Would you believe there are 27 types of toys? Wow, kids are spoiled for choice, and in the 27 Types of Toys Explained, I’ll show you how each category has countless joy waiting for children or adults. How do you choose a new toy as a parent? I’m about to give you every option.
Knowing the different types of toys won’t leave you scratching your head. I love giving my kids toys from varying categories because they all have unique benefits. A child who plays with construction and dexterous toys simultaneously develops his motor and cognitive skills.
And before you think you’ll need a truck to collect the toys, know that I’ll share a valuable system called the 20-toy rule to prevent your home from being flooded with them. As for adult collectors, I can’t tell you how many toys to get. I can merely show you how many are available.
A Prehistoric Toy Story
Whenever I hear Toy Story, I think of the Disney movie, but my story’s a little different. Toys have four primary purposes: playing, learning, entertaining, and collecting. Children do the first two, while adults collect them and find entertainment.
The history of toys is complicated if you consider the purposes. Some of the oldest toys are thought to be kites, balls, and yo-yos. Who can forget the endless fun we had as kids with the iconic yo-yo? However, these are some of the first toys manufactured for the purpose of play.
If you consider the learning and entertainment factors, you realize anything was once a toy. Children used their imaginations to turn sticks into horses and stones into bullets when they played Cowboys and Indians. Toys date further back than anyone can imagine.
Indian history mentions clay animal figures, dating back to 2,500 BC, and the first yo-yos date back to Greece in 500 BC. Kids always needed a way to play and learn. Toys might even be prehistoric because children always had imaginations.
It’s believed that the oldest doll in the world is more than 4,000 years old. No one even knows where the word “toy” originated, but I know that toys are a vital part of children growing, learning, finding themselves, and entertaining their imaginations.
Types of Toys Explained: Different Categories
It’s challenging to explain 27 toy categories unless I use a system. I’ll simplify it by sharing the five most popular types of toys under each category, using Amazon’s popularity to give you a better idea. I’ll also soon show you the differences between each category.
What boy doesn’t love his action figures? It’s one of the iconic toys every child loves, and it’s not just for boys or children. Collectible action figures are a huge trend, and there’s one for anyone looking to fulfill one of the four toy purposes. Action figure examples include:
Adult Executive Toys
Don’t worry; adult executive toys have nothing to do with nasty things. They’re toys designed to help adults practice and enhance cognitive skills. They include:
Every child has a favorite animal, whether puppies or horses and the animal toy variety is more comprehensive than most categories. Still, I’ll narrow it down to the most loved animal toys. They include:
Arts & Crafts
Children turn everything into toys, meaning arts and crafts items form another category. Additionally, adults can also enjoy the toys in this category, including:
Cars are a favorite for kids and collectors, and there are so many brands from which to choose. Some brands have better quality, and I’ll stick to them. Cars can also include trucks, minivans, buses, and other motor vehicles. Some brands include:
Better suited to adults, collectible toys also range vastly. One of the safest collectible toys to consider is action figures. They’re always popular, and these are some options for 2022:
- Dark Horse Comics Zelda Action Figure
- Star Wars: The Child Action Figure
- Lego Marvel Infinity Gauntlet
- Super Mario Action Figure
- Power Rangers Action Figures
Young and old collectors enjoy trading cards, and they never go out of fashion. Some of them can become valuable if you help a child collect them. Some collectible trading toys include:
Construction toys are the best kind, and they teach children cognitive and sometimes dexterity skills. Every child should own at least one construction toy, and there’s a set for every age group. The favorite construction toys for various age groups include:
- Lego Jurassic Park
- Tinkertoy Preschool Kit
- Mega Blocks First Builders
- Playmobil City Zoo
- Meccano Robot Builder
Creative toys allow children to explore their imagination and take it to new places. From building monuments with clay to making jewelry with looms, many toys fall into the creative category, but these are the most loved options:
Dexterous toys encourage physical activity in children, improving motor skills and reflexes. From balls to toys that get juices pumping on the playground, dexterous toys are an essential part of playtime for any child, and some popular options include:
- NERF Gun (a massive hit for boys!)
