Everything seems to happen so fast these days, so it’s not unusual for kids to outgrow their toys in just a few months or perhaps even a few weeks. As a result, many parents find themselves collecting and storing toys that are no longer enjoyed during playtime, with the closet having more items than the toy box. And of course, that becomes not just a strain on storage space, but a burden on parents’ wallets as well as the environment.
Besides creating toys that foster creativity and independence, Melissa & Doug also focuses on making high-quality toys that grow with your child and can be enjoyed long term. This blog will take a look at open-ended toys for kids that not only entertain, but educate and evolve along with children through their multiple stages of development.
Toys that Grow with Your Child
The Value of Long-Term Toys
What do experts actually mean when they refer to a toy as one that will grow with your child? They’re describing toys that are relevant regardless of a child’s ever-changing developmental needs and interests; toys that can provide opportunities for new challenges, and continue to spark the imagination.
There are multiple advantages of investing in these types of open-ended toys for kids. The most obvious is the financial benefit. You can see a significant cost savings by reducing the cycle of buying new toys that will soon break, be discarded or stored away, and instead, investing in a few quality toys that have longevity. In addition, Melissa & Doug’s high-quality toys can provide even more savings because they’re designed to be passed down so new generations can enjoy them.
Experts encourage parents to provide the kinds of toys that grow with their children. The more open-ended toys you can provide, the better in terms of play value. Studies show that they can help with a child’s decision-making and thinking skills, foster independence, support various motor skills, and inspire creativity and imaginative play.
Key Features of Toys That Grow with your Child
What should you look for when you want toys that grow with your child? The following are some helpful suggestions:
Versatility: Many toys do just one thing and when that’s done, the playing often stops. The key is to provide open-ended toys that rely on the child to create the scenarios and challenges.
Adjustability: Sometimes a toy starts out being used one way, and advances and grows with the child so it can be used in a totally different way. For example, little ones can have fun solving puzzles and sorting shapes with the Wooden Shape Sorting Grocery Cart, and then as they grow, they can use the cart as a push toy while exploring their surroundings.
Different Levels of Complexity: Look for toys that have a variety of challenges that can satisfy both beginners and more advanced users such as puzzles, arts and crafts, and play sets.
One of the many reasons that Melissa & Doug toys are so popular and highly regarded is that they design their toys with these key features in mind.
Melissa & Doug Toys That Grow With Your Child
Let’s take a closer look at some Melissa & Doug toys that embody the idea of “growing with your child.”
Puzzles: Puzzles are one of the few activities that truly interests and benefits people across their lifespan, and they feature virtually every skill under the sun.
The youngest kiddos ages one and older love jumbo knob puzzles with their easy-to grasp pieces and bright colors. It gets little ones started on language development and fine motor skills, and helps them grow into developing spatial awareness, visual perception, and also serves as an ideal introduction to problem-solving puzzle play.
For toddlers, try chunky puzzles that inspire imaginations, peg puzzles that fine tune fine motor skills, and sound puzzles that stimulate the senses.
With jigsaw, floor, and cube puzzles, preschoolers can tackle the challenge of a “big kid” puzzle, but with helpful aids such as defined boundaries, limited piece counts, and oversized puzzle pieces.
Our top picks include these puzzles that are designed to grow with your child:
Seven favorite farm animals and a farmer stand out against the big red barn. This extra-thick wooden puzzle includes eight pieces, with jumbo wooden knobs that are easy for little ones to grasp. Full matching pictures appear underneath each piece to help with matching. Playing with the puzzle encourages hand-eye, fine motor, and visual perception skills.
This six-piece wooden peg puzzle plays verses of “The Wheels on the Bus” when pieces are lifted. Song lyrics are included on the wooden puzzle board, and pictures under the pieces reveal what’s happening. Shaped wooden pieces with durable plastic pegs are easy for small hands to grasp, making this a great preschool puzzle that helps with fine motor skill development and auditory processing. As kids develop they can enjoy singing along with the song as they match the puzzle pieces.
