Toys that inspire creativity

Tired of buying toys with all the bells and whistles just to find that they are quickly discarded or forgotten? It’s time to think outside the toy box. This holiday season, choose toys that will not only keep your kids engaged for hours but also spark their imaginations. The best creativity-boosters are open-ended toys that involve children in the process of play rather than directing them to a specific goal or outcome, according to experts. Here is a round up of great toys to keep those creative fires burning during winter break and far beyond.


Little hands will grasp, flatten, slide and exercise motor skills with the Skwish from Manhattan Toys. Its non-toxic finish also makes it great for teething. $16. Available locally at Classic Toys, and Over the Rainbow Toys, or for additional local retailers, visit

Owl & Penguin Stackers

They spin, wobble and stack. Mix and match the owl and penguin stackers for even more fun options. $34.95 each. For local retailers, visit

Habatown Blocks

Build homes and skyscrapers in your town as city planner. Have your little driver take the scenic route around his neighborhood in his car. $39.99. Available locally at Classic Toys, and Over the Rainbow Toys, or for additional local retailers, visit


With its curious design, dual-colored and textured spheres and each piece’s weight, your baby will have a blast stacking, toppling, spinning and balancing these Tobbles. $26.95. Available locally at Classic Toys, and Over the Rainbow Toys.

Pizza Party

Have a party with these wooden slices, cutting and serving tools. Or just make a creative mess with the 54 toppings included. $19.99. For local retailers, visit


With its interchangeable, colorful pieces, create any zany instrument you can imagine while learning about how to create different pitches. Can also be used to make water tunnels in the tub or to launch balls of paper – your imagination is the limit. $12.99. Available locally at Over the Rainbow Toys.


Make two dimensions become three and create anything you can imagine from rocket ships to towers or even animals. $49.99. For local retailers, visit

Dress Ups

Who says dress up has to be reserved for Halloween? Ignite your kid’s imagination with these costumes. Are they a princess? Superhero? Knight? Hear them tell you and enact their story. Under $40. Available locally at Classic Toys.


Soft and furry or winged and scaled, Folkmanis’ plush puppets will have your kids inventing new characters and worlds or narrating day-to-day activity in fun voices. $15 and up. Available locally at Classic Toys, and Over the Rainbow Toys, or for additional local retailers, visit

Mod Mobiles

Switch ‘em, swap ‘em, shift ‘em, race ‘em! With no snapping, clicking or latching, each ModMobile piece easily, yet firmly, slides into place in all kinds of ways. The creative-racing fun never stops. $22. For local retailers, visit

Wooden Fold & Go Farm

Is that a goat peeking out the upstairs window? He is keeping lookout for the other barn animals as they play in this sturdy, red, two-story barn. Take it anywhere with its bulky wooden handles. $49.99. For local retailers, visit

Sticky Monsters

Tegu’s Sticky Monsters will click and clack as your family rearranges their magnetic pieces making one of Tegu’s six monsters or their own creation! Will your monsters be mischievous or benevolent? Under $50. For local retailers, visit

Learn to Paint Set

From washable, non-toxic paint to easy-to-hold handles and a mixing pallet, the Learn to Paint set has everything your aspiring artist needs to create fridge-worthy artwork. $17.99. Available locally at Classic Toys, Just imagine Toys, Over the Rainbow Toy Store, Juneau’s Imagination Station.

Quadrilla Cyclone

Experiment with different connecting pieces and heights to make your marble runs reach different speeds. $179.99. Available locally at Classic Toys, Enchanted Forest Toys, and Over the Rainbow Toys.

Compose Yourself

With these transparent music cards and the computer program, compose your own music and hear it come to life with different instruments. Create familiar tunes or start original pieces. $19.99.


Create complex and intricate structures or random shapes by snapping together these Reptangles. Combine just two pieces in over a hundred different ways. $27.95. Available locally at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum.

Lego Classic Sets

The building possibilities are endless, with classic bricks in 29 different colors and special pieces including doors, windows, wheels, eyes and propellers. $14.99. Available locally at Classic Toys.

Ball of Whacks

Despite its name, the Ball of Whacks is way more than a ball. Each of its rhomic pyramid pieces fit together magnetically, letting your artist, engineer or tinkerer rearrange it endlessly and effortlessly. $35. Available locally at Classic Toys and Just Imagine Toys.


Start the ball rolling and learn the basic principles of physics while creating ramps, chutes and bridges. KEVA contraptions doesn’t require glue, connectors or anything other than its wooden planks and light-weight balls. $49.95. For local retailers, visit

Pop ’Emz

Stick them in the tub, on a sliding door or even a car window to create pictures, patterns, play games, or more. Pop them off and use them again and again – the fun is endless. $19.95. Classic Toys and Over the Rainbow Toys.

Q-BA-Maze 2.0

With 72 easy-to-assemble pieces, this big box playset is great for teaching children to embrace their creativity and design engineering marvels. $49.95. Available locally at Classic Toys, Fairbanks Children’s Museum, Just Imagine Toys and Over the Rainbow Toys.

Crazy Action Contraptions

With the addition of gears and axles, your teens will be busy for hours putting together new contraptions. Use the guidebook with 16 unique projects, or let the imagination run wild. $21.95. Available locally at Classic Toys.


Drift. Drive. Launch. Crash. Ollie is up for any challenge you throw at him. Create combos to have Ollie perform tricks. How? All through a simple phone app. $99.99.

Goobi Magnets

Connect these sturdy magnetic rods to create skyscrapers, cubes or dodecahedrons – all while working the imagination and reducing stress. $69.99. For local retailers, visit


Catch the colored ball on the cupped end of this mallet – an easy task, right? Think again. Challenge your teens to learn these basic Kendama manuevers and compete with them to see who can do the most tricks for hours of family fun. $9.95. Available locally at Classic Toys and Just Imagine Toys.