Toys with Staying Power

This post is for Aunt Linda and Uncle Ron, who made a Christmas gift of the red wagon to Archie and Else a couple of years ago. I’m putting the pic in the next post along with the others from pool day, so I can leave this post accessible for general readers. Word to the wise for anyone thinking of a gift for young children: there are certain toys that never go out of favor, and whose use lasts a long, long time.


Matt and Amy are very systematic about clearing out toys that the kids have outgrown, and donating them to places where children are short of books and toys and puzzles and games. Archie and Else help sort and prepare the periodic donations. The message is simple: life is not about endless acquisition, and we share with others.

Not everything that Else and Archie have basically outgrown goes, because many of their friends have much smaller siblings, and there needs to be some way to entertain them when families are visiting. A couple of important toys in that category are the famous Water Table — joy of toddlers — and the red wagon, a Christmas gift from Aunt Linda and Uncle Ron.

Red wagons have changed from what you may remember — they now have plastic sides, not metal or wood. They’re not quite as sturdy, although they are lighter. But the idea of putting a kid in the wagon and hauling him or her around, or loading the wagon up with stuff and hauling it around, never seems to grow dull.

If you have contact with young children — as a parent, aunt or uncle, teacher, camp counselor, or other — can you add to my list? What else, beyond a water table and red wagon, has had staying power in your world?

8 thoughts on “Toys with Staying Power

  1. The wagon is, indeed, timeless. We converted one to “Hamisch the highland cattle” for this years NYC Tartan Parade. Next year we’re adding a Scottish Sheep, yet to be named. I already have the needed accessories.

    Another timeless item is playdough. My grandkids love it and make us “pizza, carrots, strawberries and other food items. They were playing g with it
    Saturday on a cross country flight when Fiona handed my mother something and said: “Grand ma, try some pasta!” My mother was aware that it was play dough, bit onto it. My granddaughter laughed with glee when she recognized my mother did t know it was play food. No harm, play dough is non toxic.

    Also play charades and rig toss, toss games. They were helpful in keeping them off their iPads. All ages enjoyed charades.

  2. for Katie: And how proud I was to be in the march behind Hamisch! What a great day that was, and a great visit. A highlight of my year. And yes, Playdough. Have you had the experience of trying to take it through airport security? When Archie and Else were littler, Amy carried small plastic containers of Playdough for them to play with on the plane. At one airport security checkpoint, a TSA rep went nuts. Apparently various explosives also have the texture of Playdough. The kids, of course, were wailing — thinking they were going to lose their brightly colored little plastic containers. They eventually got them back, but it was quite the turbulent event.

  3. My kiddos were always happy with wooden spoons and pots, and the occasional cardboard appliance box which made a great store, or fort.

  4. for Nedra: The newest, and latest, must have for a new grandbaby is Sophie, a French giraffe teething toy that is ridiculously expensive BUT little ones love it. Lots of nubby bits to chew on as soon as they can hold one of the spindly legs. I recommend it. On Amazon, of course.
    Can’t do a hot link here, but just go to and type in “Sophie the Giraffe”.

  5. The cheap folding stroller was always a keeper for our kids. They loved pushing, pulling, racing anything with that stroller. It survived many many kids of all ages and sizes. Memories!

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