Top Toys: Ten Toys for a Two Year Old

Recently I’ve been writing a few posts on the toys I have chosen for T and the ways we play with them. I wanted to write not just a list of enjoyable toys, but toys which I feel really support early development and which are versatile enough to be played with in a variety of contexts.

Today’s post is all about toys for two year olds – toys which are age appropriate, fun, and will support learning in a playful way.

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1. Shape magnets– at this age children often start to become interested in shapes that they notice around them. For my little girl, she really became interested in shapes at around two and a half. Magnets arouse children’s curiosity and they begin to recognise shapes, investigate their features at a simple level and are able to use the in imaginative, creative ways to make pictures. I love these ones from Melissa and Doug as they come with a magnetic board and pictures to slot in. My only slight frustration with them is that they don’t quite tesselate perfectly…but good enough! We spent a few days doing activities based around shape a few week ago – more here if you would like to see what we did!

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2. Picture tiles. These can look uninspiring at first glance, but there are so many ways to play with them! Matching, memory games, language development, and more! I will be doing a post on these in a few days time, so keep your eyes peeled!

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3. Jigsaws. For a one year old I recommended lift-out wooden puzzles and two-piece jigsaws. For older toddlers, jigsaws with 6-20 pieces are great. We love these Peppa Pig ones which T will make again and again. It develops their problem solving abilities and their reasoning. It also requires them to look carefully at the puzzle pieces to work out which join together, which develops their ability to focus on an activity as well as their understanding of shape.

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4. Toy animals. I love building up the range of toy animals T has. They are great for creating small world activities, which develop their storytelling capabilities. Most children will probably have a set of farm animals, and maybe some safari animals, but I am trying to build up sets from all kinds of habitats and parts of the world. This includes woodland animals (really hard to find!), dinosaurs, fish, sea creatures, rainforest/jungle animals, African animals, and animals from the Arctic or Antarctic. A range of animals means I can create various small worlds for T, based on different habitats or her favourite stories. Check out our dinosaurs small world or the one we made based on the story of the Gingerbread Man. Animals can be quite expensive so it is worth checking out your local pound shop, or keeping an eye out during the sales. I love the Soft Touch range by Peterkin UK, which are very reasonably priced and really well made. They have several sets, including farm animals, dinosaurs and a wildlife set.

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5. Toy food. Great for extending their imaginative play and allowing children an opportunity to imitate what they see adults doing. This develops their creative capabilities and is also great for language development. As they grow older, toy food can be used to help a child begin to understand about healthy eating. We have a lovely set from Melissa and Doug which has a range of foods, and also comes with little baskets which is really handy for playing shops! You can also find bits and bobs from your kitchen such as old egg boxes or milk cartons, which can really enrich play as the children enjoy using something ‘real’.

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6. Construction. There are all sorts of toys out there which are great for construction. I love all the natural wood building blocks that are available now. Duplo or Sticklebricks are also great. Playing with construction toys is fantastic for developing problem solving skills, gaining an understanding of shape, and learning about balance and seeing forces in action.

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7. Loose parts for creative play. For a one year old, paints, crayons and playdough are fantastic for their creative development. Once your toddler is older, and you know they are less likely to put things in their mouth, is becomes safe to begin using a wider variety of items in their creative play. So, we have stocked up with items such as: googly eyes; stamps; pipe cleaners; feathers; lolly sticks; matchsticks; buttons; and paper shapes. We’ve also collected various natural items such as sticks, acorns, pine cones and stones. These are great for a range of activities and recently I have been trying to offer more opportunities for T to use them in a more self-guided way. It is great to see what her imagination does when she is presented with a set of materials. I’ve also been trying to do some transient art with loose parts  – there are some great example of this over on Stimulating Learning.

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8. Puppets. Fantastic for language and communication, role play, and social development. Finger puppets can also be used in small world activities. We love these woodland finger puppets from The Puppet Company, but this set from IKEA is a lovely, more affordable, alternative.

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9. Beads. Beads are great for fine motor skills as they learn to thread the beads. Chunky wooden beads also help colour recognition and can be used later on to help children create and identify patterns. Obviously always be very careful with beads and they can present a choking hazard.

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10. Doctors kit. Great for role play which develops their imagination and language capabilities. Going to the doctors is reasonably familiar to most children (although hopefully they won’t spend too much time there!) so it allows them to make sense of that experience. Play with a doctors kit is also great for taking fear away from visiting the doctor – some children can find it stressful being examined by a stranger. So spending time at home listening to chests, looking in ears and mouths and taking temperatures can be very helpful! We have this set which is great, and a really good price. The only slightly disappointing thing about it is that the blood pressure monitor regular comes apart, and the cuff is very small so really needs to be used on a wrist! However I intend to make a new cuff with some felt and velcro! There are other kits out there which have fabric or wooden pieces rather than plastic but they can be quite pricey.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful! You might also enjoy my other Top Toys posts: Ten Toys for a One Year Old and Ten Ways to Play with a Farm.