- Inline Skates
- Space Pet Hover Toys (similar to kites)
- Moon Shoes
- Wrist Balls (similar to yo-yos)
Another classic toy category is dolls, and there’s an ocean of options. Some dolls are incredible collector’s items, and others are endless fun for little kids. Dolls also come in a myriad of materials, from fabric to wood. Some popular 2022 dolls include:
Educational toys are a must for growing kids, and there are some fantastic options for children of all ages. The essential age group for educational toys is during the foundational learning phase, including babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Some educational toys include:
Some electronic toys teach children skills like responsibility. The new world is about electronics, and it’s easier to have a child make mistakes with a digital pet than a real one. You can also teach them to be responsible for their health or memories. Some options include:
The games category is another broad one with many potentials to help kids have fun, learn new skills, and entertain themselves. Adults also benefit from games, which can be a family night ritual. Some popular games include:
- Dungeons & Dragons (fun for older kids and adults)
- Mouse Trap (fun for the whole family)
- Sony Playstation (and others like Nintendo, X Box, and Gameboy)
- Battleship (and any other board game)
Unless you’re supervising the kids, model building is probably best for adults. It’s a toy category for adults who love building ships inside bottles, planes for decor, and boats for dreaming. Some popular options include:
There’s something exceptional about a child learning to play an instrument, and you can encourage their interest with instrumental toys from a young age. Some popular toys in this category include:
Outdoor toys encourage children to develop their motor skills and physical dexterity again. Additionally, they can soak up some vitamin D in the sun, provided you rub sunscreen on them. Some outdoor toys include:
Plushies are an all-time favorite for any child or adult. There are some fun collectibles and cute, cuddly options to suit any age group. Plushies become a child’s best friend, and they all need one. Some excellent plushy options other than teddy bears include:
- TeeTurtle Reversible Octopus Mood Plushies
- Stuffed Animals
- Pixi Crush Unicorns
- Sesame Street Elmo
Puzzles provide brain-stretching activities for the whole family. I still love doing puzzles with my kids and even have a few completed jigsaw puzzles lying around. Some famous puzzles include:
- Perplexus Go
- Rubik’s Cube Perplexus Hybrid
- Wooden Jigsaw
- Tangrams Geometric Puzzle
- Picasso Mosaic Puzzle
Radio-controlled toys are another incredibly entertaining experience for kids and adults. Some radio-controlled options suit adults better, but there are many options for kids, both including:
You don’t need a child to turn 16 before buying them their first car. Ride-On toys include the classics like bicycles, but some modern versions are much-loved. Some toys in this category include:
- Electric Ride-On Bumper Cars
- Remote-Controlled Ride-On Rovers
- John Deere Tractors
- Rolling Giraffe Tikes
- Kids Bicycles
Science isn’t something you think kids can learn at home, but why shouldn’t they? Some kids might be geniuses like the famous Young Sheldon Cooper. Science kits can help kids develop more cognitive and problem-solving skills, and they include:
- Coding Starter Kit
- National Geographic Magic Science Kit
- National Geographic Geodes Kit
- Microscope STEM Kit
- Squishy Human Body
Sensory play is the pinnacle of early childhood development because babies and toddlers learn through touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight. Anything that stimulates the senses is a sensory toy, and they come for many age groups. Some popular baby and toddler options are:
- Montessori Sensory Bin Tool Set
- Spike the Hedgehog
- Star Belly Dream Lights Unicorn
- Monkey Noodles
- Crocodile Activity Wall
Simulated toys are fantastic for children and adults, even allowing families to enjoy shared entertainment. Playing pretend is one-way kids learn to do many things in early childhood, and some favorite simulated toys include:
Spinning toys are iconic if you consider how the spinning top embraced every child, and why should any child not have one? Toy trends come and go, but some of them stick around, much like the yo-yo, which evolves. The best spinning toys include:
- Spinning Light Wand
- Spinning Activity Toy
- Suction Cup Spinning Top
- Marbles (yes, they’re spinning toys, but please keep them away from kids younger than six)
- Beginner-Level Yo-Yos
Sport is an integral part of any child’s development, and it can be fun for the whole family. It helps to give your child a toy from a sport that interests them, but the popular sport toys include:
Wooden toys are my favorite because many toy companies make modern toys with plastic. Wooden toys last longer and offer safety, and there are many options, including:
- Barnyard Play Set
- Wooden Race Track
- Shape Sorter
- Wobble Balance Board
- Musical Wobbler (you might need some earplugs with this toy)
Honestly, many toys can fit into more than one category, but the 27 main types of toys help you recognize which ones provide similar benefits and suit which age groups. I’ve also conveniently put them in charts to compare the significant differences below.
The Major Differences Between the Toy Categories
Advantages of Toys and Playtime
The advantages of toys extend to the category, but toys fulfill at least two purposes. Kids have fun, adults entertain themselves, and everyone stands to learn something from an enjoyable trinket, even collectors who look at their vast range of Hot Wheels.
