And as a play therapist, people are always asking me for toy recommendations. I am going to post my usual recommendations for imaginative play, since play therapy is anti: electronic, gadget, and media driven toys. We like to encourage pretend play that is child-driven. That means, no Disney characters or Super Heroes. We can have capes, masks, and dolls but they are generic so that the child can act out exactly what they want and use their imagination.
But, as for trendy toys, my girls have their lists and I mean it is a front and back list from top to bottom :) So far, the hottest toys on their lists are: Hug Time Poppy, American Girl Dolls and accessories (basically the whole catalog), Paw Patrol, Lion Guard toys, Bootsie the Cat (some Furreal thing), a scooter and a doll house. Because the doll house they got 2 years ago apparently isn't big enough (even though it's 4 feet tall!). And about 40 more things they circled in the catalogs.
This is why I have decided to hold a toy drive for my 6 year old's Girl Scout Troop, to help our area local family shelter. My kids need a lesson on the spirit of Christmas and too many toys.
So, with that being said, I recommend having a mix of the trendy, 'hot toys' and regular old-fashioned creative toys. If you only have toys from a movie or cartoon, it would greatly limit a child's creativity and self-expression.
It's kind of like having a stack of plain white paper and crayons or markers and seeing the great masterpieces they create! Versus having a stack of coloring books where your child just sits and fills in pictures with color. Not going to really make you jump up and say, 'wow, look what you created!'
So, as I have listed on here before, I am going to list a few faves that are good all around creative toys to have that will last a long time. And no, some are not cheap, but again they will last until your child goes off to college, okay, maybe not, but they will last a super long time. Happy shopping!
Blocks are huge. EVERY single play therapy session I have, a child will build something with blocks and it almost brings me to tears at times to see how a quiet sheltered child, will all of a sudden create a huge masterpiece of a 'building' out of blocks. I love seeing what can become of a plain old brown piece of wood!
Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Solid-Wood Building Blocks With Wooden Storage Tray (60 pcs)
2. Doll Houses
Now, for those moms of boys out there, I know you are a little apprehensive about buying a doll house for your son. But the super gender neutral ones are great, and there are a lot out there now that are 'green' looking. And your boys can use different 'characters' to play with in their house, and not dolls. The less is more philosophy is best for the doll house, that way children can use even more of their imagination!
These are great wooden doll houses:
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Furnished Dollhouse
Hape - All Seasons Wooden Doll House, Furnished (115$ and comes all furnished)
3. Dress-Up Gear My 1st Career Gear Assortment Suit (37.99$)
4. Kitchen Play
What home doesn't have a kitchen? Children love to act out what they already have at home and kitchens are a huge hit. Boys are chefs too and love to pretend they are washing dishes, cooking and grilling like their dad. This one is a good gender neutral color as well and fits in small spaces.
KidKraft Vintage Kitchen - White (95$)
5. Doctor Kit
I know I have blogged about these before, but they are still one of the all time faves of my clients. Kids LOVE using these doctor kits and my daughter still plays with hers a whole year later.
Fisher-Price Medical Kit (21.99$)
6. Art Supplies
This kit is a good starter kit. For 25$, it comes with paper, markers, crayons and pencilsCrayola Inspiration Art Case: Art Tools, 140 Pieces, Crayons, Colored Pencils, Washable Markers, Paper, Portable Storage
7. All purpose figuresSafari Ltd People TOOB With 7 Everyday Heroes Figurine Toys, Including Construction Worker, Policeman, Mailman, Pilot, Chef, Fireman, and Veterinarian (14$).
These are good generic people figures for kids to play with and act out. They can use them in the doll house, with block play or with any type of imaginative play.
8. Animal Figures
These animals have a mix of calm, sweet ones to aggressive types. It's always good to have a mix, so children can act out 'anger' vs. 'happy' feelings and sometimes they prefer using animals rather than people to act out feelings.Animals Figure,54 Piece Mini Jungle Animals Toys Set,Zoo World Realistic Wild Vinyl Pastic Animal Learning Resource Party Favors Toys For Boys Kids Toddlers Forest Small Farm Animals Toys Playset (11$)
So that's a good start if you want to foster that creativity this holiday season!
What are you planning on getting your kids for Christmas/Hanukkah this year?