Want to round out your little boy or girl’s toy collection with some really amazing, well-made toys for heaps of fun AND learning? Even if you’re just stocking up on birthday gifts for all the kids in your playgroup, you can’t go wrong with one of these.
I’m a fan of online shopping. Amazon.com, with its parent reviews for toys has been an excellent resource for finding really great toys beyond those offered by our town’s
big box retailers. Here are my top picks for toys under $30. They are suited for both
boys and girls. You can click through to view more product options, read reviews and then have them sent to your doorstep in a flash.
Wooden body puzzle
This 5-layer, large wooden puzzle by Beleduc lets your little boy or girl explore what happens inside the human body. They can remove the different pieces to reveal the skeletal, muscular, digestive and nervous systems. There is a boy and a girl puzzle.
Parents rave about the quality of the puzzle pieces and the enjoyment their kids get from playing with the puzzle. Plus, if you’re up for some simple explanations, it’s a great way to introduce the biology of the human body to your curious little one (or at least make it just a little less abstract if you’ve already been attempting to explain what bones are, for example).
Listed at $19.99 but available a few bucks cheaper from Amazon.com.
These are ridiculously well-made, sleek but hardy wooden cars, each constructed from several parts that all disconnect. It’s a no-brainer that your little boy will go wild for these, but they also come in pink and purple to please little girls who appreciate a good car.
The cars can be taken apart and the different parts interchanged with others in the same size. You can get a set of 3 Mini Automoblox for around $25, which makes for great options in swapping pieces (or individually for under $10 each). The larger cars are $25-$30 apiece. There’s something satisfying about the heft and quality feel to them, whether in the large or small version. The tires run smoothly and the pieces don’t loosen or break, from what we’ve seen in the year or so they’ve been driven around our house.
It’s worth a visit to the official Automoblox website to register your car (each car has its own unique VIN) and perhaps print out some fabulous coloring pages, too.
Spinning gear set
It’s never too young to start talking about basic engineering principles, right? If your little boy or girl likes things that turn (wheels, buttons, knobs), you know he or she’s going to love a set of gears that spins!
These gears have magnets on the back so they can be stuck on your fridge door, entertaining your little boy or girl when you’re cooking. It features one main gear with an off-on switch to power the whole set. Just push the other gears up next to it and before you know it, they’re all spinning. Some might be flipping over, others have funny eyes or swirly patterns that mesmerize as they move or clack. The colors are bright oranges, pinks, and blues, grabbing the attention of little boys and girls alike.
The gears are pretty hardy. We’ve had ours for over a year, and they’ve survived countless tumbles off the fridge door and the occasional tossing by rougher playmates. And of course you can’t beat the price tag: well under $20!
Kimochis are super-cute, well-made plush toys with a mission to help little boys and girls learn about their feelings. When my son saw the Kimochis cat we bought for his cousin, a little girl, his disposition changed visibly. He wanted to hug it. Tuck it into bed. Make it kiss mommy. Take it with us to the post office. He’s NEVER identified with a stuffed animal like this before.
For about $25, you can get one of the large characters, of which there seem to be 8 in total. They’re also available in mini versions for around $15, and you can buy extra sets of feelings (little faces with the name of the feeling on the back, meant to be tucked into a pouch on the front of the toy).
My son didn’t like the Cranky face that came with his Kimochis Cat, preferring the Happy and Curious feelings. We haven’t talked a lot about feelings with him, but imagine the empowerment and fun you’ll be providing your little boy or girl when you help them identify what they’re feeling and even perhaps role-play with this adorable character!
One final note…
It should be noted that these are listed for children above 3 years old. However, we’ve introduced most of them to our son much sooner, and he’s continuing to enjoy them in new ways as he grows. Use your judgment regarding the appropriate age for introducing these to your own kiddos.
Also in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that the links to Amazon above are not affiliate links and we don’t receive any benefit from recommending these products to you.
Well, at least not beyond the satisfaction that we’ve helped you with your gift giving for the coming year, perhaps 😉