mindful living, effortless style

MPMK Gift Guide: Best Supplies for Art, Crafts & Sensory Play

MPMK Toy Gift Guide: best art supplies for kids for open-ended creativity - all great to have on hand for a rainy day! Wonderful age recommendations and detailed descriptions here.

Welcome to the famous MPMK Gift Guides and congrats on finding the most comprehensive and easy-to-use kids’ gift guide on the internet! (If you’re not familiar with our famous lists, learn all about them here)…

Plus: See the Latest Sales on All our Picks Here!!

Yay! I’m so excited it’s time to talk about art supplies as part of this year’s Gift Guide collection.  This is one of my favorites. But that probably doesn’t surprise you, huh?  You all know how much I love anything that promotes open-ended creativity… I believe that every house with kids has to have a stocked art drawer – if not an entire art closet!

I absolutely love gifting my kids art supplies because I know that while using them they’ll be flexing their creative thinking skills and likely spending a lot of time doing so independently.  Plus – big bonus – because these supplies get used up, they don’t contribute to a huge pile of toys that will inevitably lead to power struggles between me and the kids over clean-up time.

Don’t forget – you can check out all 15 of our 2016 Gift Guides here!

Also, I’m doing my best this year to keep our readers up-to-date on any sales I see on our gift guide items.  To be in the loop, be sure to

Follow us on facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

Once again this year, I’m heading up each list with my favorites from all the picks – here are my

My Top 15 Art Supplies for Open-Ended Creativity

#1 Crayola Inspiration Art Case $39.99 (3 – 12 years)

This 150 piece art set gets great marks for everything from it’s special looking case that keeps all the components snapped in place to the quality of the art supplies inside. If your child is getting serious about art, this gift will show them you are proud of their burgeoning skills and it’s sure to thrill. My son and daughter seem so much more motivated to create since they received their own art case- and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the attractive case has them always picking up their art supplies and taking care of them with pride.

#2 Boogie Board 8.5-Inch LCD Writing Tablet $20.99 (4 – 12 years)

I had never heard of these awesome writing/drawing devices until a friend’s sister (who is also an elementary school teacher) told me about how crazy popular they are. Much like a magnadoodle for older, more tech-savy, kids, these ultra thin and light “tablets” are a great way to encourage sketching and writing at home or on the go. And the price absolutely can’t be beat. Kids use the stainless steel stylus (or anything else) to write or draw. The board will retain an image indefinitely without power until it is erased with the touch of a button – and a friendly flash from the liquid crystal display. Comes in lots of bright colors so each kid can have their own, easily identifiable board.

#3  VTech Kidizoom Camera Connect $33.99 (3 – 8 years)

Photography is an amazing art to introduce to your children at a young age.  Encouraging them to get behind the lens gives them a different perspective on their surroundings and gives them some control of their world. Plus, if you tend to take a lot of photos of your kids (ahem), getting them into photography will make them more likely to put up with your shutter bug tendencies. We’ve had a few digital kid cameras in the past and, while the kids have always been excited about them, they all produced poor picture quality, were difficult for the kids to operate on their own, and broke easily.  So I’m always on the lookout for a better designed kid camera. This 4-in-1 option gets rave reviews and I love all the creative ways there are for kids to edit photos and make videos. From the manufacturer, “This real 1.3 megapixel kids’ camera comes with a 4x digital zoom. Your child will take digital pictures with special built-in photo effects and even record video movies with sound. Features 5 voice-changing effects and has a free animation maker is available for download.”

#4 Crayola Marker Maker $27.99 (7 – 12 years)

This kit is a great way to help kids learn all about color theory in an exciting, hands-on way. It’s also a great way to extend coloring time and get your little artist mixing and concocting along with drawing and coloring. One reviewer wrote, “My daughter is 9 years old and was so excited to get this. She had a blast for over an hour playing around making markers and concocting colors and she still has plenty to make. What you get is a nicely made and completely contained kit that folds open for use and folds up to carry and store. Then you get parts for making 16 markers including the nib, tube, foam insert, end cap and cap. There are three ink bottles and two mixing tubes. There is a mixing chart as well to use as a guide but you can also create your own color combinations. Coming up with fun color names adds to the creativity. My daughter had a blast making her own markers, labeling them and writing with them. She especially liked watching the ink wick up the foam insert and nib. I like how they are self contained, there is very little chance of making a big mess and parental involvement includes just basic supervision.” To extend your child’s fun even more, also check out the wacky tips version as well as the refill packs.

