We at Cheapism are hardly immune to the siren-call of electronic games, but for this guide to the best cheap toys for the younger elementary school set we're sticking with the more traditional kind of cheap toys. That is, toys the child actually holds and manipulates in some way, items with tactile qualities that are present in the here and now. While we can't guarantee that our picks for best cheap toys will vanquish the uber-modern screen-based games in a head-to-head contest, we're fairly confident they won't end up in the bottom of the toy bin, either.
Cheap Toys Buying Guide
Between holidays and children's birthday parties, the search for great cheap toys is always relevant. The added stress of choosing just the right cheap toys from a sea of toy store displays is enough to make a competent adult start hyperventilating.
We read toy reviews and talked to parents and children to come up with a list of best cheap toys for girls and boys. Based on toy reviews and in-person assessments, we concluded that the toys below should appeal to many youngsters in the sub-tween age group. Some of the toys we researched seem more like cheap boys' toys and others like cheap girls' toys. We tried to be as gender-neutral as possible, however, recognizing that many cheap toys find their way into the hearts and closets of boys and girls alike. In summarizing the toy reviews and comments from our informants, we stuck with the categories identified in our discussion of cheap toys trends.
One cheap game that gets a positive nod in a toy review by our child reviewer is Spot It (starting at $10), from Blue Orange Games. This is a simple, cheap card game for girls and boys ages 5 and up whose objective is to spot the one and only match between any two cards in the deck.
For similar toy reviews, please see our full cheap games and puzzles review.
For the craftier bunch, our cheap toy reviews include several items from educational toy maker Melissa & Doug. Girls and boys may enjoy decorating their own Wooden Princess Mirror (starting at $7), Wooden Heart Chest (starting at $6.50), or Treasure Chest Set (starting at $7). For kids obsessed with "things that go," there are Decorate-Your-Own Wooden Vehicle kits (starting at $13) that let pint-size painters embellish their own train, race car, or jet plane.
Check out our kids' crafts reviews for more crafts ideas.
If you have an animal lover at home, you're going to want to look into toy pets and stuffed animals. Spin Master, producer of the toys for boys Bakugan game figures, recently targeted the cheap girls' toys market with its new Zoobles (starting at $7). These ball-shaped figurines pop open into cute animal "pets" when placed on their magnetic "happitats."
Read more reviews of toy pets and stuffed animals.
If you have a collector at home, you may want to go a different route. Our toy collectibles article will help you find the best cheap toy for your little collector.