Although my three oldest girls have I.Q.s that test the same and their levels of development are very similar, their areas of strength, function, weakness, interest or lack of interest along with their physical abilities mean that we have a wide variety of toys. I have been very selective in the types of toys we have. Some are for pure fun, others for fine motor skill development and then still more that promote logic and support academics. Apple and Jie Jie play deeply and thoroughly, creating elaborate imaginary scenarios and putting a great deal of thought and time into their endeavors. Blossom likes to play, but her scenarios are less developed and deep, and she has fewer interests than the two younger girls. Sissy doesn't play must at all and never has. She's a concrete thinker so trying to pretend and imagine is nearly impossible for her. She also doesn't perceive emotions very well so she doesn't recognize humor in play or movies or real life.
Due to my work with design, I have a wide variety of lifelike baby dolls that I use as models. Some have all vinyl bodies, other have cloth. Some are gender-neutral and others are anatomically correct. We have several boy dolls, too. Jie Jie and Apple love dolls. Blossom doesn't really like playing with baby dolls but she'll sometimes join the two younger girls, mostly to play with the pretend kitchen stuff, but she's also working on her nurturing skills by learning to hold the dolls realistically.
Jie Jie and Apple LOVE, LOVE, LOVE their doll prams!
This real baby outfit was originally over $30 but a few weeks after Christmas it went on sale at Babies-R-Us for $8; very fun for Jie Jie to shop for as she's learning to shop and handle money.
We still have our play kitchen and I rotate the accessories that go with it. Our newest accessories are sets to make soup and salad. Apple, Jie Jie and Blossom love these sets. Due to Blossom's age and the way she plays, which can be disruptive to the other two girls, I limit her time playing with these toys.
Our Number One favorite building toys are Magnatiles. We have two 100 pc. sets and the girls use every single piece when they build. I love how easy they are for Apple to use with her special fingers. She and Jie Jie build elaborate structures, often with interior features such as rooms and furniture. They build laterally and horizontally and both girls think about building even when they aren't, such as when they see a building as we drive by and they want to try building a feature it may have.
Sissy doesn't engage with anything that requires imagination or creativity unless I make her, so she doesn't find the Magnatiles interesting even though they are captivating even for adults. She occupies herself with Extreme Dot-to-Dot books, spending hours and hours on them every day. Sometimes I need to set limits on how much she works on them. Blossom also has little interest in these, due to the inability to formulate a plan and execute it. Her structures tend to be one level and be very long, though with practice she's made a lot of improvement in her creativity and execution.
The girls love puzzles. We always have one going. Sissy is very good at doing puzzles, next is Jie Jie. Blossom is going better and better, but still has some trouble recognizing when pieces just don't fit perfectly together.
This building playset is called the Q-Ba-Maze. I love it and Jie Jie likes to tinker with it, but it turned out to be too advanced for Blossom's level of fine motor skills and too advanced for Sissy, who has trouble planning ahead isn't able to understand the necessity of building a strong, balanced base first. Most of Sissy's marbles didn't land into the catchers, but plopped out onto the table.
Besides these, the girls regularly play Uno, Jenga and Pick-up Sticks. They all love playdough, even Sissy, who can see exactly what she's creating using tools with set purposes, such as the playdough bakery. For academic support, we have Rummikub, Boggle, Dr. Eureka, Checkers, Connect Four and more. They play some of these games perfectly and others with adaptations that suit them better. The nice things about these games is that they can be played one-on-one or with everyone.
I set up 4 to 5 tables and they rotate between activities. They also do a LOT of coloring. The coloring books are the adult variety. This one was a huge hit with Jie Jie and Blossom. Blossom has shown a tremendous improvement in her coloring skills, even using markers without getting the ink all over her clothes and hands!