Our Favorite Inside Toys

posted by Andrea | 07/7/2017
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Several years ago, I shared 75+ of Our Favorite Non-Toy Toys — most of which are still favorites for our kids.

However, now that we have 3 children and they’re all getting older, we’ve amassed a decent number of actual toys… thanks to generous aunts, uncles, and grandparents 🙂

While I know it might seem weird to do a post about inside toys in the middle of the summer, here in Michigan, it can get REALLY hot and humid in the summers, so we often play outside in the morning and inside in the afternoon, where the air conditioning keeps things very pleasant!

Everything listed below is something ALL 3 of our kids (ages 5, 3, 2) play with and enjoy almost every single day.

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Dress-up Clothes and Accessories

We have a large number of dress-up clothes, accessories, costumes, etc…. almost all of which we’ve acquired for free or almost free.

We’ve gotten several costumes as gifts, as hand-me-downs, and from garage sales. We’ve also purchased several too-big clothing items from our local thrift store (usually for about $0.50 each) that Nora wears to be a princess, Simon wears to be a pirate or a farmer, and James wears just because he thinks it’s fun.

We’ve been given several dance costumes (including tights, skirts, leotards, headbands, etc.) and we have SO many accessories — crowns, swords, bags, shoes, tool belts, headbands, gloves, magic wands, aprons, etc.

We also have one cabinet of doll items that I tend to include in the dress-up section because the kids usually only play with the dolls when they are playing dress-up. Usually one of them dresses up like a mom or dad and take the baby for a walk.

Trucks and Cars:

Oh my word… we have SO many cars and trucks!

I realize we have 2 boys who really really love playing with all cars, trucks, trains, and anything with wheels, but I honestly can’t even imagine how many vehicles we’d have if I hadn’t purged some over the years.

We have 1 bin full of smaller vehicles, and one with several Little People vehicles and larger dump trucks. We also have several “mats” with roads, cities, and train tracks on them. These mats fold up fairly small so we can pull them out when we’re playing and easily put them away again. We’ve also taken some of the mats on vacation with us — along with a handful of smaller vehicles.

Play Kitchen and Food:

I made Nora a play kitchen out of an old entertainment center for her 2nd birthday — and since then, our kids have played with this kitchen and the toy food EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It is, by-far, the most-used toy in our house. They use it for playing house, restaurant, “baker”, Arby’s, Culver’s, waitress, grocery store, and all sorts of other things.

They also LOVE simply sorting the food by color or by type… Simon especially loves doing this!

Legos and Blocks:

We have a set of Lego Quatro blocks that I was given before Nora was born. We also have several sets of wooden blocks (all gifts), a set of magnetic Tegu blocks, and these large stacking buckets. Our kids play with blocks every day — often with Dave enthusiastically “helping”!

Dave also has a HUGE assortment of regular Legos stored away in an extra closet. These Legos are from his childhood and he has big plans to play Legos with our kids once they are a bit older 🙂

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Of course, the kids love playing games, reading books, doing crafts, coloring, playing play doh, building forts with blankets and pillows, etc. — but I don’t really consider any of those to be “toys”.

We also have quite a few outside toys — but that’s an entirely different post for another day!

 

A Quick Note About Purging Toys:

For the record, I’ve purged SOOO many toys over the years — EVEN if they are from grandparents, special friends, aunts, uncles, neighbors, people from church, etc.

I will almost never keep something my kids don’t like or play with just because I feel guilty purging a gift. I know this is a touchy subject, but in my opinion, if the gift if GIVEN to us, WE can choose what to do with it.

I refuse to fill my home with things we don’t want, need, use, or love just because a special person gave it to us. That’s a very slippery slope in my opinion, and I don’t want my kids to think we need to keep everything forever.

Also, for the most part, I do not rotate toys. I figure that since we have birthdays all throughout the year (and Christmas) we will continue to get more and more toys, so I prefer to purge the toys we don’t use instead of storing them away for a while.