#5 Ed Emberely Drawing & Art Books starting at $6.29 (5+ years)

These books are just so cool for kids that have a passion for art because they can use them to teach themselves how to draw all the things they want to.  We started with the thumbprint book, which is great for younger kids, and recently added the animal and vehicle drawing books for my son’s 6th birthday as well as Picture Pie, which incorporates built in stencils and cutting and pasting shapes to make things step by step instead of just drawing. Both my 5 year old and 7 year old are crazy for that one right now.

#6 The Mandala Coloring Book $9.19 (5+ years)

Mandala style coloring books have become all the range for helping adults to relax and relieve stress. So, of course, they are wonderful for children for the same things! One reviewer wrote of this one, “purchased this book for my five year old son as a gift. I am stunned with how he is able to put together amazing looking drawings with ease. He absolutely loves colouring them in. He is usually a very, very active child but this book has had an incredible calming effect on him. Not only whilst he is colouring but also when he has finished. He is incredibly proud of the end results and I have to say I am bowled over with the completed pictures. It’s become one of his new favourite pastimes and we as parents feel blessed with how colouring these beautiful mandalas has calmed his general behaviour! My wife and I have also become somewhat addicted to colouring and the effects that it is having on us.. so much so that we have bought two more copies so we can all colour at once! A truly beautiful book that will keep our family busy with 100 wonderful designs. I can’t recommend this book enough!

#7 Crayola Oil Pastels $4.37 (2+ years)

With their creamy and vivid colors, kids can tell there’s something extra special about oil pastel crayons as soon as they start using them.  They’re also fantastic for learning about color theory because they blend to create true secondary colors.

#8 Klutz Paper Flying Kits

  1. Klutz Paper Flying Dragons Craft Kit $13.30 (6 – 12 years)

    Our babysitter gifted my 6 1/2 year old son this super-cool book last year and he has had so much fun making the flying dragons and testing them out. From the publisher, “Made of sturdy card stock, these 12 fearsome, stunning dragons are ready to fold and fly. Use expert tips to build a custom dragon, then read on for fascinating dragon facts written by award-winning science fiction author Pat Murphy.” If you’re trying to picture what this is, think a punch out book that makes really good paper airplanes, except they’re dragons! This one is sure to be a hit with any kids who’s a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, and pretty much every other kid too from what I can tell. One of my favorite parts about the book/kit is that once kids construct their dragons, it provides ideas on how to make tweaks to achieve different flight path results. The book is also full of all kind of interesting facts about dragons and different dragon species. Parents rave about the beauty of the illustrations, the high quality of the paper, and the fact that even the tape is included!..

  2. And if you have an airplane lover in the house, be sure to also check out the classic Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes Kits which also gets amazing reviews!

  3. Klutz Star Wars Folded Flyers: Make 30 Paper Starfighters Craft Kit $16.99 (6 – 12 years)

    If you have a Star Wars lover in the house, be sure to also check out this Star Wars version. From the publisher, “each of the six-starfighter designs has been rigorously tested by the Klutz Aerodynamics Team. And they look as great as they fly, because they’re made from full-color, custom-designed papers – representing galactic vehicle exteriors, authentic to the last bolt. With five copies of each design, kids can have a fleet of Y-wings and X-wings at their command.”

#9 Crayola Telescoping Crayon Tower $14.99 (4+ years)

This is such a clever (and exciting) way to gift your kids a basic crayon set.  It’s a storage case that expands into a handy dandy dispensing tower with an included crayon sharpener. The grandparents have this at there house and our kids beg to take it out all the time.

