With Christmas quickly approaching, many parents and grandparents are thinking about gifts for the children in their lives.
Many toys that are given to children at Christmas are quickly forgotten, but some gifts have staying power. Classic, open ended toys encourage creativity in young children and are played with for months and often times years.
Here are some of our favorite toys:
You really can’t go wrong with blocks. A nice set of blocks is a simple toy that will be used over and over for so many different things from towers to bridges to play food. We gave our older son a set of Uncle Goose Alphabet Blocks for his first Christmas and they’re still being played with almost 3 years later. We added to that original set when our younger son was given a set of Uncle Goose Number Blocks last Christmas.
Dress Up Clothes
My boys love dressing up. We have a small collection of dress up items like train hats, superhero capes and a pirate outfit. They really enjoy pulling out the dress up bin and engaging in pretend play. One of the favorites is the Melissa & Doug Pirate Costume, it’s a high quality dress up set that has been played with countless times over the past year and will used for many years to come.
Wooden Train Sets
When our older son started showing an interest in trains, we chose wooden train tracks over plastic. We felt the wooden tracks were more open ended and encouraged creativity more than the plastic ones (especially electric trains) available.
You can purchase inexpensive wooden train tracks at various places but we chose to go with the Thomas Wooden Railway. It is expensive but we started out with a Starter Set which included 2 trains and a caboose, he received a track expansion pack and 3 engines as gifts last Christmas from grandparents and another engine for his birthday. Over a year has passed since the initial train set purchase and both boys are still playing with the track and engines and that’s what he wants again this Christmas.
In addition to the creative train play, building the track requires engineering. He’s so proud of the different track set ups he creates and I’m often blown away by what he has created.
We forsee playing with these train tracks for years to come. And, trains aren’t just for boys! Most little girls love trains too – so don’t buy into the gender stereotypes!
Art supplies definitely encourage creativity – and big messes! We don’t have a ton of art supplies but big pad of construction paper, colored pencils, fingerpaints, paint and paint brushes goes a long way in helping kids embrace their inner artist. Both of our boys love doing ‘art stuff’. And, art supplies are a consumable gift!
Our older son loves music. He received his first drum and guitar on his second Christmas and those two toys are still being played with and providing music for our family jam sessions! We added a small wooden drum for little brother last Christmas. Other favorites include the child size child drum kit and our xylophone.
For toddlers, Melissa & Doug Chunky Puzzles are wonderful. The large pieces are easy for little hands to maneuver plus they make fun toys too. We also like Melissa & Doug Wooden Puzzles and have a few Thomas The Tank Engine Wooden Puzzles. The wooden puzzles hold up much better than cardboard puzzles – especially if a younger sibling decides to chew on them!
While books aren’t exactly toys, they certainly inspire creativity and can be the starting point for inspiring creative play. My boys will role play favorite characters and act out their favorite stories.
A few of our very favorite books:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible
- Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day?
- Eloise Wilkin Stories
- HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics
- Farm Tales- Little Golden Book Treasury
If you’re still looking for gifts for young children, hopefully this list helps you find a wonderful gift to encourage creativity!
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