So those are our kiddo’s favorite inside toys — but I’d love to know…

What are your kids’ or grandkids’ favorite inside toys?

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21 comments

  1. Pixie508

    07/11/2017

    I’ve been in a toy purging mood lately. I recently sold our Quattros, we have a 44qt bin FULL of duplos, and then my oldest has a much smaller bin of regular legos that he keeps up in his room (because toddlers can not be trusted, haha). Besides the legos, my kids are also in love with Magnatiles – we’ve got a nice collection going, and I love them, because much like legos, they encourage creative play, and they can build lots of cool things with them.
    Last year we got rid of the train table that took up far too much space, and really became a holding place for other toys, and kept a small fabric bin of tracks and trains which get played with more often now than they did when we had a train table.
    The play kitchen and play food are a huge hit!
    Hotwheels – we have a plastic storage container that they call the “garage”, and we make tape tracks, and also have one set of tracks that were a gift. Like you, we also have some larger car/trucks
    And the musical instruments…oh the instruments! We have a pretty musical family, so this isn’t surprising…it’s slightly noisy(!) but, I love that they try to play and make up songs, and become a “band”

    I’m actually in the process of purging some stuff we just don’t use anymore, or is too young for my kids. Our church is always looking to replace old/broken stuff, so I may try to sell a few things, and take the rest to church to see what they want before taking it to a donation drop off. I’ve already filled one big bin, and I’m working on another.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for purging toys!! I always seem to be in the mood to purge toys 🙂

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  2. JJ

    07/09/2017

    Our list is similar! They also like tools and instruments a lot.

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  3. Hannah Beth Reid

    07/08/2017

    My children are 7, 5 and 2.5 years old. You’ve hit on our favorite toys too!

    Building toys like Duplo, Legos and blocks of all kinds are very popular at our house. My husband has amassed a collection of Legos also and playing Legos together is one of my children’s favorite things to do with their daddy. My favorite part of blocks and this kind of toy is that there are plenty of pieces for everyone to use!

    Sometimes I think we should give away our dress ups, but then they pull them out of the closet for an afternoon and I realize how much fun they have and decide we will keep them as long as they’ll fit in one box.

    Play kitchen items have taken over our house many, many times for store, picnic, restaurant, etc. My daughter even uses toys that aren’t food to be a food if she needs something else to serve. All the pieces make me a little crazy sometimes, but I know they love it and as long as they’re willing to clean them up, I’m all for them having fun!

    One thing all three of my children (one girl, then two boys) have enjoyed is small dolls and animals and any kind of building (barn, doll house, castle) in which they can live. Again, a million pieces, but I try to weed out those in the bottom of the box that no one loves. Sometimes they add in small Beanie Baby animals.

    My children are very creative in ways I’m just not and I enjoy watching the many different ways they can enjoy toys and other household items!

    Thank you for this post and all the fun pictures of your children playing!

    [Reply]

  4. Brooke

    07/08/2017

    Both kids love Magnatiles. I bought them for my son when he was 4, and at 7 they are still a favorite toy for him and our 3yo girl. They were pricy and I debated buying them at the time, but if I were to calculate price per play over the years I’d be winning. They are very durable and have held up well. Lego is another one. Now that we have no longer have super youngins in the house, both kids build with them a few times a week. And yes, all the cars for both kids!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’ve looked into these — but think I’ll save them for a few years down the road!

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    Pixie508 Reply:

    I’ve found some great deals from Zulily and Amazon (Prime Day (not this year) and Black Friday) – l I don’t usually get ones w/ motors and other special pieces, because that jacks up the price. Simon and Nora would probably really like them. They’re a fav w/ my 5.5 and 2.5yr old.

