can grasp games such as Uno and Zingo, which require visual discrimination but no reading skills. Chinese checkers, chess, Qwirkle, Jenga, Scrabble, and others are timeless. One of the most popular ever, in our playroom, is the Fisher-Price Tumbler Tower. Turns out it’s a collector’s item now, so you can pick up your own for only $90 on Amazon!
So…don’t keep toys that have a lot of little pieces unless you store them to bring out only for the older children or with adult supervision. I loved our various versions of Noah’s ark, but, alas! Those animals that went in two by two have gone missing, either singly or in pairs. Only the sad, empty arks remain.
No doubt many other toys would make a “to keep” pile, but these are mine. And these ideas could give you direction when shopping for those special children in your life.
What games or toys did you keep that you remember enjoying for years? What games do your grandchildren still pull out and enjoy?