Today I am sharing my boys’ most loved unplugged gift ideas. These toys will be played with for years-many of them have been in our rotation for 5 or more years and they continue to be played with often. Some are on our wish list this year. I go for quality over quantity and look for ideas that will provide hours of open ended play. These ideas allow kids to use critical thinking skills, creativity and engage the brain(or the body!) in new and exciting ways.
The Quercetti Skyrail Mini Coaster is as fun to set up as it is to play with. This is like a marble run on steroids. We have loved the Quercetti Marble Run, but now this one is a bit more complicated and engaging for older boys. You can constantly change the coaster to make unlimited configurations. Great for those loooong winter days.
I mentioned that we are little obsessed with Labyrinth in my newsletter(Sign up below). The object of the game is to wind thru the castle maze to find treasures. BUT, each player changes the maze on every turn, so you are constantly rethinking your strategy. The set up is simple, but the ideas are big. This is really fun for the whole family.
Pentominoes are on my sons list this year after reading Chasing Vermeer. They are similar to Tangrams, in that they activate and exercise your brains spatial abilities. The solutions are nearly endless as you find ways to use all 12 pieces to make different shapes. This wooden set will last for years and look good sitting out when he forgets to put it away.
I have been eying Rory’s Story Cubes for a few years and now there are several sets to choose from. Both my boys have been more interested in journal writing and I think we will get some mileage out of these. These dice spark your child’s imagination, giving them ideas for written or oral storytelling. You roll the dice and use your imagination to weave a story using all of the images that appear. You can play alone or in groups. I think I need a set for the classroom, too!
The Lego Advent Calendar has become a bit of a tradition around here. Over the years, we have ordered both the Lego City and Star Wars Versions. They are fun to open each morning leading up to Christmas and the lego figures become part of our collection forever. My boys have to take turns opening the days, so it’s also a lesson in sharing. Order this one early…they do sell out quickly.
We have had our Citiblocks for about 6 years and they continue to be played with on a regular basis. They are super versatile and their long thin shape make them a little different from a regular set of wooden blocks. We have had a set of 300 that has been fine, but I am getting them another set this year to add to it.
Last year, my son choose this Classic Lego set when he redeemed a gift card. I was surprised that he did not go for a more commercial, themed set. But, he loved it–and continues to love it. This Lego set is really all you need. We love the more specific City and Star Wars sets, but this one really let’s kids use their imagination and create whatever they can dream up.
We are huge fans of the Automoblox line of toy cars. My oldest son received a red sports car for his first birthday and we have been collecting them ever since. The cars are super high quality and can be taken apart and interchanged with each other. Switch wheels, people, front ends, etc. to create all new vehicles. My kids have spent hours making tape roads for these all over the house.
Gifts that promote movement are great anytime of the year, but I just love them in the winter. We have had a Foxtail of some sort or another for years. They are easy to throw by the tail or the head and fun to chase after wherever they land. This one struck my eye–it lights up as it sails thru the air!! What a perfect way to get outside when it gets dark at 4:30! I would not recommend this in the snow, but falling temps are fine.
Yoyo’s are coming back–at least at my son’s school –and he is happy to follow this trend. We have had a vintage one for awhile, but at $14.99, this one designed by world champion Gentry Stein looks like a steal. Yoyo’s are great for balance and coordination skills and perseverance–you really have to put some time into practicing to get good.
The Ogo Sport Paddles are great for four season fun–use the ball included or substitute water balloons or snowballs for some versatile play. Great for improving eye hand coordination and cardio stamina. These can float in a pool and be used as frisbees! We bought these last year for Christmas and put them away when we realized we had purchased too much–so they will be under the tree this year. Can’t wait to try them out!
Plus Plus is a building toy that I am excited to give this year. The colorful pieces interlock to create anything you can imagine. They are small and portable for the car, restaurants and waiting rooms. Another great way for kids to exercise their imaginations.
I would love to hear what your kids most favorite, long lasting toy has been-boy or girl! Let me know in the comments or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy shopping!!
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