toys our kids actually play with

27 November 2016

It's killing me to end that in a preposition but nothing else sounded quite right. Who cares? No one.

Anyway, there are a lot of skills I don't possess and one of them is picking out toys our kids will actually love and use. However! My mom has a knack for giving the kids gifts they love and play with forever and ever. Amen. I've been compiling this list since the beginning of the year so as to make sure I wasn't just grabbing a week's worth of popular toys but toys that have stood the test of time around here.

I'm missing a few BUT here are the ones that stood out. And I'm willing to bet a bunch of them are on sale for Cyber Monday. I know the kitchen is, at the very least!

1. play kitchen - we got this for the kids last year  and it gets used every single day. It's the first thing Bosco goes for when he wakes up, the kids all love to make faux meals, and it doubles as a barre for my barre dvds. It's a winner. Might I advise that you NOT wait until 10:30 in the pm on Christmas Eve to assemble it, though? It's time consuming - to put it politely. If this particular model doesn't suit your fancy - there are MANY others.

2. Wheely Bee - Phoebe got this for her second birthday and it was a HUGE hit among all five kids. I'm tempted to get the bigger size for Christmas as a group gift. It's $20 off at the moment too ...

3. puzzles - I don't think there's anything particularly special about these puzzles but the older three kids LOVE to do these. Over and over AND over again. We've had them for a few years and they have yet to lose their appeal. I love that the box is wooden and Bosco can't tear it to pieces like he does with cardboard.

4. Plasma Car - Another one we've had for years that my mom bought I think before Theo was even born. It's taken a beating but still works really well - maybe a little too well because Sebastian is scarily skilled at whipping around the deck on it VERY quickly. There are lots of new off brand versions too ...

5. Boogie Board Writing Tablet - I have to admit that I thought this was a little gimmicky when my mom gave them to the older two but I was QUICKLY proven wrong. It's great for the car and up until recently we let Julia bring it into church to draw quietly. It's a no-mess way for kids to practice writing or just draw things. If you lose the pen like we did - any old anything will work (Julia gets creative with bobby pins, retractable pens etc). Phoebe has tried to scratch them to death but they are incredibly durable and still going strong after 3+ years.

6. Brio Trains - My aunt saved these from when her three boys were little and got them out when we visited a few years ago and Sebastian was completely obsessed. We've slowly built a collection (mostly thanks to my mom) and it's still a favorite around here. It's odd if there's not a new track built in the boys room. Even Bosco let's his truck-obsessed eye wander over into train territory on occasion.

7. Cleaning Set - I'm no child development expert but it seems like every toddler goes through a cleaning phase of sorts and these are PERFECT for when they want to "help".

8. Inflatable Bouncy Animal - I can't explain why kids love this thing but they DO. I go back and forth about whether or not ours (can't seem to find our exact breed pictured up with our kitchen) is a dog or a bunny on the daily. Maybe a dunny.

9. B is for Bear: My grandma bought this for newborn Julia and all her other books paled in comparison in the interest and excitement department for months on end. All the kids have felt similarly - something about the big pictures, I guess? It would make a great baby gift or gift for expectant parents, I promise!

On my wish list: I'd love to get a doll stroller for Phoebe and Bosco or maybe a shopping cart? Something to push around and bicker over :)

And now for the selfish part of my post - what toys do your kids love? I think we are going more the experience (zoo and museum memberships) route this Christmas but I like to keep a running list of ideas for birthdays and potty training incentives for the younger crowd.

Anything you're excited about for Cyber Monday? It seems like a lot of sites have done a big weekend long sale which is nice and convenient for us fickle folks that are slow to pull the trigger.

A few good ones:

Amazon is having a big sale on electronics (and I think it's running all week? way to be, Amazon), lots of car seats are discounted 25% or more, and there are loads of strollers are on sale too

J.Crew Factory is having a 40% off clearance, 50% off men's suits and Crewcuts styles, and 60% off everything else sale.

ASOS is running a 30% off site wide sale. I haven't shopped for maternity clothes for a couple of years but they always had a fun inventory and lots of great dressy dresses (non-maternity too, of course). I might be a lone lover of these loafers but, I love them - can't help it.

LOFT is doing 50% off EVERYTHING. They have a wide variety of peplum and lots of fun long cardigans too.

I didn't think much of Nordstrom's 20% off clearance sale BUT I finally looked closer and these seemingly perfect ankle boots are deeply discounted, Hunter Boots are on rare sale, and there are lots of winter coats for more than 50% off (maybe the only thing I miss about the cold, maybe!). And this is the only place I've seen the new special edition Fitbit Blaze on sale.

I'm in the market for a new DSLR but haven't found any on great sale - let me know if you've happened to see any!

Hope you all have a great week! We may or may not have put the kids to bed at 6:49 on the dot tonight (they fell right to sleep so - Mom knew best, for once) so hopefully tomorrow morning's school time wakeup is a little less painful than I know it will be. Godspeed to everyone in similar boats.


  1. Those cleaning toys are the cutest--and play kitchens are a classic that will never go out of style! I had a fisher price one as a kid, and I think it's still the favorite toy of my life.

