There's no better way to encourage kids to put down their iPads than by engaging their imaginations with great toys this Christmas.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year once more, as evidenced by the hoards of parents going insane as they mill around shopping malls in search for the perfect toys for their kids. Who could blame them? Toy stores seem to get bigger and more maze-like every year, and with so many choices and limited resources, even the most level-headed parent is prone to getting overwhelmed.
The good news is, the best toy for your kid isn’t necessarily the trendiest right now, so if you haven’t gotten your hands on a Hatchimal yet, don’t beat yourself up. In an article for Quartz, Jenn Choi of Toys Are Tools wrote that the toys that kids value the most (the ones they play with over and over again) are those that involve building, playing pretend or storytelling, and art.
The best building toys
According to Parenting Science, building or construction toys help children develop their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial skills, creativity, social skills, and language skills. Lego, of course, is the go-to brand when it comes to building toys, and you can’t go wrong with getting your kids a box of classic Lego bricks that will allow them to create anything they wish. But there are plenty of other building toys that your kids will also love.
Some unique building toys that you may not be familiar with are Brain Flakes and Squigz, which are made of unconventionally shaped pieces that encourage problem-solving. Then there’s more sophisticated construction toys like K’Nex and Tinkertoy. Then there’s Roominate, which allows kids to build anything they want, from dollhouses to amusement park rides.
The best toys for playing pretend and storytelling
Playing pretend allows kids to build their confidence and creativity, while honing their social and language skills as well. Choi recommends Build & Imagine, which is basically paper dolls on steroids—kids can build their own dollhouses, dress up their characters, and tell stories all with one toy. You could also give your kids props to help them get in character, and kits like those from Props in a Box makes that easy for you.
Younger kids will also appreciate toys that allow them to mimic you—so we’re talking toy cooking sets, tool sets, and so forth. Plenty of Lego sets are also conducive to storytelling.
On the next page: the best toys for making art and more.