Thursday 22 November 2012

What toys do your kids play with?

The other night I tidied our toy cupboard (or what used to be a lovely china cupboard, but has become a toy cupboard). This took pretty much the whole evening. 
Tidying the toys seems to be constantly on my to-do list, and it's a thank-less task (but on the up side it can be strangely therapeutic). It felt pretty good.

This time of year seems a good time to do a bit of an audit and clear out of toys, with Christmas looming and both Coco's & Henry's birthday's I know there is going to be an influx of toys coming our way.

This tidy-up session also came at the end of a day where I'd been on an almost fruitless* shopping trip to get Coco her fifth birthday present. There are SO many toys available and yet scarily few that I feel would be played with regularly, plus not drive me mad.
So as I tidied I thought about what the kids actually play with, and the answer is in a way, not much.
Yes, everything sees a bit of action, but lots of things are played with beyond the boundaries of what they were designed for....

So voila, the tidy and somewhat streamlined cupboard... and here is a little run down of the toys. It might give you ideas for your own Christmas shopping.

1. Dressing up animal masks - we have a big trunk of dressing up in Coco's bedroom, these are foam animal masks which have escaped and are downstairs for some reason. Dressing up is very popular with Coco and although I'm ashamed to say she mainly likes to be a princess, it keeps her occupied for ages and she is very adept at getting dressed/undressed. A undoubtedly useful life skill.

2. Playdoh cutters - another out of place toy, we love playdoh, lots of fun and even with Henry now we can be relatively hands off, as long as I don't get too anal about colour mixing - which I try my hardest not too!

3. Large wooden beads - these beads are Hugh vintage (I've written before about our great collection of hand-me-down toys kept by our parents). These beads came in their own vintage mincemeat tub storage pot, bonus! Great for little fingers to put beads onto shoe laces… but need an adult around, unless you want to be finding beads in corners for the next 20 years.

4. Coco's fourth birthday present was this toy camera… annoyingly I bought it in pink (pink and blue being the only choices). Not that impressed with it, wish I'd waited and bought a Nikon Coolpix S30 waterproof, kidproof, but also proper...

5. Musical toys, these are Hugh vintage and come out occasionally. They include symbols, so most of the time I wish they didn't come out.

6. Puzzles - these definitely get a lot of use but they are not solo toys, there is normally some adult interaction required, not always to do the puzzle, but to observe… we have a few Hugh vintage puzzles (am always amazed that his parents still had in tact puzzles after 4 kids and nearly 40 years). Last year Coco's 'main' present for Christmas was a giant farm puzzle from the charity shop, £6.99 - last of the big spenders!

7. Transport toys - we have a variety of push along cars/trucks etc, all have their moments, the louder the better generally. These definitely get a lot of use, but we easily have enough (in my opinion).

8. Vintage fisher price people - these are a mix of mine and Hugh's from when we were little. Coco loves playing with the fisher price school and the garage which are both at my parents house. These people probably escaped to ours via Coco's suitcase from when shes stayed there. I collected them altogether into my old Garfield lunch box (you can see where I get my hoarding tendencies from now).

9. A few baby toys packed away for when we have younger visitors and a more basic shape sorter that Henry already has sorted, as it were.

10. Spotty Dogs - Coco was given this (twice!) for her third birthday present and its great - although mainly needs to be played with an adult… she used to play it with her teddy, but not so much anymore. Orchard Toys make lots of other great games and we've given quite a few as birthday presents.

11. Things on sticks - two vintage toys, one from my childhood and one from Hughs. Both great for Henry right now, the wooden caterpillar is made by Brio - the national trust have one in their collection it turns out!

12. Doctors kits - We have two doctors kits which get sporadic use, bizarre considering that both kids can't get enough of the real thermometer. Infuriatingly both are pink. One is a Peppa Pig, which Coco got when she was a big Peppa fan, but seriously Mr toy manufacturer, I don't believe that Dr Barbie really has a pink stethoscope.

13. Stacking cups and stacking boxes - these get a lot of use. The plastic ones are Hugh vintage and we have some nice cardboard ones too. I often find them being used in the kitchen full of bits of puzzles or the fisher price people.

