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Presents for 3 year old birthday?

784 Views 15 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  MOM2ANSLEY
So every Christmas/birthday I make a long list of items for ds1 (& now ds2) w/pictures and links to websites where you can purchase items. This is for mil who insists that I make the list & give it to her. But she doesn't like shopping on-line ("it's neither fun nor real shopping") so I want to make this year's list have items that she can pick up at Toys R Us, Target or Kohl's (her three main hangouts.)

Ideas for fun, open-ended, non-charector, made of natural-materials, has play capability for years kinds of toys? He is very into trains, so I expect some Thomas stuff, but I'd like the focus of the list to be on other things...oh and books are "boring" so she won't even contemplate books so that's out. She'll spend ~$200, so it's pretty open as far as price. (And no, she won't give money for savings, we already tried that.)

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Does he have a nice set of blocks? Or how about Lincoln logs? (they still make the wooden ones, but as to how natural they are I'm not sure.) He also has a set of wooden stringing beads from Toys R Us that he likes a lot.

Toys R Us has a train table set under $200 that comes with a wooden train, my DS has it at Grandma's house and really enjoys that too.
From Target:

If you go to the outdoor section they have some cool play tents for about $20. You can also get a "camping kit" with sleeping bag and flashlight, etc. This time of year the gardening section has kid gardening stuff. My kids love that stuff.
Do you get WWF's "Your Big Backyard" magazine? It's great for 3y/o kids and you get and issue every month. She may think that's boring though.

I second the Kettler trike, my 3.5 y/o loves his.
A wooden table and chairs set
A wooden art easel with a chalkboard on one side
A play kitchen
A kid sized tool bench with tools
A sandbox for outside (we use ours every day that it's nice out)
Tball set for outside
Metal Tonka trucks (I know they aren't natural materials but they are indestructable and you can pass them down through many children)
Our nearly 3 year old loves her art easel with chalkboard and paper, real small tools to work along beside us, anything to do with kitchen pretend play (do any of these stores carry a wooden play kitchen? pots and pans?) Kitchen pretend play is definitely tops in our house.
just wondering why MIL's view of books? my kids love books and we have several overstuffed bookcases...
how about coloring or activity books? crayons paints etc?? a good art smock? if you live in a warm climate how about pool toys? bubbles? a play lawnmover?? or better yet how about several GIFT CERTIFICATES to those stores so you and ds can pick out what you like? would MIL pay for birthday photos? a day at an amusement park? can DH work on MIL (his mom) and explain what you as parents want for your child?

just a few thoughts...
musical instruments
board games or puzzles
craft kits or art supplies- we got a chalkboard/dry erase easel at Target a couple of years ago that dd still uses
wooden train track and train set- my parents have a huge box of wooden track and trains at their house for the grandkids and they got at various times Target
computer games- my dd likes the Jump Start games
outdoor toys like sandbox, swing, play house, skates, bike, swimming pool
Leap Pad with books
My son loves his tea set from Ikea. It looks like an adult set, and is large enough to really serve tea with. (Beware of sets that are plastic and only large enough for "symbolic" tea parties with dolls.) Ikea also has a nice little Jr. baker's set and a kid's apron. Andrej wears his apron every day, whether baking or pretending to be a Musketeer, or whatever else strikes his fancy.

Ikea also has a nice and quite cheap wooden art easel that you can attach a roll of paper to, and they have plenty of art supplies. That's what Andrej will get for his 4th birthday.

Another thing we love, a huge green leaf that mounts to the wall and can hang over the child's bed or another special space like maybe a reading chair. Beware, though. When we hung it over Andrej's bed he "abandoned" us in our big bed and now goes to sleep under the leaf every afternoon and evening!

Here's something else - gardening. If the child's birthday is coming up now, you could have her buy some seeds or bulbs, pots, spades, etc. and she and you could together teach him how to grow flowers and vegetables.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend musical instruments to a MIL who "doesn't get it" about natural toys. These kinds of grannies often go for the batter-operated push-button instruments. Trust me, I know!!!
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I make a registry for my kids at Target or ToysRUs every year. It has helped tremendously. Most people are very happy to have one to follow. I got very tired of people buying things (toy guns specifically) that I won't let the kids play with.

With Targets new toy line of natural creative play things I would vote for a Target registry. Just set up a baby registry (they don't have a b-day registry) and scan the exact things you want. I love the play kitchen and accesories that go with it. And best of all, it isn't pink! My boys love their kitchen and they are 5 and 7. They also have a bunch of science kits, dress up stuff and puppets. All of this on the same isle.
Toys R us has Melissa and DOug wooden toys, blocks and puzzles.
I was just going to mention that Target started carrying some more ap oriented things like Melissa and Doug food and the play kitchen and the resin miniature animals. It's pretty cool.

Originally Posted by mattjule
I was just going to mention that Target started carrying some more ap oriented things like Melissa and Doug food and the play kitchen and the resin miniature animals. It's pretty cool.
Me too! I was just going to mention that!

This won't help with your MIL, but I love Woody Click. They are like a cross between brio and legos. My ds reconfigures the trucks to make his own designs.
Thanks for the ideas. Let's see - why doesn't mil like books? Because it's "boring to read to kids." Note - I didn't say that I don't like reading to kids - she doesn't like to, so she won't buy books for others.

Musical instruments - my sister outfitted ds1 last year, but when we told mil we wanted to get ds1 a guitar for his birthday (dh had gotten one, was learning to play and we wanted a kid-version) bought him the wiggles guitar. Complete w/brand new batteries, no gift receipt - bless her heart. It scared the crap out of ds1 and even though he'd probably like it now, he still refuses to even look at it.

I'll put a bunch of Melissa and Doug stuff on his list. A "wish list or registry" is inappropriate and rude (according to mil) but a list of items is what she wants. Who the heck can understand her reasoning?

An art easel sounds like a great idea! Does Target have smocks as well? I could always make him one out of an old vinyl tablecloth too.

I have some great ideas now. Of course, she'll still probably hate the list, but at least I gave it the old college try.
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I second the suggestion of duplos. They ARE plastic, but maybe that would make MIL feel that she didn't have to follow your rules.

And in every other way they meet your wishes.

They are well made (don't crack or break easily at all)

They are very open ended! We have used them as fortresses and castles, restaurants and towers, a "swimming pool" for dolls, a stage for stuffed animals and on and on.

They last for years. My oldest dd is 12 and she STILL will sometimes take them out when she is bored. And she used them last year to make (with paper on the outside) a replica of the John Hancock building.
Lincoln Logs, wooden but a "classic" Gramma might like
Wooden Blocks...I told my mom I couldnot find them so she was excited to be the one to buy them for dd
Wooden beads with Laces
Play-doh,cookie cutters
Easel, paint craft supplys
Dress up stuff, Toys R Us has quite a selection for boys, but you could end up with some character stuff
Would she buy a swingset or playhouse for the children togeather?,
If you allow some plastic the little tikes castlr might be something Gramma would like to buy them.
A nice wagon
If you are not opposed, one of the large canvas type bouncy room things, thay really are easy to set up...Gramma got us one and she was PROUD, the hardest thing is getting it into the storage bag it came in so I store it in a box, It is a GREAT way for dd to burn energy ang jump safely, trampolenes scare me
I think I saw a foot powered car at Toys R US, probably plastic though.
Tonka trucks were mentioned above...great idea, right now dd has one full of jewelry :)
A tent for backyard adventures???
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