15 ideas for simple play

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

Kids don’t need a lot of toys. They are gifted with wondrous imaginations that only expand when their toy options are strategically limited.

I love watching my daughter pretend that her wooden blocks are tea cups, sandwiches, and cookies.  Or seeing her use scrap PVC pipe as a microphone. She doesn’t need to be told to imagine. She just does.

With that, I try to be somewhat minimalistic in the toys (etc.) we buy for our kids. I’ve made many purchases that I later regretted (and donated). Here’s my list of keepers.

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My Top 15 Toys & Gifts for Littles

Wooden Blocks

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

Aren’t these blocks pretty? If I can have a toy sitting out in plain sight without bothering me, I’m sold.  Even better if it’s open-ended, which these are. My daughter loves building towers, cities, trains — you name it — with these blocks.  We even have tea parties with them.

Puzzles

LEGO DUPLO blocks – I love LEGOS.  As with most toys, try to buy them used if you can!

Nesting and Stacking Boxes

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

We love these boxes. They’re great for babies and toddlers. Our daughter likes to use them as “birthday presents”, special rooms for her dolls, or even Hawaii (there’s that imagination).

Bath animals – We received these as a gift almost 2 years ago, and they are just about the only bath toys she plays with.

Easel

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

Ours is the wooden one from Melissa & Doug, which I love aesthetically. But, if you plan on leaving yours outside like we do, you may want to choose a plastic one. Ours has held up pretty well, and is outside all the time… but after a couple heavy rains, some of the wood has warped after about a year.

Books

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

We love books.  It’s easy to buy them online, but I recommend using the library instead if you can. We are lucky to live across the street from a library, so we walk over there often. She loves getting to pick out three or four books to take home (and I love that we can just exchange them when she’s done with them)!

Little People – There are so many possibilities with these little figurines.  Our daughter got her first set when she turned one, and still plays with them almost two years later.

A doll – Our daughter loves her Cabbage Patch baby.

A magnetic drawing board

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

We freaking love our Magnadoodle.

It doesn’t make a mess, can be brought on trips, and has been an awesome tool for teaching her how to draw (she and I draw together before bedtime as part of our nightly routine).

Can you guess what our 2.5-year-old daughter drew in the above photo? An octopus! She whipped it up on her own after I tucked her in. I came back into her room to bring her some water, and just had to turn on the lights to get a picture. I love that she can draw quietly by herself as a way to wind down at night!

IKEA Children’s Table – Again, if it can sit out in plain sight without bothering me, I’m sold.  I love our IKEA table.  It’s pretty and cleans up nicely.  It can also be customized (check the photos in the Amazon reviews). We use ours for snack time, play, and crafts.

We ordered ours from Amazon, but it’s cheaper if you can go directly to IKEA.

Construction paper

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

You can do so much with this stuff!  Assuming you have scissors, glue and/or tape in the house, your options are endless!  In the above photo, I quickly cut out a bunch of shapes, put double-sided tape on the black paper, and let her arrange the shapes herself.  Easy! We decorated ornaments during Christmastime, which you can see in the easel picture above.

First Bead Maze

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

Guys, this thing is amazing for taking to restaurants when you have a baby.  It sticks to the table so your little one can’t knock it onto the floor every 30 seconds. Gold!

O-ball

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

Super easy for babies to learn how to grasp with all those holes.

Boon Pulp Silicone Feeder

Joy and Simplicity | 15 ideas for simple play

Ok, this isn’t really a “toy” per se, but it’s one of my favorite things for babies who are learning to eat. Much better than the mesh versions, since it washes clean more easily.  I started off with frozen breastmilk inside since my little man won’t take a bottle.  He’s since graduated to banana. So awesome!

What are your favorite toys for your little ones?

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