We all keep essentials in our kitchen store cupboards - tomatoes and rice, pasta and beans - those trusted ingredients we know we can reach for at a moment’s notice, to whip up something nourishing. Many of us buy wardrobe staples - a pair of jeans and a few well-fitting t-shirts, some trainers and a raincoat - that form the foundations of our personal style.
And yet when it comes to our children’s toys, our approach is often scattergun. Toys get handed down to us, or sent as gifts. We buy things on a whim to appease a grizzling child or because we think it will be a hit (even though there is already a box full of the same ones at home). Toys mount up and we begin to lose sight of what the children have, and what they need. What’s more, our children become overwhelmed, bogged down by the quantity, and not necessarily the quality, of the toys available to them. They don’t play with any of them - like a wardrobe full of clothes we never wear.
A selection of different glues and tapes, plus access to the child-friendly items in your recycling box, can become a week-long project. Younger children will enjoy applying the glue or disentangling their fingers from the tape. Older ones will delight in their junk-model creations.
The good news is that remedying this situation is super-easy, quick and almost entirely cost-free. Simply by ensuring that you have a number of key basics and essentials - none of them expensive or remotely whizz-bang - in your toy box or playroom, means you’ll know there is always something in there that they love and want to play with.
From a simple pair of scissors to play dough and a ramp (yes, a ramp!), once you have these bases covered, and see how they transform your child’s play, you’ll never be without them again. The children are happier and more occupied, and your home feels less inundated by toys no-one looks at.
We’ve put together the One Hundred Toys Essentials to help you recognise the treasure trove of play staples you already have at home. These are the toys and items that we can’t live without in our house, and that we’ve relied on and valued most in our work as primary and pre-school teachers. We’ve also included some ideas on how to get the most from them, and guidance on how they can help your child’s development and confidence, particularly in the year or two before they start school. We hope you’ll enjoy having them around. Have fun and don’t forget let us know how you get on!
You can see the whole essentials range at the bottom of this page.
Better than any toy
It's good to be bored
Having fewer, better toys
In defence of toys
There's no such thing as an educational toy
Throw out your child's toys to boost creativity