Here's an updated list of our favorite, most-played with, delivered-to-your-doorstep, Mom-approved toys.
And here are our favorite games.
And our favorite books.
Here are some great teen gift ideas.
An abridged list by age/interest.
Here are our favorite building toys over the years:
Yes, they are expensive (I think if you stay away from the commercial brands (Star Wars, Batman) they aren't too bad), but I always justified it by the fact they ARE so educational. The kids worked up from little kits to more complicated ones at different rates. I would suggest starting early (4?) with an easy set and moving up. Lego Technic is great for those kids who don't just want models but really want to play with them-they don't fall apart at easy.
Lego City was the favorite. Matt was an expert and had the train set and some of the more specialty Lego like the Eiffel Tower.
Lego Mindstorms is an investment, but will be handed down at this house so it was worth it (and a great substitute for parents who don't want video games or computer games played, but something more educational). This is so cool and if your child is into robotics and computers AND Legos this is perfect. Matt received this when he was starting his teens years I believe.
This Wedgit set appeals to ALL ages from toddlers to adults. It comes with little cards to match, but it's fun to just fool around with also.
Train sets! This is a collection for sure, added on to slowly over the years and the children, and appeals to boys and girls. We love Thomas the Train, so the kids have had some videos and books and I have heard many of those stories reenacted on our tracks. Our collection started slowly with a basic kit, and then we added on which is perfect for gift giving.
Marble runs! This Hape wooden set above is great, but I would suggest it for older children (it does come with photo of all different ways to assemble the run but it takes patience.) The plastic one is much easier for younger children. My kids have loved both of these.
Another marble rail system, but requires more building skill-this one can spread out over a whole room and takes more engineering (more learning!). The kids really work together with this one.
The boys really loved Snap Circuit set-lots of different ways to make this work, and really fun to experiment.
I have always sung the praises of these Magna Tiles-fom very little ones, to adult, these magnetized blocks are awesome. They have been used to make sculptures but also homes for plastic animals, and dolls, etc. These will always be out in my living room for the rest of my life I think.
This track is SO fun. The kids have to learn how these tracks snap together but maybe around four years old, they can do it easily (before that I have helped them build.) The motorized cars are fun and the batteries last for a long time.
Kapla Blocks are awesome-another one that appeals to all ages and has many different uses (mazes to sculptures to Nerf Gun targets). It's a perfect indoor winter activity.