The Cottage Kids Favorite Toys ~ Age 2 through 4

The question about work-life balance has come up from quite a few of you lately.  You want to know how I balance being a wife, a mother to three young children, and a small business owner?  For right now, I’m not entirely prepared to answer how I ‘do what I do’ because I’m still formulating my thoughts on that topic.  I’m imagining me saying, ‘just run around like a crazy woman’ is not exactly the answer you were looking for…….though sometimes it’s the truth.   So until I can clearly articulate myself on that topic……..I thought I would share some bits and pieces of our life that will maybe bring the whole idea work-life balance together.

For the most part (excluding today ~ ugh!), the girls are really good at entertaining themselves and playing together.  The fact that they are only 16 months apart really helps because they are pretty much interested in the same things.  I would say they are definitely each others best friend.  Having them be able to play independently helps allow me to tend to their baby brother, Caspian Finn, and get some work done with The Cottage Mama.

Today I thought I would share some of The Cottage Kids favorite toys.  Now mind you, Matilda Jane is 2.5 years old and Savannah is almost four.  So, these are what they are into now………I’m sure that will change down the line, but I’ll give a little update when it does.  I also think it’s fun to see what other kids are into and might give you some new ideas for toys for your little ones.

Little Tikes Deluxe Wooden Kitchen
This play kitchen has been a huge hit ever since we got it when Savannah was 2.5 years old.  I love that it is wooden and it has held up incredibly well.  The laundry feature is really fun for the girls since they love to use the washing machine and ironing board.  It also has an oven, refrigerator, stove, microwave and sink that are all wonderful for pretend play.  There is ample amount of storage inside as well.
Almost all of our pretend food is Melissa & Doug, but this was one of the first sets that we started out with.  The food groups are a great variety.  We have added the pots and pans set, cutting foods, the cookie set, donut set, pizza party and birthday cake to the collection.  The girls can spend an hour cooking up things in their play kitchen with this food.  Truly a great investment.

The Bilibo is a new toy that the girls received for Christmas from my in-laws.  We aren’t entirely sure what it’s supposed to do, but that’s the beauty of it ~ it can be anything you want it to be.  You can sit in it and spin around, you can put your baby dolls in it as a little doll bed, you can wear it on your head and pretend to be an astronaut (a favorite idea of Savannah and Matilda), you can carry your toys around in it.  The wonderful thing is that it lends itself to great imaginary fun.

I’m not sure who loves this toy more, myself or the girls.  These gears are magnetic on the back and you can set them up in all different kinds of patterns on the refrigerator to make them work together.  It’s great for problem solving because the kids have to figure out why the gears aren’t working together when they are set up in certain ways.  Even my father-in-law, the engineer, loves these!!
Washable Dress-Up Masks

Ok, so the #1 activity around here is dress-up and pretend play.  We have a gigantic dress up bin that is full of all sorts of costumes (a lot of which my mom made me growing up), accessories and now we have these fabulous masks (given to us from my mom and Pepo for Christmas).  They are great because they are fabric so they can be washed – big bonus with toddlers.  The elastic on the backside is nice and sturdy so it won’t break.  And they are really comfortable for the kids to wear.  This week the girls have been telling me that I am to wear the cow mask……..not sure if they are trying to tell me something.

Beginner Pattern Learning Blocks

Savannah seems to be more into these than Matilda right now, but these are great for identifying shapes and colors.  They are kind of like a bunch of mini-puzzles, but you can engage with your little ones by asking them questions regarding the different pieces. The shapes and boards are wooden and the boards are double-sided with a picture on each side.

We have had these boxes since before Matilda was born and they are probably one of our all-time favorite toys.  Why?  Because there are so many things that kids can do with them.  They can sort the items by color, sort them by type, they can count the items in the box or they can use the different pieces for pretend play.  LOVE this toy!
We love ‘Little People’ around here.  The girls love playing with the home and the farm.  It’s really fun to see them talking and pretending to make up little stories with these characters.  I loved my ‘Little People’ house when I was growing up, so I’m glad they do too.  We’ve also got Noah’s Ark as well as the ABC animal set……..though we pretty much just put all the characters together.  At any given time you might find the alligator hanging out in the house or the baby sleeping in the barn…….you know, anything goes around here.

