Great toys for little kids 3-6 yrs that encourage creativity and imagination through open-ended play.
Children get bossed around all day, every day. As an antidote, it can be a really healthy and nourishing thing for them to spend time creating something exactly the way they see fit. Creative playtime for toddlers is a unique time, because it’s time for your child to be the creator; an author, artist, storyteller, or inventor. Here are some of the best toys and activities that our little kids (ages 3-6) have enjoyed the most.
MAGNATILES (3-9 yrs)
With just a few varieties of tile shapes, Magnatiles can be combined into a surprisingly wide variety of 3D structures, especially with the triangles. As our boys get older, they are able to build new, more complex structures they hadn’t thought of before. They love to use Magnatiles to create space ships and garages for their Hot Wheels and other small toys.
Magnatiles have little magnets along the edges of each tile, so they stick together when placed near each other. This slight amount of magnetic pull is just enough to keep simple structures together, but still weak enough to come apart easily. This prevents any injuries if Junior decides to become a T-Rex and smash it all to pieces. They also make Magna-Qubix, a complimentary set of 3D shapes, like cubes, prisms and pyramids that are similarly designed, but smaller in scale overall.
They aren’t cheap, so I wouldn’t recommend them if they weren’t worth it. We ended up buying additional sets to supplement the first, because they played with them all the time, and would always be run out of tiles! Note: Beware of cheap imitations on Amazon.
LEGO DUPLO (3-8 yrs)
Before the age of 5 or so, regular size Legos are too small and precise for tiny, clumsy toddler hands. Which is why the Duplo 2X scale line of blocks was first introduced back in 1969. Since then, the world of Lego Duplo has exploded, offering lots of different kinds of tiny everyday people, Disney characters, Superheroes, animals, and lots of other toddler-friendly categories to supplement the basic building blocks.
While basic block-building is more abstract and fundamental in a design sense, the characters, props, and sets give toddlers the chance to be storytellers, or little directors. They can be the amazing Spider-Man, Minnie Mouse, or a magical version of themselves. You’ll able to find some theme within the Duplo series that will inspire your toddler.
KID O MAGNETIC DRAWING TABLET (3-5 yrs)
This is a really simple toy that uses a simple kid-friendly stylus to ‘draw’ shiny little balls on a grid. The grid on the Kid O Magnetic Drawing Tablet is similar to the way the Light Bright works; almost like an analog pixel-paint device. There is something about the limitations of the grid and the tactile nature of magnetic balls that makes for a really fun, exploratory experience for everyone. Even adults love playing with this thing.
ALPHABOTS / NUMBER-BOTS (3-6 yrs)
Our boys love any kind of transforming-robot toy. A great way to combine this robot theme with something educational for young kids are the Alpha-Bots and Number-Bots sets from Lakeshore Learning. This is a win-win gift, one that the kids think is awesome, and so do the parents. Note: I can only vouch for the original Lakeshore Learning version of this toy.