My favourite creative toys for kids

As I have mentioned before, I love doing creative activities with my kids, and buying them toys and supplies that lead to creativity (rather than toys that do one thing, end up in a drawer and I eventually just clear them out and give them away.  Those toys are the worst).  So I thought I would do a little run through of the ones that are favourites of both me and my kids.  Funnily enough, a couple of them are actually toys that I played with when I was a kid too!

  1. Fashion Plates.  I have seen a lot of different versions of this concept over the years.  I was a child of the 80’s and this set was actually mine.  I still remember saving up my pocket money so that I could buy it at Consumers Distributing (remember them?).  I would spend hours making different variations in outfits and then colouring them in and using the textured patterns on the backs of the plates to make fancier outfits.  I would make all my designs into booklets (just stapled together paper) and some of those booklets stayed with the set and my kids have saved them.  Both my kids went through a phase of loving this toy and made up their own booklets of fashion designs.  It’s starting to get a little less love now as my son is getting a little older, but this was definitely well used and one of those few things that I held on to from my own youth and was glad I did.
  2. Spirograph.  This was actually my old Spirograph set and I kept it and gave it to my kids some years ago.  Again, I used this a lot and over the years they have used it a lot.  Each of the shapes and circles in the set makes a different design when you move it through the hoop using a pen.  The kids love looking at all the old designs that I made as a kid and have filled pages and pages with their own.  This is another toy that never gets old and always has a new way that you can use it.  So much fun.

3. Art Supplies.  This is so basic but brings so much enjoyment.  I have always provided both kids with access to all sorts of art supplies.  They both have their own set of watercolours, pads of watercolour paper, pencil crayons, sketchbooks, markers etc. etc.  Anytime the urge to create hits them they know that they can just grab their stuff and get down to it.  Just this past weekend the three of us spent several hours at the table together, each doing our own art project and chatting as we went.  We do this quite a lot and it is a magical time together.  We help each other out with colour selection and experiment with new mediums.  I can’t say often enough that providing kids with art supplies is a game changer in terms of allowing them to explore and build on their creativity.

4. Klutz Kits.   These weren’t around when I was a kid, but they have played a big part in my daughter’s childhood and now my son’s.  We have had so many of these different kits- some making crafts with tissue paper, some with clay, some with paper, etc.  She would get some as Birthday presents from friends, or many of them I bought her, and we would sit for hours with them talking and creating.  They are really well done.  The one pictured above I bought more recently and it is a really simple and neat way to make really interesting string art.  I’ve made a mental note, actually, to pull it out again and get the kids to do a project with it. 

5. Pastels.  Again in the category of art supplies, pastels are really fun for kids.  Softer than a crayon and easier to control than paint, they give kids access to a whole new medium.  I remember using pastels a lot at school as a kid for art projects but I don’t think they use them as much.  We have two sets of them at home so that the kids can give them a try when they like.

6. Lego.  Always great for creativity.  Today’s sets tend to be very theme and project specific with detailed instructions on how to build the object pictured on the box.  My kids have always liked to follow the instructions and build that specific thing, but then the project eventually gets taken apart and put in a bin and then they can use those pieces to create whatever takes their imagination.  As a result, we have a mishmash of pieces from Lego Star Wars, Lego Friends, Lego Angry Birds, etc. etc.  that have some pretty cool pieces that they can then use to build some pretty cool things.

I’m sure I’m probably missing a few things, but those are my favourites.  I’m sure as the kids continue to get older I’ll likely have some new things to add.   Because my kids don’t read this blog I can mention here that I have already started to Christmas shop for some of the things on their list and am happy to see that everything that they are asking for is creative!  So far I’ve got a large set of professional art markers and sketchbooks for my girl and a chemistry set and Atlas Obscura for kids (full of cool facts on some of the coolest places to visit in the world) for my boy. (Ssshhh!   Don’t tell them!  🙂 )

I’ve been planning this blog post for awhile but then we got to travelling for a bit.  The kids and I spent a really fun week in Newfoundland at the end of September.  We stayed with my sister, and then the four of us rented a house in Burgeo for a couple of days which was absolutely lovely.

Then we came home and three days later we (the kids and I and my husband) went off to Paris, France for eight days.  It was absolutely lovely and couldn’t have gone better.  We saw so much, yet also had a lot of downtime to really take in the setting and the culture.  We visited a lot of art galleries (which even the kids liked!) so I will do a blog post soon to talk about some of the art we saw while there.  

And I have some classes coming up.  November 10th I am teaching an evening Beginner Rug Hooking with Yarn class.  I don’t often teach evening classes, and this will be my last beginner class for the foreseeable future so if you are interested, send me an email at marzipanroad@bell.net.  I have one spot left in the class!   My first time teaching Portraits in Yarn is coming up also on November 15th and 16th.  This class is full but if you would like to be on a waiting list for next time, you can message me also.  🙂

Happy Halloween wherever you are!

Karen