Gifts to Encourage Creativity and Imagination

The best toys for children are ones that provide opportunities for open-ended play, as they can help a child to use, and grow, their imagination and creativity. 

Open-ended toys have no set end-goal in mind. There is no winner, and no loser. Children are free to explore and take risks without the fear of being "wrong". 

The toy isn't telling the child what to do, the child is telling the toy what to do.

This helps in building their critical thinking and problem solving skills. When children are playing or building, and something doesn't work they way they thought it would (ex. their tower falls down) they have to problem solve to figure out what went wrong, and how to fix it. 

 And since there is no end-goal with these toys, they can be played over and over again with different outcomes and can also grow with your child. As a child's, creativity becomes more mature, they will be able to use these toys in ways they didn't before. 

Open-ended play helps build:

*Hand-Eye Coordination
*Spatial Awareness
*Creative Thinking Skills
*Problem Solving Skills
*Motor Skills

Below, you will find gift ideas for your own children, or items that would be great to have in a pre-k or early elementary classroom. 
(These are Amazon affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase, I might receive a tiny compensation, but it will not cost you anything extra.)

1) I'll start with a classic: Blocks
With simple blocks, it's possible to build and create almost anything, and for many children, the joy of watching the blocks tumble to the ground is part of the fun!  There are many brands of blocks to choose from, but these are the ones I've had in my own Kindergarten classroom since I started teaching in 2003.

2) Another classic building block: Legos
My son loves the Lego sets that come with instructions on how to build certain things, but a big box of classic Legos lets children explore their own creativity and build anything they can imagine.

Open-Ended Play Legos

3) Tinkertoys are another great building toy to stretch the imagination.

Open-Ended Play Tinkertoys

4) Play-Doh is great for developing fine motor skills while kneading, pinching, and pulling to create all kinds of things.

Open-Ended Play Play-Doh

5) Kinetic Sand is such an amazing invention!  It's not sticky and can be molded into anything. (My favorite part since I have Celiac, is that unlike Play-Doh, it's gluten free, so I don't have to worry about any residue being left on surfaces or hands.)

Open-Ended Play Kinetic Sand

Open-Ended Play Kinetic Sand

6) Wooden stacking blocks really let children explore and test different ways to stack and combine shapes. 

Open-Ended Play Wooden Stacking Blocks

7) These Wooden Rainbow Stackers are so gorgeous.  I have a plastic rainbow set in my classroom, but I would love one of these wooden sets.

Open-Ended Play Wooden Rainbow Stacker

8) Children are always amazed at how these magnetic building tiles "magically" stick together to help them make amazing creations.

Open-Ended Play Magna-Tiles

9) Rubber bands are used to create all kinds of designs on these Geoboards.

Open-Ended Play Geo Boards

10) Bristle blocks are fun to build with because they can stick together on all sides. 

Open-Ended Play Bristle Blocks

11) Using different shaped building items like these discs, really makes children think in different ways to be able to create what they want.  They don't stack like regular blocks, so they have to figure out how to connect them to create different items.

Open-Ended Play Brain Flakes

12)  Star Flex Interlocking Pieces provide another fun way to create.

Open-Ended Play Star Flex

I know your children or students will have just as much fun with these as mine do!!

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Gifts to Encourage Creativity and Imagination