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Toys That Teach Preschoolers Creative Thinking

Updated on May 30, 2015
Children Playing with a Cat
Children Playing with a Cat | Source

Creative thinking gifts for preschoolers

Like many other grandparents, I've been seeking gift ideas for a preschool aged child - and I'm particularly interested in gifts that encourage creative thinking. I want to give my grandchild something that helps him think creatively, not just something with bells and whistles that entertains with bright colors and repetitive, annoying sounds.

Toys these days rob children of their imaginative natural thinking by giving them too much input: sounds, flashing lights, and busy, busy colors and pictures, and activity! How is a child supposed to learn to think for himself or herself with all that going on?

Using my years of preschool teacher training and employment, and my years of being a mommy way back when, I've come up with these suggestions for great gifts for preschool aged children.

Creative thinking gifts for preschool babies and toddlers

1. Creative thinking toys for babies and toddlers during the preschool years

When choosing toys for children under age three, be sure to look for suggested ages. You'll want to get toys that have no small parts that might come loose and end up in a toddler's throat... and remember, they put *everything* in their mouths - it is part of their learning process.

Fantasy blocks for preschool aged children

HABA Fantasy Blocks
HABA Fantasy Blocks

Intriguing colors, patterns, and even sounds! These blocks for ages 1 to 3 are great for color and shape recognition.


2. Blocks and other creative thinking toys for preschoolers age three and up

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. There's nothing like plain old blocks to stimulate a preschool child's imagination - and you'll find them in every preschool.

I think every child needs a good old-fashioned set of blocks, and I prefer this colorful set because they're neurally stimulating to work with.

Blocks are important because they make children exercise their imaginations rather than have a toy be simple entertainment (which often gets old fast!)

A good old-fashioned set of colorful blocks!

Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set, Developmental Toy, 100 Blocks in 4 Colors and 9 Shapes, 13.5" H x 3.5" W x 9" L
Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set, Developmental Toy, 100 Blocks in 4 Colors and 9 Shapes, 13.5" H x 3.5" W x 9" L

These are intended for children aged 3 or older. For younger children, check the sets above.


For young architects ages three and up

Lincoln Logs Shady Pine Homestead 120 Pc
Lincoln Logs Shady Pine Homestead 120 Pc

Remember Lincoln Logs? They're still popular and are a great way to learn the basics of home building!


3. Art supplies for preschool aged children

Preschool children are natural artists. If you give them the materials they need to get started they'll surprise you with their innate creativity!

Creativity is one of the most important pursuits for human beings. Sadly, our schools over-emphasize left-brained activity like reading and math, while abandoning right-brained artistic pursuits for most children over age ten. By that age, if they're not seen as being especially artistically talented they begin to think they just can't do it. That is so sad because many budding artists are cut off from the practice and development they need to become better at some unique art form they may actually be very well suited for.

The solution is for parents to provide art materials at home, to emphasize the importance of creativity, and to encourage their young ones to keep trying and not to be discouraged just because some seven-year-old prodigy at school is able to do perfect line drawings that look like Rembrants!

4. Let's Play STORE!!!

Every child likes to pretend to be adult, and one great way to do that is to make believe you're a clerk in a store. This can include pretend money or, if your child is old enough to be trusted not to put it in his mouth or tear it up, real money.

This is a fun interactive game for kids. They can play the store clerk role, or the shopper role, then switch around. They can learn the prices expected for various items, and even learn to handle irate shoppers or clumsy store clerks! The variations are endless, bounded only by the fertile imaginations of children who will act out the things they've seen adults doing.

Watching them play 'make believe' can be a lot of fun too!


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    • Journey * profile image

      Nyesha Pagnou MPH 

      7 years ago from USA

      Very nice ideas. Thank you!

    • LindaJM profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Jo Martin 

      8 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Ah, you're most welcome! I hope this helps parents and grandparents to think about the simple toys that can help a child think more creatively!

    • almasi profile image


      8 years ago



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