Besides the utter joy toys bring kids, they have many other benefits, ranging from skill development to keeping kids busy when parents need a break. Don’t mistake what I say; toys are a gateway for kids and parents to bond while enjoying activities together, too.
There are too many benefits to mention all of them, but I’ll focus on a few key skill development advantages for you to choose which toys better suit your kids. Sensory toys are an essential category for early childhood development, and they come in all age ranges.
Sensory toys directly target a child’s brain to help them develop language, peer-social, problem-solving, cognitive, emotional, visual-spatial, gross motor, and fine motor skills. Pushing buttons teaches a child to add enough pressure to get a response.
Listening to a toy repeat the exact words over and over teaches children to say those words, even if it drives parents insane. Sensory play is essential during the first three years of your child’s life. Sensory toys help children understand how the world works and adapt.
Educational toys are another category that targets early childhood development, even well into preschool years. Toddlers and preschoolers start walking, talking, and dancing all over the place, but they still lack the skills to resolve conflict and deal with their emotions.
Educational toys provide a foundation for toddlers and preschoolers to learn how to problem-solve, be creative, express their emotions, and resolve conflict. Kids learn about cause and effect, which any parent wants to teach if they have a positive discipline system in place.
Toys that encourage sharing from the outdoor, sports, collectible trading, animals, action figures, and many other categories also teach kids how to share, which is pretty challenging in the toddler years. A beloved toy of any type can also ease separation anxiety.
Again, the advantages are too broad to mention, but skill development, family bonding, and oodles of fun are three main reasons to get your kid suitable toys. Entertainment and collector satisfaction are the two reasons to buy toys as an adult.
Disadvantages of Toys
It’s madness to think toys have disadvantages, but they do. Collectors and adults might simply find them a costly exercise, but parents see the other side of toys. Kids can bicker, cry, and blatantly throw a tantrum if they don’t have their toys.
Honestly, it often happens when kids have too many or the wrong toys (none that teach sharing). Kids love playing, but packing up the toys, putting their favorite bear away, and going to sleep can be a struggle. You can only avoid the battle by getting suitable toys.
Another challenge parents know all too well is the noises some toys make. Sensory toys are essential, so it’s a matter of dealing with them. Otherwise, there are no disadvantages to toys.
Skillful play is about choosing suitable toys for kids, which begins with the recommended age on each one. Never choose a toy your child doesn’t have skills for yet. You’ll end up with a frustrated child and endless tantrums. Recommended ages are there for a reason, and they’re safer.
Choose a toy that helps your child develop skills. Sensory, educational, outdoor, plushy, and wooden classics do well if they’re two years old. If you have a tween, choose electronic toys or games. The question many parents have, which I also had, is how many toys are too many?
Unfortunately, kids can have too many toys, which I’m glad my mom won’t know, as she never stopped buying toys. A study found that kids become distracted too quickly with too many toys, and they don’t pay attention to quality time spent with any single toy, which hurts development.
I began using the 20-toy rule when I learned how too many toys prevent my children from developing vital skills. It might be a battlefield when you ask your kids to choose their 20 favorite toys, but it must happen, and you should store the rest of the toys safely until you need them.
Help your children choose 20 toys by determining which categories better suit them at their current age. You want them to have a variety to develop all of their skills. And don’t fret collectors; this rule doesn’t apply to you, as long as you’re not sinking your financial ship.
My Best Picks By Skill Development
With 27 categories of toys, I can’t share all of my favorites, but I’ll give you the best recommendation for each area of development children need. I’ll combine my experience with elected Amazon favorites to provide you with the best one for each skill. There are five main skills:
- Fine motor skills
- Gross motor skills
- Language and speech
- Intellectual and cognitive
- Emotional and social
And as a bonus, I’ll add my top pick for collectors. I’m also a collector and know that toys aren’t just for kids. We don’t need skill development, but we enjoy our hobbies. Anyway, let’s jump into the top picks.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills develop between two months and two years, and the Bright Starts O-Ball is an early sensory toy suitable for babies from newborn age. It allows them to practice their pincer grasp with a soft-wired mesh ball they can also bite when teething.
It’s flexible and has 32 finger holes for a baby to go crazy. It also has color variances for when they start seeing colors. Remember that babies don’t develop a grasp from day one, so be patient and encourage your baby to play with the sphere.
Downside: It might be a bit too big for young babies, but the finger holes help them practice their grasp.
Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills start developing in infancy, but children still exercise their larger muscles into preschool. It’s a larger age group, making it a difficult choice, but I love the Green Toys Dump Truck is popular among parents, and I see why. It develops fine motor and gross motor skills.
Additionally, you might teach a child to share and show them some social skills. The dump truck also falls into multiple toy categories, such as outdoors, cars, and construction. The truck is also BPA and phthalate-free, and it looks pretty in pink. It’s for girls or boys.
Downside: It’s a toy that encourages playing in the dirt, meaning you’ll have plenty of onesies to wash.
Language and Speech Skills
Babies start babbling around four months, but their language skills skyrocket around the age of four or five. They become chatty and tell elaborate tales. The Leapfrog Learning Friends Book is a hands-down winner for language skills, and it works for toddlers and preschoolers.
It comes in multiple colors and has fun characters to teach a child new words and songs, including a monkey, turtle, and tiger. The book falls into sensory, musical, and educational categories, and it has the bonus of touch for younger kids.
Downside: It will be a noisy venture for parents, but it’s worth every song and repetitive word.
Intellectual and Cognitive Skills
Attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, and problem-solving develop in children between two and five. Critical skills develop a bit later, between five and seven. The JaxoJoy 200-Piece Army Man Military Set is a great option to teach a preschooler strategy.
Moreover, you’ll have tons of fun playing with your kids, and the set includes tanks, towers, tents, ATVs, and army men. Sure, it’s better for boys, but teaching a child problem-solving skills through wartime play is fun. An alternative for preschool girls is the Brainflakes Interlocking Disc Set.
Downside: Preschool toys can become gender-specific but not always. The cognitive favorites happen to be gender-specific; however, I’ve seen my little girl enjoy army men. Additionally, the strategy games might leave one big mess for parents.
Emotional and Social Skills
Emotional and social skills start developing from day one, but the hardest part of parenting comes when children enter the terrible twos and suffer from separation anxiety. Therefore, the TeeTurtle Reversible Octopus helps children with emotional challenges while being a friend.
A child entering the toddler years can grow accustomed to their new best friend, and once the bond establishes, you’ll find it easier to leave your child with sitters. As the child grows, they learn to reverse the plush toy to express their feelings, even helping preschoolers, tweens, and teens.
Downside: Parents should be careful of their children only expressing emotions through the toy. It should be a friend and confidant that shows you how a child feels, but your child should still be comfortable coming to you when they feel sad or hurt.
Bonus: Collector’s Winning Toy for 2022
Choosing the best collector’s toy is hard for me because I love collecting them all. So, I relied on the most searched toys from the collector’s brands and found an article from Good to Know. They shared the most searched brands before Christmas 2021, giving an accurate idea of trends.
The top toy falling into the collector’s category is Lego, and the most popular one on Amazon is Brickhead Star Wars. It’s no surprise because it falls into pop culture, Lego, and action figures. If you don’t have one yet, consider adding it to your collection.
Downside: You still have to assemble it, but you’re used to it if you love Lego collections.
Question: Which is the Most Popular Toy That Ever Existed?
Question: What’s the Most Popular Toy in America in 2022?
Question: What’s the Most Common Material Used to Make Toys?
Answer: Sometimes, I have to answer complex questions, and this happens to be one of those times. Unless specified as die-cast, tin, wood, or other materials, many toys are made of plastic. Toy brands do, however, consider the safety concerns with BPA, phthalates, and lead.
If a toy doesn’t show consideration for these problems in plastic on the packaging, reconsider your options. You’ll see many of the toy brands outright tell you their products are BPA, phthalate, and lead-free. You want your children to safely be able to bite and drool all over their toys.
Types of Toys Explained: Final Thoughts
With 27 types of toys, you’re spoiled for choice beyond anything you imagined, whether you want toys for your children or you’re an avid collector of the finer toys. Either way, choosing your next toy is about determining which category suits you and what age range would work best.
From Lego to Barbie, Squishmallows to Hot Wheels, there’s a toy for every child and adult. Moreover, you can find toys that encourage family fun while helping kids develop the crucial skills they need in life. Toys are more than fun. They’re also entertaining, teachable, and collectible.
Don’t wait for your child to develop skills from riding make-belief horses on sticks in the backyard. Get them a toy from the outdoor category. Why wait for kids to hear words in playgroups before they say them? Get them a sensory or educational toy today.
If you’re a collector, I doubt I have to remind you to scoop a new toy again. Collectible toys are often rare and have limited editions, and waiting for better days will only make you lose the toy. It’s time to enjoy each other, play like there’s no tomorrow, and laugh as families should.