28 Best Melissa & Doug Educational Toys [Save Time & Money]

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Choosing the Best Educational Melissa & Doug Toys for your Kids

There are a lot of toys in the market to choose from for your children. But as parents, you’d want to consider which would be good for your child. Not only what would keep him entertained, but what is age- and developmentally-appropriate. You’d also need to consider if the materials used were safe for your child and that there’s no need to worry about loose parts for choking hazards.

Things to Consider When Choosing Toys for your Child

Although toys are fun to play with, they shouldn’t be bought just because they are appealing to you or your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests to avoid toys that discourage your child from using their imagination. In addition, parents should be wary of toys promoted or advertised as educational. It’s important to make a thoughtful selection of toys for your child – not all toys need to be trendy and expensive.[1]

Parents and anyone who works with children should be aware of the things to look for when buying toys because there are a lot of things to consider. Some of these include the material used in production, the function, the functions of the parts, and the developmental-appropriateness of the toy.

Materials

Small parts that are removable could be dangerous for younger children. Infants and toddlers explore objects with their senses. They like to mouth things and sometimes even bang objects repeatedly. These actions could cause the toys to break apart and the small parts could be choking hazards.

The material used for toys should be safe. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, toys for all ages should have no shock or thermal hazards in electrical toys, a severely limited amount of lead in toy paint, no toxic materials, and a label warning for choking hazards.[2]

Function

The function of the toys should be considered as well. The way a toy can be played with is important because it can channel the domains of development of a child. He can think when solving puzzles, use his body to move toys around, and even set-up different scenarios with friends during dramatic play.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission classifies toys into five categories of play – active, manipulative, make-believe, creative, and learning. Active play includes toys that involve the child in big body movement. Manipulative play involves fine-motor movement of the children, such as lacing, pinching, and stacking. Make-believe play is when children are encouraged to use their imagination during play. Creative play encourages children to make outputs like music and art. Finally, learning play could include games, skill development toys, and even books.

Developmentally-Appropriate

Finally, the developmental-appropriateness of the toy should meet the child where he or she is at. This means, the interests and skills of the child should somehow be met or challenged by the toy. For example, a toddler would not be able to use a two-wheeled bicycle just yet, but instead, can be given a tricycle with a removable handle for adults to push or guide him around. Knowing what your child can and cannot do will also help you decide in getting the right toys for him.

It is also important to note that the toy is not the sole item that can help the child develop. In fact, studies suggest that playing with toys alone is no substitute for social interaction between adults and children. Toys should be a channel to which relationships between children and their parents, caregivers, or teachers are strengthened through play.[3]

Choosing the Right Toys from Melissa & Doug

In this article, we will focus on educational toys from the well-known brand, Melissa & Doug. Parents and teachers are familiar with their toys. Often made from wood, painted to depict different scenes for puzzles or to imitate real-life objects.

Melissa & Doug Toys for Active Play

This list of educational toys from Melissa & Doug will be grouped by toy classification. Although most of these toys are open-ended and can grow with your child, the groupings will be based on which category stands out.

Active play toys encourage children to move together with the toy for it to work. For younger children, these include toys that they can push and pull as they learn how to walk and work on their balance. For older children, these can include bicycles, tricycles, and scooters. Skateboards, roller blades, and even balls and other sporting equipment are toys also classified as toys for active play.

1.      Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy

Create wonderful memories together with your child as he tries to take steps while pushing this toy forward. Cheer him on as he begins to discover what he can do.

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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jumbo Cardboard Blocks
Who knew building different structures can encourage your child to work on his balance? Your child will be reaching and bending so that his buildings, houses, and bridges can be made.

4.      Crawl-Through Tunnel

Children see the world differently because they are shorter than adults. This is why exploring from high places like the top of the slide and crawling through tunnels is interesting to them. Foster this curiosity with this easy-to-set-up crawl-through tunnel.

5.      Dust Sweep Mop

You may wonder why your child likes to pretend to clean when he sees a rag or a broom. It’s because he sees you doing the same around the house. Children like to imitate adults because it’s their way of learning about their environment. Encourage this interest with this cleaning set.

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Melissa & Doug Dust, Sweep, Mop
Invite your child to clean with you as you clean around the house. He can learn about what the different tools are for even at a young age.

