I like the kids to be outside exploring mostly, but there are times when toys and games are needed!
'Open ended' and 'Closed ended'.
Open ended activities/toys are those which don't have a natural conclusion as you can continually vary what you do within the activity and keep extending it. Things like, playdough, marbles, bean bags, instruments, dolls house, lego, blocks etc
They are toys that will grow with the child. They will be able to be used over and over and not go 'out of fashion'. They are the toys that will still be in the house when the grand kids come along.
Closed ended activities/toys on the other hand, are those that have a set beginning and end. They don't require too much thought and have a set way they need to be used. Things like, puzzles, specific bought card games, board games and generally toys that require batteries are mostly closed ended.
Unfortunately these types of toys are usually highly marketed, making them attractive to the kids, but once the child pushes the button and the toy does 'it's thing', the novelty wears off and they become bored with the toy.
What do you buy?
Think about your next purchase (for your kids or another you may be buying for). Open your mind and you'll be amazed how you'll be opening theirs.