A dozen classic toys to save for your grandkids

classic : adjective – used to say that something has come to be considered one of the best of its kind; used to say that something is an example of excellence; used to describe something that has been popular for a long time (m-w.com)

There comes a day in every parent’s life when the question must be answered:  Which of your kids’ childhood toys do you get rid of, and which, if any, do you keep? Setting aside the treasured stuffed animal for posterity is a no-brainer. But how many boxes of Barbie shoes and Happy Meal prizes do you haul up to the attic? Do you give away the toy kitchen, or wrap it in plastic and stick it in the corner of the basement? Of course the answers depend on many factors, such as your storage space and whether or not you intend to be in the same house when your babies start having babies.

Even if you don’t anticipate ever having grandchildren, it’s nice to keep a few little boxes of age-appropriate toys handy for your youngest guests to enjoy. So how do you decide which to keep and which to pass on?

Obviously, in order to survive the span of a family’s childhood years, the toys that are keepers must be well made. They also have to be fun and provide endless hours of creative play for all ages! Then in order to make it to the sacred dumping ground of your spare closet, basement shelves, or attic, they must be easy to clean and easy to pack away. Here are some that have survived at our house for almost 30 years and recently made it to our grandkids’ toy closet:

Legos/ Bionicles/ Duplos:  This is the most obvious choice for a number of reasons. First of all, these toys require quite an up-front investment. Secondly, they are fun for all ages, girls and boys, moms and dads, and even grandmas and grandpas who can still get down on the floor!  In addition, they are ever-changing and inspire more creativity than most toys–at least after you get that first diagram-specific build done. As far as Legos go, everything is awesome (yep, you knew that was coming)!

Matchbox Cars: Little die-cast metal vehicles are some of the toughest toys ever made. They tend to show up in every Christmas stocking and Easter basket, and often get thrown in the cart as a reward for a shopping trip without meltdowns. Over the years this results in a lot of cars rattling around your house! Gather them all up in a plastic bin and stick them away until you begin designing a grandkids’ playroom. Then add a little rug with a racetrack or town scene, and you’re all set for hours of races and crashes!

American Girl dolls and accessories:  From the dolls themselves, to the books, furniture, and even little period-specific shoes and glasses, the American Girl series was an all-time favorite with us. We can’t wait to share them with our new little granddaughter!

Polly Pockets: We keep a box full of Polly Pockets close at hand for young visitors to play with and it never fails that everyone in the room wants to get their hands on the tiny people.

Lincoln Logs: This quintessential American building toy has been around for nearly 100 years. The sturdy wood and plastic parts are designed to put up with a lot of wear and tear. Like Legos, you can add new pieces to old and be sure everything will work together.

G.I. Joes and accessories: The bulky tanks and ancillary vehicles break the “easy to store” rule rather soundly, but at our house there is a reason for that. My highly organized mother-in-law made the mistake of giving away my husband’s extensive G.I. Joe collection (after he got married and left the state) and we all have yet to hear the end of it. So every soldier, tiny canteen, rifle, and hand grenade that came in our door is still here somewhere.

Light Bright: This was one of the favorite things to play with at my grandmother’s house, so naturally it made the cut. The colorful pegs can be used with or without templates. Just be sure to pick those sharp little boogers all up and spare your feet the agony of finding one later! Keep the original box and everything stays in the best shape whether it’s in use or in storage.

Discovery Toys Marbleworks, Measure Up Cups, Giant Pegboard, or pretty much any other product:  Although I am not a big fan of home parties, Discovery Toys is worth sacrificing an evening with your family. These three products in particular were well-loved, stood up to years of use and abuse, and survived to tell the tale. The Giant Pegboard was even key in diagnosing our youngest son’s colorblindness, so it is being held close as a diagnostic tool for our grandsons–and granddaughters.

Remote control cars: Although not particularly a sturdy category, if you have one that survived it’s worth hanging onto. Just be sure to remove the batteries from the remote and the vehicle before stowing it away for posterity!

Dollhouses: This one also breaks the easy to store rule, but we simply loaned ours out for few years until the playroom setup got underway. Especially if Daddy or Grandpa hand crafted the dollhouse, it’s a particularly sweet heirloom that will provide many more hours of imaginative play for the next generation.

Fisher-Price playsets: We particularly loved the little parking garage (maybe because we had so many Matchbox cars). Whether your favorite memories involve the barn (you can hear that cow moo when the barn door opens, can’t you) , airplane, or school bus, these are made to last. The key with a toy in this category is to wash them thoroughly before you store them. Decades-old drool and rice cereal are almost impossible to scrub off.