14. Shape sorting - The mini Hugh vintage shape sorter is GREAT. Henry loves it and it's portable and he knows all his shapes from playing with it. I'm still amazed that we haven't lost the bits as we often take it out to keep him occupied on train journeys... as we did with Coco too.

15. Soft toys and baby doll - Baby is a Hugh vintage 70's girl with a little knitted wardrobe made by Hugh's mum. She gets around a bit, but often she'll be put to bed somewhere random for a few weeks. Coco went through a big picnic phase where she'd make all her toys come to her picnic. It was cute, I'd sort of forgotten about it.

16. Pull alongs - Although we've had lots of pull along toys they don't acually get played with that much... but the horse is currenly having a bit of a renaisannse, but often just gets put in the toy buggy. Random.

And on the other side of the kitchen we find the, ahem, kitchen.
One of THE best purchases. Me and Coco made an excellent cardboard box kitchen back in the day, but then I fell for the charms of this ikea one...
A lot of cooking goes on here on a daily basis by both Henry and Coco and every other child that sets foot in our house. The Emma Bridgewater tea set has also got a lot of use and we've lost a few bits along the way, unfortunately they now only make this in the pink heart design. Boo to that.
We have a load of plastic fruit and veg, but when the pieces are together little people love chopping the wooden fruit and the wooden cakes too. 

On the floor we have a big box of the ever-popular duplo and a big stash of brio which I personally love, I have very happy memories of building elaborate track set ups when I was little, and am enjoying doing it again now. Plus both C & H seem to quite like it at the moment. Henry very sweetly congratulates himself every time he puts two pieces together.

Finally we have two Melissa & Doug toys that didn't make it into the photo, one is the latches board - Henry is just getting into it and I like it as it's one big board, no little bits to get lost, and another is the magnetic dress up dolls which Coco has played with a lot over the last year.

And then, there's all the upstairs toys... which are mostly Coco's, including the dressing up her new dolls house the playtent and her bags and purses (my daughter is a bag lady; give her a bag and she'll ram it full of all sorts of random c**p - that is really one of her favourite activities).

So that's about it. What do you think? Any ideas; what are we missing? What do your children love to play with? Please share....

 *I did manage to buy myself some shoes on the aforementioned shopping trip, which at least made it a not totally wasted trip... Oh yeah, and for her birthday Coco got some oil pastels from us, and a super-duper ebay dolls house from my parents.


  1. I don'T have kids but I played with barbies and playmobil. My room never looked this tidy though ;)

    1. We haven't gone down the playmobil road (yet), am always quite shocked by how expensive it is. Coco got a disney/barbie doll for her birthday last year, I managed to get rid of it, bad Mummy, but I need to use my influence while I can!!

  2. Love this post, gives me lots of ideas My little girl is 20 months and very interested in 'Bebe' and any time of stacking boxes or cups. Am off to find some Brio sets!

    1. Thanks Clarie! Make sure you check ebay for Brio - you can get so much more for your money and it doesn't age!

    2. Also look for your local NCT toy sales. I bought a dustbin bag full of Duplo for £1.00 a couple of years ago, which my girls loved. There are also some wonderful books to be found, if you can stand getting through the crowds (these sales do seem to be quite popular & bring out the pushier sides of mothers!)

    3. When my children were small I found pictures of zoo animals, laminated them and cut them up to make simple puzzles. You can do this with photos of events they have been to, photos of their bedrooms etc.

  3. Love this post (and hello!), it's funny how children only play with a few things despite the amount they have. I'm like you and planning to do a big sort out before Christmas. Although time is quickly running out! x

    1. Hi Anna, Thanks for your comment - been enjoying your blog for a while! It is funny how little they really play with isn't it - since writing this post I'm noticing it even more.

  4. I like your photos a lot ! Now that my children are growing up (8 and 5) this time seems far away now. I think Fisher price vintage toys are great - we have the farm from the 70's. And we are a big fan of Haba toys (wood vegetables and more)to match the kitchen made by their dad with a real tap and sink.
    My favorite animals are the Shleich ones, from germany again, but my children never really played with them (although quite pricy).
    We have a Fara shop down the road, it's such a great opportunity to get little bargains !

    1. Thanks Claire, We have a Fara shop too - great source of wellington boots!

  5. Hi there - just found your lovely blog via the Tots 100 Fresh Voice, and looking forward to following along!