When children play, they’re doing more than having fun – they’re learning and growing!
- But what toys are best for the littlest learners?
- My toddler is learning so fast! How can I help them learn through play?
- How can I support what my kindergartner has been learning at school?
- Learning STEM can't start too early, but what's the right challenge for my 7-year-old?
- They want to start making gifts for their friends, what kits are perfect for a child in grade school?
- What are the best games, puzzles, or arts & crafts for a family night?
Check out our 2020 Staff Picks for the Top Holiday Toys by Age!
As your local Bloomington-Normal educational toy store, we at Gingerbread House Toys carry what family and friends are looking for to encourage the kids in your life to keep going so they keep growing! You can shop online, set up a virtual appointment or stop by the store and our energetic staff can help you find the perfect one! We even do complimentary gift wrapping!
As you go through the list below, set up a free wish list or toy registry so you can easily keep track of what you want to get and share with family and friends!
Top Toys for Ages 0-1
- Elephant Baby Shower: Did you realize that even doing something as simple as giving a baby a bath can introduce sensory play from baby’s first days? It also promotes visual focus skills through contrast and movement, promotes hand-eye coordination, and allows a soothing bath time experience free of dripping cups and teary eyes. (Also featured in one of our episodes of Play Today! Watch it here to see how it works!)
- Whirly Squigz: They twirl and whirl in a swirl! These colorful spinners, with a textured dome on one side and a suction cup on the other, that lets them stick to any flat surface, are fun to touch and safe for teething. Stick this trio of mesmerizing spinners to any flat surface - tabletop, bathtub, window - and watch the wheels of sensory exploration start to spin. Three Whirly Squigz of long-lasting durability, quality, and safety included: one with 2 petals, one with 3, and one with 4.
- Ditty Bird Music to Dance To: Travel the world learning different dances to the sounds of far off countries. See the colors and atmosphere of each special dance as you and your toddler try your own steps to the eclectic rhythms. 6 tunes include: Argentinian Tango, Viennese Waltz, Charleston, Rock n' Roll, Latin Salsa, and French Cancan.
- Baby Doll: Calin Pastel: Give a cuddle and aaah, is that the subtle scent of vanilla? How soothing! This poseable 12" baby, designed in France, is ultra-soft and has eyes that close when it's lullaby time. Calin Pastel has a nightgown and cap, ready for bed. This sweet doll helps develop the caring touch that all of us need.
My First Sounds and Senses: Four magnetic building bars and four balls for toddlers to mix and match. Each ball offers a different texture, for tactile stimulation, a different sound, for an auditory experience, and different facial expressions for learning about emotions. A truly immersive early learning experience! Compatible with all SmartMax sets.
- Limited Edition Wink Plush Toy! If your kids have ever been in the store, they've met our lovable shop dog Wink! And now your little one can take him home in a perfect stocking stuffer size. His eyes are embroidered, his shirt is removable, he's super soft and all sales of this toy are donated to Marcfirst.
Top Toys for Ages 1-3
- Tonie Box Starter Set: Toniebox is a kid-friendly, screen-free, portable, audio system that even the youngest children can operate. Durable, safe, ad-free (yay!), and totally engaging! Parents or Grandparents can add recorded personal messages or stories and songs so your little ones can stay connected to them wherever they are in the world. (Also featured in one of our episodes of Play Today!)
- Roll Again Tower: Easily grab a chunky ball and plop it into the tower top. Now watch the chain reaction as the other 4 balls follow - rolling, swirling and twirling their way down, in continuous motion! Hours of learning wrapped in fun.
- Inny Bin: This innovative shape-sorting box encourages fine motor skills, tactile exploration, and experimentation with 6 chunky, uniquely textured shapes that fit through the elastic bands of the cube. It's a frustration-free shape-learning experience!
- SMARTMAX: Four magnetic building bars and 8 truck body parts for toddlers to mix and match. A fire truck 'back' on a cement truck 'front'? Yes! Combine the chunky, soft magnetic vehicle pieces for a ride of learning and fun - because the trucks really move on their wheels! Compatible with all SmartMax sets.
- Magna Tiles: If you've got a little builder, consider these translucent magnetic shapes that attract on all sides, and invite kids to use their imaginations, or follow the guided instructions. Creativity, math, and science meet logic and sequencing to make fun!