Melissa & Doug Toys for Manipulative Play

Manipulative play focuses on the finger and hand movement of children. Some manipulatives are commonly for table tops, like puzzles and pegs. But they can also include construction toys like blocks and tiles. Other manipulatives can also include busy boards – those with keys, latches, locks, and zippers – lacing toys, and tools, like sand and water play toys.[4]

6.      200 Piece Wood Block Set

Your child can also channel his creativity and imagination with these wooden blocks. These blocks come in other shapes and sizes, including cylinders and triangular prisms.

Melissa & Doug 200 Wood Block Set
Not only will the different shapes in this block set encourage your child’s imagination, it can also address his perseverance and persistence. Since the shapes are different, they will not easily stack up unlike regular cubes.

7.      Primary Lacing Beads

Lacing beads can keep your little ones busy. Another open-ended toy, these beads can be used to strengthen little hands, teach colors and patterns, and even encourage pretend play, like making jewelry or other things.

Melissa & Doug Primary Lacing Beads
This is another toy that will help your child persevere and persist. What’s more, working his little fingers and hands will work his eye-hand coordination and will prepare him for writing when he is ready.

8.      Wooden Lacing Shoe

Spend some time with your child as he learns how to tie his shoes with this toy. Designed to look like a shoe, the shoelace is long enough for little and grown-up hands. From personal experience, my sister learned how to tie her shoelaces with the help of my father and this toy. It was a great bonding experience for them – and a great example of how toys are instruments for interaction among children and adults.

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Melissa & Doug Lacing Sneaker
A simple, yet useful toy that encourages adult-child interactions. Spend time with your child as he gets to learn about a life skill with the help of this lacing toy.

9.      Pound-a-Peg Classic Toy

Your child can place a peg in each slot. He can also be challenged by the hammering motion to have the pegs snug inside each slot. If you want to incorporate other topics, you can ask your child to hammer in a specific color or hammer a certain number of times. Maybe you can even hammer in a pattern, there are many ways to play with this toy together.

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Melissa & Doug Pound a Peg
Placing and hammering the pegs in place is a step-up for your child’s hand-eye coordination practice.

10.  Construction Set in a Box

Although this toy has a construction theme, this is also a toy that can challenge your little one’s fine-motor skills. The different bolts, nuts, screws, and tools will have your child’s fingers and hands turning and working as they build different structures.

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Melissa & Doug Construction Set in a Box
A construction-themed toy that will work your child’s little fingers and hands. They can twist and turn the different tools to make different things.

11.  Cutting Food

Another themed toy that will work your child’s hands. You can use these toys as a prop while pretending to cook a meal or ordering in a restaurant. Emergent math skills like counting and learning about parts and a whole can also be introduced with this versatile toy.

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Melissa & Doug Cutting Food
Ask your child for different meals as he learns a life skill with this slicing toy. Work on vocabulary together by naming the food or even math skills by learning about parts and a whole.

Melissa & Doug Toys for Make-Believe Play

Make-believe play calls on the child – and even the adult’s – imagination. Toys can include dolls, stuffed toys, puppets, role play materials and props, play scenes, and transportation toys.[5] The child and adult can engage in different scenes from daily activities like cooking and cleaning to imaginative situations involving fairies, monsters, and other creatures.

12.  Spin and Swipe Cash Register

Set-up this cash register in different play scenes like a restaurant or a grocery store. Create different situations and pretend to pay for different items with your little cashier.

Melissa & Doug Cash Register
Pretend to be in a store with your little cashier with this toy. Not only will the imaginary coins introduce the value of objects and money, but your little one can take part in a situation he often sees when going out with his parents.

13.  Farm Friends

Set-up your own farm or sing and read along to books with these farm animals. You can even incorporate animal sounds and parts of their bodies as your child grows older and shows more interest.

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Melissa & Doug Farm Friends
Bring characters to life from songs and books about animals with these farm friends. For younger children, animals are some of the first few words they identify, so having a toy like this can help with their language development.

14.  Spray, Squirt, and Squeegee

This cleaning set comes with its own basket and even a to-do list. My students loved this toy inside the classroom. They would use the sponge and the rag to wipe down different surfaces around the room. They also enjoyed pretending to pour and shake soap out of the different bottles.

