Playroom Essentials

Top Items to Have in a Playroom to Encourage Learning

Posted by Emily Solberg

I think most moms have a vision of their ideal playroom. When I close my eyes and imagine the perfect space for my children to learn and play in it isn’t a room that’s heaped with cheap plastic junk and clutter. It’s bright, airy, colorful, and most importantly, filled with high-quality toys and other items that promote mental, emotional, and physical development. Even better if I don’t have to shove them out of sight when guests come over! I’ve gone ahead and done the hard work for you and compiled a list of top items to have in your playroom that are versatile, conducive to learning, and also stylish and modern.

Magna-Tiles Metropolis 110-Piece Set 
White Magna-tiles Metropolitan box with colorful tiles on the top left corner and a photo of a metropolis build of magnatiles sits up against a white backgroung.

Magna-Tiles are definitely on the higher end of my price range when it comes to playroom items, but I have always considered them an investment in my children’s educational development. Magna-Tiles can be used from age 3 until 99 and promote creative thinking as well as cognitive and fine motor skills. This massive set includes tons of classic geometric shapes in addition to unique shapes like windows, staircases, a spinner piece, and more, which means the sky’s the limit as far as the designs you can build. As a parent I feel even better about them because the tiles are made from food-grade ABS plastic that’s completely free from BPAs, phthalates, and latex. These are a playroom staple and a toy your kids will enjoy for years to come.

Magna-Tiles Arctic Animals 25-Piece Set
Smiling little girl sits on the floor to play with the light blue and purple Magna-tiles Arctic Animals

The best part about the Magna-Tiles collection is that every set is compatible with and complementary to every other—you can never have too many! This 25-piece tundra-themed set is perfect if you’re trying to grow your animal kingdom. It includes five happy arctic animals, including: Penguin, Seal, Baby Polar Bear, Polar Bear, and Whale. Fun themed sets like these encourage open-ended and unstructured play, storytelling, and creativity in growing minds. Consider adding Magna-Tiles set by set to your playroom collection.

Lily & River – Little Numbers: Count, Add, & Subtract
Little Numbers addition, subtraction wooden set with bright colors and wooden pieces sits on a table surrounded by bright colors and small hands reaching for pieces.

Both of my children are visual learners and I find they always pick up on concepts quickly when they are able to see and physically manipulate learning tools. This exquisitely-crafted, hands-on calculator will help your child practice numbers, addition, and subtraction. Children from age 2 to 6 will be able to appreciate the Montessori influenced tabletop game, and it’s beautiful enough to be on display. I was so impressed by the quality of the wood and the bright and beautiful colors—this is a far cry from the cheap plastic toys that seem to overtake most children’s spaces. 

Lily & River – Little Gymnast: Step, Balance, & Play 
Little legs balance on a birchwood Little Gymnast balance beam from Lily&River

Personally, I don’t think any playroom is complete without a few items for physical activity. After all, play should be another way for kids to get their energy out, develop body awareness, and exercise. This beautiful low beam helps with self-confidence, gross motor skills, coordination, and balance control. Handcrafted from natural birch wood with child-friendly sealant and anti-slip feet for maximum safety, the quality is truly superb. It has a weight limit of 100 lbs, making it accessible to children of a wide age range. You’d be amazed what kids can do with their imaginations—watch the low beam quickly become a gang plank on a pirate ship or a tightrope for a circus performer.

Manhattan Toy - Musical Lili Llama
Brightly painted wooden llama toy Lili the Musical Llama from Manhattan Toy sits on a green background with a golden ribbon looped nearby

This sunny musical llama is a toy that’s adorable enough to leave out for everyone to see, and a perfect companion to little tots aged 12 months or older. I’ll admit I was instantly drawn to the beautiful patterns and could easily see myself jamming out on it. It comes loaded with musical fun and activities: 4 spinners, 2 gears, 1 maraca tail, 5-bar xylophone, 1 set of notches/washboard for ratchet sound, 2 clacking saddle blankets and 2 mallets that store in the llama’s head. It’s a great alternative to noisy toys for parents who prefer wood over plastic.

Clover & Birch - Abacus Rattle 
Baby lays on tummy with both arms reached out grasping the Abacus rattle from Clover and Birch.

Well if this isn’t the cutest baby rattle I’ve ever seen! It incorporates a modern design and natural materials (it’s made from maple and birch woods and sealed with a coconut and beeswax blend) to produce an engaging and safe rattle that’s bound to interest the tiniest of tots. The gentle (but not overwhelming!) clacking noise is surprisingly soothing. As an added bonus, this rattle is super easy to wash with mild soap and water. 

Wee Gallery - Mix & Match Animal Tiles 


Wee Gallery - Nesting Blocks, Woodland Numbers 
Black and white images of a sun and a fox stand one on top of another on the Wee Gallery Nesting Blocks.

Here’s a toy that’s beautiful enough to double as room decor. Kids can let their imaginations run wild with these whimsical woodland blocks. You can stack them on top of each other (they measure 36 inches tall when fully stacked), explore numbers and use them to count from 1-10. I was absolutely enchanted by the high-contrast patterns and illustrations on each. When you’re done the blocks can be nested back into each other by size for easy and efficient storage.


Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom of two, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard parts of her own. You can find more from her over on Facebook and Instagram at Shower Arguments with Emily Solberg.