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My 10 Favorite and Most Versatile Toys Every Child Should​ Own.

Alright, to all the parents out there, I know you are going to love this post. Whether you are are looking to simplify the toys in the house or you just need help figuring out what toys are REALLY worth spending money on. This post will hopefully help.

Because let’s be honest, we have all been there as parents, when you look into your child’s play bins, and all you can see is endless amounts of plastic junk toys that have become one, big, mess.


This post comes from more than just being a minimalist mom but also from many years of experience working with young children. I am bringing you MY top 10 toys according to the experts at AKIDEMY preschool. If you live in the Calgary area you may be familiar with our preschool.

AKIDEMY is founded on the belief that children have an innate desire to explore, play and learn, and are naturally competent and capable learners. Akidemy believes that intentional play with the use of loose parts and the right equipment will help children to develop socially, emotionally and cognitively. You can learn more about this unique program by visiting here:  AKIDEMY  or visiting the AKIDEMY FACEBOOK PAGE

These toys will guarantee lots of exploration, curiosity and wonder time for your children. They are easy to store, easy to maintain and will provide lots of opportunity for rich play. These toys are great for young children (under proper supervision) and I will even go as far to say that you could use these toys for older children ages 8-10.

I swear that if you even had just these 10 things in your house you could get SO MUCH PLAYTIME out of this simple inexpensive list. Let’s look at the list first and then I will show you how you can set these items up for endless ways to play, create, imagine and learn.

So let’s get started!

  1. A basket of people and animals. You could easily pick up a small rattan basket and fill it with a handful of little wood people and/or animals. (land animals, dinosaurs, water animals etc.)

  2. A small rattan basket of cars and trucks (firetrucks, police cars, roller, digger, dump truck, garbage trucks)

  3. A storage container or Tupperware to store Kinetic Sand

  4. A storage container of Lego or Duplo (depending on the age)

  5. A quality set of wood building blocks

  6. Play-dough and cookie cutters and not the store-bought kind. You can make a no-cook play-dough at home in under 4 minutes. Make a batch and store in a container in the fridge for up to a month! The best ever recipe is here: BEST EVER NO COOK PLAY DOUGH

  7. A container full of colorful Gems or rocks (you can find these at Micheals)

  8. Craft supplies basics– pad of construction paper, glue stick, Elmer’s glue, pair blunt tip scissors and a pack of fine tip markers.

  9. A set of play food with cutlery and dishes

  10. A palette of watercolor paints and some different size brushes (I love the Ikea ones!)


Whether your child is 3 or 8 the set up would be similar when prepping a play activity for your child. My 9-year-old will still jump in on the play with his younger brother. Of course, he has different interests so this is something he will outgrow but the above toys and equipment are so open-ended that it allows children of all ages to engage with the materials in meaningful and creative ways.

I would highly recommend buying your child a tray to work on. This will help you set up, create boundaries for materials. (so it doesn’t end up all over the floor)

You could combine equipment to set up an invitation to play; as we like to refer to it at AKIDEMY. Here is a list of some play ideas that will take five minutes to set up and 5 minutes to clean up but will provide lots of quality play time.

  1. Set up a tray with kinetic sand and trucks. Extend this play next time by adding gems and rocks.

  2. Set up a tray with play-dough and cookie cutters. Extend this by adding a small container and a spoon.

  3. Set up a tray and place a few sheets of white paper, your watercolor palette, a cup with just a little water and a paintbrush.

  4. Set up the kinetic sand with the animals and add gems or rocks for some fun dramatic play!

  5. On the floor set up, the pretend food with dishes and cutlery. Extend this by adding a recipe book, a pad, and pen (so they can take your order!)

  6. Set up your tray with your craft supplies. Allowing your child to explore with glue and scissors (effective supervision would be needed for younger children handling these materials)

  7. set up the lego bin on the table and place your child’s tray there, put some pieces on the tray to invite them to come build and explore.

  8. Set up the wood blocks on the floor. To extend block play you can add the people, cars, or animals!

  9. Set up the play-doh with a pair of blunt or plastic scissors (Crayola make a great starter pair of plastic scissors) Allow your child to explore cutting play-dough. This is a great way to practice scissor skills at home. To extend this add gems and rocks.

  10. Set the plates and cutlery with the playdoh to create their own food ideas! you could extend this play by adding household items like a cupcake tray, ladle, a pot, etc.

you can also change the sensory products (sand and play-dough) and use things like

  1. lentils

  2. water beads

  3. water

  4. water and soap

  5. rice

  6. dry beans

  7. shaving cream

just add your cars, your people, utensils…whatever! I can guarantee your little ones will have lots of fun!

till the next post,


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