I am a season of purging… Remember my word for 2013, simplify? No, well, I haven’t talked much about it as adding a new little one into the mix tends to complicate matters instead. Not that we’d have it any other way.

But, moving from a 3000 square-foot house into a 790 square-foot house has made us painfully aware that we have too many things. Things we don’t need. Things the kids don’t play with. Things that will likely never be missed once I get everyone out of the house for a day or two and bag it all up to donate or toss.

What’s my criteria for what stays and what goes? Simple, really… As I’m hoping to ignite a lifelong love of learning in my kids, and I value creative and critical thinking above all things – in play and life – I want the toys that stay to inspire creativity and creative play for all the ages that live under my roof. So, if it’s a toy that does it all for you…it’s gone. I want open-ended. I want imaginations to soar.


10 Toys that Inspire Creativity via RaisingLifelongLearners.com

So, what makes up my top ten favorites? Well… they’re more categories than actual toys. And, to be on-par with FTC disclosure policies, I want you to know that the amazon links below are affiliate links. That simply means if you click on them and purchase something, I get a small commission from amazon for sending you over, nothing changes on your end, and you help us buy more great toys and books for our eclectic homeschool. Thanks for your support! Now, on to my favorites…


Building Toys

This “toy’” is a bit of a cheat because I’m actually sharing several, but I think they all go together. Open-ended building play takes up a lot of time in the Kessler household. While I’d LOVE to get rid of several of the following, I just can’t. Amazing things happen when I toss a box or two on the floor and start reading aloud. The kids enact the historical periods I’m reading about, come up with amazing 3-dimensional structures, or make towers to crash. It’s fabulous.


10 Toys that Inspire Creativity via RaisingLifelongLearners.com

We love:


Train Table

We bought a Nilo Train Table when Trevor was two. It has been the best thing we have ever purchased. We’ve extended the legs to make it taller, added bins for storage underneath, and a bench for more storage and sitting. And there are more accessories we can add on in the future. It still looks as good as it did eight years ago and three kids later. It’s been used for train, cars, building, LEGO bricks, art, and as a fort. We love it.


10 Toys that Inspire Creativity via RaisingLifelongLearners.com



Whether it’s a curtain suspended in a doorway on a tension rod, corner of the room partitioned off, a little stage built out of wood or a free-standing puppet theater, kids love to have a place to perform “shows.” We’ve had several different set-ups for the kids, and Molly and Logan in particular never tire of performing for anyone who will sit still. Check out these {we have one similar to the first, and I want the second!}:


Magic Kit

Trevor has a few simple magic tricks and wants a few more… I love watching hi try to perfect the tricks and try them out on people. He uses creativity as he theatrically presents his tricks, and critical thinking as he times them up so that the illusion holds. We’ve purchased various kits and individual tricks over the years. Here are a few kits we’ve enjoyed:



It took me a long time to find a dollhouse I liked for the girls. I was pretty strict in my search. I wanted wooden. I wanted a house that let them be the designers and the sound effects. I finally found one I loved, and of course we need all sorts of accessories to play with in it:


Art Supplies

Though it’s tough, I need to let go of my need to control the outcome and just let my kids create. The girls especially love to paint, draw, color, cut, and glue. I need to offer them more time to get messy. {And not freak out when I see those messes.}


10 Toys that Inspire Creativity via RaisingLifelongLearners.com


Play House

We love our log cabin play house. It’s been in the basement, on the back deck, under a tree, in the middle of the yard, and this summer {hopefully} it will be smothered in sweet peas as the girls plan to train their peas to climb rope strung over its roof. We got our for a steal at a garage sale, and if you’re patient, you could too. We also had a cardboard one in the house for a bit that the kids loved to color. Neither of the ones we have had are made anymore, but the cardboard one below is similar to ours. And, wouldn’t the wooden log cabin be awesome?


10 Toys that Inspire Creativity via RaisingLifelongLearners.com


Tents and Tunnels

I’m pretty sure it’s a fact that all kids love tents and tunnels. We have a large supply and bring them out on various occasions. I love that they fold up easily for storage and can be used anywhere.


Role-Play Toys

While I don’t have room in my teeny house to set up a mini version of our own home, I do have an area in the basement that has an old chair {living room}, a toy kitchen, and doll nursery. Role play is so important for young children, and I want my kids to play what they see me doing. In their little home, they can cook, wash dishes, and take care of their babies. Even my big kid likes to join his sisters in role play. Here are some things we have to get you started:


The Great Outdoors

So nature isn’t technically a toy, but it does inspire creativity. It’s so important to forget about all that stuff I mentioned above and simply get outside! Your kids can become explorers as you hike through the woods. They can be landscapers or master gardeners with a small plot of land. Simply being out in the fresh air can stir a child’s imagination – do you remember the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett? Little Mary Lennox began to thrive in the outdoors. The wind whipped color into her cheeks and stirred her blood just as her conversations with a robin stirred her imagination. Help your child find adventures like these.


10 Toys that Inspire Creativity via RaisingLifelongLearners.com


How about you? What are YOUR top ten favorite creativity-sparking toys and playthings?


Every Tuesday, for the next ten weeks, I will be participating in a special Ten in Ten blog hop with iHomeschool Network. This blog hop is inspired by  Angie of Many Little Blessings. We would love to have you join us during our ten week adventure. Please link up at Angie’s blog by clicking the image below.