Here Are the Top 10 Most Played with Preschool Toys
Do you spend money out of pocket for toys for your preschool or daycare? I know I have! But it’s so frustrating when you get something new and it ends up being thrown aside, or discouraging creativity. Here’s a list of affordable toys that won’t disappoint!
(This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure here.)
These Toys are Affordable and Durable
The price of some toys can be just plain ridiculous! Especially when you factor in the fact that a large number of children will be playing with them each day. Furthermore, these kids have different rules at home and aren’t always taught to respect toys and use them nicely. That means you also have to prepare for these kids slobbering, chewing, fighting, smashing, crashing, kicking, pounding, and sitting on them for a large amount of time each day.
Don’t Forget About Choking Hazards
Don’t forget that small items are choking hazards for kids under 3. I highly recommend getting a choking tube tester here. I’ve heard about using a toilet paper roll to test choking hazards, since “it’s about the same size as a child’s throat.” However, this choking tester, from the Department of Health and Safety, fits entirely inside a toilet paper roll with room to spare – that shouts inconsistency to me and I’m not relying on a toilet paper tube. Spend the $10 on the choke tube and you’ll know for sure what is and isn’t a choking hazard in your home.
Top 10 Preschool Toys
The following list is based on my years of experience in home daycare and is listed in no particular order. A great quality daycare, in both my opinion and based on the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale, will have all of the following items (or something similar) accessible to children for a large part of the day.
- fine motor play
- gross motor play
- dramatic play
- soft items
Click on the name of each toy to be taken to Amazon to see the full product.
These blocks are fun for building but also really versatile for lessons. For example, we’ve used them for sorting, graphing, measuring, and counting.
2. Wooden blocks.
These suckers are used on a daily basis and have been everything from streets and towers to cargo and firewood. But beware of two year olds who like to crash older siblings’ creations!
Books are something every children’s program needs! In addition to encouraging literacy skills and imagination, books are a great way to get a group of rowdy (or whiney) kids to quickly settle down. But if you have infants, toddlers, or rough preschoolers, I highly recommend board books for durability. Preschool level books usually have a board book version.
4. Art supplies.
I’m grouping these all together here. Seems like as the kids get closer to Kindergarten mark (especially the girls), art becomes a BIG interest. For example, all 3 kindergarteners I have this year spend almost all of their time here before and after school drawing, writing, cutting, or gluing.
5. Ride on toys.
I don’t think it really matters which one since all of ours are hand-me-downs or birthday presents. Just make sure you have enough to share or rules for taking turns! I guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth out of these.
Again, daily used. Homemade or store bought, you can’t go wrong with a sandbox. And ours is stocked with toys from the dollar store and excess construction vehicles from the playroom, so nothing expensive or crazy. But definitely do get one with a lid to keep your sandbox from becoming a swamp.
Both my guys and girls love to play with our dollhouse. And the preschoolers create some interesting stories with their characters, to say the least! (Psst…did you know that encourages language development? Read more in this post!) And I’m also lumping our bucket of Little People and plastic animals into this category.
We have this amazing sink that can hold and squirt real water! The kids love it, but I don’t keep it full of water all the time because of the inevitable mess. But I’d say the food and dishes get used on a daily basis. It seems like the kids are always pouring coffee or going on a picnic around here.
9. Bean bag.
While you might not consider this a toy, my kids use it constantly. For example, we keep our bean bag in our library where the rules say we have to be calm and quiet – NO jumping on the bean bag. This then provides a great space for whichever kid needs a break from the others or wants some quiet time with a friend.
10. Bluetooth CD Player.
Okay, so you’ll have to teach the kids to use it nicely, but it’s worth it. For instance, need to get the wiggles out? Connect this baby to your phone or tablet and play some Pandora KidzBop. Then hit up iTunes for animal sounds for your science lesson. And Pandora station Heavenly Lullabies or a lullaby CD on repeat work wonders at nap time! We even use it with headphones to listen to a story or songs when we need a calm activity. I actually have a listening center like this for my kids, but it’s definitely not necessary.
Avoid Trendy Toys
In conclusion, I think the biggest thing to remember when buying toys for daycare is not to get distracted by the newest or coolest thing. Since toys that don’t make noise can be used a variety of way they usually end up being the favorites. And they encourage the most creativity!
For example, how many toys have you bought for you own kids that you’ve seen get tossed aside and forgotten a week after Christmas? The same applies to daycare. Sometimes the simplest (and cheapest!) toys are played with the most.