You know that saying that kids will often play with the box the toys came in longer than they play with the actual toy? That’s because kids are designed with an imagination! Imagination is a beautiful thing in a child. It’s a form of learning. Imagination makes childhood almost magical. With imagination, my kids sailed on pirate ships, fought off dragons and exercised their super powers, all before nap time. Right now they love to pretend that they are youth pastors (lol).
Imagination is like a muscle, though. You have to use it to make it stronger. Unfortunately, so many of the toys on the market today are fancy and bright and loud, but do nothing to engage the imagination. In our house we try to limit toys to those that require an imagination to make them work. The bonus is that our house has far less toys that get played with far more often. Of course, we had to learn this lesson the hard way and we still struggle with clutter, but overall, we are pretty passionate about imaginative toys.
So, in the spirit of engaging little minds, I put together this list of 25 toys that encourage imagination as part of a collaborative series with some of my other blogging friends. Check out their “25 toys” lists at the bottom of this post. Oh and this post uses affiliate links!
Toys That Encourage Imagination
- Legos – Although you will forever find little Legos all over your house, these toys are great and the possibilities are endless. Older kids may even like the Lego Mindstorm sets that use robotic technology (although the Mindstorm sets are $$$).
- Lincoln Logs – These toys are oldies but goodies.
- Tinker Toys – Shhhh…my boys are getting these for Christmas! I remember playing with these for hours upon hours when I was growing up.
- Crazy Forts – I’m pretty sure building forts is a rite of childhood.
- Building Blocks
- Baby dolls
- Play Kitchen – My three year old son LOVES to “cook” things in our play kitchen. That’s often what pretend play is: mimicking what they see in real life. However, he’s never stuck with a sink full of dirty dishes. 😉
- Pretend food – Melissa & Doug have a bunch of real food options for pretend food.
- Play workbench and tools
- Dress up clothes – Children love to dress up and pretend to be different characters.
- Art supplies
- Marble Run
- Play tent – my kids build a campfire out of their Lincoln Logs and roast pretend marshmallows and read books with their flashlights…it’s a beautiful thing!
- Train track and trains
- Car mat and cars
- Puppets and stage
- Play Animals
- Play Doh – You could even make your own!
- Musical Instruments – Ours may have mysteriously disappeared for awhile after a particularly “loud” day. 😉
- Kinetic Sand
- Nature Explorer Kit
- Tea Party Set – Bah! I can’t wait to have tea parties when my sweet little girl is old enough. I have the sweetest memories of being a kid and sitting at my grandma’s dining room table having a tea party with her.
If you liked this list, you may want to check out these other lists: