If you have a younger child at home, I’m sure you are always looking for toys and ways to encourage imaginative play in your children. That’s even true of your older children. They still need to use their imaginations as well. I feel pretty strongly about playing to learn and delaying formal schooling to allow for play time.
So I thought I would share a few of our favorite toys to encourage imaginative play. Many of these we use during school hours to encourage play while my older kids are working through their school. But some are just there for all the kids to use to keep them using their imaginations.
#1 For my little one, these Rainbow Blocks are fun. In addition to providing a fun time stacking and building, they are a great way to work on color identification while we are building. “Now let’s stack a blue block.” etc. They also like seeing through them by holding them up to the window. We love these blocks and, I’m here to tell you, my older kids play with them too. But of course, they are JUST playing with their baby sister. 🙂
#2 We have had this Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! set for quite some time and REALLY have gotten our money’s worth. These are great for all kinds of creations. We just love them. Daddy even enjoys these quite a bit! The kids really can grow with these, learning to build more intricate gearing systems. I love watching them learn to connect them and see the imaginative creations they come up with.
#3 Of course, play-doh is hours of fun. You can make your own really quite simply or buy a simple set and get started. We don’t go for the big sets that tell the kids how to play, we go with basic playdoh and have some basic cutters, knives and scissor made for little hands and Playdoh to work with. Rolling pins are fun too. I love seeing the dinosaurs, cupcakes, and intricate creations each of the kids play come up with. All the kids love playdoh, i haven’t had one that has outgrown it’s fun yet. We like this Play-Doh set.
#4 Do A Dot Art Markers have been a source of fun in our house. All the kids have fun with them. I was a little leary in the beginning since they were just, well, dots. But I have found the kids can really get creative. Interestingly, my son, who is not typically into the art stuff, loves Do A Dots. He will spend more time with this medium then crayons or water colors. He likes the dotting all over the page I think. My older daughter can really be creative with her design and my toddler has fun, and doesn’t make the mess that the other paints do, which is a bonus to me. We started out with this basic set and added the Shimmer Markers at my oldest daughter request.
#5 Legos, of course, are great for creative play. They can provide for hours of creation and the child’s imagination is the only limit to the creations. My kids, all three, love them. We have every size. But, as a toddler/preschooler, having some Duplos on hand are the best for creative play for little hands. We had gotten rid of all our Duplos so we got a LEGO DUPLO All-in-One-Pink-Box-of-Fun for our 2 year old. She is excited to have her own set to play with when her sister and brother are busy creating with their Legos and it keeps her from taking that important piece to the city one of the older kids is building.
#6 My girls love this T.S. Shure Teeny Tiny Triplets Wooden Magnetic Dress-Up Dolls set. My 2 year old plays with it every day. Putting different outfits on her “babies.” She just loves it and my big girl play with her too helping her make exciting and “fashionable” outfits 🙂
#7 These Structures Plank Set are for my older kids. My toddler rarely plays with them but the 6 and 11 year old do and I love having something around that still encourages creative play for them. These planks are unique in that they are planks. You can really create some amazing stuff with them. Definitely for the older kids but they are very fun and a creative outlet.
#8 A Play Kitchen definitely inspires creative play. All my kids have loved (and still play with) the play kitchen. We have had many tea parties, and i have been served lots of “meals” with the play kitchen. Even our son loves “cooking” some food in the kitchen. We sold our kitchen after he turned 4 but this Christmas we got our 2year old a new one and everyone is back to playing the food and dishes and the play kitchen. We got this Little Tikes Super Chef Kitchen for our 2 year old.
Ok, I’m adding this “bonus” imaginative play item because, well, I don’t own it (YET) but have wanted it for SOOO long. We have played with it at friend’s homes and it is amazing but we haven’t made the purchase yet. I just think these Tegu Original Magnetic Wooden Block Set are awesome and think you will too. Check them out, you’ll love them!
There are many ways to encourage imaginative play for all ages and so many fun toys to do so as well. I would love to hear your favorites.