This post may contain affiliate or referral links which means I may earn a sales commission. Please see my full affiliate disclosure here.
These days it seems like kids are so plugged in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against a game on the iPad or computer but since I am dealing with a teenager with an electronics addiction, I am being very careful about that kind of stuff with my four-year-old. We have always kept his toys on the lower-tech end of the spectrum even though we do have some that beep and blink (and annoy me. I won’t lie). I think that his great love of pretend, drawing, singing, and his active imagination have a lot to do with playing with things that don’t do the work for him.
Aside from books that are the ultimate in low-tech entertainment, here are some of the toys that have always been favorites in our house. Bonus, none of them require batteries.
You don’t need a huge set up or even a train table. We had a small wooden train set for a while before we picked up a train table from a co-worker and my son had just as much fun with a small track on the floor. In fact, he often brings his trains upstairs to play with on the floor instead of on the table.
Whether your child is two or twelve there will always be a set of building blocks that they will love. My oldest son is fifteen and still plays with his old Legos from time to time. Building blocks never go out of style.
Shopping cart/kitchen set
I remember the kitchen set that I had as a kid. Mine was a small scale homemade set but I played with it every single day. Both this shopping cart from Melissa and Doug and this kitchen have been favorites for the past two years. Such a simple, imaginative toy that is fun for kids and equally fun for parents to watch.
Vintage Little People
The new Little People promote low tech, imaginative play as well but in our house we prefer the vintage Little People sets from the 1970s. We have several sets that were found in thrift stores, Etsy, or Ebay. There is something about the little peg people that today’s Little People just can’t match. Since you are looking for sets that will be played with by children, you don’t have to break the bank on a new in box play set that will set you back a few hundred dollars either. Keep your eyes open at the thrift store and check out Ebay and Etsy. Your kids will thank you. I played with this same Sesame Street set when I was little and I still vividly remember the fun I had with it.
A coloring book and crayons are simple fun at its best. Aside from running errands, today my four-year-old has been coloring all day long. He got an easel for Christmas and that started his love of drawing so now it was time to give him back the crayons. So far, he seems to have gotten over his love of drawing on the walls and computer monitor.
How much fun are Lincoln Logs? I still like to play with them and was excited to finally be able to pull this bin out of the garage that were saved from my oldest son.
This has amused me somewhat. I used to have a play telephone just like this when I was little and I loved it so when I found one of the newer ones at a consignment shop I grabbed it almost as a joke. I figured that my son wouldn’t know what it was or what to do with it since he has only ever seen cell phones (I haven’t had a landline phone in 13 years). Surprisingly, he knew exactly what it was and had a blast playing with it.
Both of my kids, yes, even the fifteen-year-old, love magnetic writers. They both play with them in the doctor’s office so I finally decided to pick one up for my little one (and my bigger one, let’s be honest) to have at home and it is played with almost every day. It’s also a great toy to bring on long car rides to hopefully end the Are We There Yets.
Whether it’s a rocking horse or a rocking caterpillar, my kids love going forward and back, forward and back, over and over again. Even at four Dub still takes his caterpillar for a spin every once in a while. These are much safer than the rocking horse on the springs that I use to have. I may or may not have catapulted myself across the room a time or two on that thing but with the newer rocking toys, that’s no longer possible.
What are your kids’ favorite low-tech toys?