This extra-thick wooden puzzle for ages 2 and older includes seven easy-to-grasp chunky dinosaur pieces, with a full-color matching picture underneath. The puzzle encourages hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills, and the dino pieces stand upright making it super fun for kids to create stories and delve into imaginative play.
This jumbo floor puzzle features original artwork that depicts a deep ocean scene. Kids can explore the hidden world of the ocean while developing their cognitive, physical, and emotional skills. While playing with puzzles they can also improve their motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination, and strengthen their problem-solving skills. The puzzle measures an impressive two feet x three feet when assembled, and the 48 extra-thick cardboard pieces feature an easy-to-clean surface.
Pretend Play Sets are another example of “forever toys” that will grow and adapt along with your child’s developmental milestones. They’re great toys for toddlers and can be enjoyed as they become preschoolers and even as they get into elementary school as kids create increasingly complex scenarios.
Kids love kitchen play and the beautifully designed Chef’s Kitchen set for kids ages three and older, lets budding young chefs hone their craft. The easy to assemble pretend play set includes a refrigerator/freezer with pretend ice maker, oven and stove top with dials that turn, microwave with turning plate, sink with moving faucet and handle, and other impressive details and accessories. Sturdy, top-quality wooden construction means it will stand up to years of creative make-believe meal-making.
Kids can order, create, and serve cool pretend play frozen treats with the sturdy wooden Cool Scoops Ice Creamery. The 42-piece play food set features a sturdy wooden counter with ice cream and soft serve dispenser, cups, cones, toppings, and more cool accessories that kids can use whether they’re playing the role of store owner or hungry customer. When it’s time to close up shop, all the pieces store in the counter for easy cleanup.
Art supplies are timeless toys that can be used independently and for different types of projects as a child’s skill grows. The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Double-Sided Tabletop Easel is sure to be a focal point in your child’s play area. It features a magnetic dry-erase board on one side, and a chalkboard on the other. It includes a paper roll holder and paper guide and tear-bar that accommodates 12-inch paper rolls, adding even more ways to create masterpieces. It includes a 50-foot long paper roll, dry-erase marker, 5 pieces of colored chalk, eraser, and 36 letter and number magnets. The study wooden easel folds flat to store.
Classic wooden blocks provide hours of fun for toddlers and continue to inspire kids as they grow. This 100-Piece Wood Blocks Set features 4 colors and nine shapes for kids three and older to build, stack, knock down, and eventually learn simple math concepts. The chunky, easy to grasp blocks help kids practice fine motor skills, color and shape recognition, and dexterity.
Another brightly colored easy-to grasp toy is the Primary Lacing Beads set for kids ages three and older. It includes 30 colored wooden beads in a variety of shapes, tucked neatly in a wooden storage case. Kids can start out using the toy as a tactile experience, and grow into developing their fine motor skills, shape recognition, and sorting and sequencing skills.
How to Choose the Right Toy for Your Child
When you’re choosing the right toy for your child it’s more than just considering entertainment value because you’re making an investment in their growth and development. Look for open ended toys that are durable, well-made, and offer multiple uses so that kids can experiment and express their creativity as they develop new skills. Also look for toys that can be combined with other toys to spark kids’ imaginations as they seek new challenges and scenarios. Be sure to look for toys that align with a child’s passions and unique interests so the toy can grow with the child as they continue to explore and learn.
Toys that grow with a child and allow for open-ended play should be versatile, adaptable, high-quality, and align with a child’s interests. Melissa & Doug creates award-winning toys that are known for their exceptional quality, attention to safety, and features that spark the imagination and offer multiple ways to play. They’re a reliable choice for those looking to make a long-term investment in their child’s play and development. From puzzles and play sets, to crafts and blocks, their selection of open-ended toys promote creativity and learning. It’s no wonder these toys have been loved for generations.
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