We’ve been blessed with a daughter and three little boys. All four kids (ages 6,5,3,1) share a playroom — and in it are a variety of toys that appeal to all of them. I like to avoid the cheap plastic toys and instead buy toys that are both durable and appealing. Today I’m sharing a giant list of gender neutral gifts for kids that have been a big hit at our house.
I hope you’ll find this a useful resource when doing birthday or Christmas shopping!
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LEGO DUPLOS are for toddlers and kids who aren’t quite ready for LEGOS – but my kids still enjoy these at age 5. It’s tempting to buy a cheaper version, but we’ve found that these are the best at fitting and staying together.
LEGO Ultimate Building Set. Unless you’ve got a little one who puts everything in his mouth, you can’t go wrong with LEGOS. This set of 405 pieces is a great starter set. (To help your little engineers create more buildings, consider the LEGO Bricks & More Builders of Tomorrow Set).
Wedgits are a unique building toy that our kids love. While our Wedgits don’t get everyday use, the kids always return to these when they’re looking for variety.
Magna Tiles are our most expensive toy, but we consider them well worth the price, especially when given as a group gift. These translucent magnetic blocks are so much fun that you’ll join in! A tip: don’t wait until Christmas hoping the price will go down. I had to put off our purchase one year because as Christmas neared, these were in such high demand that the price nearly doubled! (Get the 100 piece set – you can’t do much with the smaller sets.)
Imaginets are magnetic blocks in a variety of shapes that come in a convenient carrying case. My kids love to match the patterns on the cards.
We have a large selection of children’s games at our house, but I’m sharing just our favorites. (Chutes and Ladders is a favorite of the kids, but not the mom – so I’m leaving it off :)).
Cranium Hullabaloo is a game we received when my daughter turned two. It received so little attention I almost gave it away. I’m so glad we held onto it! Now my Six, Five, and Three regularly go down the basement to play this active game together. I’m not sure the game is still being produced – so snatch it up if you find a good deal on eBay!
Uncle Wiggily is a favorite board game for my two oldest. It’s for kids who are able to count and recognize large numbers – so don’t buy it for your young preschooler. Most kids ages 3-5 will need you to play this with them because of the reading involved.
Snail’s Pace Race is perfect for young preschoolers, who need only to match colors and follow simple directions.
E-Boo Tell Me a Story cards are awesome! They help spark creativity and imagination as you use the picture cards to tell a story.
Shapes Up is a simple geometry game that my kids enjoy at about age four and up. I love that they can play it without my help!
Hisss is a colorful matching game that helps kids learn simple strategy.
Kids don’t need a lot of toys to play pretend. At our house it just takes an old box. But we’ve found that toy food and toy animals are great props.
Learning Resources Play Food is, in my opinion, the most realistic and durable play food that doesn’t break the bank. You’ll pay more than you will for those giant economy sets, but this toy food will last through a lot of rough play. ( Believe me.) We like to add a set or two each year. Check out our favorites in the above widget!
Schleich toy animals are not inexpensive, but they look like the real thing and are made to last. Usually you buy each animal individually – you won’t believe the variety! Our kids have played with these a hundred different ways. (Shop around. Amazon isn’t always the cheapest way to buy Schleich animals.)
These days my two preschool boys go through a roll of Scotch tape a day. We’ve stopped fighting it. I’ve been thinking that a craft box with a variety of art supplies would be a perfect gift. What could you put in a craft box? Check out my suggestions below. (A tip: always go washable! Even if your kids will be wearing smocks, expect them to grab the arm of your newly purchased shirt before they’ve washed their hands.)
- Tempera paint
- Glitter Tempera paint
- Finger paints
- Paint brushes
- Window crayons
- 64-count crayons
- Twistable colored pencils
- Super Tips markers
- Classic markers
- Construction paper
- School glue
- Glue sticks
- Scotch tape
It is usually impossible to play the CD that will please all four of our children at any given moment- but our older kids have all enjoyed these CD’s. Just not at the same time.
Jazz for Kids has appealed to our older preschoolers, particularly when they can enjoy the humor of such songs as “We Have No Bananas Today!”
Easter Favorites, by Cedarmont Kids, is a favorite Christian CD that we play year round. We definitely need to add some more Cedarmont Kids CD’s to our collection!
Don’t be fooled by the title of Baby Einstein: Meet the Orchestra . This CD is great for kids up to at least age 6. After listening to this many times, my kids can now recognize the sounds of orchestral instruments and have learned to love listening to classical music.
While we’ve purchased our rhythm instruments from a different source, the Hohner 6-Piece Rhythm Instrument Set has great reviews. Yes, you can make your own rhythm instruments – but it’s great to have a ready-made set of percussion instruments so the kids can make their own beat whenever the mood strikes.
Okay, you know I could write for pages about all the books I think you should have in your personal library. Instead, I’ve chosen just boxed sets or anthologies that you can find on Amazon. These books are all favorites at our house!
The Mercy Watson books are hilarious and a perfect introduction to illustrated chapter books. They’re long, but my kids want to hear the whole thing in one setting. And I don’t even mind. Usually.
If you missed the Frog and Toad books as a kid, make sure your kids don’t! My husband wondered what was appealing about these simple books with two-tone illustrations. They’re timeless, and today’s kids enjoy them as much as most of us did twenty (or, ahem, thirty) years ago.
The Hairy Maclary and Friends Collection, by Lynley Dodd, is a fabulous set for improving rhyme and vocabulary – and they’re just plain fun. These aren’t as well known in the United States. Change that and delight the child in your life with a set of Lynley Dodd books!
The Complete Adventures of Curious George, by Margaret & H.A. Rey, is a favorite for long car trips. Some of the newer Curious George books were written by different authors than the originals – and they’re often based on a TV show rather than the other way around. Stick with the originals in this great anthology.
The If You Give Set, by Laura Numeroff, puts together some of the favorites in the If You Give a Mouse Cookie series.
I am seriously in love with the Pigeon Books by Mo Willems. If you like creative and funny stories that aren’t too long, this set is a must.
Dr. Seuss’s Beginner Book Collection just can’t be left out. While these aren’t at the top of my kids’ list, the rhyme and rhythm are great for pre-readers! And the magic of Dr. Seuss doesn’t lessen with each new generation of listeners.
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*Stock photo via Depositphotos