This wooden Melissa and Doug puzzle is the coolest. It reinforces Liam's learning by making a corresponding animal sound when he places the puzzle picture into the board correctly.
This puzzle seems to be his go-to item when he wants to do something entirely by himself. What I call his "Focused Face" comes out at moments like this, and I love it. Even his breathing pattern changes slightly when his mind is set to task-completion. If I'm in the kitchen, I can hear when he's got his Focused Face on. And I usually peek around the corner to watch what he's up to. :)
I love it when he looks up to see if I'm watching and then immediately looks back at his work, his lips pursed as he tries to hold in a smile. Like his Daddy, he grunts a little bit when the going gets tough but then celebrates when he's finally made it through. And then he flashes me that big, satisfied grin, and I tell him how proud I am of my boy.
So what's his favorite animal? By far, it's the kitten. (I know that he's wanted one ever since we saw a gray kitty in the pet store!)