When we pick gifts out for our boys, we try to choose open ended toys. Things that don’t have to be played with in only one way, but rather can be used in any number of ways. Listed below are 10 of my favorite gifts for hours of pretend play, storytelling, and make believe.
OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot
MindWare KEVA Contraptions: We haven’t tried this one, but it looks like the coolest marble run ever! Create designs (it comes with an 18 page booklet of ideas) to bounce, roll, and drop the ball!
Play-Doh Animal Duffel Bag: It contains the play dough plus a variety of animal shape cutters, scissors, and a rolling pin!
Let your kids have fun in this cafe set ALEX® Toys – Pretend & Play Sweetheart Cafe. This set has pretend play food, dishes, aprons, hat, check pad, and menus – everything for restaurant pretend play!
Indoor tents like the knight’s playhouse are awesome! Kids can read, or stage dramatic scenes, or even”camp out” in the living room.
Top This! Role Play Hats: 5 different adventures in one box! Plus I really like that it comes with a box that you can store the hats in!
Tell Tale Card Game: A storytelling game, where the players have to think quickly to create – and tell – stories based on the cards they are dealt. There are 60 cards and 4 different ways to play.
Magna-Tiles 100 Piece Set: It also comes in smaller sizes, but I wish I had invested in this bigger one. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s a toy that my kids play with almost every day. They add other blocks to it, bring in animals or use the tiles to create houses for toy people.
Small puppeteers will find a dream come true in the Deluxe Puppet Theater by Melissa & Doug. There is a puppet theater like this at our local outdoor education center, and both of my sons make a beeline towards it whenever we go. I know this would be a hit!
There are so many open-ended play ideas with a dollhouse. This Plan Toys Plan Toys Dollhouse Series Terrace Dollhouse has a beautiful, open playspace, so 2 kids could even play side by side.
Eeboo Picnic Game is a game centered on having a pretend picnic inside. The game even includes the ants! One of my almost 5 year old’s favorite things to do for lunch is to have an indoor picnic, and I know that he will enjoy this game!
Costumes are wonderful vehicles for imaginary play. Melissa and Doug have an amazing collection of child-friendly costumers, including this Melissa & Doug Veterinarian Role Play Costume Set. I know that my boys would have fun tending to their stuffed animal patients outfitted in these costumes.
Magnetic Dress-Up: This is like a magnetic paper doll! Joey comes with outfits to be a firefighter, a super hero, a pirate, construction worker police officer, or a pirate.
My almost 5 year old received a ZOOB 250-Piece Set as a gift, and I have to say, they are really cool. As with many building sets, they come with instructions, some of which are pretty complex. But my son usually plays without the instructions, creating inventions and machines of his own.
My kids love pretend play involving food- shopping, restaurants, cooking, eating. Last Christmas my mother gave the boys the combination of the Learning Resources Teaching Cash Register and Fruit & Vegetable Play Food Basket, and it has lead to hours and hours of pretend play. These are also the toys that other children tend to gravitate towards on playdates.
Tinkertoy Transit Building Set: There are lots of unique vehicles to create with this Tinkertoy Transit set!