Dear Santa…

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I realize that it is October.  But in my family, Christmas shopping starts early.  In preparation for the holiday shopping season, I thought I’d share a few toys around our house that have withstood the test of time.  These are the best bang for your buck gifts that have lasted us through two kids and multiple developmental stages.  If I had to do it all over again, these are the toys I’d buy…

Little Tykes Rocking Horse ($37.67; Recommended age: 1-3 years old) – This toy is probably the most durable toy we’ve ever owned.  My parents bought it for Bean’s second Christmas and he loved it.  Then, we kept it around until Gracie was about a year old and we brought it back out again.  After two kids, the thing still looks brand new.  It is such a simple toy, but has provided HOURS of entertainment for both our kids.

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Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Piggy Bank ($21.99; Recommended Age – 1-2years) – This toy has served so many purposes for us over the years. It’s great for the one-year-old age range because it requires good eye/hand coordination. Then, it’s great when they get a little bit older for learning their colors because each coin is a different color. I used to ask Bean when he was about 2 years old to put all of the blue coins in the piggy, or all of the green coins. It was great for practicing colors. When Bean started counting, it became even more helpful because he could count as he put his money in the bank. Gracie loves it now at 18 months because it plays music when you push the piggy’s nose. This toy is a great value and a crowd pleaser at all ages.

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Melissa and Doug Deluxe 50-piece ABC/123 Blocks ($13.46; Recommended age 9months-3years) – Chris heard this thing on NPR a year or so ago about how the most intellectually stimulating toy you could give a child was blocks. BLOCKS! Who knew??? I would doubt that report, except that my kids both love blocks. I will admit that this is one of those toys that they do better with when I’m playing with them. They just like having some example to follow, especially at Gracie’s age. Bean plays with blocks now all on his own because he has developed his little imagination so he builds whatever he imagines. These blocks have lasted us through two kids and are still going strong. Without a doubt, this is one of the most frequently used toys by our entire family (Chris and I build a mean zoo…).

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Giant Building Block Set of 40 pieces ($41.91; Recommended age 3-5 years) – We bought these blocks for Bean about a year too early. We gave them to him for his second birthday and I was a little bummed because he wasn’t interested in them at all. But in the past year, Bean has grown to love these blocks! He uses them to build race tracks, castles, zoos, airports – everything. He even built a jail for Gracie one morning. But she busted out. These blocks are pretty good bang for your buck. They are big and colorful and full of endless possibilities. Bean plays with them all the time. He highly recommends them.

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Step2 Arctic Splash Water Table ($39.99; Recommended age 1-4years) – We have had this splash table since Bean’s first birthday and it rocks. I know a lot of people go for the water tables with more bells and whistles, but this one is simple with few parts and that makes it very versatile. When Bean and Gracie were each just learning to stand, we would put them up next to the table and they’d splash around while they stood there. As they each got older, the table sort of evolve with them. These days, we still use the water table but for more than just splashing. We give baby dolls baths in there, float things like balloons and boats, and practice pouring water into containers (good for eye/hand coordination). It is a really solid and very useful toy. I can’t recommend this one enough.

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Intex Fun Ballz 100pc Set ($15.95; Recommended age: 6mo-3yrs) – I bought these balls last Christmas for the kids with the intention of turning our rarely used pack ‘n play into a ball pit. It was a huge hit. Bigger than I expected. Now, though, we use the balls for all kinds of things. We put them in the water table above and float them. We hit them with plastic golf clubs out in the yard. We count and sort them. We fill just about anything with them – buckets, inflatable pools, the bathtub. They are just a lot of fun. A word of advice, though. I would order two sets. One is a little puny if you’re planning to fill bigger spaces, like pack ‘n plays or bathtubs.

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Throughout the next couple months, I’ll post about toys that have been a hit around our house and about toys we’re thinking about getting the kids for Christmas. When it comes to toys, the more options you know about, the better off you are!

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9 Thoughts to “Dear Santa…”

  1. Sara R.

    No one ever believes me that the best toys are the simplest…blocks, balls, animals and books. You don’t need all that electronic stuff that costs more and kids get tired of after five minutes. The rule in our house is nothing with batteries. It makes for happy kids and happy parents.

  2. I’m excited about more of these posts! My son is a year younger than Bean, so I’m looking forward to hearing about things he’s enjoyed!

  3. Nancy

    I saw those big cardboard blocks in one of your pictures and they took me back over twenty years! We got them for my son when he was 2 or 3 (he’s 28 now!) and they lasted through three kids and I even passed them onto a relative when we were done with them. My kids loved them.

  4. I needed ideas for Aubrey’s first Christmas – thanks!!!

  5. What you heard about blocks is the truth!! My degree is in Early Childhood Education and I took an ENTIRE semester’s course on blocks! They leave the creativity and direction of play up to the child and can incorporate all aspects of learning: language development, math, working together, geometry, social and cognitive development – you name it!! This book explains it a lot better than I do:http://www.naeyc.org/store/node/97

  6. My 2 yo son has those same cardboard blocks! He re-discovered them again when we moved and they came out of storage.

  7. Jen

    We have that same water table and we lOve it. In the winter time we bring it inside and make the dyed rice that you find on pinterest and you put it in the water table instead. He loves it and makes it different and allows us to use it all year long

  8. Ruth

    I think is so funny!! Yesterday I was wondering if the Intex Fun Ballz 100pc Set you got last Christmas was being used or not. My daughter is just a week younger than yours (that is why I started reading your blog) and I was thinking about getting something like that this Christmas. Thanks a lot for the feed back 🙂

  9. […] I shared a few weeks ago about toys the kids have had throughout the past few years that are still huge hits around our house. I thought today I’d give you a sneak peak as to what Santa will be bringing them THIS year. Just don’t tell the kiddos that Santa has a big mouth. […]

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