Good toys encourage imagination and inspire creativity. A good toy holds a child's attention and never sits collecting dust for long because the kids are always playing with it.
If they gave out awards for great toys based on that definition, these would definitely be the winners in our house.
#10: Loose Change
Older kids like to ferret away the shiny little circles like, well, ferrets. Younger kids love to put them in their mouths; maybe they're thrill seekers but with choking hazards instead of skydiving, or maybe they just enjoy putting their immune systems to the ultimate test. Either way, coins are a popular item around here.
#9: The Printer
Something about all the lights on the printer display calls to my children's souls on a deeper level than you or I could ever understand. And since every button-punching session causes a terrific series of buzzing, beeping, and paper feeding through the printer, it only reinforces their behavior. They love to fiddle with the paper tray, and the fact that there's exactly enough space to shove in all five fingers and some Hot Wheels cars settles it: this is an amazing toy.
#8: The Toilet Flush Handle
It's right at cruising height for my 10-month-old and every time he pushes it there's a delightful rushing sound plus a psychedelic swirl of water plus whatever he's thrown into the bowl beforehand get sucked down the hole and disappears. No wonder pushing the toilet flush handle is like crack for babies.
Smooth, squishy, and there's usually a jumbo-size tub of it within arm's reach of every changing table. Hands-down it's my kids' absolute favorite substance for painting walls, floors, bedding, clothing, and themselves. Why nobody has invented tubs of petroleum jelly with child-proof lids yet, I honestly don't know.
#6: The Salad Spinner
All the implements in my kitchen are pretty popular toys around here, but the salad spinner is the clear front-runner. I'd estimate it's been used to spin non-food objects for fun 20-30 times more often than it has actually been used for salad.
#5: My Bed
The kids love to jump on my bed. They see it as a trampoline that stretches infinitely in all directions — which, when compared with the size of their tiny toddler bed mattress, I suppose it sort of is.
#4: The Curtains
We've bent and re-bent the curtain rod back into place so many times I've lost count. On at least two occasions I've caught my 30-pound toddler literally swinging from the curtains like Tarzan on a jungle vine. They're also ideal for games of hide-and-seek, playing peek-a-boo, or just hiding behind to poop.
#3: Living Room Sofa
Kids of all ages love to stand on, climb on, jump on, and generally leap and cavort all over the battle-worn couches in our living room. Especially popular is the trifecta of sofa, loveseat, and coffee table parkour that has been responsible for at least one trip to the emergency room.
#2: Computer Keyboard
"If adults don't want us to play with the keyboard," my children reason, "they shouldn't have made it so fun to pop off all the keys." (That's not a direct quote. I'm just inferring.)
#1: My Phone
My smartphone is the obvious winner, and I know because every night I delete 489 blurry photos of a preschooler's earlobe. I don't know when or how she gets her hands on my phone, but where there's a will there's a way. And holy moly, is there a will.
Let's hear a round of applause for the winners of the Best Toy Awards, and I'd also like to give a shout-out to the runners up. Computer Speakers, Bin of Dry Rice in the Pantry, and Toilet Plunger: thanks for being there to entertain my kids when they need you.