My grandson Zeke will be a year old in a month and it's been instructive and revealing to see what he likes to play with. I'm always on the prowl for toys he loves. He lives in San Francisco, where living space is at a premium, so I want to be sure that any amount of toy clutter I add is well deserved and that the toy enjoys many hours of play. Here, direct from the source, grandparent gift ideas.
Though he does love a nice cordless phone, Zeke is a simple man at heart. The toys he most enjoys are the ones that allow him to practice manipulating objects and hone his small motor skills. Turns out his favorite toys may be the cheapest ones in his toy bin. Here, his top five toys:
Nesting cups: I believe I spent $6 on this set of multicolor plastic cups. Zeke loves them and will spent ages happily putting one inside the other. Or he'll take a small ball (see below), and put it into a cup. This occasions a special whoop of pride and accomplishment.
Stacking cone: You remember the plastic cone with a series of rings that fit onto it. We all had them as kids. Zeke has put his set to several uses over the past six months. First the cones were teethers. Then he began to manipulate the rings, placing a ball inside each one. These days he likes to mimic me: if I put a ring on my nose, he'll put a ring on his. And finally, finally, he is able to stack them on the cone. Cue big grin of triumph.
Balls: Zeke has a variety of balls, and they all get a good workout every day. The smallest he nests in the cups and rings. The bigger ones he'll roll back and forth to you on the floor. He's happy to chew on any of them.
Wooden blocks: A friend gave Zeke a set of old-fashioned wooden alphabet blocks. In the entire toy chest, there is nothing Zeke would rather knock down than any tower you make from these blocks. He can pile one block atop another, and sometimes even a third. I see a future role for this set much later on when he starts to learn his letters.
Ball-Snorting Elephant: Well, there has to be an exception to every rule. The last time his other grandma visited, she brought him a blue plastic elephant, almost as big as Zeke, that plays goofy music and shoots balls out its trunk. Zeke adores it. It was his first experience with an "on" button and he quickly learned to slap it to make the elephant do its thing. He bounces up and down to the music, grabs the balls and puts his face over the current of air that lifts the balls. Zeke's elephant is the antithesis of the simple toy, but it's a favorite too and a good candidate for the list of grandparent gift ideas.