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Here are my top picks for some of the best gifts to encourage creativity and open, imaginative play!
Open Ended Toys
Open-ended toys are great for encouraging independent play, problem-solving, imaginative play and creative thinking. We own all the toys recommended in this section and the kids often play with all of them together at the same time to create some really impressive structures and small worlds!
Melissa and Doug Wooden Blocks: I bought these blocks last year and they've been played with everyday since. They're sturdy and heavy weight and have a good variety of shapes.
Brio Wooden Train Tracks: These were purchased two or three years ago and are still played with daily. They're a bit of an investment but they're so well made. There are tons of smaller sets available as well that are more budget friendly. This would be my top pick out of all of the open-ended toys I've recommended.
Magnetic Tiles: I bought MagnaTiles when they were on sale during Prime Day and I wish I bought them sooner! They're amazing and we'll definitely be getting more for Christmas as we found one 100 block set is just not enough for two kids. We have the MagnaTiles brand but our friends have PicassoTiles which are significantly cheaper and my friends report are just as great. Both brands can also be used together.
Brain Flakes: I love Brain Flakes! They're inexpensive and fun for even adults to play with. There are so many different things you can make with these and they are great for developing fine motor skills. The only thing is they're small and with 500 of them in the jar, they do end up everywhere with my two year old around. I'd recommend these for 5 years olds and up.
Gears: I bought a bucket of gears for my kids for Christmas tis year. They're a great STEM toy. I can't wait to see what they're going to create with these!
Lincoln Logs: These were one of my favorite toys as a kid. They're such a classic!
We spend a lot of time making art at our house. We do our share of crafting but we also really like to create original works of art together and exploring lots of different art techniques and artists. You can check our some of our past art projects here. Here are some of our favorite art supplies that I think also make great gifts!
Air Dry Clay: I love this inexpensive air dry clay. My kids have made all sorts of fun sculptures, including our Damien Hirst inspired shark project.
Canson's Watercolor Paper: Canson's watercolor paper is my favorite affordable watercolor paper. It's thick and holds up well to be able to do a wet on wet watercolor technique!
Washable Paint: Is there higher quality paint out there? Probably but my kids are messy painters and the Crayola washable paint is my tried and true paint tempera paint. It washes very easily, in our experience, out of clothes, furniture etc and has good coverage for art projects.
Watercolor Paint Pallet: These water color paints have enough color variety to keep the kids happy and are budget friendly. We started with just the cheap sets to get the concept of water color paints down and now have moved on to these mid-level sets.
Colored Pencils: We love the variety of this 100 colored pencil set.
Pottery Awesomeness Kits: If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this amazing kit my sister sent the kids in October. Everything we needed for the project was included in the kit and everything was high quality!
Green Kid Crafts: This subscription box is chock full of crafts and STEM activities.
Dress-Up and Pretend Play
KidKraft Play Kitchen: We love this play kitchen and have had it for several years. It's well made and offers plenty of storage to store our play food. Both the older kids play with it frequently but especially our two year old. It's held up well to a lot of use.
Did I miss anything? I'd love to hear your top picks!
-School of Mommy