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Melissa & Doug Spray, Squirt & Squeegee
For a cleaning set that’s easier to bring around, try this cleaning set. The handy to-do list will engage your child’s early literacy skills by matching the cleaning tool with the area to be cleaned.

15.  Basket with Play Food

Another pretend play activity that kids of all ages like. Complete with a basket and some grocery items in boxes and cans, you and your child can pretend to shop together. You can also incorporate reading and math skills when your child is ready by paying for your items or adding a grocery list to the mix.

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Melissa & Doug Grocery Basket with Play Food
Engage in an activity children of all ages enjoy – pretend shopping. Grab your basket, a grocery list, and some play money and spend playtime in the grocery store.

16.  Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Add these stainless steel pots and pans to your child’s pretend kitchen. They can use other loose parts like uncooked pasta, small blocks, and even bottle caps when they pretend to cook something up for lunch or dinner.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Stainless Steel Pots & Pans Play Set
Tap your child’s imagination with this pretend cooking set. Use other materials so that your child can also work on their hand skills with dumping, filling, and mixing ingredients for their pretend meals.

17.  Deluxe Road Rug Play Set

Choose from different themed vehicles and buildings for this dramatic play area. Your child can create different scenes and move around the cars and buildings any way he’d like.

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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Road Rug Play Set
An instant play area for your little one, just add some buildings, people, cars, and road signs. There are endless ways for your child to build his own city or town.

Melissa & Doug Toys for Creative Play

Creative Play channels your child’s creativity. They can make music, with instruments, art projects with arts and crafts materials, and even media projects with audio-visual equipment.[6] Although not all musical instruments have a smaller option for your child, there are toys that can represent the instrument. It can be a way for you to introduce the instrument and even other concepts in music. Keep in mind that when buying toys that make sounds, it shouldn’t damage your child’s hearing.[7]

In choosing arts and crafts materials for children, do not feel restricted by their age. There are safe arts and crafts materials for infants and toddlers as well. Make sure that there are no choking hazards, they’re bigger for their hands, and that they’re made from non-toxic materials.

18.  Caterpillar Xylophone

This colorful caterpillar will allow your child to explore music. Each color represents a different note and you can learn to play simple songs with the guide that comes with the toy.

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Melissa & Doug Caterpillar Xylophone
This xylophone can be given to older infants and younger toddlers. It can introduce early music concepts like loud and soft. As you two play with this instrument together, you can play some familiar songs to your child.

19.  Grand Piano

Your child’s fingers might be a bit too small for an adult sized piano or keyboard. But if you still want them to be familiar with the instrument, this grand piano is a great size for them. It comes with its own stool so your child can sit comfortably as he presses the different keys on his own piano.

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Melissa & Doug Learn-to-Play Classic Grand Piano
Introduce the classic instrument to your little one with this grand piano. Its smaller size is ideal for your tiny tot’s fingers and hands.

20.  Band in a Box

This set includes different percussion instruments ideal for little hands. The box can also help you in teaching your child to pack away when he’s done playing with his instruments.

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Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box
Explore different percussion instruments with this set. Each instrument is played differently and produces its own unique sound. A great way for kids to explore music.

21.  Deluxe Band Set

For more instruments, you can also check out this deluxe band set. It includes some wind instruments, each with their own unique sounds. Another way that music can be explored and introduced to your child.

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Melissa & Doug Deluxe Band Set
Social play can also be encouraged with this deluxe band set. Your child can play in a band with you, other caregivers, or other friends. They can play music together and even hold performances for others to see.

22.  Jumbo Brush Set

For creative little ones, these jumbo paint brush set is great for their developing hands. The big handle makes it easier for toddlers to hold the brush. They can control their strokes better while they paint.

Melissa & Doug Jumbo Brush Set
If you want to expose your child to arts and crafts, like painting, consider these jumbo brushes. The chunky handles are ideal for developing hands. The big handles can help them control their painting motions better as they begin to show interest in holding writing tools.

Melissa & Doug Toys for Learning Play

All toys on this list have been educational toys, however, toys classified under learning play are more specific. They include games, skill development toys, and books.[8] All toys can be educational, the way they’re played with is the key.

