My father used to tell me that he only owned a ball, a bicycle and a wooden hoop that he used to roll around, and that was more than enough. I still think today there is beauty in simplicity and I strongly believe that, when it comes to our children’s toys, choosing simple ones is always a good idea. The more the toy does, the less the child has to do, or imagine. These toys are open-ended, they leave space for imagination rather than frustration. Note: Also from the parent’s side, peace is a rare find and not having repetitive sounds in the background is always a bonus.
Wooden blocks: I bought these from Sears when my son was one year old. It cost me $9.99 and it has been the most used toy in the house. He still plays with it almost every day. Building blocks is a must for any child. We make all kinds of structures, from towns full of houses, to tracks, cars and even castles. It is amazing to see him bringing his imagination to life with the blocks. There are many different blocks available and you don’t need to get the most expensive or “coolest” one. Blocks are blocks, just be sure to get a big pack. It will be worth it.
Crazy forts: This was my husband’s idea. I didn’t think they would play with it as much as they do. But they do, a lot. It is very simple, you have rods with connecting-spheres and you can make any imaginable shape, from rockets to igloos or just a tunnel. We have a lot of fun with it and we use it inside and outside the house. All you need is a big sheet to cover your structure. It is a great present and there are many brands of similar toys.
Role-play: Fill a box with old clothes or costumes, jewelry, hats and the children will love it. Anything that you have on hand can be perfect for role play; from old kitchen utensils to hand-made capes or masks. Get out that superhero in you and play, defending the city with your kids. Note: You don’t know how to sew? You don’t need to, check out this video! Superhero cape.
Water: This is the simplest, cheapest toy you can find. You only need a towel, a recipient for water and a few “toys”; sponges, plastic cups, etc. It will keep them distracted for hours. If your child is older, you can always fill up the sink and let him/her play.
Mix in some soap to have fun playing with bubbles!
Cardboard: I sometimes think that children are like cats. As soon as there is a cardboard box at home, there is a child inside. With the help of an imaginative parent, a box can become a plane, a house or even a rocket. Don’t get rid of those big cardboard boxes; use them to spend some quality time with the children building something, and don’t forget to decorate it!