Playtime around here is so special. What I have learned about kids is that they need very little, and that they prefer whatever is in the kitchen cabinets to most toys (why is that??). We've always tried to be minimal as far as the amount of toys we have, so our space doesn't get filled up and so that we avoid creating the environment of too much, which is actually overwhelming for kids (you can read more about that in Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne).
Building and pretending to do tasks that we do as a family are the most common ways we play; either we are using blocks to build streets, castles, cities, or floor plans for little dolls, or we are "cooking", "baking", dressing up to take little babies to the "park", and "shopping" for groceries. We also love wooden puzzles, which always somehow make an appearance in either building or pretending. Here are a few of our favorites that make memorable, educational toddler play.