Our Favorite Things – A Guide to Gift Giving This Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching! A reader recently asked me to post our favorite toddler toys/gift ideas. So here are Our Favorite Things (WATCH OUT OPRAH!).
We have all of these items and they have been on our list of favorites for awhile. I have not been compensated in any way by any of these companies!

Top 5 Favorites

scatterpillar scrambleScatterpillar Scramble – We just got this and love it! You are supposed to use tongs to place the balls on the caterpillars hands while he is dancing. Honestly, I have a hard time doing it. So we put all the balls on and then turn the caterpillar on to dance to celebrate when we are done. We also use the tongs for other activities.

aquadoodle wall mat

Aqua Doodle Wall Mat – I love that this is on the wall and available at all times. They also sell mats that go on the floor but having a vertical surface encourages proper position of the wrist while learning to write. Sometimes we use paint brushes and a cup of water on this. We also own some travel Aquadoodle coloring pages (found them at Big Lots) that we have used a ton! **Just looked online for the Wall Mat to get for a friend’s bday and it is out of stock. Looks like they might be replacing it with the Wall Runner**

play food

Play Food – We bought an inexpensive set at Target last year at Christmas time ($10). Although play food ends up all over the house, it really has encouraged B to use his imagination. He has picnics, plays store, and cooks in his kitchen.

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Letters

Melissa and Doug Magnetic Letters – There are SO many activities that can be done with these. The quality makes them my favorite. Uppercase and lowercase come in the set.

Leapfrog Letter Factory

Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD – This video is my hero. I could go on and on about it but just click here to read a previous post about it.

Honorable Mention

Easel – The IKEA easel was a good value and B really enjoys using dry erase markers and chalk. I wish it was magnetic though!

Doctor Kit – This also encourages a lot of pretend play and also help ease B’s mind about what to expect at the doctor.

Play Tunnel – When B was younger he just crawled through over and over again but now it is used for hiding, pretend play, and building forts.

My First Scooter – I was so surprised at how fast B picked up riding it and it also folds up for storage.
Mr. Potato Head
Highlights Hive Five Magazine Subscription – We keep them to read again and again.
Playdoh Kit
Memory Game – Great for matching when they are younger and then playing the real way as they get older.
On my wish list for B this Christmas
(haven’t tried any of them yet):
Hi Ho Cherry O
Hungry Hungry Hippos
Leapfrog Word Wammer
Connect Four
Lite Brite

Do you have a toy or learning activity that has become a favorite in your home? We would love to hear about it!

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  • Reply Adriana

    Thanks for the suggestions! Great minds think alike! Yesterday started a post about the toys my kids ACTUALLY play with (opposed to sitting on the shelf collecting dust.) I am thinking about starting a MrLinky.

    October 10, 2009 at 3:50 pm
  • Reply April

    I know what you mean about the play food! My daughter got two sets for her birthday and I put some plastic drawers next to her kitchen set hoping that the food would promptly be returned. Fat chance! I am constantly picking up play food. The good thing is that my baby is always playing with it and pretending that she is eating it.

    October 10, 2009 at 7:47 pm
  • Reply Elise

    I love hearing about toys and products that other mums have found useful. The Scatterpillar Scramble game sounds like fun and I will be looking into that and possibly purchasing it as a gift for my children.

    Play food is very popular at our house, it’s great becuase it is one of those versatile toys. We can pretend we’re at a restaurant ordering the food from a menu, or we can be in a suprmarket buying the food, or we can be cooking it and the possibilities go on.

    We recently bought our three year girl a board game called Bright Buttons and we love this game. I would certainly recommed it.

    October 11, 2009 at 2:11 am
  • Reply Crystal

    You are speedy! Thanks

    October 11, 2009 at 7:22 pm
  • Reply Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog

    I’m so glad you posted this! I never knew Aqua Doodle makes a wall mat… we will have to add that to our list this year! We are also huge fans of the Letter Factory DVD.

    October 12, 2009 at 1:33 am
  • Reply Michelle, Muffin Tin Mom

    First, let me say this is a fantastic list. I love that you included honorable mentions. And I’ll be linking to it on next sunday’s links post.

    Second, My 5YO DD loves the miniature my little ponies that are out right now. They come with EXTREMELY little parts, so they are not for anyone who has babies (you can always store the little pieces away for later).

    I LOVE anything Melissa and Doug puts out. Seriusly, the quality and timelessness of their products make them a valuable investment. I hope to save my M & D toys for my grandchildren.

    If Adriana puts up a Mr. Linky, let me know because I would love to do a post about this and link up!

    October 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm
  • Reply Adriana

    Thank you for linking up to me. 🙂

    October 13, 2009 at 2:48 am
  • Reply Melissa

    We love playsilks, unit blocks, play kitchen and food, baby dolls, and dress-up clothes! I’m planning to do a post like this eventually… 🙂

    October 15, 2009 at 12:52 pm
  • Reply Christy

    Thanks for linking up. This is a great post. We have a lot of those toys. We don’t have Scaterpillar Scramble so I’m adding to our list for this year – thanks. We play Hi HO Cherry O at least once a week; my kids love it.

    October 16, 2009 at 12:21 pm
  • Reply Teaching My Little BookWorm

    love hte wall mat cool! I’ll have to check out that game

    October 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm
  • Reply Annette

    I should have made a wish list too. 🙂 We like lots of the same things!

    October 16, 2009 at 3:05 pm
  • Reply Raising a Happy Child

    Great list. I am thinking of getting Connect the Four eventually too, and we love Melissa and Doug anything here 🙂

    October 16, 2009 at 8:23 pm
  • Reply whisperingwhispers

    Thank you for your review! Play Food, will have to add that to the wish list!

    October 16, 2009 at 9:38 pm
  • Reply Jenny

    Great lists! We have many of those toys also. The Lite Brite would be awesome!

    October 17, 2009 at 4:10 am
  • Reply Jennifer G.

    Hi Ho Cherry O is good for fine motor skills and counting! It’s favorite at our house!

    October 18, 2009 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply bks2plz

    Looking for a great gift idea or stocking stuffers for co-workers and friends, the new fantasy novel, “Gateway to DreamWorld,” was released last month and has been receiving rave reviews.

    During the cold months ahead, they will curl up in a warm blanket or in front of the fireplace and enter a fantasy world filled with excitement and suspense.

    The book is listed on, Barnes&, and Powell’s

    October 19, 2009 at 4:31 am
  • Reply Jessica Morris

    what a great, great, GREAT idea!! I think I will do something like this soon! 🙂

    I love the Letter Factory dvd – it is such a great learning tool!!
    Likewise with most of the Melissa and Doug products – they are such good quality and I just love them!!

    We have the hungry hippo game, it’s fun and my 2 year old enjoys it when we all play together.

    Do you have a Tuesday Morning near you? They have some really cool things. Last week they had felt food. I didn’t buy any, but am now wishing I had so will make a trip back there soon! I have gotten a lot of really nice wooden toys for my boys there.

    Thanks again for putting this list together. Very inspiring!

    October 20, 2009 at 1:41 am
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