    [Reply]

  5. Mary

    07/07/2017

    Hi Andrea,
    I am not sure if you already do this, but a great idea for pre-literacy learning is to add small clipboards and pencils around the house or in your play areas. The kids can pretend to write restaurant orders, prescriptions or care instructions if they play vet, note taking while playing office. Also, a fabulous investment is set (or sets) of magnatiles. They are a fabulous building toy albeit expensive. And have you ever considered a real toolbench with real tools as the children grow older? We have one at our parent cooperative preschool and it is cherished!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes Mary — we have clipboards for each kid and they LOVE them! I just group that in with the craft supplies though (not necessarily toys) so I didn’t think to include that in this post. However, the do use the clipboards for playing restaurant, doctor, and more!

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  6. Nancy

    07/07/2017

    Along with most of the things on your list, my son spent a lot of time playing with superheroes/action figures, and my daughter loved Lego sets. That’s a cute photo of James standing on the oven door. I have sweet memories of my one-year-old using the door of the dishwasher as a ramp to reach the cabinets in his sister’s play kitchen. Now they’re teenagers and they’ve mostly moved on to electronics.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You know, we don’t have any super heros or action figures yet — I’m sure they will be coming though!

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  7. Chris

    07/07/2017

    Do your parents or in-laws ever seem to mind you getting rid of the gifts they have given? Mine definitely would have. (My child is an adult now). But I hate having extra stuff around, too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Honestly, this might sound awful… but I truly don’t care! Both our parents are pretty go-with-the-flow and don’t get too upset about things… but I figure I wouldn’t care if they purged gifts I gave them, so I’m free to purge gifts they give us.
    I’ve made it very clear (especially to my parents who tend to be more extravagant gift-givers) that they can give our kids anything they want, but they can’t be upset if we choose to get rid of it.
    I also give suggestions of gifts to buy (things I know the kids actually want or need) for all birthdays and holidays — if grandparents choose to give something totally different, that’s fine with me, but if my kids don’t use it or play with it, it’s OK for me to purge it.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  8. Bonnie'sMama

    07/07/2017

    My son has played with wooden railway (Thomas and off brands) for more than five years and shows no sign of stopping.

    My son and my daughter play with Little People a lot, too. They have given names to most of the girls–Ice Cream, Princess, Fancy, Hannah, Pencil-girl, Little One, etc. For some reason neither of them like the boy Little People much. Not as interesting or prettily dressed, maybe? They combine Little People with the toy kitchen, moon sand, water, playdoh, blocks, etc. Since my husband is a choir conductor, the Little People frequently have choir concerts, standing on blocks or the wooden Melissa & Doug toast arranged as risers.

    Since Christmas, my daughter (age 3) has been carting around a tiny wooden Nutcracker ornament, for mini Christmas trees. It’s barely an inch tall, and I don’t know how we’ve managed to keep finding it in our basement, in the van, and under furniture, and how the baby has managed not to swallow it all these months.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, our kids love Little People things too — and yes, they use the people for so many different things. However, I’ve never thought to use them with Playdoh or the Moon Sand!

    Also, Nora also got a smallish Nutcracker ornament for Christmas and keeps it out all year long!!

    [Reply]

    Hannah Beth Reid Reply:

    Yes, Little People! The thing I’ve learned to appreciate with them after having four babies is that they are perfect to hand a baby and let him chew on it while the others play.

    My children named many of ours too! The one with a fishing pole is Grandpa because their grandpa likes to fish, etc.

    [Reply]

  9. Wilma

    07/07/2017

    Lego, lego and lego. And lego. (my boys are 8, 5 and 2). Also, the same toys that you mention: play kitchen, anything with wheels/tracks and dress up. My kids are also really into super heroes, so we have super hero dolls and accoutrements, as well.

    Great post!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I think Dave is secretly hoping all our kids will LOVE Legos too!!

    [Reply]

  10. Nancy

    07/07/2017

    Roller skates, jump rope, Chinese jump rope, dressing up, books, animal lotto (card game). We had a train set that was wooden and the tracks snapped together. I also played with my mother’s pots and pans.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we have many of these things for outside toys too — however, we don’t have any train sets for indoor yet 🙂

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