I've noticed we have far less toys than many people; we don't have shelves upon shelves overflowing with board games, puzzles, toys, etc, yet our children aren't bored.
What we like:
- Construction toys (Lego, blocks)
- Age-appropriate dolls and accessories: clothes, little kitchen utensils, dolls bathtubs
- Dress-up clothes (interesting scarves, bags, purses, necklaces)
- Good books; some of them were owned by me as a child. It's really very special to read out of the same books to my girls.
- Art supplies: paper, crayons, markers, paint, play dough, glue, and so on.
Basically, everything that promotes the work of imagination and active play.
We are fortunate enough to have a large yard. I love it so much. There's nothing like the freedom of simply opening the door and letting kids run out free.
What I prefer to avoid:
- Whiz-and-bang toys. Anything that shrieks, whistles, pops, whirls, whizzes, and makes a great deal of artificial noise.
- Dolls that project a false image of womanhood, such as Barbie dolls. I feel those are especially inappropriate for little girls.
- Broken toys. Do you know how difficult it is to get rid of broken toys sometimes? The children don't play with them anymore, hardly notice them, but as soon as you make a move to throw some of the junk away, there's a wail of protest. Lately, during a long afternoon spell the girls spent in the yard, I filled a large plastic bag with broken, discarded toys, and quietly disposed of it after they were in bed. They never asked for any of those toys since.
- Bad quality books. Charlotte Mason conveniently refers to that kind of material as "twaddle"; it's difficult to explain. While reading, you know whether a book is a "living" book or not. Many books for children are printed on expensive paper and have attractive colorful illustrations, but the content of them is so mixed, shredded and chewed up that I can't bear to look at them.
* Our children's screen time is practically zero. We will occasionally watch a nature video, or a video for a favorite song.
Every ordinary home is full of creative resources, such as toilet paper rolls (it's amazing how many things you can do with those!), empty bottles (likewise), old calendars (so great for making collages, customized illustrated journals, paper dolls clothes). There is always something to settle down with on a slow, rainy day!