Toddler toys

Choosing the Best Toys for Young Children

If you’re like me, as soon as the last fireworks have fizzled out on bonfire night, you began to think about Christmas shopping. If you still have grandchildren on your shopping list, and you want to give something that will both delight and encourage healthy, creative play, how about considering some simple, open-ended toys?

Simple toys are best

Although complex, whiz-bang toys that do all the work for the child may be appealing, they offer limited play opportunities for the child. They push a button and the toy responds. In contrast, simple toys require imagination and interactive play. They encourage your grandkids to imitate real life or lead them into pretend story worlds. They challenge the child to use them in hundreds of different ways.

Buy quality items

There are times it’s worth spending a fair amount of money to get the very best toy. An example might be a classic dollhouse that can be used for years or a high-quality doll such as a Waldorf doll. Toys made of natural materials such as wooden cars or train sets are worth the investment because they last for many years.

Recyclables and around the house items

But, often children enter into creativity at its best using “stuff” from around the house. A plastic tub with water and cups, a similar tub with sand, beans, or cornmeal and small cups and toys, cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls and old clothing for dress-up.

Toys that encourage creative play

Here’s Ask Granny’s short list of toys that will encourage children to imagine as they play—toys that will have a different use every time they’re enjoyed.

  • Wooden Blocks, any brand or Kapla blocks
  • Legos or other building blocks such as K’nex or the Playmobil building toys
  • Play Dough or Sculpy Clay
  • Play Silks, brightly-colored scarves used in all sorts of dress-up play
  • Art supplies such as colored pencils, paints, markers, and paper of all kinds
  • Generic dolls or puppets

There’s nothing more fun than to watch a child engaged in pretend play. Just a few simple objects can set the stage for the wonder of open-ended creative play.

There are no end of great toy shops in the UK but for the best selection, head to Toys’R’Us, Smyths or for a real treat head to Hamleys.