For those last minute shoppers (I believe today is the last day to order online for delivery by Christmas), here are some of my family's favorite toys and games. (You can see the list I made last year here.) These have all stood the test of time in our house and the kids keep coming back to them. (This list is just for fun and I have not been compensated for my reviews in any way).
1. Melissa and Doug Jumbo Coloring and Sticker Pads
I don't know when my kids were first introduced to Melissa and Doug jumbo color pads and jumbo sticker pads, but I am so glad they were! The pictures in each book (they have both "girl" and "boy" versions) are very cute with great detail. My kids have spent so much time playing with their coloring books and stickers that I have started giving these out as big brother and big sister gifts. They certainly give Mom some free time!
2. Geomag Blocks
I discovered these blocks by accident in the clearance section at TRU a few years ago. I immediately fell in love with them and my kids followed. The blocks are magnetic, make noise when you shake them, and can be taken in the bathtub. The farm animal and sea creature pop ons add even more fun. All 3 of my kids can play with these together.
3. Write and Learn/Scribble and Write
We originally received the Vtech Write and Learn as a gift. Let me tell you, this is one of the most fought over toys in our house! You can practice letter writing, shape drawing or just doodle and draw for fun! It does seem this toy is harder to find these days, but the Leapfrog Scribble and Write seems to be a nice alternative (Chaos received one for an early Christmas present). So far, both are big hits!
4. Leapfrog Leapster 2
Pinky received her Leapster a year ago, and I have to say, I'm impressed. She has learned to spell, write letters, simple math, and Spanish words just by playing games she thinks are fun. We do limit her time on it, but this is a great learning tool. I also love that parents can connect it to their computers to see how well their child is learning (it will tell you strengths, how long each game was played, how many answers they got correct and what they need to work on). Thumbs up in my book!
5. Rosy Cheeks Baby
Okay, this one technically hasn't stood the test of time just yet. Wild One will be getting this cutie from Santa. I did a lot of research to find a soft cloth baby doll that she would not instantly outgrow. I think she is going to love it!
6. Melissa and Doug Food Sets
There isn't a food set from Melissa & Doug that my kids don't enjoy. We have 3 or 4, but the Ice Cream set is definitely a hands down favorite. The scoops are magnetic to build double and triple deckers. The quality of Melissa & Doug toys are fantastic, and I'm sure you won't go wrong with any set you choose.
We have a basic tunnel (similar to this one) that I picked up for a steal at a garage sale. We all love playing with it! The best part? It collapses for flat storage when you're done!
8. Fridge Phonics/Fridge Farm
Both of these fridge sets from Leapfrog have been adorning our refrigerator since Pinky was a toddler (amazingly enough we haven't lost a single magnet yet). They're both cute and fun, and the Phonics set definitely helped Pinky learn her alphabet. Chaos is just starting to learn his letters from it too.
9. Sesame Street Baby's Purse
This is another toy we've had since Pinky was a baby. It a cute, sturdy toy. The change purse rattles (as if there is real money in it), the keys (not all are picture here) also have a mirror on them. There is also a cell phone (not pictured) that squeaks when you push the buttons. This is one of Wild One's favorite toys at the moment.
10. eeBoo games (tell a story, tea party, robot)
eeBoo is another great company in my opinion. We have several of their games and have been pleased with all of them. None require reading but do teach the value of taking turns. We enjoy the Tea Party (pictured) and Build a Robot games. Pinky and Chaos also each have a set of Tell Me a Story Cards (Fairy Tale Mix Up and Little Robot's Mission). I am so impressed with the quality of the cards and the beauty of each picture. We have had a lot of fun making up stories with these cards.
11. Don't Break the Ice
Well...this game may not be the most educational or the quietest game ever, but it is certainly a favorite on family game night. I like that there is no reading involved and that is is simple enough for even Chaos to join in. The kids enjoy this game so much we sometimes have to "encourage" them to play other games!
Who doesn't love a magnadoodle? Great for drawing, tic tac toe and practicing letter writing. We have both the full size and travel sized (well, 2 travel sizes). They make great toys for long car rides!
The following two toys I believe are out of production, but I thought I would mention them in case you catch sight of them second hand.
13. Barney Laptop
(Sorry No Picture)
This is another often fought over toy in our house. It has several different levels of play - a find it game (find the picture, color, number or shape), an identification (push the button and the computer will tell you what it is), a music mode and more. A cute, sturdy toy.
14. Laugh and Learn Magnetic Cookie Puzzle
This magnetic puzzle makes it easy for kids to fit the pieces where they go. It plays songs and teaches shapes, colors and textures. Depending on which way you put the cookie in the slot it tells you something different about the cookie ("mmm..bumpy cookie" or "red triangle"). A great gift for those in the 12 month - 2 year range, but my older kids still enjoy it as well (they pretend to bake the cookies).