Get your kids to unplug and let their imaginations run wild with these creative kids toys! Tried and tested, these are some of our family’s favorite things: from art, to building, to books!
The Best Creative Kids Toys
Like most kids, our girls love video games and their iPad. Growing up during the beginning of the computers and the internet, I was fascinated by all the possibilities of the electronic world. I created my first website at age 12 and never looked back!
Plus, I’m sure most of you with multiple kids can understand me when sometimes you gotta let them have a little screen time to get stuff done.
As much as I love the wonders of technology, I don’t want my girls to spend all day in front of a screen.
To get our girls to “unplug” and get creative, my husband and I keep a variety of STEM toys, art supplies, and books in the house and readily available.
Nothing make me happier than to see my girls let their imaginations run wild and to make something they dream up come to life!
This post includes our favorite STEM toys, art supplies, and books that make the perfect creative kids gifts. For your convenience, there are shop-able ad links to each item. Our disclosure policy is available here.
Our Favorite Building Toys
When I was a kid, we were always building something, whether it was a blanket fort in the basement or a massive LEGO city. My girls inherited that love of engineering too – yay!!
These are some of their favorite mediums for building and creating:
Magformers are a magnetic building toy and they a long-time favorite of both my older girls (10 and 4). They love Magformers because they can build a variety of structures and inventions by simply snapping the colorful shapes together — the pieces are magnetic so they stay in place!
Here’s why I love Magformers as a parent:
- Keeps the kids busy for hours
- A toy that both girls can play together (even with a 5 year age gap)
- Encourage practical engineering and critical thinking skills
The variety of Magformers sets means that there is something for everyone: different color schemes, themes, large sets, small sets, wheels, gears, and more. There are even LED light squares that kids can build with and re-charge to use over and over again.
We have both the 100-piece Inspire set (the perfect base kit with lots of pieces) and the Magnets in Motion 37-piece set which features spinning gears. Both sets have gotten LOTS of use over the past couple years!
Brain Blox Building Planks
If you’re looking for a classic STEM building toy, Brain Blox Building Planks are just the thing! I love Brain Blox for their simplicity (every piece is exactly the same size and shape) as well as their versatility and limitlessness.
I especially love the fact that since the blocks are simple, smooth rectangles, they inspire kids to truly use their imagination to bring structures to life.
My four year old and I built square towers today that functioned as houses, garages (for our Christmas sled that we also built), and so much more. All with the same pieces!
We have the 200 piece set, which is plenty of pieces to build anything! This is a beautiful set — smooth, natural, non-toxic wood from New Zealand. Brain Blox are the kind of toy that are built to last from one generation to the next, like the classics we played with as kids.
Bonus: they are super easy to clean up because all the pieces are the same size and stack in perfect rows in their box.
Our Favorite Art Supplies
In addition to inheriting a love of building things, my girls also love to create art too. As a former art major, this make my heart so happy!
These are our favorite art supplies, which make wonderful creative kids gifts for any occasion, from birthdays to Christmas.
Kwik Stix – by the Pencil Grip Inc. *
Kwik Stix are real tempura paint in solid form — essentially a combination of drawing and painting. Rich, bold colors apply smoothly and dry within 90 seconds. (Imagine the satisfyingly smooth feeling of writing with lipstick…it’s like that!)
It’s another activity that’s perfect for older and younger kids to do together because art transcends age. Plus, Kwik Stix are practically mess-free! (And if they do get on the table, they wash off easily).
We have quite a few different sets:
- Kwik Stix original – 24 pack
- Kwik Stix Thin Stix – 12 packs
- Kwik Stix Thin Stix Neons – 6 pack
- Kwik Stix Thin Stix Metallics – 6 pack
We first tried Kwik Stix a couple years ago and we’ve been fans ever since — they are our go-to for making birthday and holiday cards!
See some of the projects we’ve made using Kwik Stix:
Stick It Magnetic Accessory Gallery – by Just Solutions! *
The entire Stick It board is magnetized, so anything that’s metal will stay put. It’s a fun and easy way to keep and display jewelry, hair accessories, pens, pencils, and more! Kids can change it up every day!
(This is also a handy addition to your home office, kitchen, or anywhere that needs a catch-all to help stay organized!) At less than $10, the Stick It Magnetic Accessory Gallery is a steal! Find them on Amazon here.
Design and Doodle Coloring Book – Parragon Books *
Funky patterns that beg to be brought to life! Coloring not only inspires creativity, but relieves stress as well. It’s a healthy way for kids to unwind after a long day at school. This collection has hundreds of unique pages to color!
See similar items from Parragon Books here!
My all-time favorite colored pencil and the perfect accompaniment for a coloring book! Prismacolor pencils are supple, bright, and smooth — rich and blendable.
(I actually favored Prismacolors as an art student because of the high level of detail and realism you can achieve with them). The Prismacolor Premiere Colored Pencils 72-count is an excellent starter set.
Our Favorite STEM Books that Encourage Creativity
I may be a little biased because I co-wrote it, but I truly think this is the best book of slime recipes out there!
We’ve been slime-crazy in our house for almost 3 years now, and this book is the result of years of experimentation. It’s a collection of our favorite slime recipes – 43 of them to be exact!
I love slime play because sometimes it’s good for kids to get messy. Plus it is a soothing sensory activity and introduces kids to simple science. And of course it’s just plain fun!
“Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret” by Trudi Trueit*
This is the first volume in a seven-book series for middle grade readers, inspired by the real-life science, exploration and mission of the National Geographic Society.
There are SO many books out there for tweens and teens, but I look for books that encourage creativity and pursuing interests in the arts and sciences.
Both my oldest daughter and I look for books with a good “feel,” as in they’re satisfying to hold in your hands. This book has a nice weight and the cover is smooth and almost a rubber texture – for anyone else who like a sensory experience with their books too.
The illustrations are also colorful and striking:
What I find the most exciting about this particular book is that it is interactive — readers are encouraged to help Cruz break codes and solve problems as they go through the story. My oldest daughter’s favorite books are ones where she can write in them or participate in the story — she carries them all around with her, pencil in hand too!
We are eagerly anticipating the rest of the titles in this series!
“Sanity & Tallulah” by Molly Brooks
We received a copy of this eye-catching graphic novel to review earlier this fall and it was an instant hit! My daughter watches the mail for books — she spots them as soon as they get in the door and can hardly wait to dive in!
Sanity & Tallulah tells the story of two best friends who live in the far reaches of the galaxy. These science-loving gals accidentally create a 3-headed cat (super cute but a big no-no to own) and hijinks ensue.
Again, I love the science focus of this book and that it specifically encourages girls to pursue a love of STEM topics.
All products marked with an * are generous participants of the Annual Soccer Mom Blog Toy Drive. These companies provided creative kids toys and books to be donated to local organizations to help families and children in need during the holidays. This is something we do every year for our community – 2018 marks our fourth year!