17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Toys with Longevity

The world bombards parents and children with ads for toys that we will surely "love" and toys that we definitely "need". Toys that promise to entertain for hours. Toys that promise to make your child smarter. Toys. Toys. Toys.

What I have learned is that most of the toys out there (especially the ones with big marketing budgets) are overrated and just plain annoying. I guess they are usually super exciting for a moment, but their enjoyment always seem short-lived.

While cleaning out the kid's closet I realized there are just a handful of toys that get constant attention from the kids. These are the ones that always seem to escape the D.I. drive toy closet raid each and every time:

1. Wood Happy Birthday Cake - we celebrate birthdays nearly every day.

2. Old Computer keyboard with cord cut off. They love having their own "'puter"

3. $5 doll umbrella stroller from Kmart. We actually have two so there aren't constant battles over the one. And everytime we have a little boy visitor, he will also go straight for the stroller, so I have a feeling we will have these around for a long tim.

4. Refashioned Prom dresses - We have a trunk full of dress-up clothes, but the ones that get the most love are old 80's prom dresses that I refashioned to kid size. They seem to be much more durable than any sparkly princess dress we've acquired from a store.

5. Cameras: an old digital of ours that no longer works. Makes me realize that to my kids, imaginary pictures are just as cool as real pictures.

6. Vintage Fisher Price Cash Register - No electronic voices or credit card scanner. It's from the good old days when a red balloon cost a nickel and an ice cream cone cost a quarter.

What are your kids' go-to toys? Don't be afraid to list some of the plastic variety. I won't judge. While I love all-natural, wooden, organic cloth, Waldorf-school toys, there is no way my kids would be nearly as entertained with a spongy keyboard or a carved wooden camera or an organic cotton prom dress. Sue me.

Oh, art supplies and books don't count. We all know already how super creative and smart our kids are.


  • 1. Baby doll acquired 2 years ago, no clothes. This is the go-to doll and is precious to The Girl.

    2. 3 Beanie Baby teddy bears in multiple colors that were random baby present gifts (?). My kids LOVE these bears as much as their mom and dad.

    3. One Step Ahead kitchen - had it for 2 years and has brought mucho joy. Just when I want to give it away they are there pretending it's a restaurant all over again.

    4. Old cell phones with batteries removed - they each have multiple ones. Strangers always give me the evil eye because they think they're real. COME ON.

    5. For the boy, good old fashioned Hot Wheels cars, including some from my husband's childhood stash that are now "vintage".

    But art supplies and simply playing outside still reign supreme in our house :)
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 8/19/2008 04:12:00 PM  

  • IKEA railroad tracks and bridges. HOURS and hours and hours, for years and years.

    (I've got boys.)
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 8/19/2008 04:30:00 PM  

  • puzzles

    kitchen stuff

    dress up (scarves and pashminas tied and draped into outfits, more than disney princess dresses)

    polly pockets and my little ponies

    play ipods, parents version and barbie version

    instruments (shaky eggs, harmonicas, microphones)

    Their lovies are a stuffed bear and a stuffed ellie, they get a lot of play wear and tear
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/19/2008 05:03:00 PM  

  • dress ups (old halloween costumes my mother gave me)

    Rocks, sticks, and dirt (I know this doesn't count, but they are always outside and they love to get dirty!)

    Old dishes (my sister gave me all her college dishes and plasticware)

    Cars and trains and robots (this would be #3 and his obsession with all things motorized --either by battery or by hand.)

    Moving Boxes of all sizes

    Stuffed Animals

    The girls enjoy playing with their dolls and Barbies (yes! Barbies! I bought them Barbies! I was shocked, too), but they aren't used as nearly as often as the dishes and boxes.
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/19/2008 05:32:00 PM  

  • My mom still has our old cash register and my son LOVES it! They don't make anything that cool anymore that doesn't require batteries.
    posted by Blogger Richelle at 8/19/2008 05:40:00 PM  

  • My mom still has the Fisher Price Little People (wooden ones) that were mine from 30 years ago. She has several of the bigger pieces that go with it; airport, cabin, school, airplane. They have been thru 9 kids and 20+ grandkids.

    She also has a huge chalkboard that hangs on the wall. The kids love to play with it.

    Good ol' Legos.

    Lincoln Logs - again, wooden ones.
    posted by Anonymous Wendy at 8/19/2008 05:48:00 PM  

  • 1. our train set (1/3 target, 1/3 ikea and 1/3 thomas the train). I've often thought of clearing all the toys out except for the train set and we might be ok.

    2. like chloe, matchbox cars all the way...

    3. our musical instrument set (Melissa and Doug). We've had to replace the drums multiple times from too much banging.

    It's almost a relief that the kids are getting too big for the plastic/noisy toys that seem to follow us home every christmas holiday.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 8/19/2008 09:00:00 PM  

  • I was thinking about how we could maybe get more grandparents to read this post so they can see what toys kids love (and parents don't hate!).