- Wonder Tray Weather: This is a multipurpose educational mat that is heat resistant with a raised edge to minimize mess. It's perfect for travel, mess control at mealtime, and a place for arts and crafts.
Top Toys for Ages 4-6
- Jack & The Beanstalk: Great for solo play! Follow the challenge cards, like dropping your puzzle piece down the beanstalk, but watch out! Pieces tilt on the way down so "bean" careful!
- Bandit's Memory Mix Up: Bandit, that sneaky raccoon, loves to play games! While you try to memorize what's in the garden (spyglass), he's taking things out. Test your memory skills and figure out which item has gone missing.
- The Floor is Lava: Everyone has played a version of this game as a child, most likely jumping all over the furniture trying to stay off the floor. The Floor is Lava is a new game where players must imagine the floor is molten hot lava while spinning for their color and jumping along foam game pieces in order to reach safety. The Floor is Lava is a family game incorporating physical activity, imagination, and pure fun!
- Slice & Stack Sandwich Counter: Hungry? Order a piled-high sandwich from your little entrepreneur, using the play money, of course! 52 pieces of beautifully designed yum that fit neatly inside the counter. What's on the menu? Role-playing, counting, sorting, and delicious, screen-free fun.
- Steam Breathing Dragon: It screeches, stomps, and snorts steam, plus eyes and mouth light up for an extra scary effect! This dragon is so easy to use- just add water to the top of the dragon's head with the included dropper, insert batteries, push the button and you're ready for a mystical adventure with your dragon. (Also featured in one of our episodes of Play Today! Watch here to see how it works!)
- Life in the Coral Reef Game: Take a trek to learn early skills like matching and perception. Put it together differently for each game to make it easy or more challenging. Be the first to point to the ocean animals that match your cards and earn an animal figurine reward! Quick-playing fun for younger ones.
Pretty Pretty Princess: A classic game you might remember! In this delightful dress-up game, players work together quickly to gather the fanciest jewelry. Collect necklace, bracelet, ring, and earrings, plus the matching color crown, all sized for players to put on as the game progresses.
Top Toys for Ages 6-8
- Swingin' Shoes: Toss rubbery, flexible horseshoes onto moving platforms on a swinging, swaying pole! Easily suspends from any door frame. Test coordination and concentration!
- Scavenger Hunt for Kids: It's the classic game of search and find for kids! Players have two minutes to search for silly stuff like a purple shirt, a funny hat, and other items around the house. Kids move ahead one space on the game board for every item they find and additional spaces for putting everything back where it belongs (so the house stays tidy).
- Dinosaur Escape: Help the dinosaurs get to dinosaur island before the volcano erupts! This cooperative game encourages children to work together, and no reading is required. Ideal for 2-4 players.
- Buildzi Game: This is a high-energy, fast-stacking, block-building game! 32 interlocking shapes look simple but, oh, the challenges are CRAZY! Whoever successfully makes their tower first, wins! Whether in teams or 1-on-1, try friendly stacking to "I rule this world!" (Also featured in one of our episodes of Play Today! Watch here to see how you play!)
- Baseball Game: Grab the peanuts and clear the coffee table for this gorgeous, handcrafted, maple-wood baseball game board. Move the first batter to home plate and roll the dice. Use the dice combination to get hits or strikeout, and run the pegs around the bases to score a run. Play a few innings or a full nine-inning game. Play ball! For 2 players or 2 teams.
- LED Candle Critters - Unicorn: Make this ceramic unicorn your own by decorating it with special markers, then turn on the tea light for a colorful display! House it in the stylish cottage-shaped box. This unicorn is sure to provide magical dreams. Includes cell battery.
- Robot Safari: Welcome to the fascinating world of mechanical engineering! Make robotic animal characters including a unicorn, sea otter, fox, bear, and more! Building and reading go hand in hand with this complete educational set of large construction pieces, perfect for smaller hands.
- Kids First: Robot Factory: Bring STEM from the classroom to the living room! Make motorized robots that move in different ways while exploring how each one uses gears and other mechanical parts. Building and reading go hand in hand with this complete educational set of large pieces, perfect for smaller hands.
- SolarBots: 8-in-1 Solar Robot: What's cooler than building a bot? Building 8 of 'em! A book guides the assembly, and a compact solar panel gives them power. There's nothing like the feeling of accomplishment after creating something awesome, and learning a whole lot at the same time!
