Battery-Free Toys We Love

Recently, I asked readers on Facebook to share their favorite battery-free toys with us. Here’s a summary of the responses, and I think this would be a great go-to list for a gift guide, or if you’re looking for alternatives to TV to keep the kiddos entertained during cold Winter days! A big THANK YOU to everyone who added their favorites!!

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Wooden Blocks — I love that so many of our readers said that wooden blocks are a favorite! One reader mentioned that they have had the same wooden block set for 27 years and it is still played with every week!! Highlights High 5 magazine has a neat feature called “Build It” that gives a fun block activity designed for kids ages 2-6, and we love that section of the magazine. My girls received this set from Melissa and Doug (now on sale at Amazon) as a Christmas gift and it has been played with every day since!

Play Cleaning Supplies — Kids love to play with water and pretend to clean! Among the pretend cleaning supplies listed by readers, a play mop, rags, a squirt bottle and a squeegee for washing windows were big favorites. My girls love their play laundry set, and playing pretend car wash!  Nothing like some good clean fun!!

Play Kitchen & Pretend Food — Another big favorite, and understandably so, pretend food can be used for so many play scenarios making it very versatile. It’s great for playing house, grocery store, and restaurant, just to name a few! And what kid doesn’t like to pretend to cook?? Also, can I just say that play kitchens are not just for girls??? I can say that, right? Good, ’cause I just did! We made ours from an old folding TV stand and some felt, and we use felt to make lots of play food too.

Play Dough — For readers with kids ages 2 and up, playing with play dough was a big hit! We love getting out cookie cutters, muffin tins, and rolling pins, and sometimes make up our own homemade play dough. Lots of fun!!

Puzzles — While Emily was not a huge puzzle fan, Clara is LOVING them. For good prices on wooden puzzles, I love to pick these up at yard sales, Target, or Kohl’s (especially if I have a coupon).

Mr. Potato Head — Another favorite with our readers was Mr. Potato Head, and we think it’s worth mentioning because it’s one of our go-to “quiet time” toys, and I also love to bring it out for the girls to play with while I’m getting dinner ready.

Legos/Playmobil — I could totally relate to this being a favorite among readers because I loved playing with Legos when I was a kid and now my girls adore them as well! While we have yet to own any Playmobil toys here, the girls are friends with several people who have them and will happily play with their sets for loooong periods of time. Lots of imaginative play going on!

Train Set/Cars — Many readers mentioned train sets and cars as a favorite! Often when we visit the book store, besides reading lots of great books, playing with the train set is a big highlight of the experience. Combine these with wooden blocks, and you have yourself a day of fun!

Coloring — Yay for coloring!!! Need I say more?

Board Games — Among those listed by readers as favorite board games were Zingo and Toy Story Yahtzee! We love classics like Memory, Candy Land, and Chutes & Ladders too.

Dolls/Dollhouse — I couldn’t list favorite battery-free toys without adding dolls to the list. Great role-playing fun!

Homemade Poi — Shared by a reader who is from New Zealand, this looks like a lot of fun!! To make the balls, they use plastic bags and some yarn to hold them together and swing them (see video below). I can’t wait to try this with my girls!

Have fun!!

More Battery Free Toys We Love:


  1. Dear Valerie,

    When I was a kid I played with bugs pretty much every day. Now, as an adult, I squash them on a daily basis. A different kind of bug, though.


  2. Holly Garin says

    My nephew (yes, a BOY!) loves, loves, loves his play kitchen and food. He will prepare things and “feed” them to us through the computer camera when we Skype. For Christmas, I made him a chef’s hat and apron and I’m told he wears them every time he plays kitchen!
    Also, our 8-mo-old received the Melissa & Doug block set for Christmas. It would seem that he is “too young” to enjoy them, but he’s not-during floor play he goes to them right away. I thnk he loves the different shapes, sizes and weights of the blocks and he’s discovering that they all taste the same 😉
    Love your blog! I simply cannot wait to introduce my little guy to so many of your ideas!

  3. What about just playing with the batteries…as long as the kiddos can keep them out of their mouths…

  4. Great post! I think I would add felt sets and paper/magnetic dolls to the list – especially considering how many great felt ideas I found on your blog.

  5. Great ideas!!! I prefer non battery toys. In fact I had a really hard time finding a baby with no battery pack, for Little M for christmas. I found one that had a really small battery pack and took the batteries OUT!

  6. Great list! My daughter’s favorite non-battery toy is a set of TinkerToys I got her a few years ago for Christmas. They are “girl” colors and are plastic. She plays with them every single day. They have been made into microphones, houses, wheelchairs for her animals, flag poles, guitars…everything!

  7. My kids love all of these toys except for board games (maybe when they’re older?) – and they haven’t tried Poi yet! Fantastic list!

  8. Thank you so much for including Melissa & Doug wooden blocks! Fantastic 🙂

  9. A good resource for deeply-discounted Melissa & Doug toys that I recently found is Most everything is 40% off, and they have a lot of M&D toys that I’d never seen before. My kids love the play food especially!

  10. Recently opened a box of Super Marble Run pieces made by Galt that we’d been saving for a snowy winter day. My boys are 2 and 3 1/2 and they are having hours, no joke, of fun with taking the pieces apart, putting them back together, sending marbles down the track. I was pleasantly surprised by how much they got out this toy, being so young, but they sure did love it.

  11. My kids and their friends can’t get enough of Fisher Price’s Imaginext. My son has the castle, fire station, pirate ship… He wants them all. My daughter wants the Precious Places (girl version), but she happily plays with her brother’s.

  12. I really like the wooden blocks you posted by Doug and Melissa, should last a life time. I think legos are a close 2nd to wooden blocks.

    I love wooden blocks but because of weight we have never carried them back to where we live in Turkey from the States. Blocks here are pretty spendy and not easy to find so I came up with this idea for now.

  13. Great list! I love toys that don’t make noise!

  14. Those are all great toys. Those balls in the video look like fun too. My son played with blocks all the time.

  15. Love the play kitchen set out of felt. Pure genius. Yes, my 2 boys always loved playing with kitchen stuff and both of them had an easy bake oven! Of course their dad “plays” in the kitchen a lot too, so I’m not surprised.

  16. Great list. Blocks are a huge hit here too. Something else that my littles absolutely love are the Lauri Stacker Pegs. They can play for hours with them!!


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