So, before we had 4 kids in 3 years, we were married for almost 4 years without children, and we spent an incredible amount of time working with...you guessed it. Children. Before we got married, we both spent a lot of time also with children.
Teaching school PE, Bible, swimming, youth group, and VBS and day camps and outreaches from America to Taiwan to the Ukraine to England to Siberia, and a fair bit of places in between...
Along the way, we have found a lot of inexpensive toys that kids go gaga over. I call them Pied Piper Toys because they attract kids like bugs to a light, or like the original pied piper's pipe. (If you don't know the story of the Pied Piper, you need to spend some time reading books to children.)
To make it in this list, there has to be a version that is $20 USD or under. Some versions may be a bit more expensive, some are a lot cheaper, but our experience is that they are worth much more than their price tag.
#6. Come on! Let's go fly a kite, up to the highest height! But seriously, catchy Mary Poppins tunes aside, kites are really fun and easy to use, unless there are trees around. And some kites will be lost. But that teaches children about loss. It's better to start with a kite than a dog.
I had a student in PE one day, who kicked the kickball, was heading to first base, looked up in a tree, and saw his kite he had lost there last year. He broke down in tears and was unable to continue to first base. I gave him some time, because, obviously kites are important.
For a great article on this, check out: The Importance of Roughhousing With Your Kids . They say, "Neuroscientists studying animal and human brains have found that bouts of rough-and-tumble play increase the brain’s level of a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF helps increase neuron growth in the parts of the brain responsible for memory, logic, and higher learning–skills necessary for academic success."
Yup, mom and dad, you are the cheapest toy in our list, and probably the most effective for long-term success in life for your kids! Bring on the toddlers and lets wrestle!
Wait! Where's #2 and #1?!? I'm not telling.
No, actually, it's your turn. We are always on the lookout for inexpensive, awesome toys that kids (and us) can have fun with. What are your Pied Piper toys that kids love? We have four kids! We wanna know!
Pictures are either ours or from Google.