I cannot believe that as of January 20th, 2013, I have a two year old. TWO!! Time has flown by, I remember the days of looking into her little newborn eyes and watching her crawl, walk and now run. She is hilarious and fun and spunky and smart and beautiful and pretty much the perfect two year old ever. I might be a teensy bit biased. Anyway, I thought that now that she is two I would do a toddler toys post. Maybe this will help anyone looking to buy a gift for a toddler or a parent looking at what toys to invest in. As a general rule, we like to have natural toys in our house as well as toys that are a jumping off point for imaginative play. This means things that aren't too intricate, so that the child can imagine different things all the time. It can be hard to imagine a doll with a happy face to be crying or surprised etc. Here are the top six toys Lily plays with on a regular basis. I would say that most if not all of these toys have been played with over the course of the last year but they have become favourites recently. I don't think you need to buy your child toys for every developmental stage but instead buy items that have a range of play. A one year old will certainly play with a doll differently than a two year old and it won't "get old" or boring especially if the toy doesn't have flashy lights or very specific ways you have to play with it. Here are the six I have chosen. Sorry for the pictures, it's 10:19pm and as some of you mama's might know, that is the ONLY time I have to myself.
#1 - Melissa and Doug wooden barn
This is really just an example of something that is geared toward imaginative play. You can take out the animals and use it as a doll house, you can use the animals for other play. I also like that it involves roll play which is really good for emotional development. It's so fun to see the stories she comes up with. The latest one has been putting the animals on a sheepskin and pretending they are in the snow!
#2 - A play silk
This is the most versatile toy ever in existence, if you buy one thing it should be this. At our house, it's a dress, blanket, doll carrier (wrap it around to hold the doll to your child's chest), a landscape for the animals, a tablecloth for tea parties. The list goes on, this thing is amazing. We got ours at a local Waldorf fair but I'm sure you could find them online.
#3 - A play kitchen
This is a well used item in our house. My dad and I made ours out of an old kitchen cabinet I picked up at the ReStore. It took us a weekend and cost less than $50. There are a ton of tutorials online for this if you're interested. She plays with this like crazy, making "steamed milk", "sandwiches", "cupcakes", "toast", "muffins". You name it, she's "made" it. She also loves to pretend to wash her hands in the sink, she pretends to turn the water on, rubs her hands together under the faucet and declares "all clean!". Of course you will need some play food to go with it, you can make some yourself by cutting it out of felt sheets, needle felt some with roving or knit some!
#4 - Dolls
I really think every child should have at least one doll, girl and boy. Lily takes her babies with her everywhere, she dresses them up, puts them to sleep, takes them for walks in her stroller (the one we have is from Haba, it's wooden with rubber wheels and can go outside!) Dolls are so great for teaching children empathy, care taking, roll playing, so many things. This little dolly is a 10' waldorf doll from etsy. She's made from cotton and wool and is slightly weighted.
#5 - BOOKS!!!!
Everyone knows how good books are for kids. Reading is probably the most popular activity in our house. We usually go to the library every 2 weeks to get a new set of books but we do have a few of our own that we like to read over and over.... and over...and over again. Lily has learned so much from reading books, her colours, her shapes, rudimentary counting, social cues, emotional cues, vocabulary. The list goes on, get some books people.
#6 - Musical instruments
Last but certainly not least. We attend a Music Together class (get your butt to one of these classes, they are all over the world and they are INCREDIBLE!) We like to play at home with instruments, sing songs, drum, play ukulele, shake the maracas, you get the picture. The drum in this picture is a Remo kids tom and it is super durable, it can be used as a footstool or step stool and will last for years.
This list doesn't include every great toy or every item you should have in your house, just some ideas. I think every child should have a range of developmentally appropriate puzzles (Melissa and Doug make great ones), shape sorters, stacking toys and blocks as well. Don't forget about the things that aren't necessarily marketed to children like music, listening to music from around the world with different tempos and key signatures! Really though, kids don't need much, in fact they play a lot longer with items if there aren't too many toys sitting out. Try your best to keep a small selection of toys out and rotate them regularly. If you can't afford to buy toys, try and make them, ask for hand-me-downs or just take out the pots, pans and wooden spoons throw on some music and play away!