I was not a very big fan of buying toys for kids. Books is my way of pleasing a child. After my kids were born, a lot of people gifted toys for them. There were cheap quality toys, expensive ones, educational ones, puzzles, modelling sets, dolls, vehicles and so on. I never saw any real use to it until I started looking at the literature they provided. These used to be a catalogue of other products and these catalogues harped on the educative nature of the toys.
That really set me thinking that toys are not just for playing without any learning, albeit they give a child a lot of room to play act and pretend and also induce arly knowledge of varoius things. For example one will teach kids this is a dog but not this is a dalmatian unless you hav a model of a dalmatian. A car could be a car or a mercedes depending upon the model you have. It is not that I want my children to rote learn whatever I tell them but it is a question of making the most of a mind that is always hungry for information and knowledge. I want to create memories via toys and send them to make believe world via play acting. Playing with toys in a way could become as educative as reading books.
I have recently picked up a set of animal model toys for Ojas & Tejas. I think it is one of the better toys that I have bought for them. I do a lot of stories around the toy animals for them and the excitement on their faces is worth watching. My mom picked a set of gas stove, cups, plates and vessels. They make endless cups of coff-fee & unlimited buffet of Duffa (dosa) for us on that. Mom also gave them miniature chakla-belan for their make belief rotis.
Off course puzzles have a special place in my heart for sheer reason that one needs to apply the mind to get it right and it keeps the kids occupied for some time as long as I applaud them at regular intervals.
Play doh is another personal favourite and so also is the building blocks. But Ojas & Tejas have not yet made full use of them, perhaps they are too young for such toys.
But anything that has wheels, be it etikoppa, metal, plastic, broken or in perfect working order, is a hit.
Football, soft ball, plastic ones, rubber ones, bouncing ones, a kid can never have enough of that too. My Dad had picked up one air filled one that has the alphabets with corresponding pictures on them. That proved to be a big success with both of them not only as a skill testing device but also because they could play the game of letting the air out and asking us to blow it to size again. (Rs 25 only at a China bazaar). Infact hubby had made it a practice to pick up souvenir football from each country he visited (and a flag for himself)
They used to have the mobile that you hang in the crib and wind up. There was a set of dalmatians and another one with butterfly and catterpillar. after they outgrew the mobile, I have saved the individual pieces of dogs and butterflies and those are still serving them well.
There is a bowling set my sis got for them. They take the bowling pins and carry them all over the house in the glass-less side tables.
They love their sand kit- truck and use it for loading their favourite color pencils or potatoes or sand.
They had a set of mugs that built into a tower. The tower never got built but the individual mugs are used well in their personal swimming pool.
Ojas loves his large size dalmatian soft toy (calls it Duggi) and Tejas loves anothr small brown dog and calls it Huggies (Duggi's companion in Pondicherry- will post pics of the 2 later).
From a hard-core toy-opposer, I have become an ardent toy-scouter. Always on the look out for anything interesting for them.
But given a chance, the type of toys my kids would play most willingly would be empty containers / cream bottles, their potty, pouring water from glass to bowl via a spoon, cheapest quality toys, broken parts of toys, the measuring cup of their medicines, straw, basically anything that is wierd or broken or does not qualify as a legitimate toy.