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Having been a mom for the past 18 years and also a childcare provider for 5 of those years I know the value of great toys and the frustration of low quality toys.
10 Toys With Excellent Play Value
Excellent play value to me means that the toy ignites the child’s imagination and/or works on an important developmental skill. A great toy can be used in 1000’s of different ways. Great toys last through not just one child but several. Great toys allow several children to play with them all at once.
As early as one years old my children had Duplo. We made towers from it that they loved to knock over. As time went on the building got more complex until my daughter at 11 made a whole Christmas display out of our rather large collection of Duplo.
As they grow older you are going to want to add in regular sized Lego. My boys for years loved getting new Lego sets for Christmas first making it according to directions then coming up with their own inventions. My daughter has loved it as well.
2. Brio Wooden train sets
Brio train sets, last and last. Start out with the basic figure eight loop and grow your set piece by piece from there. There are other brands out there but I found Brio to hold up better than any other brand. Brio is worth the extra cost in my thrifty books.
3. ZOOB building sets
ZOOB building sets are a little known wonderful imagination inspiring toy. Children can make animals, robots, aliens, vehicles, and more from these toys.
4. Tinker Toys
From props for imagination play, (lollipops for the candy store) to huge towers, Tinker toys provide hours of playtime.
5. Lincoln Logs
An American classic Lincoln Logs offer hours of play value. The kids and I working together made whole towns from them.
6. Hot Wheels
My boys got a lot of different brands of toy cars over the years but the only brand that could put up with the rough play my sons gave them was Hot Wheels.
7. Plastic Animals & Dinosaurs
Plastic animal and dinosaur sets are one toy where I didn’t really favor any particular brand. In fact some of the ones that are still ticking in our home after years of play are $1 store purchases. Still inspect the toy carefully to make sure it will stand up to rough play. You want to make sure it doesn’t have rough plastic edges, and that the animals can actually stand up on their own. If they are hollow is there a way the water can be drained from them when they end up in the bath. My son when he got big enough not to swallow small pieces loved these miniature animal sets by TOOB, great quality.
8. Wooden Block Sets
You can make a wooden block set yourself if you are handy. If not, there are many great sets available on the market, including this one by Melissa & Doug.
9. Ravensburger Puzzles
Ravensburger brand puzzles are my favorite because of their amazing quality. I had a few of these framed puzzles as seen above, in my family daycare and they stood up with years of daily use, and I was still able to pass them on to another family years later. Ravensburger makes puzzles for all ages and stages from these framed puzzles to puzzles with 60 pieces, to puzzles with 1000 pieces.
10. Large Wooden Beads & String
Melissa and Doug toys make a great assortment of wooden bead and string sets for various ages that provides hours of play while working on eye-hand coordination skills. These are also fun for imagination play, as snakes, and jewelery for dress up time. These were especially a hit with the preschool age group in the family daycare I ran for years.
These 10 types of toys are worth every penny you pay for them, but I being thrifty I couldn’t resist giving you a few ways to save money on them.
4 Ways To Save Money On Toys With Excellent Play Value.
1. Christmas Sales
At Christmas time these toys often go on sale. I see Lego in buy one get one half price events frequently over the Christmas season. Amazon often runs deals on Melissa & Doug toys. Hot Wheels are available for less than a dollar around Christmas time.
2. Daily Deal Sites
I have seen Zoo Dubes offered a few times at discounted prices by Zulily this year. Groupon has been known to do a deal for Toys’R Us around Christmas time that you could use to save money on any of these toys. Brad’s Deals shares often shares great deals on a number of the above mentioned toys.
3. Find Them Secondhand
I gave my children second hand toy sets when they were little and they were extremely happy to receive them. By buying them used I was able to give the children bigger sets than we ever could have afforded new, and the toys were still in excellent shape.
Try yard sales, Craigslist, eBay, thrift stores and consignment sales and stores. Just make sure you know your sale prices well because sometimes the second hand market isn’t as great as some awesome deals you can find on new items. In general though second hand market prices are lower especially yard sale prices.
4. Cash In Your Points
There are many point reward programs, here is my list of 17+ point reward programs I use. From Swagbucks to Inbox dollars with a bit of daily work online you can make a small monthly income that you could use to purchase toys for birthday presents and Christmas presents.
What other toys would you add to my list? Do you know of a great way to save money on high play value toys?