Curated Toy Sets vs. Pick and Play

Curated Toy Sets vs. Pick and Play

As a parent, finding the right balance in our children’s playtime can be a rewarding challenge. Over the years, I’ve discovered the benefits of both curated toy sets and the spontaneity of pick and play. Each approach brings something unique to the table, and when balanced correctly, they can create an enriching and joyful play environment for our little ones. Here’s how I navigate the balance between curated toy sets and pick and play.

Understanding Curated Toy Sets and Pick and Play

Curated Toy Sets

Curated toy sets are thoughtfully designed collections of toys that cater to specific themes, skills, or developmental stages. They provide a cohesive play experience and often include educational elements that support holistic growth.

Pick and Play

Pick and play involves selecting individual toys based on immediate interest or impulse. This approach allows for spontaneous choices and the freedom to explore a wide variety of toys without the constraints of a predefined set.

The Benefits of Each Approach?

Curated Toy Sets

Holistic Development: These sets are designed to address various aspects of a child’s growth, from cognitive and fine motor skills to creativity and social interaction.

Seamless Play Experience: The cohesive themes and complementary toys in curated sets encourage longer, more immersive play sessions.

Quality: Curated sets often include toys from similar or the same toy manufacturer or brand, sourced reputably, ensuring consistent standards of quality.

Pick and Play

Encourages Spontaneity and Freedom: This approach allows children to follow their immediate interests and explore a diverse range of toys.

Values Personal Choice: Pick and play empowers children to make their own choices, fostering independence and decision-making skills.

Provides Flexibility: It offers the flexibility to introduce new toys based on changing interests and developmental stages.

Striking the Right Balance

In our household, I’ve found that incorporating both approaches creates a well-rounded play environment. Here’s how we strike that balance:

Scheduled and Unstructured Play: We allocate specific times for structured play with curated sets, such as building blocks or educational games, ensuring our children benefit from the developmental focus of these toys. At the same time, we allow for unstructured play where they can pick and choose toys based on their whims and curiosity.

Themed Play Areas: Creating themed play areas with curated sets helps maintain an organized and engaging play space. For example, we might have a construction corner with blocks and vehicles or an art station with drawing supplies and creative kits. Alongside these areas, we keep a basket of miscellaneous toys for spontaneous play.

Rotating Toys: To keep things fresh, we rotate toys regularly. This practice applies to both curated sets and individual toys from the pick and play approach. It keeps our children’s interest alive and ensures they get to enjoy a variety of play experiences without overwhelming them with too many options at once.


We've found that some benefits of balanced play include:

Enhanced Learning: where when combining the structured learning of curated sets with the freedom of pick and play, we ensure that our children develop a wide range of skills, from problem-solving and creativity to social interaction and emotional intelligence.

Engagement and Joy: The mix of predictable, theme-based play and the excitement of spontaneous choices keeps playtime engaging and fun. Our children look forward to both structured activities and free play, fostering a love for learning and exploration.

Adaptability: Balancing both approaches allow us to adapt to our children’s evolving interests and developmental needs, which is one of the most difficult pieces to the puzzle I think. As they grow, we can introduce new curated sets and individual toys that cater to their changing preferences and abilities, and it is one of the best benefits we see from using the mytoylibrary platform.


Finding the right balance between curated toy sets and pick and play has helped to enrich our family’s playtime, providing a harmonious blend of structured learning and spontaneous fun. By incorporating both approaches, we ensure our children enjoy a well-rounded, engaging, and developmentally supportive play environment.

As parents, it’s all about creating a joyful and enriching play experience that nurtures our children’s growth and happiness. Here’s to striking that perfect balance and watching our little ones thrive!

Happy playing!


Title Image credited to Freepik

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