The Best Toys for Kids

I have a love hate relationship with toys. Most often I really hate them, but the love part shows up on Christmas (and birthdays) when I start thumbing through catalogs and I see so many things that ‘look so fun!’ The junk vacuum suddenly turns on and I am sucked into buying too much. By New Year’s I realize my folly and start secretly hiding toys in the good will box, crossing my fingers and hoping the kids don’t realize what is missing.

After Christmas last year I was analyzing my hatred for toys and realized I dont hate all toys equally. Some are really and truly great while others are really and truly crappy. So I decided to take inventory of what was in my basement, I started paying close attention to which toys were constantly played with and which ones were never touched. The list of great toys was long but I’m sure the list of terrible ones would be even longer if I had the time and effort to compile such a list.

So here are some of the toys we have loved at our house. Most of them I hope to hold on to long enough to give to grandkids, some I’m sure won’t make it that far but we love them just the same.

Hot Wheels Track

Hot Wheels Triple Track…


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All around, Hot Wheels make great toys (Although I hated the Wall Track because it was so permanetly attached to the wall, I was glad when someone bumped into it and broke a few pieces so we could be done with it!) Hot Wheels did a fabulous thing when they started naming all of their cars. Multiple times a day a child approaches me and with a car flipped over says, “mom, what’s this cars name?”


We had this 5 level car parking garage for about a year and the kids loved it, but it didn’t stay together as well as I would have liked. After being carried around it eventually fell apart but it was great for cars AND marbles for many hours!

Shake and Go Cars

Fisher-Price Shake’n Go!…

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Mothers of boys will be forever indepted to Disney for personifying a car. My kids (even the girls) LOVE these Shake and Go cars. (But beware, driving them outside will shorten their lifespan considerably)


Handy Manny Tools (1-4)

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Sure the Handy Manny song can be a little annoying, but kids love tools and tools with personalities and NAMES are even better! * Unfortunately it looks like this toy isn’t easy to find anymore. 


Fisher-Price Friends…


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Of all the action figures in the box Imaginext definately wins the favorite award, my 5 year old son will play with these guys for hours.

Laser Stunt Chaser

Lazer Stunt Chaser…

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I’m not sure what it is about boys and remote control cars but they seem to be the only acceptable Christmas gift. After buying many expensive R/C cars that never make it to New Years Day I found this lazer car that is really durable, easy to drive and hours of fun. My 7 year old got this car 3 years ago and he STILL DRIVES IT!

Tonka Truck

Tonka 90667 Toughest…


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When my second son was about 10 months old he started ‘walking’ with his big tonka truck. I’m sure this isn’t the pediatrician approved method for learning how to walk but he is 5 now and seems to be quite normal. I waved many checkered flags as my kids raced their big trucks around the kitchen island.


LEGO Bricks & More Builders…


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Nothing gives kids a sense of accomplishment like sitting down with a book of instructions and completing an awesome lego creation. It’s even better when they decide to create their own designs. 

American Girl Doll (or something similar)

American Girl Isabelle -…


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A life like doll with cute clothes and real hair can make for ours of pretending with a little girl. It’s like having a friend that is always 100% agreeable!

Barbie Dolls

Barbie Potty Training Taffy…


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I’m a little bit of a Barbie control freek. I think Barbies are great but I am strongly apposed to having naked boobs laying around the playroom so our Barbies always have modest clothes (not easy to find, but possible) and they don’t get to be naked. The kids have learned the rules and it takes a bit of explaining to the neighbors but it works and we still enjoy a good Barbie doll.

Food Basket

Learning Resources…


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This basket of food is used almost daily! I have seen everything from Barbies to GI Joes to Stuffed Turtles eating fried chicked and corn on the cob. 

Schleich Animals

Schleich Pinto Stallion


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I informed my 9 year old daughter this year that she was no longer allowed to ask for plastic animals for Christmas and birthdays, we have far too many. But in all fairness to her, that is all she wants to play with.

Wooden Blocks

Melissa & Doug Standard Unit…


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Wood blocks are an accessory to EVERYTHING from Hotwheels, plastic animals, stuffed animals, Barbies, and babies.


Little Tikes First Slide…


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Our little basketball hoop has hosted many many pick up games, even with a few dads involved. 

Stuffed Animals

Mary Meyer Sweet…


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Stuffed animals were on my list of hated toys for a long time but I soon realized what great potential they have when given to the right kids. Boys, girls, little, and big can all benefit from a great selection of stuffed animals. We quickly out grew our box and I had to make a toy corral (instructions HERE) I won’t deny we have way too many plush toys but at least they are played with instead of gathering dust. Sometimes it can be difficult to buy stuffed animals online because it is not easy to know the quality from a picture. Mary Meyer stuffed animals are great quality! I have purchased 2 and they are my kids favorite.

Most of the toys on this list are pretty typical, maybe that’s why I like them, they are the good old fashioned, been around forever kind of toys. I also really like buying toys that can’t be found at the local Wal-mart, ones that not every kid on the block has. Here are a few of my favorite toy websites: