Parents often wonder what toys their children should be playing with. What toys will provide the most entertainment, what playthings will educate their child and which ones will help their children develop their creativity and imagination? The Oct. 2013 issue of "Parents" magazine named the top 10 toys for creativity after talking with child-development experts.
The toys are ones every child should have access to and parents won't have to worry about breaking the bank to acquire them; each one is relatively inexpensive. In fact, for crafty moms and dads, many of the toys could be made at home or purchased used from yard sales and thrift stores. Here are the toys every preschool child should have access to, according to "Parents" magazine.
- Puzzles - From simple 4 and 5 piece puzzles for toddlers to more challenging puzzles for older preschoolers, puzzles help children problem solve. There is only one way a piece will fit into the finished puzzle, but each child may go about placing those pieces in their own way.
- Pretend food - Eating is a part of every day. Letting children pretend to create their own meals may help them discover a food they want to try for real. It may even be the starting point for a future 5-star chef!
- Balls - Whether it's rolling, bouncing, kicking or tossing, balls help young children develop gross motor skills. It can help them learn that some balls bounce better, while others are better for rolling and tossing.
- Instruments - Letting children explore instruments gives them a sense of the musical world all around them. Percussion, strings and wind instruments are only the beginning. Creating one's own instrument is as simple as following the instructions in the accompanying video.
- Artist's tools - Exposing children to writing instruments, such as chalk and crayons, not only develops fine motor skills, but it also allows children to create all sorts of artistic masterpieces. Letting children explore artistically can be as simple as giving them some scratch paper and a set of finger paints.
- Molding clay and dough - Sure sculptors have to start somewhere, but who doesn't remember the joy of squishing that colorful dough between fingers? Whether it's rolling the dough flat with a child-sized rolling pin or molding it into the shape of the family pet, clay and dough has endless creative possibilities.
- Mini figures - These don't have to be the expensive action figures from the latest animated blockbuster. They could be as simple as Bible characters created from toilet paper tubes or as complex as interchangeable-pieces creatures of one's own imagination. It lets children act out situations both real and imagined in a safe and non-threatening way.
- Dress-up materials - Boys and girls both like pretending they are someone else, whether it's a firefighter, super hero or a character from their favorite story book. Providing scarves, old hats, chunky jewelry and more can spark hours of creative play for preschool-aged kids.
- Gears - When gears are placed in certain positions, they will turn one way. Change a sprocket here and there and you get a whole new way of moving the mechanism. Not only do gears provide fine-motor development, but like puzzles, they help with problem solving.
- Building toys - Blocks, logs and other similar construction toys give kids the opportunity to design and create a world all their own. They may choose to build the tallest tower or a sprawling, single-level city. With the variety of sizes and shapes available with building toys, parents have plenty of options for sparking the creativity of their future architect.
As the gift-giving season draws closer, many adults begin worrying about what gifts to give the children on their lists. It doesn't have to be a struggle. The pocket book doesn't need to be emptied and the shopping time doesn't have to be endless. Take a look at the list above and decide which of these top 10 toys for creativity would be most appropriate for each child. If you are a DIY-er, you could even create the toys yourself!