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Choose simple toys: Grimm's rainbow friends, balls and giant blocks

How to choose the right toy

Jan 24, 2021 • 7 min read
Toys rarely live up to promises made in their marketing. We show you how to cut through the hype and choose just the right toy-box essential - and to know when to buy nothing at all.

Just like in the rest of our lives, there is no magic answer. No quick-fix solution for all our educational toy needs.

We keep buying our children toys, hoping, somehow, that the current object of our desire will be the one.

But the truth is much more prosaic: there are a few, essential, toys which support children’s learning.

Occasionally, a child encounters a toy that resonates with them. They become obsessed with it, playing with it for hours. With each new toy we buy we try to recreate that excitement and engagement. But the truth is, we don’t know what a child will connect with next.

All we can do is offer the basics.

Simple Grimm's shapes and figuresThe virtue of Grimm's is its simplicity. Children are wonderfully imaginative and are happy to pretend that a police car is an aeroplane, if needed. But more often than not, if they open the toy box and find a police car they will play a police game. A plain, undecorated vehicle, on the other hand, can be a post van, an ambulance, a getaway car or a Formula 1 racer.

Ostheimer deer

Ostheimer figures are pared down to their essential elements, giving them a grace and beauty that's hard to match.


The toys you will find here are less obvious, less ‘exciting’. But children return to them many times. Often these toys provide the building blocks for other activities, sitting in the background, playing a supporting role, e.g. blocks, fabric, a plain doll's house, simple wooden figures. They can be used to extend other play materials. Blocks can build the city that favourite vehicles race around, be 'cooked' on the hob of the play kitchen or be the gold bars of a pirate's treasure.


A box of peg people

If your child is used to playing with noisy, fast-paced, stimulating toys, don’t expect them to to embrace these toys immediately.

We’re not suggesting you remove all the old toys and make your child go cold turkey! But it is important to spend a little time helping your child to explore the creative possibilities of the new items.

Over a number of days you will notice your child slowing down, thinking more creatively.


Bear with a Sarah's Silks Sling

A simple silk or cotton square is a wonderfully versatile addition to the toy cupboard. Make a sling or bandana, wrap up your baby doll or build a den. A piece of fabric has myriad uses.


What One Hundred Toys is NOT

At One Hundred Toys we don't say that you must only buy our toys, that all other toys are somehow bad.

Children will always love the cheap plastic freebie that comes with their favourite magazine or that funny novelty gift they picked up on holiday.

Instead, buy a selection from the 100, so that you know you’ve got your bases covered. Then, when thinking about what to buy your child for their birthday or when you’ve just come out of the museum and are herded through the shop, you can just buy them the dinosaur that you know they’ll love, without having to worry if it has any educational value. The essential building blocks are already in place.


I'm Alexis, father of four and founder of One Hundred Toys. I taught in London primary schools for thirteen years, specialising in the early years. Now I write about all things play here on the blog. Read more

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