CONTRIBUTED BY LUCY
These books are kind of like the German version of Where’s Waldo, except without Waldo. They typically contain very little text and have huge illustrations of scenes from real life. They come in lots of different themes and varieties, and give you a way to “read” and discuss without having to understand any German. Some of our favorites are Meine Stadt- Stuttgart, Ostern auf der Wimmelwiese (Easter), and just about any from Schmid, such as Mein liebstes Bauernhof-Wimmelbuch.
This company has lots of cool toys, but my favorite things are the lunchboxes and drink bottles. You can coordinate whole sets with lunch bags, too. I have gone through dozens of drink bottles for my 4-year-old, but this one is The One. It’s a tough bottle that can take a hit, and the lid is integrated into the bottle opening so it doesn’t leak and it’s hard to accidentally leave open.
You may already know Ravensburger puzzles since they tend to make it into any store that carries games in the US. Their games for small children make for plenty of family fun, too. One of my daugher’s favorites is Tiere und Ihre Kinder, where you match puzzle pieces of parent animals to their kids (bonus: no German required!). If you’re a Ravensburger fan or you just love theme parks, check out the Ravensburger Spieleland, too. Haba also makes some cool games that teach stacking, balance, counting, colors and other basic skills for preschoolers and older kids.
Laufrad, Bobby Car, Micro Scooter, Kettlecar, Bobby Tractor, etc.
If you have a kid that likes to ride, drive or scoot, you’re in the right country. If the Cozy Coupe is the standard American kid-car classic, then the Bobby Car is the German equivalent. For slightly bigger kids, a Laufrad is the perfect way to learn to balance and steer a bike without the complicated pedaling. You may have noticed the newest scooter style (Micro), which includes two wheels in the front and one in the back for added stability. The sticker price is truly shocking, so keep an eye out for these second- hand. Bigger kids may be interested in a Kettlecar, which features four wheels, pedal power, and a steering wheel. And for the playground, there’s the Bobby Car version of a tractor, with with pedals and an optional trailer!
These are the awesome little animal key chains or animals with magnetized paws so you can stick them to the refrigerator. Many of them have belly buttons! They make awesome stocking stuffers or little token gifts to take back to the US because they’re so tiny and adorable!
You can get some amazing wooden toys in Germany. Companies like Haba and Eichorn offer really fun marble runs (Kugelbahn), wooden railroads, and push-wagons for learning to walk or just taking your dolly for a stroll.
These go way beyond the usual Matchbox cars. We have just about every vehicle Siku sells. There are diggers with working, moving shovels, cranes, bulldozers, boats, airplanes, fire trucks, the list goes on and on. Every store sets their own prices on these, so keep your eyes out for the best deals. They start as low as 3 Euros, but can get quite pricey for the nicer models. Flohmärkte (flea markets) are great places to find these for very little money.
Note: For pictures 3, 4, 6, 7, & 8, click the pictures to see the credits. Other photo credits to the author.