Toy stores and advertisements for toys can overwhelm adults and children alike. How do we know what is a great toy and what isn't? Is it about bright colors and princesses? Is it about newfangled electronic gadgets? Well, for preschoolers and school-aged children, toys that lend themselves to open-ended play, self expression and problem solving tend to promote a child's imagination and development. Here are some ideas that hold true over time. I have broken down my suggestions into a few categories. You can click on the photos and links for more great info.

Loose Parts:

Loose Parts refer to any item that can be used in multiple ways to create. Sand, mud, wood and water are some of the most basic loose parts. But they extend to and are not limited to the following:

  • cardboard boxes
  • tape
  • string
  • straws
  • toilet tissue and paper towel rolls
  • glue
  • beads
  • plastic puffed bags used for packing
  • bubble wrap
  • egg cartons
  • cloth and fabric
  • yarn
  • tubing
  • pots, pans and utensils
  • bowls, cups, spoons, funnels

Toys for Infants:

  • You (playing peek-a-boo, clapping, singing, swinging with your baby)
  • floor mat for tummy time
  • mobiles
  • books (reading to your baby builds attachment and regulation)
  • sensory toys (fabric books with various textures and sounds)
  • mirror

Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers:

Toys for School Aged Children

Many of the toys listed above for preschoolers are fun for school aged children as well. They might use them in different and more sophisticated ways. School aged children still use imaginative play, but it goes a bit underground and needs to be encouraged.

Teens Play Too!

  • Loose Parts
  • sports equipment
  • clay
  • playing cards and board games
  • art materials
  • journals
  • digital filming equipment
  • crafts (knitting, sewing, crocheting, sculpting)
  • tools and building materials
  • medical equipment
  • Dramatic play props for theater
  • Science experiments