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10 Traits of Great Toys

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Play is the work of a child. ~ Maria Montessori

If play is the work of the child, then toys are the tools children use to get the job done. Unfortunately, not all toys are created equal, so how can we decided if a toy is worth it or not? What makes a good toy? As a homeschool mom and a former early childhood educator in public schools, I have a mental list of questions I go through when choosing toys. Use the list below to help you choose great toys for kids.

10 Traits of Great Toys to help buyers find the best toys for kids

What Makes A Toy Great?


This is my number one concern. Is it sanded smooth? Does it have sharp, pointy edges? Choking hazards?

Age Appropriate

Is this toy even remotely close to the ages and stages of my kids?


Does this toy encourage....Creativity? Problem Solving? Decision Making? Exploration? Imagination?

Engage vs. Entertain

Does this toy engage my child and encourage play, or does it simple entertain them while the kids watch?

Shelf Life

Will this toy grow with my child? Can it be used for more than its original intent?

Durable & Sturdy

Can the toy take a beating? I have boys...enough said.


Not all of the toys I buy are labeled educational, but this is a plus. When I say educational, I don't mean that it has to scream ABC's and 123's, but it would get bonus points for integrating learning.

Aesthetic Appeal & Noises

Does this look like something anyone would want to play with? I'm not one to judge a book by it's cover, but seriously, certain baby dolls are just ugly. We're not prudes, but we don't like ugly or scary looking toys around here. Also, if the toy randomly breaks into song or has lots of annoying sounds, it won't last long around here...ahem.

Easy Storage

I don't have endless amounts of room for toys. Is the toy easily stored? Will it take up a lot of room?


This is the ultimate test. If it isn't fun, it is pointless.

Tell me: How do you choose toys?

This post is a part of the series, 31 Days of Open-Ended Play. Be sure to read all the posts in the series for more great ideas for encouraging learning and creativity through open-ended play. 31 Days of Open-Ended Play

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31 Days of Open-Ended Play for Children | Happy Brown House

Saturday 5th of October 2013

[...] Day 5: 10 Traits of Great Toys [...]