Wednesday, July 26, 2017

My Top Book and Toy Picks for Farm-Loving Kids

If your little one can't get enough of farms and farm animals, here are some great toys and books to accompany a visit to one of our local farm favorites. For a list of farm-related activities in the South Bay and its environs, check out my recent post here.

(Toy recommendations are below -- books are coming soon!)

Favorite Farm Toys

Toddler X went through a huge farm phase from ages 1-3 (it started with farm animals and -- with some nudging from Mr. X -- grew into a tractor fixation too), so, not surprisingly, many of the gifts he received during that era were farm-related. Amusingly, my niece entered the same phase right as Toddler X was exiting, so in addition to sharing our favorites, we got to give some of the more recent additions to the farm toy scene. Here are some toys that we love:

(Note: I've included my personal thoughts on age-appropriateness for each toy, based on our family's experience. However, the manufacturer's age recommendation may differ from my experience, and you should consider the manufacturer's suggestions/warnings in determining if a toy is right for your child. I assume no responsibility for readers' decisions concerning age-appropriateness.)

Kidoozie Funtime Tractor. This was one of Toddler X's absolute favorites during his toddler years, is now Baby X's top toy, and has been a hit with every kid who has visited and tried it. I can't recommend it highly enough. 

As many of you know, I'm not a plastic toy person (and definitely not a noise-making toy person), but Grandma X got this for us as a gift, and I must admit, it's fantastic. Old MacDonald sits in the driver's seat of the tractor, with five farm animals each having their own spot in the tractor bed. Pushing down on Old MacDonald gets you a song; pushing down on the steering wheel brings up the tractor lights; pushing down on each animal gets you their respective sounds; and pushing down on the smokestack gets the tractor rolling across the floor with revving noises (it's got a pretty strong motor too!). Old MacDonald and the animals are all removable; they are currently some of Baby X's favorite chew toys, and interact well with other playsets too.

The toy is super durable and well-made (flimsiness often being one of my complaints with plastic toys), and the songs/noises aren't the least bit annoying (obviously a big complaint with noise-makers). Mr. X and I find it hilarious.

In terms of appropriate ages, Toddler X received this as a gift for Christmas 2012 when he was about 10 months old, and played with it for more than a year, maybe until 2.5 years. It was one of the toys we held onto in case of another baby, and we were excited to bring it out for Baby X in February 2017, when she was 6 months old. It was a hit right away, and continues to be at 1 year. I'd personally buy it as a gift for children from 10 months up to maybe 2 years old, but be sure to consider the manufacturer's recommendation -- I believe it's 12 months to 3 years.


Lego/Duplo My First Farm and My First Tractor Playsets

When grandparents know a kid is "into" something, they get "into" it too, so it's no surprise that Toddler X got these two sets, one from each set of grandparents, for his first birthday. Duplo toys are wonderful in so many ways, and these two little sets are great options for early learning and development. The farm has doors and windows that open (boy, did Toddler X love that!) and the tractor, of course, rolls. The little people/animals are just the right size for little hands, and the classic Duplo block connections are great for fine motor development. These will be coming out soon for Baby X -- probably as "recycled" first birthday gifts next month!

I'd personally choose these for ages 1 and up -- at first, they're great on their own or just with the two sets, but later on, the pieces can be incorporated into bigger Duplo sets for play throughout the toddler years (basically until the child is ready to move on to Legos). (Manufacturer's recommendation is 1 1/2 - 5 years.)

Melissa and Doug Wooden Farm Train Set

This was another first birthday gift for Toddler X (thanks, Savanah!!) and another favorite. We've been very happy with probably 95% of our Melissa and Doug toys (and we have a lot of them), and this is up toward the top of the list for the toddler years. Toddler X loved playing with this train (i.e., taking it apart), and I actually loved putting it back together -- the assignment of specific contents to each car appeals to my perfectionist tendencies. There's an engine and four cars, one to carry produce, one for milk, and one for the cow. The cars come apart and can be arranged in any order. It's lots of fun, very cute, and well-made. This, too, will be coming out of storage for Baby X in the next 6 months or so.

The manufacturer's recommendation for this is 3-5 years, but from my personal experience, I'd say it would get the most play from 1.5 - 3.5 years.


Green Toys Farm Playset and Tractor

Well, you know how much we love Green Toys (the Bay Area company that makes adorable, durable, fun toys from recycled milk cartons), so it should come as no surprise that I'm a big fan of the Green Toys farm-related options. 

I say I am a big fan because Toddler X hasn't actually played with these two. The tractor came out right as Toddler X was nearing the end of his big Green Toys vehicle years (I'd say up to ages 4 or 4.5, though he still enjoys some of them from time to time) and since he already had -- no joke -- THIRTEEN Green Toys trucks, boats, and planes, I decided we could skip this one. However, I've seen it in use in a multitude of places -- play spaces, friends' houses, playgrounds, toy stores, and the Whole Foods in Almaden, back when they had a great kids' area -- and it's classic Green Toys in its cute design, functionality, durability, and environmental-friendliness. If you have a tractor-lover, it's a good bet. Like most (all?) Green Toys vehicles, the recommended age is 1 and up -- though Toddler X got his first two (bus and fire truck) when he was about 10 months, and Baby X has been loving the bus since about that age as well, so you could probably go younger.

The farm playset is an even more recent addition to the Green Toys line -- I think they just started making it in 2016. Of course, when I saw it, I had to figure out someone to buy it for (Toddler X was past this age), and fortunately we had two 2-3 year old nieces at the time -- score! It made a great Christmas gift, and now that I've seen it in person several times, I feel pretty certain we'll be getting it for Baby X when she's at the appropriate age. Because this is more of a playset than a big vehicle, the age recommendation from the manufacturer skews older -- it's 2 - 6 years. We'll probably get this for Baby X's Christmas gift (about 16 months), and I'd buy it as a gift for a 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 year old.

(Book recommendations are coming soon!!)

Please note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

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