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Selecting gifts for my children is NOT the easiest thing to do. In fact, I would have to rank it up in the top 5 most difficult things to do for them. Their special needs definitely play a part in this. My kiddos can destroy almost anything. It's amazing. They would be the best toy testers ever! Mind you, they wouldn't be checking to see if the toy worked exactly right. Instead, they would be testing to see what happens to it when thrown across the room, stomped on, knocked down, climbed on (or in), thrown down two flights of stairs, chewed on, etc. Two of my kiddos would also be testing to see if it can be torn, shredded or picked at in any way, and then destroyed.
As I see all of these beautiful gift guides out there, I find myself going down each list and imagining what one or more of my children would do to the toys highlighted. Pathetic? Yes? Necessary? Absolutely. Over time I realized it may be time that I put together my first gift guide, but Renae style, dedicated to all of the many lessons my four children have taught me. So, here you have it. My guide to gifts that won't break! All of the toys in this guide we own, and have owned for quite a long time. All of them have been passed down at least once, because they've lasted that long.
1. LEGO DuplosAll of our kiddos have had LEGO duplo sets over the years. Dinomite is almost 8, and received his first set at 2 years old. The set is still in perfect working order. Bulldozer inherited Dinomite's sets, along with receiving some of his own. His favorite hobby is building things and then destroying them. LEGO duplos are perfect for this. Beware! They do hurt when they hit the side of your head, after being thrown by your child. Princess and Sunshine play with their LEGO duplo sets every day. I love how the sets come in such a variety of themes.
You may be wondering why I haven't included regular LEGO sets on this list? My kiddos have destroyed them. Princess was able to bite right through one of the bricks. Don't ask me how, because I really don't know. Dinomite and Bulldozer love to chew on the tires that come with vehicles, which then ruins them. Thus in my mind, they are not unbreakable.
2. Mr. Potato Head Products
We just love Mr. Potato Head products in this house. They're great for fine motor practice and eventually pretend play. Dinomite received his first set at 1 year old. We still have this set with all of the pieces. The pieces still fit properly in the little holes. My kiddos have chewed on these parts, played bowling with the plastic potatoes, crashed fully built heads into each other countless times, and so much more. Still, they look as good as new. The only item that has broken, have been glasses. My kiddos don't understand the glasses aren't for them, so they bend and stretch them to fit their own heads. It took about two years for one pair of glasses to break, but it did.
3. Green ToysI am in LOVE with Green Toys! I find any excuse I can to buy more of them. They're perfect for indoor and outdoor play. They work great in the bathtub. My kiddos have crashed these toys into walls, furniture, each other, and other vehicles. They still look brand new. The boys have thrown them through the air and had them land crashing onto the floor. The toys have been outside in the dirt, sand, and mud. When the kiddos were smaller, they even tried riding the vehicles and sliding across the floor with them on one foot. Our oldest Green Toy vehicles are at least three years old and still look as good as new.
When it comes to girls' toys, they're amazing! The girls LOVE them. The girls have tried to bite plastic spoons, forks, etc, and they're still all in great working condition. I'm in love with the pink dump truck, and the tool set. It's pink! What can I say more!
4. Thomas & Friend Wooden Railway ProductsWe started our Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway collection when Dinomite was 1 year old. Each year this collection continues to grow, as the next child discovers the delight of playing with a train set. In the seven years since we've started, we've only ever had two items break. The first was a piece of a track that had a plastic connector. (The plastic connector broke off.) The second piece was a railway crossing that made noises and lit up. Bulldozer was able to pull the wires out of it, thus making it not safe to play with. All other items have remained in tact, including our Cranky the Crane, who was thrown across the room, and seemingly broke. Little did I know, you just pop the top right back in and it's good to go. No damage done.
When purchasing Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway Products, all are of good quality, but I highly recommend sticking to the items without all of the bells and whistles, and definitely avoid battery powered items. The simple wooden trains are fabulous. The tracks are great. These are the items I'm deeming unbreakable. I can't say enough about the quality of their buildings. Just note, whenever you see plastic (other than wheels on trains), there's a chance that the product may not hold up as well as other Thomas & Friend Wooden Railway Products.
5. HABA Marble Tracks
A few years ago, Bulldozer became obsessed with marbles and marble tracks. The problem was, I knew he'd destroy a plastic one in less than a day. After searching online, I discovered HABA Marble Tracks. They are incredible! Not only do they allow you to build your tracks anyway you'd like, but they're made of solid wood. Since' Bulldozer's first marble track set, we've ordered two others to go with it. Each time, we've not been disappointed. Bulldozer uses these sets on a weekly basis, not just for marble runs, but as part of his block collections. He plays HARD with them, and they still look and work fabulously with no broken parts. If you're looking for a marble track, HABA is definitely the way to go!
6. Lincoln Logs
Bulldozer received his first set of Lincoln Logs three years ago. He still plays with them on a regular basis and none of the logs or roofs have broken yet. They're solid wood and made to last, even when stepped on. I'm not sure what it is about these logs, but they are so addicting.
7. My Little Pony Figures
Princess LOVES My Little Pony. However, she also loves to destroy her toys. Whether it be stomping on them, trying to tear them apart, or whatever else she can come up with, she does it. (Thankfully, I'm getting smarter over time and only giving her things she can't destroy.)
My Little Pony has such a wide variety of toys to choose from. Over time we've tried them all, but nothing compares to their figures. They're very small, but not a single one has broken in the span of 3 years that Princess has been collecting and playing with them. Opposed to other My Little Pony products, they're super easy to store and take along wherever you go.
8. Melissa & Doug Costume Role Play Sets
Over the past few years, my kiddos have fallen in love with playing dress up. The only problem was, every costume I found to add to their collection, ripped in less than a month. That is, until I started purchasing Melissa & Doug Costumes. The quality of the materials and make of the costumes are the best I've seen. Our oldest costume is 3 years old, and still looks as good as new. The accessories that come with the costumes are plastic. We have had some of them break, but it's easy to find other accessory replacements. I don't buy the sets for the accessories. If you're looking for dress up Melissa & Doug is definitely the way to go!
9. Schleich Animal Figures
Dinomite LOVES animals and has a collection of hundreds of them ranging in all shapes and sizes. This collection started about five years ago. Some are from the local dollar store. Others are from department stores. Many are made by Safari Ltd. But the best of his collection comes from Schleich. When animals from other places have broken, none of his animals made by Schleich have. In fact, some of the Schleich Animal Figures we have are more apt to damage others than to ever have damage done to them. They're made that well!
10. Felt Food for Pretend Play
All of my kiddos enjoy playing with their kitchen set and accessories. The only problem has been that they destroy the pretend food. Sometimes it's a result of not knowing how to "pretend" when eating it. Other times they step on it. Then there have been times when they've been frustrated and either thrown it, squeezed it, or stomped on it. At one point I thought pretend foods made out of wood would be great for our family, and then kiddos started chewing on them, and throwing them at each other. That definitely wasn't going to work. Finally I decided to try felt food. Oh my goodness! What a fabulous thing. If they chew on it, I can throw it in with the wash. If they stomp on it, it's okay. If they throw it, no one will get hurt. It's a win win situation for every kiddo in our house. And there are so many options out there!
The first nine items on this list are name brand items. When it comes to felt food, I haven't found many that don't work. Some of ours come from Walmart. Others come from Target. My favorites come from Pottery Barn Kids and Melissa & Doug though. Of course packaging, like the pizza box above, are destroyed within minutes, but the foods last forever. You really can't go wrong, especially when they're washable!