this is a long post, I will admit that. I got really excited about all of the awesome gifts out there for cool, creative kids and for nurturing that awesome creativity. so, after thinking about my own top picks, I solicited another top ten from Tara over at holistic haven. holistic haven is the waldorf-inspired homeschool program that Tara runs out of her central new jersey home. together we got a little giggly and excited about our favorite ideas so I tagged on the word ‘ultimate’ just to hammer home the awesomeness of this list.
are you ready? I can’t hear you! ok, just kidding. I’ll get to it:
1. got a mini storyteller in your house? our boys have Irish blood so they can’t get enough of long-winded and elaborate stories, especially our little guy. one of our favorite games to play is this one from the small object (which just happens to be one of my favorite places on the world wide web). It is so simple that anyone can play, just three small wooden blocks with images…you roll the dice and use the images to tell a story, it’s called tell me a story. for young kids, you can play it verbally but it also comes with a pad of paper for kids able to write down their story. we often play this game while waiting at the diner for a weekend brunch.
2. the okee dokee brothers cd and dvd ‘can you canoe’. oh, how we love these guys and their glorious trip down the mississippi river. these grammy-nominated (!) children’s artists bring the thrill of the outdoors as well as their fantastically optimistic attitude to kids. this cd in particular comes with a dvd that chronicles their adventure on a canoe from minnesota to missouri.
3. a felt campfire set complete with marshmallows that slip onto the sticks of wood! this wonderful set will go under our tree this year and I can barely wait for them to open it! this one comes from the very talented robbin at a heart for crafts. we saw something like this at a friend’s house and I couldn’t wait to get our own.
4. a whole slew of bare books; these empty, white bound books are just waiting for a miniature author to fill with their own stories. we are also giving our kids ‘bare’ game boards for making up their own games (the kit comes with dice and other game supplies).
5. play from scratch is a new minnesota-based company with a great mission…to bring basic, creative play to kids with things like boxes and cardboard tubes! I am intrigued by this deck of cards that makes creating into a game.
6. art supplies! I am big believer in having all manner of supplies on hand. it makes it so easy to come up with art projects on-the-fly or, better yet, allows kids to come up with their own art project without adult interference. at one point, I bought bulk supplies of googly eyes, pipe cleaners, glue sticks, pom poms, glitter glue, clear glue, popsicle sticks, air-dry clay, beads, shoestrings and clothespins. I added to these some of my own buttons and household cotton balls and q-tips. we keep it in an accessible drawer for when inspiration hits. I think a bucket of those items would make a great gift…obviously only for kids at the right age. for the basics, stubby pencil studio, has great items.
the rest are all Tara’s fantastic choices:
8. play stands. Our favorite and most used toy is our playstands, they are used every single day for play and also to hold toys and books. They go from puppet theatre, to café, to fort, to store, and whatever else they dream up that day. there are many out there, many locally crafted, I really like this set due to its versatility and sturdy construction.
9. Rocker boards are another one of those toys that let the imagination soar. Our kids love their curvy board, we have 4 children who all use this for different purposes. It is a bridge, a rocking chair, a doll cradle, a tunnel for cars, a slide off the couch, a shovel….see where I am going with this, these toys go anywhere they dream them to go.
10. We love cooperative board games, our entire family works together to “win” or accomplish a goal rather than against each other. This game, wildcraft adventure, happens to teach too, a very useful lesson on edible and medicinal plants.
11. Silks, silks, and more silks! This can be lumped in with dress up clothes because the stuff the kids come up with in their silks is incredible. We started our silk journey with Sarah’s Silk’s but found the best ones were the ones we made themselves. We started purchasing from dharma trading and dye them ourselves. (for more information on how to do this, check out our efforts here.)
12. A big “hoop, hoop” from hipster hops, made locally in NJ. She makes wonderfully durable and beautiful hoops that make it easier for children to learn with her sized and properly weighted hoops.
13. A dollhouse! There are so many beautiful ones to choose from. We really love this one, from nova natural, you can even purchase it furnished.
14. Musical instruments get played with here everyday, we either have a parade or a band or a solo going on! This site, blueberry forest, has lots of quality instruments in one spot (including an adorable ‘woodstock‘ set!).
15. Kid’s table and chairs are always great and you can’t beat IKEA’s prices.
16. Art supplies, we never seem to have enough paper in our house! The children play endlessly with their beeswax crayons which are big and chunky for little hands, don’t seem to break easily, and smell wonderful. For older kids, we suggest lyra’s pencils.
and, there you have it! the ultimate guide! of course, our fair share of superheroes and monster trucks and other plastic things will find their way to our house this Christmas, too. it wouldn’t be real life without that, at least for us. but, we are hoping to throw some new creative playthings into the mix along with our old favorites.