Creative Toys for Kids that’ll Keep Them Busy and Engaged
It’s becoming more apparent every year that my kids don’t need a large QUANTITY of gifts- they need gifts of good QUALITY.
To me, quality means toys that encourage imagination, engage them and also last longer than a few play times.
Open-ended toys are toys that don’t have a definite ending point. Examples would be doll houses, play food, blocks, play-doh, etc.
Close-ended toys have a clear ending point. This would include toys like shape sorters, a puzzle or a book. They can be played with again once finished but usually the child will move on after completion.
There isn’t necesarrily anything wrong with close-ended toys- they just serve a different purpose. They’re actually really good for teaching children how to hold their attention on a specific task.
This list is for toys that encourage imagination and creativity:
Building and Blocks
I think it’s safe to say that most kids love to play with blocks and that in itself is why they make a great gift.
But what about the actual skills playing and building blocks?
According to Parenting Science, there are a ton of skills to be learned and benefits to be had when a child plays with blocks:
- motor skills and hand-eye coordination
- spatial reasoning
- cognitive flexibility
- language skills
- a capacity for creative, divergent thinking
- social competence
- engineering skills
- Stimulate your child's creativity with open ended building play while encouraging early math skills
- Educational fun- solid wood but lightweight blocks in different shapes and sizes for building and knocking over
- Learn shapes, colors and physics
More Building and Construction Gift Ideas:
- Melissa and Doug Wooden Blocks
- Grimms Pyramid Blocks
- Brain Blox
- Magnetic Building Blocks
- Lincoln Logs
- Building Bricks
- Lego Set
Exposing children to artistic endeavors might be more important than we realize. This article dives in to what art actually teaches kids and it’s fascinating!
Some of the skills kids learn through art are:
- Problem solving
- Non-verbal communication
More Arts and Crafts Gift Ideas:
- Jumbo Arts and Crafts Kit
- Paint and Drawing Kit
- Air Dry Modeling Clay
- Water Paint Set
- Art Paper Wall Dispenser
- Rock Painting Kit
Science and STEM
All kids are naturally curious and like to test things out (consciously or unconsciously), so giving them extra opportunities for doing just that is always a good idea.
Invent.org mentions are few key skills that kids can hone while practicing science and STEM activities:
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
- Decision making
- Acceptance of failure
More Science and STEM Gift Ideas:
- Engineering Blocks
- Brain Flakes
- Magnetic Building Sticks
- Kiwico Science Kits and STEM activities subscription box– give a gift that comes every month!
- Connecting Straws Building Kit
Pretend play actually plays a big role in child development. This can be a safe way for kids to explore normally scary topics or situations (like getting a shot or going to the dentist.)
Bright Horizons mentions more than a few things kids will learn when playing pretend:
- How to negotiate
- Consider others’ perspectives
- Transfer knowledge from one situation to another
- Delay gratification
- Balance their own ideas with others
- Develop a plan and act on it
- Explore symbolism
- Express and listen to thoughts and ideas
- Assign tasks and roles
More Pretend Play Gift Ideas:
- Camping Set (with tent, play food, camping gear)
- Wooden Play Kitchen
- Play Food
- Play House
- Superhero Capes
- Cash Register
- Pretend Medical Kit
- Play Silks
According to Kittie Butcher from Michigan State University, “Early childhood educators cannot overstate the importance of sensory play in the educational process. It is the foundation of all the skills children will use in school learning to read, write and solve math and science problems.“
So even though it seems like sensory play is just another trend, it’s really not. Luckily for us gift givers, sensory play gifts are usually a smash hit!
More Sensory Toys and Activities:
- National Geographic Kinetic Sand
- Play Foam
- Monkey Noodles
- Buckle Pillow
- Super Snow Powder
- Splash Pond Water Table
- Press and Stay Sensory Blocks
- National Geographic Balance Stepping Stones
Gross Motor Play
Gross motor skills are usually developed naturally but any encouragement is a GOOD thing!
That’s because gross motor skills translate into good balance, coordination and increased muscle strength.
More Gross Motor Gift Ideas:
What are examples of open ended toys?
- Art supplies
- Kinetic sand
- Cardboard boxes
What are the benefits of imaginative play?
Imaginative play is an opportunity for kids to practice and develop their language and social skills. It boosts development of problem solving and self-regulation skills.
Kids will absorb real life problems and situations and then act them out in pretend play. This is a safe way to make sense of the world around them.
At what age does imaginative play begin?
Imaginative play usually begins between 18-24 months old where toddlers will begin acting out things they’ve seen family members do ie; talking on the phone, mixing something in a bowl or putting on shoes.
Which open ended toys are worth it?
Choosing the Best Creative Gifts for Kids
I really hope you found a gift that will be well loved and well used 🙂 Let me know if you have any other ideas to share with other people searching in the comments below!