….or Super Awesome Minimalist Whoever Perfect Everything Beautiful Toy List
Know what we’ve noticed about minimalist toys? It’s not always about minimalism as it is about beauty. We like to buy things that are beautiful - especially for our children. So often these toys are designed to appeal to us, parents, more than our kids - and it is temptation in a sleek, Scandinavian, wooden toy everything to just buy those items because we want them. Then they sit on shelves unused…so we buy more beautiful things. :D
With 4 kids ages 1-7, here’s our list of not exactly minimalist, but *curated* toy ideas - toys that get played with the most, toys that span age groups, toys that kids just like - and toys that can be beautiful. We’ve grouped them into categories as needed, because sometimes it isn’t about the specific item but the genre of play, and you’ll notice the common denominator is imagination. :)
Dresses, hats, wings, crowns, ears and tails - our kids play dress up every day. That’s some good mileage. Sub category: Weapons. These are a must for boys, but don’t assume your daughters aren’t into - the first light sabers to enter our home came via my daughters. That said I’ve bought countless guns and swords and axes and shields for my nephews. The ones you’ll both like? Sarah’s silks silk covered foam swords. They’re sturdy, lightweight (no grievous wounds have yet been inflicted), and chew-able for the 1 year olds. Wooden guns are also attractive and guaranteed fun, though less so when Ayrton inevitably hits one or all of us in turn over the head with it.
Every child loves to pretend with animals, so whether it’s an ark set, a small growing collection of wooden animals from Holztiger or Ostheimer, or favorite animals captured realistically by brands like Schleich, toy animals go the distance.
Play kitchen and food
This is not a “girl toy” any more than being a chef is a “man thing”, so don’t shy away from this one for your sons. Kids love to mimic, and if you’re home prepping food for them like we do, they will want to pretend to cook and eat. This is also an easy toy to buy a pretty version of - or pull off an IKEA hack like Elizabeth! I filled ours with felt food from a talented mom shop, and later picked up wooden pots and pans. This is another one that gets played with every day - Ayrton is feeding my a felt carrot fresh from the oven right now!
Things That GO
Trains, track and trucks. I once saw a Dad tweet that his son’s “dump truck brings all the girls to the yard” and he’s not wrong. Every kid I’ve ever met enjoys trains and trucks and track building on some level. They might not dig into it as much as other kids (my first born was very into anthropomorphizing trains*, my second born loves track building), but this is a solid across ages and siblings buy.
*and robots. and basically anything mechanical.
Baby dolls and cuddly toys, yes, but there comes an age where dolls as an avatar become significant in play. My daughters love dolls to dress up (think Hazel Village, Lavender and Linen) as well as action figures like Rey and Voltron. It’s true that once you leave the likes of small handmade creations behind things get less…instagrammable. But I really love how you can hand a kid, particularly a boy, an action figure from Star Wars or literally just about anything and even if they’ve never seen the associated movie they’re down. What? Masked guy with sword, you say? I’M IN. Green guy with gun? YES. Love that.
Wooden blocks! Keva! DUPLO! Magnatiles! Those crazy but kinda awesome Tumi Ishi blocks! Having something to build and create with is always a hit - and while we all love our classic wooden blocks I gotta say that Magnatiles are beloved around here. If you’re looking to expand beyond wooden blocks they’re well worth it.
We’re a music loving people, and having a basket with some instruments has always been big time noisy fun times for all the kids. Also, if you or your kids are at all musically inclined, get them a decent ukulele! Our daughters are able to hold and support a ukulele, as well as play chords and songs. For when the child’s size guitar isn’t quite tiny enough! :)
Arts and Crafts and Creative Supplies
Our favorite. Markers, scissors, glue and paper - this does not have to be complicated. I keep drawers with supplies that the girls can reach and access at all times for crafting emergencies (and some extra exciting drawers in what we call The Mischief Closet that have beads and googly eyes and pipe cleaners and stamps and paints oh my!). I will not sugarcoat this for you: my floor is, at any given point in time, a mess. A REALLY BIG MESS. Paper scraps, crayons, marker lids, whatever it is - a craft usually happens here before breakfast and they don’t stop until we send them up to get ready for bed. If a box arrives at our doorstep I can actually SEE the girls flip the “What can we cut that up into” switch. From story cards to knitting sets, anything that inspires or encourages their craftiness or creativity, is a-ok with me!
Note 1: “Outside toys” are another beast, mostly self explanatory (bicycle! soccer ball!), and the out of doors itself often suffices. :)
Note 2: Board games are a Mega Big Deal in our house, and so are another post for another time…