So far the most-played-with toy from Christmas has been the HABA Marble Run. Henry has literally wanted a marble run for his entire life. For years, whenever we go into a store that had one, he’d play for it for the entire time, and would have to be dragged away. If we ever got a toy catalog that had a marble run, he’d get a pen and very carefully circle the picture. I kept fretting about the marbles being choking hazards but finally decided to get over myself (I mean, we’ve never put up child gates or blocked off the toxic-cleaning-supplies cabinet, what was I worrying about marbles for?) and get him the marble run.
If your kid is at all into blocks or trains, this will be a winner in your house too. We got the small building set (which has plenty, really) and the impulse track (for added flavor). The boys can literally spend hours building and rebuilding marble runs (with Zuzu intently watching, as you can see above), and it is riduculously satisfying to set the marbles going from the top and have them roll and knock and drop to exactly where you want them to go. I also like that there are a ton of add-ons we can buy for this, which make for good presents later (as we’ve seen with all the train track parts we’ve added on over the years). I’d rather get a small add-on part than some whole new toy thing, usually (less clutter). I will also say that the marble runs don’t always work, but then it’s also ridiculously satisfying to redo little parts of them until they do work (which I’m sure is teaching some principle of physics or geometry or something).