I can't believe that Christmas and the holiday season are nearly upon us! Regardless of my beliefs, they are coming quickly, and so it's time for the shopping and planning! I am a big proponent of creative play, and thus of creative play gifts for kids. Many of my favorite gift ideas are the ones that involve the type of toys that encourage kids to let their imaginations take them place. So, without further ado, here are my top 10 picks for creative play gifts for kids ages 3-5.
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1- The Play Tent
We happen to own this exact tent, and so far it has held up well to a 3 year old's constant use. He drags it around, and his one-year-old sister is often inside with him. It's big enough for 2-3 kids, but small enough to fit inside an average sized child's room without taking every inch of floor space.
A tent, in the world of child can be so many things, from a space ship, to a log cabin, to a yacht. That last one requires some serious imgination, but trust me, my 3 year old makes it looks easy!
In the mind of 5 year old, nothing is cooler then being a grown up! Encourage his creative play, and help him to explore the world of make-believe with a set of adorable dress up clothes. Does he want to be a doctor, a fireman, a policeman? With this set of dress up clothes, he can be all of them in one short day!
In general, when it comes to this age group, give them something to put their treasures in and they are happy. Toys like wagons and dump trucks have many purposes, from moving their toys from room to room, to a place to take a rest when they get tired. We have this dump truck, and it has seen many hours of play and help everything from blocks to rocks, to a baby sister.
A cash register is a toy that can inspire play, as well as learning. A 3 year old with a cash register is often a child who won't struggle at all with first grade math, because playing with money generally lends itself to adding and subtracting. Another bonus: Your kids are learning something about basic economics while buying and selling with their siblings and friends.
5- Play Food
Play food is another toy that blends learning with play. In our home, play food has been a part of everything from pretend camping trips to pop-up restaurants, to grocery stores being run out of bedrooms. The best part is that no food safety violations have ever been noted.
6- Marble Run
A marble run is a beautiful thing! I remember having one as a child and spending hours rearranging that thing, figuring out how it worked, and competing with my siblings to make the "best" run. Included in that playtime was definitly an understanding of gravity, force, speed and acceleration, and other things that I had no words for until many years later. All I knew when I was 5 was that it was FUN.
A table and chairs is a gift that may seem less then fun, at first. But consider being a small person in the world of giant furniture, and you'll begin to see this gift's appeal. Our small table and chairs have been used for picnics, restaurants, to make tents, as a train, and more. Looking for a gift both practical and fun? look - no more.
It would be hard to have a list of toys for creative play without including some type of building blocks. The options are endless these days, but one of the best (and most popular) remains Legos. Since we are talking about the 3-5 crowd here, I am specifically referring to Duplos. We play with these often and for long periods of time in out home, and now that the many options include trains and tracks, animals, and even trees, there is really very little that you can't build with these blocks.
9- Play Doh
Another item that would be hard to miss in a list like this is Play Doh. It's colors and textures draw nearly everyone right in, young and old alike. It doesn't take a fancy set to have fun with Play Doh. Some cookie cutters, spoons and a bowl or two will do nicely. Bonus if you have a set of play dishes to include in the fun! Play Doh pizza, anyone?
10- Art in a Jar
It seems like we are always telling the kids to get out of the junk drawer, the school supply cabinet, orto leave things on the bookshelf alone. The reason they are constantly getting into all those things is because they are insatiably curious, and they have a strong desire to explore and create. Why not gift them a jar of things to create and explore with? The best part is seeing what those little minds will create.