23.  My First Activity Book

Your child is never too young to have his own book. This soft book is perfect for infants who are beginning to explore more on their own.

Melissa & Doug My First Activity Book
For eager infants who are already exploring more on their own, this book is filled with pages full of baby-safe activities. They can work on it while reading with mommies and daddies. They can also work on the activities while in tummy time.

24.  Classic ABC Block Cart

This classic toy can be played with in many ways. Your child can build, use them for props, or even work on his reading and spelling when he’s older. Plus, the cart can also be used for active play.

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Melissa & Doug Classic ABC Block Cart
An open-ended toy that your child can play with from toddlerhood to boyhood or girlhood. With so many possibilities, your child can get creative with building structures to spelling words.

25.  Dominoes

A classic game that you can play with your little ones. These dominoes are brightly colored and can be used in many ways – play the game, line them up, or stack them, possibilities are plenty.

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Melissa & Doug Dominoes Tabletop Game with 28 Colorful Tiles in Wooden Storage Box
This game can help with your kids’ problem solving, turn taking, and matching skills. For younger children, the colors can be used to work on their emergent math skills. Playing with adults and friends can also teach your child sportsmanship or taking losses with grace.

26.Catch and Count Magnetic Fishing Rod

Although this game can be a physical activity and a dramatic play activity, it’s also a learning game. The spinner can help the child choose what color of fish to catch. The child can also play with adults or friends and take turns in catching fish.

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Melissa & Doug Catch & Count Magnetic Fishing Game
Encourage your child to play with others with this catching game. The game can be a bit more challenging if you add twists like a bigger play area or a more specific quality or category when choosing a fish.

27.  Shape Sorting Dump Truck

Match shapes to their right slot with this shape sorting toy. Once your child places all the shapes inside, he can dump them out from the dump truck’s opening. To add a little literacy to the game, you can describe the colors or the shape of the block or slot to your child.

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Melissa & Doug Shape-Sorting Dump Truck
The classic shape sorter with a twist. Your child can use his fingers and hands to turn and insert the shapes into the different slots. He can also explore colors, shapes, and even community helpers with this toy.

28.  Nesting and Sorting Garages and Cars

A transportation-themed manipulative toy that can be played several ways. Try stacking them upwards or lining them up next to each other. When your child’s ready, he can also count the garages and cars and even match them by color and number.

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Melissa & Doug Nesting & Sorting Garages and Cars
A manipulative transportation toy that your child can play on the table or on the floor. Your child can stack and park any way he’d like. Eventually, he can also match the colors and numbers when he’s ready.

Final Choice

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the toys we listed, I would love to share my top choice for each category. The five toys are Melissa & Doug Deluxe Jumbo Cardboard Blocks, Melissa & Doug 200 Wood Block Set, Melissa & Doug Grocery Basket with Play Food, Melissa & Doug Deluxe Band Set, and Melissa & Doug Classic ABC Block Cart. I chose these five because they are all open-ended, which means they can adapt to your child’s imagination and can be played with in many ways. Plus, they also promote interactions between your child, his playmates, and even adults.


[1] Glassy, Danette, Judith Romano, and Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care. “Selecting appropriate toys for young children: the pediatrician’s role.” Pediatrics 111.4 (2003): 911-913.

[2] United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which Toy for Which Child. Washington D. C., United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2007.

[3] Healey, Aleeya, and Alan Mendelsohn. “Selecting appropriate toys for young children in the digital era.” Pediatrics 143.1 (2019).

[4] United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which Toy for Which Child. Washington D. C., United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2007.

[5] United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which Toy for Which Child. Washington D. C., United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2007.

[6] United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which Toy for Which Child. Washington D. C., United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2007.

[7] Stephens, Karen. “Toy safety and selection: Choose developmentally appropriate toys for safer play.” (2007).

[8] United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Which Toy for Which Child. Washington D. C., United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2007.

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Author

Diana Lucas

Diana Lucas

Hi, Diana here. Welcome to my blog and hope you like my sharing. I am a mother of 2 boys, 3 years old and a 1 year old. I dedicate my career in child development research and I focus on parenting tips, positive parenting, educational toys for my babies. Your time here means a lot to me! Diana A. Lucas

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