One day my daughter came in with her toddler, and declared, “Mom, you have more dog toys than toys for your grandchildren.” She was right. I was devastated at the thought. So I set out to create a grandma’s house. One that my grandchildren wanted to come to and could play with things that didn’t have dog-slobber.
However, my first problem was that I’m cheap. Really cheap. It’s not because I don’t want to spend money. It’s because when I do, I want it to last.
So much of the toys right now are so badly made they are a waste of money.
Here’s Nine Qualities of a Good Toy, from gaga sisterhood.
- Longevity: How many different ways can a child play with the toy?
- Scalability: How will a child play with the toy as he/she gets older? What ways can a caregiver add play value to the toy?
- Quality: How well is the toy made? How will it stand up to normal play?
- Creativity: How much imaginative input does the toy encourage?
- Peer: For school-age kids especially in the “trendy” toy category, stick to ones that have a social component with peers whether it is trading, collecting or sharing.
- Educational: What developmental milestones does the toy address? The educational value of a toy is much more than just ABCs and 123s. It also comprises such things as cause/effect, sensory exploration, negotiation with peers or siblings, fine and gross motor skill development, and spatial relationships.
- Expandability: Are there additional pieces or items that can be added on for additional play value?
- Play Patterns: Watch the child play and see what play patterns he/she is drawn to. Does the child have an affinity towards building things, an obsession with things with wheels, or the desire to paint and draw?
- Consult Knowledgeable Sales People: Visit your local, independent, toy store to help clarify the toy’s qualities and discover other unique alternatives.
We began to collect wooden toys. They are timeless, and so are the memories they create at Grandma’s house.
- Lincoln Logs are still a hit.
- Brio Mec, also. Although you will have to look this one up on the internet. If you can find it, it is well worth the trouble. We have an entire trunk full, and our grandsons from 1-10 years old still play with them.
- Wooden Trains. Always a hit with little boys. If they can have enough space to lay out their tracks, you will keep them busy for hours.
- Costumes. This is perhaps the best thing I have to offer my grandchildren. When my granddaughters come into the house, they immediately go to the guest room and strip down and put on a costume. We have dresses and gowns, hats and purses. For the boys we also have knight costumes, cowboy hats and army clothes. You can also hit the sale racks after Halloween for some fun costumes like princess dresses and superhero capes.
Over the years, I’ve found just a few items, that I’ve listed above. The idea is to keep it simple and keep adding to them until it becomes a large collection.
In case you were wondering, the dog doesn’t have that many toys anymore. She’s gotten too old. She just has a few favorite Teddy Bears.