Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Advice + Tips

Five Minute Mum’s Top Toys

Ready for some imaginary bloke in a red suit to take ALL the credit for your hard work over the next few months, while you painstakingly gather ideas, generously buy toys and dodgily wrap them? No me neither, but here’s something that must just help a wee bit. At least for the ideas part. I ain’t wrapping yours too!

I did an instagram story on this, because I regularly get asked ‘What presents should I get my 2 year old?” or “where is that from?” so I thought I would pull together a list for you all so there’s a single place I can direct these questions! It currently resides on my highlights should you be so inclined to listen to me jabber about this instead.

Now the list below isn’t totally comprehensive. These are just the toys that are MOST POPULAR with children on the whole in my experience as a Mum, a playdate host, and someone who’s worked in a nursery and school and watched children play endlessly. They are the ones that are the most versatile, the longest lasting, the best value for money, and appropriate from 1-5, either gender.

  1. TEA SET. We have three of these. One for indoors, one for outdoors and one for the bath. You can get them from pound shops (our bath one is) – they get used daily. Be prepared to drink a lot of pretend DELICIOUS tea. Here’s the one we have – Tea Set.
  2. DOCTORS SET. A brilliant role play toy that can be put out at any time. An excellent game if you fancy a lie down being ‘patient’. Here’s a really reasonable version – Doctors set.
  3. BUILDING BLOCKS. These might seem a very simple toy, just for babies. But I think Ewan at 4, plays with them more than ever. He builds high rise train tracks from them, and complex bridges and mazes, and I write numbers and letters on them to make phonics games more fun. We are using them for colours for Florence at the moment. So versatile, they are really a must-have! Ours are here – Building blocks.
  4. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. I read somewhere once that the best thing to help a baby’s development was spontaneous musical stimulation! I can’t remember where but we all know nursery rhymes and rhyme time sessions are a brilliant activity for babies. However these sets can grow with them through the years. Put on a You Tube video of songs and both go to town – such an easy activity. But if you make it silly and fun enough they will still dig out the maracas at 4 or 5. Our set, bought for us by Auntie Nic (I cursed her as Ewan drummed at 6am!) is here – Musical Instruments.
  5. A MICROPHONE (with stand and guitar set) – going along with the musical theme, we own one of these sets and I think every time someone else’s kids come to my house it comes out and they all rock out to each other. Every time! So worth it for that alone – five minutes to actually chat to the other parent who has come over for a brew? Priceless. This is similar to ours – Guitar and Microphone set.
  6. PLAY FOOD. Easy one – always worth having. Play shops, cafes, restaurants, chefs – good for colour and texture language. A decent set is here – Play food.
  7. DUPLO. Obvious yes, but a few decent Duplo sets to make up a big box of it is my absolute best go to when I am all out of ideas. I lie on the floor and build, the kids will join and then I sneak off to make a brew. Win. Duplo.
  8. BRIO/WOODEN TRAIN TRACKS. We bought a starter set of this for Ewan when he was 1 and there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by since that he hasn’t played with it. Florence now loves it too. It’s the cause of the most happiness and the most arguments in our house! It’s brilliant for problem solving, maths, engineering etc. etc. Brio is expensive, but we got ours second hand from eBay and Facebook selling sites. IKEA also do a cheap version. Brio is here. IKEA version is here.
  9. MAGNETS. A cheap and fun toy. Great stocking filler. We put magnets in Ewan’s birthday party bags this year. A mini science lesson as they discover what it sticks to. We have this set of magnetic sticks and balls. But we also have these cheap little torpedo magnets too.
  10. TOOL BOX. Another role play toy that both my children really enjoy playing with. Fixing things is always a big fun, great for fine motor and getting those little hands working in preparation for school. Here’s the Bob the Builder Tool Box we have.
  11. DOLLS. Boy or a girl at home? Doesn’t matter. Get a doll. Dolls are a great way to demonstrate empathy, or to act as another person in a game for your child – “make dinner for dolly.” It’s a brilliant way to encourage nurturing. Especially for shy or quiet children, they can often enjoy feeling like they are ‘in charge’ of a ‘baby’ which builds their confidence. An excellent toy for multiple games. Here is one of our Dolls.
  12. BINOCULARS/MAGNIFYING GLASS. Always popular with little ones and a brilliant tool I use for loads of my games. Something to search for? Dig out one of these. Binoculars. Magnifying glass.
  13. MAGNADOODLE/MEGASKETCHER. A brilliant way to practice mark making without any mess. If we are scoring in my games I often dig this out – Mega Sketcher.
  14. STUFF THAT RUNS OUT. If you’re stuck for presents always get stuff that runs out. Pens, crayons, stickers, playdoh, kinetic sand and rocks, crafty bits, bath toys and fun bath products. These are always useful and gratefully received.
  15. SMALL BUSINESSES with unusual things – On Instagram I follow some wonderful accounts. People with small business with awesome crafty bits and bobs to make unusual personal presents. My favourite are here:
    1. @my_story_stones_rock
    3. @oursensoryshop
    4. @zacandlilybake
    5. @briancleggart

NB: Just as a side note, I’m not advertising or being paid to associate myself with any of these brands or toys or companies or shops. It’s just my own recommendations. But if they want to send me thank yous I am VERY open to that! Ha!!!

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