My son has just passed the official "toddler" milestone: he turned three recently. (I know some people say the toddler phase extends all the way to when they're five and off to kindergarten, in which case, my toy ideas still apply). I've noticed a big shift in what toys hold my son's attention, and in anticipation of his birthday, I updated his Amazon Wish List a few months back, as we have family members, who, despite my protestations ("We have too many toys at home!!"), buy my son a present every Christmas and every birthday.
In the past, I haven't been too picky about what toys we get, but I've noticed my son definitely tires of certain toys faster than others, so now I'm getting more involved in recommending presents for my son. There is nothing worse than having a family member over to the house and they notice that their present is not being used.
Here are some winners that my son has definitely found entertaining and I have found have some educational value.Magna-Tiles
We first discovered Magna-Tiles earlier this year when we were at a kids' art museum. My son immediately took to the Magna-Tiles and spent at least half an hour with them at them museum, so I knew that they would be a present that he would like. I was right! From the day he opened this present two weeks ago, a day hasn't gone by that he hasn't played with the Magna-Tiles, trying to build everything from a house to a teepee (his words!).
The Smart Car was a toy I was really excited to add to the Amazon Wish List and when it arrived on our doorstep I was more excited to gift wrap it. The verdict? I enjoy playing with the smart car more than my son. It's a 3-D puzzle of sorts -- a Rubik's Cube in the shape of a car. The toy is well designed, made of wood, and painted in simple, bright colors. It comes with a book that contains the challenges, which is to place the blocks in the car to match the configuration for each challenge. The challenges start easy and then progress through three more levels: junior, expert, master. I found myself trying the the expert and master challenges and having alot of fun! However, my son is more interested in just driving the car around. I hope he grows into this toy eventually.
I like this toy because you can play it alone or play it with others. The objective is to hang monkeys from the tree one at a time, while keeping balance so that the tree does not detach from the top. My son enjoys playing this game with me rather than playing it alone, and my husband and I have found ourselves playing it by ourselves, after our son has gone to bed.