  2. We went with that same shopping cart as the big gift for our 2.5 year old. As far as suggestions go, our Melissa and Doug Band in a Box gets a lot of use from both girls (2.5 and 9 months) and a good old fashioned doctor kit has provided hours of entertainment as well :)

  3. Great list! Thank you for the ideas :) We got a shopping cart, Hape brand,!on a cyber Monday Amazon deal a few years ago and it has been a huge hit! Our son is 3.5 and still uses it as a shopping cart, doll stroller, and tool cart... simultaneously. He also sits in it from time to time and it has somehow maintained its form quite well.

  4. We got the truck in this set (not the rest of the sand toys) from TJ Maxx and it's been a hit ever since - it's an indoor truck here but gets used every single day, and it's taken toddlers sitting on it, turning it over so things can ride in the wheels, etc.

  5. Ha my two year old accidentally saw me open the Amazon box with the brio trains and had a fit, yelling choo choo over and over. Sorry buddy have to wait! I'm glad he's excited. That cart is on my wish list for them too! They love the one at daycare. And puzzles, they love puzzles. Good list! I might need to make some mommy shopping time later ;)

  6. My oldest daughter (Henley) will be 3 in January and my youngest (Everly) will be 1 on Christmas Eve. We purchased that kitchen in pink for them. I heard it was a beast to put together but looks worth it! FYI in an Amazon cyber Monday deal they have a Nikon D3400 w/ 2 lenses for $496.95 (it was $996.95). We also bought one of the plasma cars for Henley after she fell in love with the ones they had at the children's hospital (she had her tonsils out 2 weeks ago). I'm also thinking of getting some princess dresses for dress up as she is obsessed with them right now. I'm having trouble on what to get Everly for her first birthday and Christmas. We have all of her sisters toys still since they are pretty close in age... any suggestions? Thanks :)

    P.s. Old navy's sale is very awesome right now... I purchased 19 items (mostly kids clothes for our girls and Christmas gifts, but got my mom two tops and me a dress) for $130.

  7. Boogie boards are on sale for $14. Thanks for the recommendation! :)

  8. Our kids are ages 5,3, and 1 and by far the most played with toy that we own is a Little People Dollhouse. Its not very big but has buttons throughout with sound effects (think toilet flushing) and everyone plays with it. Dolls and superheroes alike!!!

  9. Ooooooh, good choice for a new camera! I have both a 6D and a 5D mark iii and they are worth every.single.penny. There aren't any deals currently for new 6Ds, but Canon has refurb ones for around $1000 right now.

    1. You're the best, thank you!!! 🏃🏼‍♀️

  10. After our girls ripped through the $9.99 Target doll strollers in about 5 days, we bought them each a Chicco doll stroller for Christmas. Three years and another child later, and the strollers are still going strong. They are very durable, don't rip when your 2 year old decides it's his turn to be pushed in it, and they look like the real deal. They have proven to be one of our better kid-toy investments.

  11. I would second several of your recommendations, so I'll have to check out the others! Some of our most played with toys: Legos, Magformers (every day by every age! It's crazy.), our little wooden table and chair set, and Do A Dot markers. We love books too, and some of our most loved have been our Curious George treasury (I think it's this one:, Frog & Toad treasury (, and the Mercy Watson boxed set.

  12. Children's Palace is having a 50 60 % off sale which is what I swoped up along with teh 2 years of Kindle Unlimited for 40% off

    For toys, legos, nerf guns, paint sets, and child friendly knife have been hits

  13. Chicco doll stroller has been a great one for us. And the plastic shopping cart. Through the metal Melissa and Doug one is great too.
    Duplo is our one word answer for toddler gifts, though my seven year old is still happy to play with it too

  14. AHH! Kids toys! Would it be totally wrong if my children got no toys for Christmas? I just can't. Or maybe I just can't find toys that I won't want to throw away in 6 weeks. I will say that the Melissa and Doug shopping cart has been a huge hit in this house. Please share any other toys that you find, what about book series? Any good ones that Julia likes?

  15. It's a donkey :) So 'dunny' was close... :)

  16. That Busy Bee is definitely what we will get our 2 year old for her birthday in March! So cute! I'm expecting my fifth and am clearly no toy expert yet as I've never seen this gem! I'm expecting our 4th boy, I have a feeling this well get lots of love!

  17. Why is that book so appealing? My 1 year old loves it, and since he's hearing impaired, it's great for me to practice signing with him. My kids and nieces and nephews also loved the little people farm and nativity set. They're all mixed up at my house thanks to a hand me down set. So hey, Catechesis and play time all together!

  18. I think your animal is a kangaroo! :)

  19. I think your bouncy animal looks a little bit like a donkey...

  20. Go for the shopping cart! I work at a children's hospital and all the kids LOVE them. Best thing we've ever gotten. Target also has them online.

  21. a great list..
    we are keeping our shopping list small and full of things that kids will actually play with.

  22. Do you think the bouncy horse would work for a rambunctious 1 year old? Or is that a little young?

  23. The cheapie doll stroller from Target we got on a whim last year and someone has played with it (all three) EVERY SINGLE DAY of 2016.

  24. This was great, thanks for sharing

  25. This was great, thanks for sharing

  26. I love the post title. It's real. I got some plastic babies (from Poundland which is like Dollar Tree) as a stocking stuffer last year and they still get played with every single day. The £30 gigantic bouncy bunny? Not so much.

    Great post!

  27. We bought our 2 year old the doll stroller from Costco for Christmas. She loves to push all her stuffed animals and baby doll. As for other gifts our girls play with their play cash register daily. Might be a good toy to get if you get the grocery cart?



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