Remind me next time not to make such a big list, but seriously, all 15 of these play materials are worth the money and space because they lead to some rich and deep play that spans various ages, stages, and interests. So today, I will finally share more “totally-worth-the-space-and-money” play items on my list!
It’s been a good while, so first of all, yes, we are alive!!!We have just been very, very busy and we have had to focus on some serious family commitments. This momma is balancing a lot right now, so my blog baby has been neglected, figure that’s better than ignoring one of my other babies.
Since it’s been so long, be sure to check out the Rigor in Play series and Part 1 and Part 2 of this list. Remember, the goal is to find play materials that will last over time, children, various purposeful uses, etc.
Now, onto the FIRST of my last 5 recommendations. Only 1, because I may have saved some of the best for last, and they really need some careful attention. Here goes!
11. Riding Toys
TOYS not toy, because if you have multiple children in the toddler/preschool age at the same time, then you’ll absolutely want a few riding toys so that they can play happily together for hours of fun rather than have toddlers screaming, pulling, pushing, hair pulling, etc. Be advised these behaviors may still abound if there is ONE preferred riding toy, but you can make these teachable moments and ultimately everyone wins because they still get A riding toy.
Can you tell that I have daily experience with this right now? I am currently working overtime to keep twin boy (16 months old) from pulling big brother’s (newly 3 years old) hair whenever they both want the same riding toy. Or whenever big brother bumps into him, blocks him, etc.
Likewise, big brother is learning safety rules of driving and that a police officer (ME) will give warnings, tickets, and suspend driving privileges if necessary.
“You get what you get. You don’t get upset”, singing familiar songs, referencing time until the next switch, and clever distraction are my biggest tools to maintain sanity and safety.
And lest you think that twin girl is just an angel through all this, her biggest transgression is climbing up to standing on the riding toys! She giggles and stares at me with a “just try stopping me” glimmer in her eyes. I gently say “no, no, you sit,” sit her back down, and repeat if necessary until she stops giggling and finally obeys.
With A LOT of reminders and supervision, we have come to a point that they can ALL play together with much less supervision and many peals of laughter, good exercise, and development of physical self-regulation and coordination while Momma takes care of the house. It’s amazing!
We have three riding toys (details below), which allow for hours of fun play because when they switch up, it’s like a new game again.
While I’m pretty sure you can no longer buy the wooden Riding Dog (from Neiman’s circa 2015), the key is to find a solid wooden toy with durable wheels that glide beautifully and an actual steering mechanism that makes maneuvering it enjoyable rather than frustrating for the rider. I have heard good things about the Lionheart Wheely Toys, and I love all of the design options. Another top pick in this category is Hape’s Scoot-Around 4-wheeled scooter.
The Playskool riding car can be first introduced as a walker, then transformed into a nifty car when a few months later your walking cutie starts running amuck. Also, if something the size of your tot’s hand goes missing, check the car first because your little one will love stowing things away in the small hiding spot compartment in the front.
Our Little Tikes Riding Dump Truck is most often the cause of any battles between 2 or all 3 of our children, becasue they just love it!!! They enjoy stowing things inside, sometimes squeezing in their favorite plush animal. Another likely spot to check if something is MIA. Also, it can be made into a push toy by fastening the lid back, which allows to mix things up for older tots or to help young walkers along. A similar product is the adorable John Deer Sit ‘n Scoot which includes some cute farm animals a la “Little People” and a little drop down door for storing or playing with those critters. Adorable, right? Both of these toys take batteries and then do something supposedly wonderful (probably not so wonderful to ears or eyes of adults), but I generally hold off on batteries until a toy starts to lose appeal. I have not had to add batteries to our truck yet. Who needs it to talk or grumble, anyway?!
Hubby remarked just a few days ago that he never thought these riding toys would get as much use or sustain play as long as they have, and I winked, saying, well thats why they’re on my list, hubs, even though he didn’t know that at the time.
Also, I can’t fail to mention that these ride on toys help develop more than gross motor skills, like confidence, physical self regulation, body-space awareness, and problem solving as little ones figure out how to steer, share space, get through tight spots, and literally overcome obstacles.