Top Toys for Ages 8+
- Crystal Clear Jewelry Workshop: Twelve fabulous projects in this new kit, for designing and making beautiful, crystal clear jewelry that will set new trends for the fashion conscious! This comprehensive workshop set for accessory designers has it all, and pre-measured ingredients make it so easy to make necklaces, bracelets, keychains, and more.
- American Ninja Warrior™ 34' Ninjaline: It's the official American Ninja Warrior® Ninjaline® training system to help young kids train like a Warrior! Set includes a 34' Ninjaline with 11 pockets and six obstacles, plus comes with a carrying bag to store away and travel with as needed.
- Glow Battle Knights Family Pac: No cellphones tonight, because backyard warriors will be armed with bright (and safe) glowing swords and wristbands. Play 10 different games of strategy and teamwork.
- Balance Jousting Set: Challenge a friend to step onto the balance boards with you, hold your "boppers" ready, and go! Battle with the big squishy batons until only one remains. Who will stay put and who won't? Great activity for contenders up to 300 lbs.
- Tightrope Walking Gyrobot: A robot fit for the circus! With this kit, you can build a robot that walks, step by step, along a tightrope! Through eight experiments, you can explore the astonishing powers of the motorized gyroscope and understand the physics behind its amazing behaviors. The kit includes parts to build the robot and experimental setups, including a frame for the tightrope. Young engineers can learn about the science of gyroscopic devices and the indispensable role they play in our lives.
- My Very Own Wall Collage: Show off your personal style by turning a plain wall into a work of art! There are over 1,000 pieces, including stickers, cutouts, foam spacers, and prints that will fill a space at least 4' x 2' and won't harm your walls or doors. Express yourself!
- Clue Classic Edition Board Game: Here's a clue: this game's been popular since 1949! All the usual suspects are here, lurking in the memorable mansion, with the weapons that elevate this whodunit to its "Classic" status.
- LED Smart Rainbow Room Lights: Perfect way for them to change and control the color of their room! Self-Adhesive Strips each contains Color Changing LED’s, and it comes with a Bluetooth APP Music Controller, remote, adapter, and free downloadable Smartphone APP.
Options for Family Night with Older Kids
- Mariposas Board Game: Millions of Monarch butterflies leave Mexico every spring, and millions return months later. Guide their journey with this gorgeous game, collecting points by building a butterfly family. Great for nature lovers!
- The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine: Does Planet Nine exist? Complete 50 missions as you travel the solar system to discover it. A space adventure card game for gamers, requiring teamwork and communication among astronauts.
- Blank Slate: This quick and easy family game comes with 250 double-sided word cue cards. Select one, and each player 'fills in the blank' - writing the word they think best fits the phrase. Matching words with other players gains points (score the most when you match exactly one other player). With all the possible answers, this party game guarantees loads of fun.
- 1990's Music Trivia Game: Relive the decade that brought us roller blades, slap bracelets and pogs with 40 cards featuring music trivia and next line challenges! Divide into two teams and take it in turns to ask the opposing team a question, but the show isn't over yet! Select a player to sing the line of the song listed on the card to their team, who must then correctly sing back the next line of the song to earn another point! All trivia cards are stored in a retro cassette tape storage box.
- iHeart Mash-Up Art Pack Batik: This pack includes everything from watercolors to pastels, art pad to instructions, that show you how to produce your own multimedia art. It comes with watercolor paint tubes, oil pastels, water brush pen, masking tape, palette, and art pad, all in a high-quality binder with a magnetic closure. The Technique Guide will help you get the coolest effects as you learn to mask off areas of the page, paint over the areas and reveal the design underneath.
- Positivity 500pc: An incredibly beautiful design from a woman-owned, mother-run company! Sturdy, precision-cut pieces, made with 90% recycled materials. This 500-piece round puzzle imbues positive, worldly images to inspire the young generations, as well as the old.
- Pindaloo Blue: Pindaloo is an exciting skill toy that can help improve your cognition & coordination all while having fun. It’s easy to take wherever you go, inside or outside. Start with simple "ball through Pindaloo loop" and then try to keep the ball moving in a continuous loop. Once you master the basics, you'll find endless throwing & catching tricks for cool interactive play.
Play More! Grow More!