I have posted before about how I organised my toys whilst Childminding but not what those toys were, so thought it was about time I did! I am Montessori trained but rather than using it to the letter, I apply the philosophy to what we do. I get all of my toddler toys from second hand sales and apply a simple set of rules to buying them. They need to be simple, attractive and show clear cause and effect. That is so that the child can understand that something happens because of the action that they do. Many electronic toys are so complex and have a variety of responses of lights and sounds to combinations of buttons, that they are impossible to make sense of to a small child (or often an adult!) and so have little learning value and do not keep a child occupied for very long. I personally find the cacophony of different lights and sounds very irritating and prefer the calmer environment of toddler made noises! The toy collection is about 50% wooden and 50% plastic, I have nothing against plastic, as long as it meets my criteria!
The click clack track behind is a classic toy, with four small wheeled cars each the colour of one of the slopes and the little cars roll down clicking from slope to slope - endless fascination.
I find that there are usually several permutations of the same toy around, so have a close look and see which you think is most robust, the most well-designed and the most attractive! The only downside to these toys versus electronic ones is that you tend to spend a lot of time collecting pieces back up to return to the box, but I much prefer them and think that the children get so much from them!