I let them each vote for their four most favorite and their four least favorite group toys. Then I had them star their very favorite. The answers were really eye-opening for me as a mother.
Below are the 10 categories arranged from most favorite to least favorite.
- Duplo Legos: This was EVERYONE'S favorite. I personally thought that it would tie with magnetic tiles but nope, everyone starred Duplo Legos and magnetic tiles and cars were almost even-steven. I should note that we do not keep our Duplo Legos in sets. All sets are mixed together to foster more creative play and also keep arguing down and made clean-up quicker.*
- Magnetic Tiles**
- Marble Run
- Lincoln Logs
- Potato Heads
So if you are thinking of investing in some toy sets that are good for group play and will cover a wide range of ages, I highly recommend you start with Duplo Legos.
*Please note that I am talking about the big Duplo Legos here. I do NOT like regular Legos. I also need to stress the importance of NOT keeping any Legos (Duplo or otherwise) in sets AND that all the Legos be placed in one big bin and open for anyone to use. If I had implemented this rule early on, I would have saved our family a lot of time and arguing. If you are wondering which ones to buy, I would just get a Duplo World Animals Box or a Duplo Deluxe Brick Box and then supplement with a set that your kiddoes are nuts about (construction, princesses, superheroes, etc.) and then keep your eyes out for random Duplos at thrift stores. Our best Duplo finds have been at thrift stores over the years.
**I also want to note that while my kids really like Magnetic Tiles (like Magna-Tiles*** or PlayMags), when we were at a friends house, they played with Magformers and actually said that they preferred Magformers over magnetic tiles because the structures were stronger (they could be carried more easily and some of them could even be tossed to each other). If you are considering buying magnetic tiles, then you might want to read this post I wrote about our favorite brands of magnetic tiles and also this post about why I don't recommend Magna-Tiles brand.