It’s that time of the year, mamas! The holidays are here, and if you’re anything like me, you are frantically searching for last-minute gift ideas for, well, everyone. Your kids. Your kids’ friends. Your nieces and nephews. (And that’s just accounting for the littles in your life. Adults are a whole different story for another day!) With the gazillion toy options out there, choosing gifts for those special kiddos in our lives is such an overwhelming task. Where do we even begin? That’s where we step in. We’re coming to the rescue with this list of the top 20 teacher-recommended Melissa and Doug toys with this list!
As a professional educator and a mom and of three kids aged 10 years to 10 months, I think I’ve tried just about every toy company out there. And while many have some great products we’ve enjoyed over the years, one company I can always count on is Melissa and Doug. Their toys are more than toys. They are fun and educational, and they encourage kids to think outside the box and really engage in their play. What’s more? They are affordable (see HERE for the scoop on how to save a bundle on these toys!). Fun, educational, and affordable? You can’t beat it, my friends! They have LOTS to choose from, so in the spirit of trying to make your holidays a bit easier (don’t get too excited–I can’t come cook your Christmas dinner!), here are some of my favorite teacher-recommended Melissa and Doug toys (in no particular order) for both babies/toddlers and school-aged kiddos.
Top 10 Teacher-Recommended Melissa and Doug Toys for Babies/Toddlers
- Nesting Blocks These blocks are awesome! They are made of a sturdy cardboard, so they are easy for little hands to maneuver. They are brightly colored with ABCs and animals, so building and knocking over tall towers is both fun and educational with these blocks. Bonus: They stack inside each other and can be stored in a neat little box.
- Shape Sorting Clock This clock is one of my favorites. Each number is a different shape, so as kids are learning their numbers, they are also working on shapes and sorting. As with many Melissa and Doug toys, this is a nice, bright wooden toy that teaches your little while he/she is having fun.
- Knob Puzzles/Chunky Puzzles THE. BEST. The puzzles are just the best for little hands. There are TONS to choose from (animals, shapes, numbers, vehicles, and more), so you can find one that any kiddo on your list will love. There are just enough pieces to teach little ones how to complete a puzzle without getting overwhelmed. These are so much fun!
- Fill and Spill Toys Many Melissa and Doug toys come in multiple themes, and this is no exception. From the Pretty Purse set to the Picnic Basket set to the Sports Bag set, there is a theme for any kid, no matter their interests. These sets all come in a see-through container that houses the pieces of the set. They are perfect for imaginative play!
- Play Food Melissa and Doug play food is, in my opinion, the best play food out there. There are so many options to choose from; from fruits and vegetables to sushi to cookies and cakes, there truly is a little bit of everything. On top of being visually appealing, these foods are so much fun! Some come with wooden knives so the kids can “cut” their bread and veggies. Others, like the pizza, come with an assortment of pieces that velcro on so that kids can customize their treats. These foods truly provide hours and hours of entertainment and are sure to please even the pickiest of gift-receivers.
- Reusable Sticker Pads These are fun any day of the week, but they are fantastic to pull out and entertain the kiddos with on a rainy day. These come in lots of different themes so, again, they are sure to please. The fact that they are reusable is genius because we all know how quickly a toddler can tear through a pack of stickers. The stickers can be removed and placed on different pages allowing for imaginative play that can be different each and every time your child uses the sticker pad.
- Band in a Box I know, I know–musical instruments can make us both smile and cringe. But, these are worth it. Promise! They are made with young kiddos in mind so they are instruments that young kids can handle and have fun without hurting anything (well…at least without hurting the instruments!)
- Magnetic Chore Chart Okay, so maybe this one isn’t quite a “toy,” but it IS an awesome item to have at home. It’s super for getting your kiddo to help out with chores around the house because it makes chore time FUN! What kiddo doesn’t love getting to play with magnets? Buy now, thank me later!
- Jumbo Cardboard Blocks These blocks were one of my older kiddos’ favorites. Yes, they are cardboard, but don’t let that scare you away. They are super durable and can handle quite a beating. They are extra big and make for some really fun castle and fort building. What looks like a pretty basic toy truly inspires hours of imaginative play.
- Magnetic Dress-Up Sets These come in various characters (both girls and boys…and even Disney characters). Each character comes with themed clothing (doctors, nurses, fireman, princess, and many more) and the outfits can be mix and matched. Kids have so much fun playing with these and seeing what types of outfits–both realistic and silly–they can come up with.
Top 10 Teacher-Recommended Melissa and Doug Toys for School-Aged Children
- See and Spell Learning Toy This is such a great toy for helping kids with word recognition and spelling. Each board has a picture, a word, and letters to spell the word. By sorting through the letters, kids are practicing skills that are hugely beneficial to their spelling and reading. Learning and having fun at the same time makes for happy kids AND happy parents!
- Decorate Your Own This is one of my go-to gifts for birthday parties and holidays. Melissa and Doug has created a wide range of “decorate your own” crafts that are just fantastic. They are age appropriate and come with all of the supplies needed to create a one of a kind masterpiece. From race cars to banks to jewelry boxes, there is something for everyone.
- On the Go Travel Games and Activity Pads Going on a trip? You NEED these. We’ve all been there. Those long car rides where the kiddos are bored? Or fighting? Or…you get the gist. These games will transform your travel. Hangman…memory games…license plate games…if you have kids (and a car) you NEED these in your life.
- Wooden Blocks Set These are like the big kid version of the cardboard blocks. They are smaller and perfect for building more intricate creations. They come in nice, bright colors and are super for those budding architects.
- Wooden Stamp/Coloring Sets These sets are fun for the artists in your family. They come with stamps and coloring pencils so kids can use the stamps to create a scene and then use the coloring pencils to add their own personal drawings. Lots of themes and so much fun!
- Alphabet Stamp Set This is similar to the stamps above, but it is a stamp set that includes the entire alphabet. Remember those tips and tricks for making spelling fun for kiddos? Add these to the list! They are fun for art projects but they can also make studying for a spelling test super fun.
- Jumbo Coloring/Doodle Pads These pads come in several varieties including plain white paper and various different scenes. They are nice and big and can get thrown down on the floor for the kiddos to crowd around and work on together. These big coloring pads are a nice deviation from standard coloring books.
- Floor Puzzles These puzzles are seriously amazing. They are big and cover a huge span of topics–the United States, the world, the solar system, and more. As with many of my favorite Melissa and Doug toys, these are fun AND a great way to help your kids learn.
- Monthly Magnetic Calendar This calendar is so cool! Kids love keeping track of days and what is going on in the world around them, and this is the perfect gift to help them do that. From birthdays to holidays to special events, this calendar has it all. For your older school-aged child, this calendar is fantastic.
- Wooden Advent Calendar While we are talking about holiday gifts, this one can’t be overlooked. Melissa and Doug makes an adorable magnetic Christmas Tree Advent Calendar. It comes with adorable ornaments to help kiddos with the countdown to Christmas. A little late for this year, but grab it now and be extra-ready for the start of next year’s holiday season.
Hopefully these teacher-recommended Melissa and Doug toys list will help–at least a little!–in your gift-buying frenzy. Look online for even more Melissa and Doug ideas. And when you are up to your eyeballs in stress and to-do lists as the holidays approach, try to remind yourself that what truly matters, what will truly be cherished by the kids in your life, are the memories you make with them. So get that shopping done and then find something fun to do with the family to really make the most of this holiday season!
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