Your kiddo’s screen-time adoration isn’t exactly imagination-inspiring. While some tech-friendly activities are perfectly okay (and educational too!), toys that encourage pretend play and foster creativity are where it’s at. Open-ended toys that have almost infinite uses, STEAM selections, and anything that inspires drama, drama, and more drama can make a major difference when it comes to how your child plays. Before your little one’s eyes glaze over as they put their fave YouTube clip on repeat, check out the play-things that can break the screen cycle right now.
1. Pottery Barn Kids Retro Kitchen Collection ($269): Go back in time, transporting your kiddo to their grandparents’ childhood kitchen. Your little chef can explore, invent, or play all day with these pint-sized picks.
2. Melissa & Doug Multi-Level Solid Wood Dollhouse ($150): With three levels, 19 pieces of furniture, and two movable staircases, this dollhouse is ready for hours of pretend play.
3. Kraftic Kid’s Drawing Easel ($35): Set up this easel and watch what happens. With a few paintbrushes, a rainbow of tempera paints, markers, crayons, or any other art material, your creative kid will put their imagination to use! Put the craft projects away and let your mini Monet play with the process.
4. Innocheer Kids Musical Instruments ($25): March in a kid-led band, play with sounds, or make tempo-driven patterns. Getting musical helps your child to express themselves — and bonus, they can engage in pretend play too.
5. Aeromax Personalized Jr. Astronaut Suit ($50+): Your wanna-be astronaut can play the role of NASA professional in this kid-sized costume. Even though it’s fine to act out an astronaut scene minus the costume, this dress-up pick adds an extra something to your child’s playful day.
6. MOD Complete Extra Large Wood Building Blocks ($46): Get 64 organic, BPA-free naturally finished wooden building blocks in this set. Your child can build skyscrapers, create a town, or just let their imagination carry them away.
7. Rainbow Wooden Peg Dolls ($46): A dozen dolls can take your child’s day from dull and drab to fun and fab. These colorful ones are the ideal pick for your preschooler’s playtime.
8. Sprout San Francisco Assorted Fruit & Vegetable Set ($30): Whether your child has a play kitchen or not, this toy food set is about to become your culinary cutie’s best friend. Kids can serve up a tray of healthy eats, play the role of chef, or imagine a menu filled with magical treats.
9. Farm Animal Toys Puppet Bag ($27): There’s no rule saying imaginative play can’t equal an organized good time. This puppet bag keeps everything in order while still inspiring plenty of fun.