    I used to love lincoln logs. Putting those on the future gift list.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/19/2008 09:06:00 PM  

  • All things cars and trucks.

    Ditto the little stroller (for boys or girls to push around).

    Anything that resembles grown-up stuff: old cell-phones, remote controls, dress-up clothes, make-up. I just gave T an old bank and he is non-stop putting penny after penny inside.

    Legos and building blocks.


    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/19/2008 09:14:00 PM  

  • Oh and definitely musical instruments.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/19/2008 09:15:00 PM  

  • Jen, we have the same train table set up as you - culled from Ikea, Target and Thomas. It works :)
    posted by Blogger Chloe at 8/19/2008 09:58:00 PM  

  • wood train and train table, tinker toys, legos, trampoline, dad's old g.i. joe guys, cars & tracks, easle with chalk board and dry erase board, wooden puzzles. my daughter is still young, so I don't know what we'll be keeping of hers.
    posted by Blogger m e l at 8/20/2008 07:18:00 AM  

  • I've never posted here before, but found this discussion interesting.

    It's funny how kids are so different. In our house, the train set only gets used when cousins or neighbors come over. I thought it would be used for years by my son, and he never touches it. I keep it anyway, hoping that a future child or grandchild will play with it.

    The musical instruments don't get used either unless I initiate a structured activity with them.

    Fisher Price Little People were always played with at friends' houses, but never at our own. I stopped buying them.

    The most popular toy for my older son has been his Kids K'nex. We had to get enough sets so that he and several friends could all play together. We've had them for several years, and they are still used regularly.

    We have a set of wooden interlocking blocks (like Legos, except they're wood) that I got from www.atoygarden.com a few years ago. They still get played with regularly. They were pricey, but so worth it!

    The other thing that has lasted has been our collection of plastic zoo and farm animals and dinosaurs (we usually pick individual animals up whenever we go to museum gift shops or to the zoo).

    My daughter is only 2, so it's too early to predict what will last with her.
    posted by Blogger Lisa at 8/20/2008 07:48:00 AM  

  • I totally had that cash register growing up!

    Like Lisa, my kids hardly ever play with our wooden train pieces, unless maybe someone is over.

    -My Daughter and all stuffed animals. Each has a special place in her heart, and she treats them like real pets. Pet beds, play food in bowls, and even dresses them up.

    -Lately the DD has been into making themed "books" Like all about fruits and vegetables- she illustrates and labels them and I sew the edge of the paper together.(she may not eat many of them, but she can draw them! haha!)

    -DS is particularly fond of me making little "notebooks" for him out of tiny rectangles of paper that I sew one edge together. He wanders around all day with a tiny pencil and jots "notes" down on that homemade pad.

    -He is also a collector of random tiny little things he scavenges from around the house and carries them all day in an old metal lunch box.

    - Play Dough!

    -Unlimited amounts of arts and crafting including watercolors,acrylics,beading jewelry(my daughter),markers.

    (I know really organized people do this easily- but I just discovered it a year or so ago!)I have also found that to get the kids more interested in thier playthings I group them together.

    - the animal nook, with puppets and all stuffed things, and dolls.

    -the restaurant/kitchen nook that has the grocery cart, kitchen/stove, and little tea party table

    -The trains, planes, and automobile area (and play tools)

    That kind of thing has helped me keep it more organized too.

    p.s.Sorry so long!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 8/20/2008 08:39:00 AM  

  • Lisa,

    Thanks for commenting! Even though the interesting toys for one child may be different than another, there do seem to be common threads - building toys, "be like mom and dad" toys, open-ended imaginative toys. Not so many toys that light up, talk, or are otherwise complicated.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/20/2008 09:47:00 AM  

  • My three year old has been grabbing my camera out of my hands for over a year. It was originally a mid level digital and it's fairly indestructible, so the first time it happened I just went with it and was amazed at what he chose to photograph. 75% of it is just the floor or his shoes, but as he circles the room taking pictures of EVERYTHING, he also composes some incredible shots. The great thing about digital is that I can edit and erase as I wish, so the only thing wasted is a little time. On the plus side, I have a cool bit of perspective into how he's seen the world over the last 15 months. I'm also sure he'll appreciate those pictures when he's older.

    Another great buy has been a $150 Flip Camera which I bought specifically for him because my DV Cam is a little big for tiny hands. Video shot by a three year old can bring new meaning to the word surreal.

    Cheap digital cameras are some of the best toys we have in our home. That, and UGLY DOLLS! Believe me, you can never go wrong with Ugly Dolls...
    posted by Blogger Old Man C at 8/21/2008 02:02:00 AM  

  • Legos.

    My little ones are grown up now (ages 10 to 20). Legos still hold their attention for hours on end.

    And they make great D&D figurines.
    posted by Blogger Coffinberry at 8/21/2008 06:14:00 AM  

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