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Get up to speed on the latest toy trends with this handy, age-by-age guide.

Wanting to buy a great toy for a great kid in your life but not sure where to start? No worries. Here are 25 popular kids toys that are sure to score big with kids ages 2 through 10.

Putting a little extra thought into the toy-buying process can ensure that your child not only loves the toy, but that the toy will last. "Look at the purchase as a planned investment rather than as an impulse." says Richard Gottlieb of Global Toy Experts.

"Will this toy stand the test of time in terms of interest and durability? Can this toy be passed down sibling to sibling? Can it continue to challenge my child's growing mastery? In other words, is it a legacy toy that will last for years rather than a landfill toy that will last for days, weeks or months?"

As you check out the best kids toys, consider their materials. "Toys made of material like wood can last through a multi-child family, creating lasting memories and saving the family money," says Jennifer Hay, the owner and editor of the website My Boys and Their Toys. "If parents want to invest in a toy, it's important to consider the longevity and durability of the product."

Here are 25 popular kids toys to consider:

Toys for Little Ones -- Ages 2 to 3
 

  1. Fish Bowl
    Melissa and Doug's Fishbowl Fill & Spill is a toddler-safe, mesh-bottom fish bowl that's home to lots of sea creatures and is perfect for make-believe play.
     
  2. Scooter
    Yvolution's Y Glider 3 in 1 Scooter transitions as children become more coordinated.


     
  3. Bowling
    Melissa and Doug's brightly colored Monster Bowling set teaches children about cause and effect and taking turns.


     
  4. Simple Fun
    With Skip Hop's Spin & Play Rhino -- a simple, easy-to-operate toy -- a little bird plays peek-a-boo to inspire toddler giggles.
     
  5. Sand Play
    Step2's Naturally Playful Sand & Water Center activity set turns your backyard into a beachy play area.


     
  6. Magnetic Letters
    LeapFrog's Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set brings the alphabet to life. The singing and talking toy helps kids master letter sounds.


     
  7. Mega Blocks
    First Builders Big Building Bag Classic by Mega Blocks is a great introduction into the world of building


     
  8. Play Pizza
    Who doesn't love pizza? Kids can play and pretend with the Pizza Parlor by Green Toys.


Toys for Preschoolers -- Ages 3 to 5
 

  1. Tinker Toys
    They've been around forever and have been loved by generations of kids. The K'Nex Building Set is an update of the classic toys.


     
  2. Puzzles
    Puzzles might be one of the best kids toys out there, and Crocodile Creek's 12-piece Mini Elephant Puzzle is a great starter puzzle that comes in a handy reusable box.
     
  3. Magnetic Tiles
    The Magna-Tiles Clear Colors set -- in all sorts of shapes -- allow your children to build in 3-D.


     
  4. Ride-on Fire Truck
    Your little one can hop on the Metal Speedster-Fire Truck by Schylling and fight imaginary fires.
     
  5. LEGOs
    Construct a fire helicopter, motorbike and base station with the LEGO Juniors Fire Suitcase.


     
  6. Educational Bath Toys
    Your preschooler can learn all about the United States while soaking in the tub with Alex Toys' USA Map in the Tub.
     
  7. Rescue Heroes
    Be a hero for an afternoon with the Playmobil Rescue Ambulance.


     
  8. Microscope
    The fully functional My First Microscope by Educational Insights has two large eyepieces and a chunky, kid-sized focusing knob.


Toys for School-Aged Kids -- Ages 5 to 10
 

  1. Movie Camera
    Attach the Nerf 5MP Action Flash Memory Digital Camcorder to your child's bike and let the adventures begin.


     
  2. Electronics Set
    For your budding electrician, the Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 by Elenco makes experimenting with switches and fuses fun.


     
  3. Habit
    Learn all about a butterfly's fascinating life with Insect Lore's Live Butterfly Garden, a reusable habitat.


     
  4. Dinosaur
    Kids love dinosaurs! The Zoomer Dino Snaptail by Spin Master is one they can master controlling.


     
  5. Archery Set
    The Nerf Rebelle Agent Bow Blaster is a fun, safe way to introduce your child to archery.


     
  6. Paints
    With Crayola's Paint Maker, kids mix their own custom paint colors.


     
  7. Minecraft and LEGOs
    The LEGO Minecraft Crafting Box combines two of the most popular toys out there -- Minecraft and LEGOs -- in one LEGO set.


     
  8. Strategy Game
    MindWare offers Skippity, an easy-to-learn strategy game that's fun for the whole family.
     
  9. Shopkins
    Shopkins are miniature figures that provide hours of imaginative fun. The Small Mart Playset has a grocery store theme.

 

Looking to DIY some toys? Check out How to Make a Bouncy Ball!


Kimberly DeMucha Kalil is a freelance journalist and software consultant living in southern Arizona with her husband and two children. She's always on the lookout for great toys to share with her kids.

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