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                 I still remember the box of toys that sat at the foot of my grandparents’ stairway leading from the first floor to the second. Every single toy in that box was new to me—something I didn’t see every day, but only when visiting. One toy stands out. It was a plastic chicken that laid tiny plastic eggs when I pushed down on it. I thought it was magical.

What do you keep in your home for your grandchildren’s visits? Is it a well thought out array, or just a hodgepodge of this and that? Granted, children will play with virtually anything they find, including boxes and wrapping paper, but if you want to maintain a simple, but high-quality assortment of toys, books and games for those precious grandchildren visits, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Check for Safety

Many toys have cheap plastic construction and sharp edges. Even quality toys may have small parts that could be a choking hazard. When choosing toys for your grandchildren to play with your best options are sturdy toys with quality construction. And since we aren’t with our grandchildren all the time, it’s very important to keep such safety issues in mind and buy age-appropriate toys. If toys or games have small parts with them, be sure to store them out of reach of younger children under the age of three.

  • Purchase for Quality

One quality, open-ended toy is worth ten cheap ones having little creative play value. A simple wooden toy or a plush doll is far better than a toy that runs on batteries and makes a lot of noise. Choose toys that your grandchild can play with in many ways.

The quality rule of thumb also holds true for books and games. When you purchase books, look for quality illustrations and choose stories from trusted children’s authors. Select games that are meant for your grandchild’s age and avoid products with inexpensive, shoddy pieces or parts. (See list below)

  • Provide Quiet Play Spaces

Studies show that young children will play in a more creative manner when playing in a quiet setting. Television noise or other background noise may cause distraction from pretending with their playthings.

  • Offer a limited number of Choices

As grandparents you’re in a wonderful position for selecting just a few quality toys to have on hand. You may choose to display them on shelving so your grandchildren can see what is available and then rotate the toys for a different play day. Do the same with books and toys. You may showcase three or four books and then read those at read-aloud time. Or have only one game available and play that sometime during the visit.

  • Encourage Creative Play

Play is the work of childhood, and it’s important to social, emotional and physical development. Often children do their own pretending with no prompts from others. But if not, it’s easy to prompt your grandchild to play more creatively by asking simple questions: “Can you take your teddy bear to the zoo today? What animals will he see?” or “I think it’s time to fix your doll’s lunch. What will you give her?”

We treasure the time we have to interact with our grandchildren. And those times are more enjoyable when we have a small, but well-selected array of toys, games and books available to enrich their play. 

Quality Resources 


When shopping for quality toys look at these companies:

Doug and Melissa

Young Explorers



Acorn Toys

Bella Luna


Buy books by these well-known children’s authors:

Jan Brett

Kevin Henkes

A.A. Milne

Rosemary Wells

Tomie de Paola

Eric Carle

Arnold Lobel

Mo Willems

Patricia Polacco

Mem Fox


Here are some classic board games for young children.

And don’t forget you can play in teams when the games are more challenging.

Connect 4


Richard Scarry’s Busytown

The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel

Chutes and Ladders


Snug as a Bug in a Rug

First Orchard