The Joys of Toys- Ebay Edition

The week of Thanksgiving, as we lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we will be releasing a series of posts about our favorite toy at each play level. We are kicking off this series with my favorite toys to shop for on Ebay! 

I love shopping for toys on Ebay for three categories of toys. 1) Discontinued toys, 2) Bulk purchases, and 3) Toy accessories or components that foster play development. Here are our favorites:

Discontinued toys

They just don't make them like they used to! Lucky for shoppers like me, we can find a lot of classics on Ebay. Here are my top finds for discontinued toys on Ebay:

Fisher-Price Stack 'N Surprise Piano

This toy is great for bridging between early toy play to early combination and building play. The blocks are fun to shake or bang together, or stack on the piano and watch them dance! The piano itself makes a nice cause-and-effect toy alone with the sweet chimes. The cause-and-effect component of the blocks can also bridge children to early stacking and building and they integrate nicely with the rest of the Stack 'N Surprise line. 

Rev'N Go Wheelies Ramp

This Little People ramp is sturdy, it folds up nicely for travel, and it meets all my requirements for being multifunctional across play levels. Early players can drop balls or cars down the ramp, which is especially fun when the ramp dumps the cars into a bucket of beans or water! More advanced players can use this ramp for a race between rival toys, to pretend to pump gas, or use the ramp as a mountain. The options are endless!  You can get it for a steal if you buy it without any cars. Which is perfect, since I'd prefer to add the cars with empty seats to allow drivers to change out. 

Count 'N Crunch Cookie Monster

This guy is a cutie, and is perfect for bridging from early combinations to more symbolic play. Use him with the sound early on as a cause-and-effect component, and turn him off for more advanced players. The price is better without his cookies, which is fine since the Melissa and Doug cookies or pizza toppings fit just as well! 

Parent Magazine Peg School Bus

I hate that they stopped making this toy.  Unfortunately sellers on eBay know this is a hot item, so it is often priced fairly high. It still recommend it, just keep all the pieces together so you can sell it again in a couple years. The BEST part about this toy is the slide. It can move to any spot around the school bus, can be used as an on ramp or slide off, and provides a great cause and effect feature early on that can easily bridge to symbolic play. 

Little People Kingdom

I tend to prefer the 2003 line of Fisher-Price Little People toys. Sometimes less is more, and this line often has fewer musical components and great accessories. I love this set because it has stairs to climb up, different rooms to hide people in, and is simple in design. It also has some nice components with the trumpets that add a little interest without being too distracting. You can usually find it with some great chairs and beds, and the horses are awesome because they have a little seat on their backs!


Bulk Purchases

Repetition and routines are great ways to sustain play and to teach new language concepts. One great way to keep kids engaged in sustained play is to have lots of pieces to keep the play moving along, but stocking up can be expensive. Lucky for us, lots of parents will sell their already perfectly collected stashes on Ebay at very reasonable prices. When searching on Ebay, make sure you search for a "lot". Think block sets, doll furniture, and dolls galore! Here are my favorite Bulk items on Ebay:


You can get loads of duplos for reasonable prices. These are great for supporting fine motor skill development as well as early to complex combination play and early symbolic play. As a bonus, many sets come with lots of animals or people that are easy to manipulate and can provide endless opportunities for symbolic and thematic play. All duplos are compatible too, so you can mix and match sets without worry!

Marble Runs

You can find sets of all sizes and quality on Ebay for marble runs. And the prices vary as well, everything from a small basic set that is less than $10, or huge lots of the classic but sturdy Marbleworks that go for quite a bit more. These are great for cause-and-effect and simple construction play, and can keep kids of all levels engaged for a long period of time. The more pieces, the better! Beware, sets often are not compatible, so be careful not to mix brands. 

Fisher-price Little People

We love using little people to teach pre-symbolic and symbolic play, but they can also be great for simple combinations. Just load everyone up into a barn, dump it out and start over. This simple combination play is a great way to get kids exposed to early symbolic play. But to keep them engaged, you are going to need a lot. Make sure you look for auctioned items. Many of the sponsored items are a random assortment, so you don't know exactly which pieces you are getting. 

Play food and dishes

Although I have had lovely experiences shopping on Ebay, my 'new' toys always get a good bath when the arrive- so I recommend a plastic set here. A good set of dishes and pretend food is great for supporting pre-symbolic play when children are learning to imitate real life actions. One important step in moving into symbolic play is being able to extend the same action to multiple people or dolls. By having extra dishes on hand it makes it really easy to serve 10 stuffed animals in a row without having to share materials. Look for a set that comes with some flat foods (slices of cheese, burger patties, fried eggs or potato chips) so we can feed cookie monster!
And extra spoons are must- those always go missing! 

Toy Accessories

There are certain toys that are just utility players. They work across toy sets and work for bridging play from one level to the next. But often I just want these accessories and not a whole set, so I shop Ebay to get just the items I want! Because these tend to be low-priced items, I look for lots so I maximize the cost of shipping. 

Little people cars with seats

I don't know why you can't buy these new any more. All cars that they sell now have drivers that are attached to the car, which doesn't allow for much flexibility in play. You can find tow trucks and wagons or helicopters and airplanes; there are so many vehicles to choose from! My favorites are the cars that have a hood that opens to show the engine, which can be fun to pretend you are a mechanic. 

Magnetic tile accessories

You might be lucky enough to find a magnetic tile lot on Ebay, but typically the weight of these is going to be too much to make the shipping cost-effective. BUT there are some awesome magnetic tile accessories that are hard to find all in one set, so I go to Ebay to round out my standard sets. Some favorites include a magnetic base plate, tunnel pieces, semi circles, extra cars or train cars, and long rectangular pieces. These additional components can be used from simple building to more complex structures. 

Duplo ladder/stairs

Once you have your big lot of Duplos, you have to have a ladder. It is a great way to first give dolls life as they climb from one level to the next. This ladder in particular is nice and stable and locks into any duplo set really easily. Other good Duplo accessories might be a slide, or the window/door pieces. 

Dollhouse furniture

My favorite furniture pieces are the Playskool accessories because so many small toys can fit in them, but any plastic table, chairs and beds will do. A lot of the other dollhouse furniture (mini kitchen, sink, and tv-stand) is less helpful until you get into higher levels of symbolic play, but for early combination players you can never have enough tables and chairs and beds to start building simple pre-symbolic play routines around bed and meal times. 


There are always lots of good finds, happy Ebay Shopping!

Coming up next week we will be releasing our holiday shopping recommendations by developmental play levels. 

PlayCourtney WrightPlay, Toys