The American Academy of Pediatrics recently teamed up with Mellissa & Doug, who for over 30 years have been making toys that nurture healthy imaginations through open-ended play, to promote the necessity exercising children’s imagination during these over-stimulated, over-scheduled and over screen-timed times.
When the quarantine first started, we let Lil’ G-Man slide by with embarrassingly too much screen-time and unfortunately saw almost immediate regression in behavior, loss of patience, irritability and increased levels of just whiney-ness. We are finally back to normal.
We recently converted our basement into a daycare pod (we will be elaborated on that in coming posts: There is plenty of material!) and we knew we needed to keep it stocked with open-ended play toys.
We also knew we needed quality products that could take some toddler abuse and hold up!
(Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.)
Enter Melissa and Doug Toys!
HEADS UP: Use code ShopEarly to save an additional 15% before October 5th 2020 11:59 PM.
Here are the Top Ten Melissa and Doug Toys For Toddler Daycare Pods!
1 Fresh Mart Grocery Store
I was surprised how much Lil’ G-Man missed going to the grocery store (probably partially because I used to let him snag a new Hot Wheels car each trip).
Shopping and playful purchasing is exciting at the sturdy wooden Fresh Mart Grocery Store! The free-standing play space with smooth, curved corners and edges lets customers three and older browse the shelves and pay for purchases on one side, and allows the grocer to ring up items on the other.
Realistic features include beeping “scanner,” a hand-crank conveyor belt, a card-swiping machine, a keypad/calculator, and cash drawer. Kids are sure to find everything on their shopping list at this friendly neighborhood grocery store! Don’t forget to get a shopping cart as well!
We also used a label making to mark the play grocery items with prices. It also helps the kids with learning their numbers and entry level math skills.
2. Rocket Ship Indoor Playhouse (Limited Time Item!)
The Bad News: This is an ‘Outlet Item’ meaning it is being phased out. The Good News: It is just $25 while supplies last!
Let imaginations take flight with this Roomy Rocket Ship! The large, extra thick and sturdy cardboard space ship playhouse can be positioned upright for “blast off” or horizontally for “in-flight” fun! It stands nearly five feet tall and nearly three feet wide (standing), so there’s plenty of room for multiple kids to play astronaut.
We named ours “Red 5” in an ode to Luke Skywalker (You know, before Rain Johnson ruined the character.)
The rocket’s exterior is covered with vibrant, incredibly detailed, realistic full-color artwork. This unique play space is packed with playful details, such as a navigational dashboard, fuel tank that opens, capsule door that opens and closes, and four stabilizer fins. Kids three and older will love taking their imaginations for a ride!
3 Scoop & Serve Ice Cream Counter
Kids generally aren’t as cute when they are screaming, but when they are screaming for ice cream…
Scoop up some cool treats with this all-inclusive, 28-piece pretend play Ice Cream Counter! The sturdy wooden tabletop counter holds eight wooden scoops of different-flavored ice cream, six assorted toppings, two cones, a plastic cup, an ice cream scooper, tongs, and a wooden spoon.
The scooper fits into a hole on top of the scoops to lift, stack, and release. Take orders on the reusable menu card, pay with play money, and serve up delicious fun!
4 Examine & Treat Pet Vet Play Set
Give young animal lovers everything they need to examine and treat pretend pets! This toy was recognized by toy experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute for how it helps kids develop empathy. However we did discover first hand that the examine equipment works better on the included stuffed cat than Lil’ G-Man’s real cat!
The 24-piece collection for aspiring veterinarians three and older comes with two adorable plush pets (a dog and a cat), and accessories galore, including a stethoscope, thermometer, syringe, ear scope, tweezers, and clamp.
There are bottles, tubes, and tubs of pretend treatments and ointments, bandages and a cast for boo-boos, and even a neck “cone” to keep pets from licking! Everything, including a reusable examination checklist, stores in a handy tote bag, so little vets can make house calls!
5 Roll, Wrap & Slice Sushi Counter
Kids love playing with food. And sometimes, all the food doesn’t wind up on the floor! (Just kidding, yes it does…)
Budding young sushi chefs will be able to practice their rolling, wrapping, and slicing skills with this unique wooden Sushi Play Set. The 46-piece set includes a tabletop display/serving counter that holds all the ingredients for making maki rolls, nigiri, and temaki.
Lay the wooden sushi pieces on the felt nori strips, stick them together with the self-stick tabs, roll with the sushi mat, then slice and serve with ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce! Order on the reusable menu/information/instruction card and pick up the pieces with chop sticks!
Side Note: As it turns out, telling your toddler that “wasabi sauce” is actually “mint sauce” and laughing when they take a big regretful bite, results in daddy sleeping on the couch. Who knew?
6 Star Diner Restaurant
Travel back in time to November 5th 1955 at the Star Diner! This sturdy, double-sided wooden play space lets kids cook and serve from the kitchen side, and order and enjoy a meal on the booth side.
The kitchen, with an extra-large oven, realistic burners and dials, a two-shelf refrigerator, and plenty of counter space has fun details like a drink dispenser and milkshake maker with mixing rod that can be pushed up and down. You can even share a chocolate shake with George McFly!
At the two-seat booth, customers three and older can spin the jukebox dial to choose their favorite type of music, then drop the included coin in the slot – and the coin lands in a collection tray on the other side!
Don’t forget to include the Star Diner Restaurant Play set for all the dishes and accessories!
7 Magnetic Food Truck Play Set
Take hungry imaginations on the road with the Magnetivity Magnetic Building Play Set Food Truck! Magnetivity encourages kids to experiment, explore, and imagine by inspiring them to design and build their own unique food truck! The 6 double-sided panels with artwork on both sides (including one with flip-open awning and serving counter) slot into the vehicle and magnetically attach in different combinations, so kids can build their own unique barbecue, ice cream, or taco truck.
The 55 included magnetic accessories stick to the panels and to the two magnetic wooden play figures with stands, inspiring open-ended, hands-on exploration and play! All Magnetivity panels are compatible.
8 Let’s Play House! Dust! Sweep! Mop!
It is amazing how much toddlers love to help clean up! So take advantage of the enthusiasm and unfamiliarity with child labor laws with the Dust! Sweep! Mop! Play Set!
This six-piece play set gives kids all the housekeeping tools they need to keep it clean! Sized just for kids and built to last, the broom, mop, duster, dust pan, and hand brush are comfortable to use and easy to store–just hang them from the sturdy cords onto the included stand for neat, compact storage.
(The dust pan can also snap onto any of the handles.) Natural-wood handles add durability and a classic look; bright pops of color keeps lots of fun in the mix!
9 Reusable Sticker Pad – Vehicles (Lil’ G-Man’s Favorite)
Fill the reusable scenes with 165 cling-style stickers, and create your own busy airport, train tracks, harbor, construction site, or roadway! To set the scene and spur the imagination, five glossy, full-color backgrounds feature lots of space to play creatively.
They pull out cleanly too, so this cool set is easy to share. The colorful, kid-friendly stickers, which are organized by theme, stick easily, pull up cleanly, and can be used again and again to keep the action and adventure coming.
10. Created By Me Race Car
Kids can fill their need for speed with this cool craft kit! Includes complete supplies to design and personalize a race car, including wooden wheels and axles, paints, brush, glue, stickers, and easy directions. Put youngsters on the “fast track” to building and racing fun!
We got a couple of these and have been using washable paint to extend the life of the toy.
Use code SHOPEARLY to save an additional 15% before October 5th 2020 11:59 PM.
Let us know which Melissa and Doug products your toddler enjoys!
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.