Note: I use affiliate links in this post but, as always, all views are my own.

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26 Comment

  1. Ellen says: Reply

    There’s some brilliant toys included here and great explanations about how they can benefit children. I’ll need to revisit this as times goes by so I can get more age appropriate stuff. Love the doctors set as I had a friend who had one that I loved playing with! And those picture blocks are a great idea as they are versatile like you say. #ablogginggoodtime & #triballove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thanks Ellen. I’ve got a post lined up to publish in the next day or two with ten ideas for playing with the picture tiles. Yes I loved playing doctors too and it is one of T’s favourite games! I need to make a little surgery play area for her one of these days 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  2. I like the toys you’ve mentioned. I can’t wait to buy some lovely toys for my little one. She has some more growing to do yet! #TribalLove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thanks Sarah. Hope you find these lists helpful when she is a little older! x

  3. I’ll definitely be thinking about getting some toys similar to these at around Christmas. I wouldn’t have thought of the shape magnets, but I think that my daughter would really like them. x
    #triballove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes, I think they make a nice alternative to the letter magnets which are often used, but I feel shapes are more appropriate for this age group!

  4. I’m loving these posts – my little one particularly loves magnets and sits on the kitchen floor pulling them off the fridge. This is a great list for years to come, as she gets a bit older. I love the doctors set – I think she’d really love that one xx #triballove

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Thank you! Yes I am constantly being told that I’m poorly and have to take a trip to the doctors to get myself sorted. It differs somewhat from a real trip because the doctor always corrects me when I tell her whats wrong, and when she checks me over, she always says I’m fine! 🙂

  5. What a great list of toys and I have many of those that you have shown. I love my plastic animals and doctors case the most. Anything to do with role playing is good with me! #TheList

  6. Oh there are some excellent choices on here. Clem will be two in 2 months, and so will all her NCT friends so this has given me some ideas on what to get them and her.x #triballove

  7. Okay so I have a nearly 1 year old but I reckon some of those will work as they look very chewable and apparently that is currently our only requirement!!

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime hun #triballove

  8. Fab list, and we actually play with all these toys at home, they’re very popular with my 2 year old! We have a set of wooden play food that is held together with velcro so you can chop it up with a wooden knife, it’s fantastic! x #TheList

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes I’ve seen those, I’m thinking of putting them on her 3rd birthday list!

  9. Good suggestions – toy food and jigsaws are a big hit in our household too…in fact anything to do with Peppa! #ablogginggoodtime

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Yes she seems to be universally popular, doesn’t she?!

  10. Toy food and a doctor’s kit are favourites in our house too! I like the idea of magnet shapes as well – I might keep my eyes out for some of them. Thanks for this list. #ablogginggoodtime

  11. These are great ideas! My 19 month old would definitely be interested in these, though for some he’ll have to be a bit older.
    #KCACOLS

  12. Emma says: Reply

    What a great collection of toys and they all seem lovely and really made toys too. I love how they all teach very different but important skills. A great collection that would act as a great list of ideas for other mums Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

  13. Pen says: Reply

    haha, your daughter and my son must be a similar age (Cygnet is 21 months) because our toy boxes look very similar. Cygnet is not that keen on the lacing beads yet, but I am working on it. Thanks ! Pen x #KCACOLS

  14. Sarah says: Reply

    One of the boys favourites at this age was a Melissa and Doug board that has all sorts of different locks on it. He was obsessed! I love this series 🙂 #KCACOLS

  15. Great list and we have some form of most of them… I’ve been hearing a lot about Melissa and Doug lately… I need to check them out! And I love the doctors kit idea, haven’t thought of that one! Xx #KCACOLS

  16. Theres some great toys included in your list. I really like the little toy animals. It is so good for creative play and story telling.

    Mainy x

    #KCACOLS

  17. Bread says: Reply

    I think jigsaws are great for kids. My five year old niece made her own jigsaw today it was awesome. I like the shape magnets too. kcacols I

  18. Becca this is fab! J is approaching his 2nd birthday and I knew someone in the tribe had done a post but I couldn’t remember who! Then I realised it was you and came hunting for it. I really want the beads and the stamps! J is jigsaw mad so we already are using 5 piece jigsaws and have some more for him. I also want to get him the animals and the picture tiles look amazing. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. beccatooth says: Reply

      Wow, what a lovely comment! Thanks! I’m glad it was useful. You may have spotted it but there another post on the picture tiles, worth looking at if you’re in two minds! And animals are one of my faves. T plays with hers ALL the time-she’s just received some more for her third birthday! Hope J has a wonderful birthday! X

  19. Fran says: Reply

    Some great ideas here Becca – shame we have a lot of them already! Blooming second kids haha. I like the shape magnets a lot though, he does love magnets!

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