Children love toys and parents, grandparents and family friends love to buy stuff for their little ones and spend a lot of money for it. The variety of toys is unbelievably huge and due to the Internet there are so many different possibilities to get the best things for your children.
What does my child want and like? What does my child need? What can my child learn from? How much is too much?
Questions, each parent probably asks her- or himself from time to time.
If you have a look in the room of a typical kindergarten child in Germany (3-6 years), there are some bestsellers you can find in almost every nursery.
So what kind of toys do German children like the most? Are there certain traditions of playing throughout the generations? What kind of educational background stands behind some of them? And how much do these "must haves“ cost?
Let’s have a look at the evergreens of German kindergartens ;)
Spielküche (Children’s kitchen)
This one’s a classic, even parents or grand-parents of our generation in Germany already had in their childhood and it is loved by both girls and boys.
A little kitchen with every detail in miniature format. Children can play with a „hot plate“, an oven and a sink and there is plenty of equipment you can buy for it too, like cooking pots, pans, knifes and groceries made out of plastic, wood or textile. Therefore children can imitate their parents and learn about the typical kitchen activities.
In the 90’s plastic children’s kitchen were quite common, but since a few years now, parents prefer natural materials in children’s room and so the most popular version is a kitchen made out of wood. Even big kitchen companies have small versions of their products for children now (e.g., Miele), and the most popular product in Germany is probably the children’s kitchen from IKEA. You can find this kitchen also in most of the kindergartens. It has all the important options and looks kind of stylish. The best thing: if the hot plates are "switched on" they glow red. So the children learn, that switched on plates are hot and dangerous.
Also some discounters, such as ALDI, have children’s kitchens on offer once or twice a year.
Children’s kitchens cost around 50-200 euros.
Here is the link to the most famous one of IKEA:
Kaufmannsladen (Kid's grocery store)
Another classic, kind of related to the children’s kitchen is the Kaufmannsladen. It’s a little grocery store, most times equipped with a cash register, fake money, products made out of cardboard, wood or plastic and a shopping basket. Children can play with each other or with their mum or dad. One person is the buyer, one’s the seller. It’s a great way for children to learn about groceries, amounts, numbers and money and they have the opportunity to learn about calculation in an easy and playful way.
You pay about 70-180 euros for a Kaufmannsladen.
BRIO Eisenbahn (BRIO train)
This is the most widespread railway system in German children’s rooms, even though BRIO is a Swedish company. And even parents love it. It’s a system of wooden trains, rails, trailers, bridges and other accessories you can always extend and combine. It’s a great way for girls and boys to build whole train routes and cities through the whole room and helps them to develop and improve their fantasy, creativity and motoric skills. And it’s a lot of fun for the whole family and a great group activity.
A starter set of BRIO costs about 30 euros:
BRIO products have a high quality and can be pretty expensive too. IKEA came up with a cheaper alternative to BRIO, that is even combinable with the original BRIO products:
Nic Kugelbahn (Ball track)
Ball tracks are a great way for children to have their first experiences with physical laws and the perception of colors and shapes.
Nic ball tracks are made out of wood and can have different heights and a different amount of lanes, depending on the age and abilities of your child. They are very robust and easy to handle. Besides the educational effects for children, playing with the ball track can be meditative for stressed parents too ;)
These ball tracks cost from 90-200 euros.
LEGO DUPLO Steine (LEGO DUPLO Bricks)
The little brother of LEGO bricks is the ideal building system for younger children. The bricks are big enough, so there is no danger of swallowing, but they are already complex enough to encourage children to build own projects or to follow easy instructions and understand the system that is behind the bricks. With DUPLO children improve their creativity, their spatial thinking, their motor skills and their understanding for sizes, colors and proportions. Building houses and cities out of DUPLO bricks can be a project for the whole family and fills up rainy and boring afternoons or weekends.
KAPLA Building blocks
This is a simple but ingenious system of building blocks that you will meet often in German children’s rooms. KAPLA is a French company and the system already exists since 1987. A KAPLA set contains simple wooden blocks, that give an unlimited number of construction possibilities without the need of connection pieces or other equipment. This toys is for girls and boys and can be used in many different ways throughout the different stages of age and skills. It trains for sure spatial thinking and fine motor skills and is also a great way of developing the creativity of your child.
You can buy a set of 200 blocks for 45 Euros on Amazon.
These were only a few "classics" and as already mentioned before there are a thousand different toys for kids at the age from 3-6 but now you know the most popular ones that also promote special skills.
Toys for children can be really expensive as you can also see in this article and unfortunately most of the toys for children aren’t used frequently. So, there is a great way to buy second hand toys and sale some of the stuff your children don’t need anymore.
Ebay Kleinanzeigen is an online market place for second hand stuff with a huge variety of children’s toys. It’s a cheaper and more sustainable way of getting presents for your kids :)
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