Top 5 Toys to Encourage Family Play
Toys aren't just for kids! Here at Creative QT we believe in Making Time Together, and play is a great way to be intentional about spending time with your loved ones. Play can be just as much fun for Mom and Dad, as it is for the kids... especially if you have these awesome open-ended toys to enjoy together!
1. Building Bricks
This is kind of an obvious choice for us as we are beyond obsessed with building bricks. What's so great about them you ask? Well, we think they are timeless and engaging for all ages. They are open-ended and simply require your imagination and creativity. It's actually really therapeutic to sit down with your kids and just build from scratch. You can build together, or just next to each other. Either way you are engaging with your kids (and also enjoying some creative play yourself!).
One huge advantage that building bricks have is that you can select age appropriate bricks for your family. For example, our one year old loves Mega Bloks and DUPLOs as they are nice and big and can easily slot together and pull apart. Our 4 year old on the other hand is a LEGO kind of guy. We often get a fun mix of bricks out and sit together creating and chatting. Our Peel 'n Stick Baseplates are perfect as they are compatible with all three types of brick, creating the perfect foundation for family building. Below is a picture of our Abstract DUPLO Art activity, which required LEGOs and DUPLOs.
2. Magnetic Tiles
There are many different brands available, with the most common being Magna-Tiles. The main reason we think these are great for the whole family is because they are so open-ended and can be easily manipulated. Be sure to purchase enough to make a variety of creations, we'd recommend at least 50 tiles per child in your family. We'd also recommend getting a set that has some interesting pieces in- for example car bases or window shapes. This is actually the reason we like the Picasso Tile sets (and they are cheaper!!). They have a variety of shapes and you can get car bases which hook onto each other. This is great for making houses and vehicles as a family!
As an adult it can be fun to return to your childhood days and reconnect with your inner imagination! We often sit together after dinner as a family and make elaborate castles or freight trains. Even our youngest family member, who is only one, is able to stack the tiles and make basic shapes. She is also very good at destroying creations! One of our favorite family activities is to put the tiles on our DIY Lightbox (underbed storage box, white tissue paper taped to underside of lid, and battery operate fairy lights inside).
3. Play Dough
We know some parents avoid play dough because of it's messy nature, but it is a great way to get the whole family creating together! We love making simple invitations to play, with themed loose parts and play dough. Presentation is key- we'd highly recommend setting up your materials in a chip tray. Keeping things organized and accessible to all family members will encourage everyone to be engaged. It's also a great idea to invest in some play dough tools such as rollers, cutters, scissors etc. A simple set up like the one below will spark the imaginations of all family members- young and old!
If you have a younger family member, there are some great companies out there who offer all natural play dough so that you are not panicking about toxin exposure as baby eats half the pot! Our top recommendation is Doughlicious- their play dough seriously smells delicious. Take a look at their recent guest blog post for more info. Babies love getting their hands on new materials, and older kids will enjoy engineering with it too. Our family had a blast with this fun 'Build a Chicken Coop' STEAM challenge using our Doughlicious play dough.
4. Train Set
Train sets are another great timeless toy that the whole family can enjoy. Engineering a track is a great STEAM activity. Younger ones will enjoy chugging the trains along the rails, whilst older ones will take their play a step further to include role play and story telling. Combining other toys with your train set is a good way to extend the play. For example, why not add some Mega Bloks and spend the evening building a huge train jump as a family- an idea from one of our favorite train books, Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Petersen. Or add some LEGO mini figures to bring the train town to life?
One activity we all enjoy as a family is to combine our train tracks and play rug. Creative QT's Funfield City Play Rug is perfect as it has both roads and tracks, as well as a whole city to explore. We often grab a fun selection of trains, track, cars, and city accessories and let our creativity take over. See our blog about extending our play rug play for more ideas!
5. Play House
Whether it's a dollhouse, or a full sized outdoor play house, we think they all encourage fantastic role play and creativity. A pretend kitchen is also a great idea for serving up some family fun! We actually took things a step further and transformed our IKEA FLISAT Dollhouse into a building brick compatible play house to indulge our family's passion for LEGOs! We spent ages decorating the interior of each room, as well as moving a LEGO family into the house. So much fun role play and story telling!
We hope we've given you some ideas for freshening up your family play. It can be tough to find toys that keep all members (especially Mom & Dad) engaged and happy. Remember to go for open-ended toys which require creativity and imagination!
Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.
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