As difficult as it is to believe, the holiday season is right around the corner. With that comes the joys of baking cookies, building snowmen, sledding, and much more. There’s one part, in particular, my kids are really looking forward to – opening presents under the tree. While I love seeing the excitement and joy on their faces, there’s always one challenge; what the heck do they want? My family’s been asking for gift ideas, but it seems nearly impossible to find something they’ll enjoy, and even worse – won’t get tired of after a few days. Their ages of 2, 5, and 8 are a pretty broad range, only adding to the difficulty of finding something. Add in something that’s not a video game or needs a screen to play with, and it’s basically infeasible.
What toys can encourage less screen time, while making sure my children are being active and creative? After a play date with my friend’s little ones, I discovered Melissa & Doug toys – realistic play sets designed for kids up to eight years old.
Searching through the website was a little overwhelming at first, just because there are so many adorable options. If you are looking for a gift and don’t really know where to start, Melissa & Doug has a “Gift Finder” located on the home page. Simply select the child’s age range and one of their interests from a drop-down list, and you’ll be given a plethora of options. We now have a lot, and I mean a lot, of Melissa & Doug toys, but here are some of my kids’ favorites: an easel, food groups play set, and a See and Spell.
I’m not a “paint-in-the-house mom,” because I hate the mess involved. That said, both the kids and I love this easel because it allows them to paint and be artistic, but it also keeps everything neatly contained so I don’t have to worry about a mess. Clean-up time is a breeze, as the trays are easy to wipe down and everything can neatly fit back in its place.
What I love most about these toys is how enjoyable they make learning, especially because my kids don’t even realize it. Not only do they love playing pretend, but they have fun labeling the foods or the colors or even what those words are in Spanish. They’ve even begun to recognize different foods when I’m making dinner or bringing in the groceries.
My kindergarten daughter is just starting to read, so these puzzles are perfect for her. She’s working on her “snap” words, or those words she can read in a snap– and these toys build on that concept. She can look at the pictures and then sound out the words, or even try to build her own words with the letters and sounds she’s learning. She’s also able to recognize those letters, in other words, building her vocabulary even more. I’m watching her learn in real-time, and she’s having fun while doing it.
In a world of cheap plastic toys with short life spans, Melissa & Doug are my go-to. The toys themselves are built to last. We have several favorites that have outlived three kids and two teething dogs. If you’re looking for screenless high-quality toys your kids will love, Melissa & Doug has got you covered.