Tea sets: My sister brought home the most darling little Polish Pottery tea set straight from Poland as a gift for our daughter back in the 90s before Polish pottery was cool. What fun we all (brothers included) had using it for tea parties with both imaginary and real treats! When our daughter moved out and did not have room or interest for them, I commandeered the tiny cobalt pieces as little knickknacks for the kitchen. Today, we are looking forward to hours of tea parties with our grandson and granddaughter as we dust off the petite cups and saucers and set the table for friends.

There is most likely some dark corner of our attic where a special toy from the last century is waiting to be uncovered. Which do you think we’re missing?

(Check out my new book Prayers for the Mother of the Groom, as well as my bestselling homeschooling titles.)

18 thoughts on “A dozen classic toys to save for your grandkids

  1. hicamie says:

    Great post! I have a storage box full of special toys that I felt worth keeping for my future grandchildren. It includes special board books, a set of rubber dinosaurs and a durable plastic train set perfect for little hands. We also have matchbox cars, Legos and K’nex sets.


    • Traci Matt says:

      You’ll be so glad you took time to put those away for the future. It’s so fun to pull those toys out for our grandson and granddaughter! Next I’m planning to do a post on classic books to save. What books are in your box?

      Liked by 1 person

      • hicamie says:

        Goodnight Moon, The Hungry Caterpillar, and a whole set of Sesame Street board books that includes a play mat and characters.


  2. MominKC says:

    What a great post! And a reason for me to have bags and boxes full of toys and books in my basement. LOL Years ago a friend shared that as her kids got older and she was going through the book shelves she would write inside the cover of special books. This was ____’s favorites book for daddy to read, or so many fun times reading this series on road trips, etc. I thought that was a wonderful idea, and how fun for the future grand kids to know which one was daddy’s or aunt’s favorite. You have inspired me to see those old toys as treasures. Thank you my friend!


    • Traci Matt says:

      That’s a great idea! It’s amazing how I can’t even remember some of the “treasures” I pull out–let alone which child loved them the most. Thank goodness we have photos of some of these things to remind us what we did with them! 🙂


  3. Nancy Ruegg says:

    This is GREAT advice for the young moms out there. I did NOT save as many toys as I would have liked. Because we moved seven times as our children were growing up, I erred on the side of fewer boxes to pack. We did keep the Tupperware shape ball, Cabbage Patch dolls, wooden trucks, a number of games, and lots of books. My boys wish they still had their original Legos and G.I. Joe paraphernalia. I wish they did, too! Thank you for becoming a follower of my blog, Traci. I am honored you find the posts meaningful.


    • Traci Matt says:

      Nancy, I would have done the same thing but we only moved once during our child rearing years. You would not believe what still lurks in the back of my cupboards and closets! 🙂 You are a gifted writer and I look forward to reading more of your posts. Thanks for stopping by!


  4. practicalbydefault says:

    All I have to say is PLEASE save the Legos! My husband’s family saved and I am oh so grateful! We have added to it, and the container is huge. They are so amazing for children’s creativity and learning etc. but man are they expensive! Awesome post!


  5. PursuePeaceBlog says:

    Great post! I know my son most enjoys going to his grandma and grandpa’s because they have a huge assortment of toys that are difficult to find nowadays. I love that he gets to play with the toys that his daddy played with. So fun to see!


  6. Kristin says:

    Great list–though I would add Mr. Potato Head to that list, as well as some wooden blocks, personally. Now, if I can just fit it all into one storage bin, lol.


  7. Kathy says:

    After going through the toys in the basement many times many of the ones you listed have remained. This tells me I should keep them. It’s hard when your kids grow up, move on and you’re left to go through their treasure chest of memories! I have one grand daughter and two more grand children on the way. One a grandson and the other unknown til birth. Thinking of ditching the cozy coupe, barbie jeep, big kitchen, worn out bike and keeping the tricycle, fisher price car and scooter which take up less space. Of course as my son-in-law is in the Navy and my grand daughter and daughter have been here through deployments and COVID we have acquired a splash pad, blow up pool, and a water table. I will keep all of those as they’re great for cooling off in the south. Decisions, decisions…. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Traci Matt says:

      Definitely keep anything Fischer Price but be sure to wash them off before storing! Haha. Enjoy those babies. They grow up even faster than your kids did if you can believe it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s