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The best birthday gifts of 2016: happy second birthday!

candle-322510_640Play is how kids learn, and at age 2, kids are starting to explore how the world works through imaginative play. They’ll create silly and fun scenarios with play animals, action figures, costumes, toy cars and toy trucks, and other props, and they’ll love imitating what you do, including feeding a baby, or driving a car. (They’ll also develop their earliest obsessions with characters, which, depending on the day, can be unbearably charming or… simply unbearable.)

Pretend-play enables kids to practice a wide variety of skills: problem-solving (which props to use and how?), empathy (what might it be like to be a princess?), social skills (who plays Mommy when we play “house,” and who plays Daddy?), and an early use of symbolism (which is a key concept to understand before learning to read and count). It also enables kids to work through feelings they can’t necessarily express with their limited language skills.

This is why this list of great birthday gifts for two-year-old kids zeroes in on creative play: toys that let kids act out what they think and what they feel, from the most realistic everyday events to wonderful flights of fancy. Give them these gifts, and watch little imaginations grow!

birthday gifts green toysGreen Toys Mixer Construction Truck, $17.99 
From the playroom to the sandbox, this tough little truck is ready for adventure! It comes with an adorable little bulldog construction worker, and it’s made with 100% recycled materials, too.

Learning Resources New Sprouts Play Food, $19.99 
The perfect first play food set for toddlers. All toy food items in this set are the right size for little hands, and they’re all familiar items that most toddlers eat, intuitively leading kids into multiple creative play scenarios.

Melissa & Doug Zoo Friends Hand Puppets, $19.99 (now on sale for $14.99) 
Are these four critters living in the zoo, the jungle, or the suburbs? Are they best friends, or a mommy, daddy, and two kids? Kids will love putting words in their mouths, and these puppets are soft, cuddly, washable, and built to last.

birthday gifts corolle dollCorolle Mon Premier Bebe Bath Baby & Accessories, $49.99 
Who could say no to bathtime with a friend this irresistible? Her soft beanbag body floats in water and is designed to dry fast, so she can go for a dip in the tub. And she’s fully-equipped with a snorkel, floaties, and flippers. I can’t even deal with how cute this is.

Disney Frozen: The Ice Box, With 4 Board Books, $10.99 
Just another way for kids to return to their favorite imaginary universe, the kingdom of Arendelle: these simply-written board books tell the story of Disney’s Frozen, and hearing this familiar tale again and again will help kids develop early reading skills.

Playmobil 123 Personal Jet, $17.99 (now on sale for $14.39) 
Playmobil 123 playsets are chunkier and scaled-down for toddlers and preschoolers, but they’re still loaded with cool details to launch kids on imaginative flights of fancy! This set comes with a charming little jet, a cheery pilot, and an eager tourist who’s all set for some rest n’ relaxation on the beach (or, if your child prefers, a mountain or the Moon).

birthday gifts lego duploLEGO Duplo All-In-One Box of Fun, $39.99 (now on sale for $31.99) 
This building set for beginners encourages kids to build and then play: make a wagon, a house, a race car, or other vehicles and buildings, and then go where imagination takes you! Numbered blocks reinforce early counting skills, and a dog figure and a boy figure are included to populate everyday adventures.

Alex Jr. Tots Sticker Pictures, $12.99 (now on sale for $9.74) 
Believe it or not, you can circumvent the challenge of cleaning up after an artistic tot with this playset! No messy finger-paint or crayons to mark up your table: just choose a sticker board and let your kid go crazy with the stickers. The backgrounds encourage storytelling, too – kids will love explaining what’s happening in the barnyard or under the sea!

Micro Kickboard Mini2Go Scooter, $129.99 
Get little minds and bodies in motion with this winsome and innovative scooter! In its earliest phase, the Mini2Go is a ride-on that puts both feet on the ground, and lets kids stash favorite items in a compartment under the seat. Storytelling just comes with the territory: is your kid a mommy driving her baby to the store, or a truck driver making deliveries around “town” (your house)? Plus, once kids are ready to scoot more traditionally, you can pop off the seat and compartment and the Mini2Go becomes a Micro Mini 3-wheel scooter. COOL.

Kid Galaxy My 1st Soft Remote Control Fire Truck, $19.99
Zoom off to the rescue with this wonderfully simple beginners’ RC fire truck! The two-button remote makes it easy for kids to make their truck move forward (that will be quite thrilling enough for a two-year-old), and the soft and squeezable body of the truck won’t mark up your walls or furniture when it runs into them (it will).

 

Didn’t find what you need here? You can find hundreds of other great birthday gifts on our Shop By Age page. Or, consult our Toys For All Ages & Stages Buying Guide for more ideas. Or, make it really, really simple for yourself and just ask our Toy Whizzes – they’re on hand at every Magic Beans store, or can be reached at 866-600-2326, on Live Chat right on this page, or by email at questions@mbeans.com.

buying guide - toys ages and stages

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