Goodnight Moon Game

We got this game for the kids for Christmas and it has been a big hit.  There are many different variations of instructions with the game depending on the ages of the players.  We have been doing the beginner version of the game, but both girls can play it well and have a lot of fun.  The instructions go up to age 6.  Not to mention, that Goodnight Moon is a sweet classic.

Mega Blocks Princess Building Set

I don’t think these Mega Blocks need much explaining, but we love to build castles and towers.  We’ve added to this set with another primary colored mega blocks set, so now the girls can build a tower as big as they can possibly imagine.

This is a new toy that the girls received from my mom and Pepo for Christmas.  They really enjoy it, but have yet to really master it.  And yes, they are made out of an awesome material so they are definitely indestructible.  I think it will become more of a favorite as they both get a little older, but I love it because it’s the gateway into sewing!!!
Those are just some of the toys that are big hits around here.  The girls play with their musical instruments and their baby dolls quite a bit as well, but overall they’ve got quite a few toys to keep their little minds occupied.  Personally, I love when my kids can play on their own because I think it fosters creativity and independence.  Yes, it does help me to manage my household and business when they play on their own, but it also helps them learn to not always need to be entertained by someone else.
I’ll share some of our favorite books with you in another post.  It would have been just too much for this post.  
We love books!
So, what are (or were) your kids favorite toys when they were toddlers?

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  1. What a nice post! My kids are similar in ages to yours, but we have two boys and a girl. They like trains and blocks, but their favorite activity is to dump toys into and out of anything – dump trucks, pillow cases, boxes. . . anything!

    I’ll have to check out the Bilibo. That looks like it would be a big hit around here. Thanks for sharing!

  2. My girls are 9, 4, and 2 and my little ones are very much into the same things you posted! We LOVE Melissa and Doug and have many of the same food sets. I really want to learn how to make felt foods as well b/c they look so darn cute on Etsy. They both got new American girl dolls for Christmas (my youngest got a bitty b/c the hair on the big girl dolls is just too much to handle) and they LOVE playing with their babies. I’ll help them build a fort, and they will pretend its a home, a school, the drs office…everything! They are major into arts and crafts, but I save the really messy stuff for warmer weather so they can do it outside.
    I’m very interested to see your book list as our kids love love love to read too!

  3. I was surprised how many of the same toys my daughter also likes to play with. (2 1/2 yrs) Love the Bilibo idea as well as the gears. She received lacing cards as well for Christmas & is still mastering. I’m just happy she’s interested enough in them. We got some 2nd hand Thomas the Train toys, tracks, etc which she is currently in love with. I think we have a little tom boy 🙂 Loved the post & thanks for the great ideas!

  4. Oh this makes me miss my girls being that age and playing with these types of toys. They loved their kitchen set (we had a wood one too), tain set (Geo-Trax), wood blocks, puzzels, baby dolls, tea sets (this was a completly different game than when they played kitchen and dress up. Oh and the rocking horse they loved that so much.

  5. My girls all liked the kitchen set we had too. it had the washer and ironing board and that was the favorite! I highly recommend one with that option to anyone looking to buy a kitchen set for their little daughter(s)!

  6. Our wooden dolls house has been a fantastic investment and every kid who comes into our house goes straight to it. Dress ups and duplo blocks are also a favourite. The other 2 toys I highly rate are plain old wooden blocks and our box of scleich animals – lots of imaginative games come out of both of these from all ages.

  7. my little guys would totally love that wood kitchen 🙂

  8. My girls are 8 and 4 and still love the bilabo. that is one great toy. My oldest loved thomas trains when she was a toddler. Her fave was Gordon. My youngest has always been into dolls. And they both still love wooden play food! They also both like the Plan Toys victorian doll house but not the plan toys dolls. The polly pockets took over the house.

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