As I was playing with Little P the other day I realised that she only has a small number of toys that she goes back to over and over again. So I put together a list of her ten favourites. There are some on this list that I never could have predicted. Most surprising of all is that most of them are hand me downs, recycled or homemade so the entire list cost alot less than €50!
1. Postman and Daisy
These were second hand toys that came from older children in the family. He is actually a bus driver but Little P was so captivated with the postman when she was tiny that we named him Postman Pat. Little figures like these can come from anywhere and older children usually have loads of them lying around. Little P knows nothing about TV characters yet so she loves any little boy and girl figures. It’s better really that they’re not too specific because she then has the freedom to make up her own little characters. It’s very funny to listen to her playing with them and creating all kinds of imaginary scenarios.
2. Goaty McGoatface
This is actually Goaty the second because the first one was thrown into the sea off Fenit pier prompting a full blown meltdown! Luckily the farm set that he came from had two baby goats so she was so happy when Goaty the second arrived in the bath that night! Little P says that the first one was rescued by a fisherman and lives in his house now (so sweet). Anyway toy animals in general are a big hit but Goaty has always been a favourite even though he comes from one of the cheaper little farm sets. Daddy gave him the name and she thinks it’s the best name ever, it was even one of her first words!
3. Pencils (and paper)
As I really love drawing I bought crayons for Little P when she was quite young. Special shaped crayons, chunky crayons, long crayons, short crayons but she has only ever been interested in my drawing pencils! So now we share the drawing pencils and the crayons are lying unused in their boxes! She gets totally absorbed with a pencil and paper and loves drawing on tiny scraps of paper like post it notes and old envelopes. So another ‘toy’ that didn’t really cost us anything at all.
So far Little P hasn’t shown much interest in dolls. She may be just a bit too young yet. But tractors, trucks, cranes, cement mixers, fire engines they’re a different story! She sees tractors around her all the time so it’s no surprise that they’re her favourites. When I asked if someone would buy her one for her first birthday I didn’t really think anyone would. There was a bit of a ‘tractors aren’t for girls’ reaction! But her Auntie and Uncle came up trumps with a real John Deere and she’s loved it ever since. That’s Paddy behind the wheel by the way, he’s an awful man for the spuds!
5. Magnetic Animals
I bought these for Little P’s second Christmas and they’ve lived on the fridge ever since. She moves them around and tells stories with them. Sometimes we’ll take one or two away and she has to guess who is missing. She takes them off the fridge and puts them on the dishwasher, the radiator or into her various bags and boxes. They keep her amused when we’re cooking or baking in the kitchen and she never tires of them. Great value for money! (Available on http://www.fuddyduddy.ie)
There are always a stack of boxes in the kitchen near where Little P plays. She transfers her toys (and anything else she finds lying around!) between boxes. We play shop, post office and cafe using all the boxes as our props. She loves old baking powder drums or spice tins, teabag or tissue boxes and of course giant cardboard boxes. This is a cardboard submarine (!!) that Daddy made for her from the old car seat box. It’s a big favourite!
Books go on the list as plural, because I couldn’t possibly pick one. The amount of pleasure that Little P gets from books is immeasurable and if she had nothing else but books she would be happy. She has classics like ‘The Gruffalo’ that were passed down to her by cousins, she has lots of new ones because books are about the only thing that I buy for her and she has loads that she chose herself from secondhand bookshops. But the greatest discovery of 2017 was the library. Now every three weeks we can get a whole new set of books. If she really loves one or two we can always renew them. The children’s section in local libraries are always very well stocked and we’ve discovered loads of great new authors.
Football, catch, bowling, rolling, indoors or outdoors we play with the ball every day.
The ball comes to the beach and even the playground. It’s great for burning off some energy in the house if we’re cooped up in bad weather. Now that she’s learnt to kick and score a ‘goal’ there’s no stopping her!
Little P loves carrier bags that she fills with stuff and pretends she’s going to school or on a picnic. Little toys, books, buns and old bits of banana get stuffed into the bag and deposited all around the house. Recently she’s become very interested in watching school children with their backpacks so I gave her an old one I often use on holiday. Now there’s double the possibility of things going missing! If it’s not in the bag, then it must be in the backpack…..or the small box, or the tin, or the big box, or the………(!!)
10. Dress Up Teddy Bears
These were a first birthday present from Dad and Little P just loves them. They come with plenty of clothing options, tops, bottoms and shoes are all mix and match. The bears also have different faces with a variety of expressions. She loves getting them ready for the playground or swimming or going to bed. Once all the various pieces are laid out she will get completely absorbed dressing them and changing their faces. A very simple toy but loads of play value. (Available on http://www.fuddyduddy.ie)
These are obviously the toys that our toddler plays with over and over again. But I don’t think she’s very different from most other children her age. Play is important work at this age and toys that are simple enough to allow a child to be creative and use their imagination have the most play value. It sounds like such a cliche when you see it written down but when you see it at work before your eyes it’s obvious the toys that will become the favourites. Toys that involve batteries and button pressing are often too prescriptive for a toddler, once they figure them out there isn’t really anything more for them to explore. So this is our top ten list, no batteries required!