#10 Play-Doh Case of Colors $9.99 along with this Play-Doh Clay Center with Storage Case $29.99 (2 – 10 years)

Although not completely mess-free, Play-doh really is the ultimate quiet time art toy.  It’s unbelievably engaging to kids of all ages and, as long as you prep your space well with a table cloth or large placemats, allows for quick and easy cleanup.  Of course you can always make your own, but I like to also have a few tubs of the pre-made stuff on hand for when we don’t have time.  I also highly recommend the clay center with storage case.  It’ll give your kids tons of tools to keep them occupied and you a handy place to store them all when they’re done.

#11 Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad starting at $3.99 (3 – 10 years)

Got a sticker lover in the house?  Welcome to the genius of reusable stickers! My kids love peeling them all off and rearranging them in the various settings over and over.  They’re also great for traveling and there are tons of themes to choose from. These books are one of the most popular items on my gift guides each year because they pack in so much bang for your buck. And if you’re looking for permanent stickers, Melissa & Doug also makes some really fabulous books for that too- my kids especially love the Make-a-Face Sticker Pad and the Make-a-Meal Sticker Pad.

#12 Twistz Bandz Rainbow Loom $15.79 (5+ years)

Billed by many as “the runaway toy of the year” a few years back, this award winning loom is the most exciting thing to happen to kid jewelry since the advent of the friendship bracelet. Using a special loom and the multitude of colorful twistz bandz that come in this kit along with a myriad of video tutorials available on YouTube, kids will spend hours happily creating with this fun kit.

#13 Spirograph Deluxe Design Kit $22.99 (7 – 15 years)

I get so excited when the toys I loved as a kid come back into vogue! I remember spending HOURS playing with my spirograph as a kid. The things you can make with this are unlimited but also so impressive looking. This one is a classic for a reason and the 50th anniversary edition has some cool extras including a carrying case with a built-in work surface and putty to keep the spirographs in place (so smart)… I also love, and will be buying for our daughter this year, this Spirograph and Spirograph Coloring Book Combo Kit that comes with a spirograph set as well as a spirograph coloring book, similar to the mandala style coloring books highlighted in this guide, and colored pencils.

#14 Alex My First Sewing Kit $38.95 (5+ years with some adult help)

I love the idea of teaching our kids to be creative beyond the crayons and markers at a young age.  This best-selling and highly rated first sewing kit is such a great way to do that.  I think any kid would love it but little girls with moms (or grandmas) who sew will be especially excited to receive one.

#15 Lulu Jr. Book and Comic Book Making Kits starting at $20.97 (4 – 12 years)

These award winning kits allow your children to author, illustrate, and publish their very own book hard cover book. My daughter and I have been making books together at home for a while now so I’m excited to surprise her with this kit allowing her to make a professionally printed book. I also love the comic book making kit for kids who need a little encouragement in the areas of reading and writing. From the manufacturer, “Lulu Jr. allows children to become published authors, encouraging creativity, strengthening literacy and building self-esteem. Your child writes and illustrates their own original story that will be printed as a full-color, hardcover, professionally printed book. You choose whether to mail your completed book pages to us in the included prepaid envelope, or you and your child can create the book online. The final product showcases your child as the published author on the book’s back cover using our ‘About the Author’ feature. With Lulu Jr.’s award-winning book-making kits, IlluStory, My Comic Book and My Awesome Book, children can realize their potential as an author and artist. With 800,000 kits sold and over 15 industry awards, Lulu Jr. is the ideal destination for young authors. “… For younger kids, also check out the low-tech Create Your Own 3 Bitty Books kit that allows them to make three of their own mini-board books for only $10.

Read on for the rest of my favorite Art Supplies for Open-Ended Creativity…

 Gift guide: best art supplies for open-ended creativity - all great to have on hand for a rainy day!

Innovative Art Supplies Every Kid Should Have

Ed Emberely Drawing & Art Books starting at $6.29 (7+ years)

These books are just so cool for kids that have a passion for art because they can use them to teach themselves how to draw all the things they want to.  We started with the thumbprint book, which is great for younger kids, and recently added the animal and vehicle drawing books for my son’s 6th birthday as well as Picture Pie, which incorporates built in stencils and cutting and pasting shapes to make things step by step instead of just drawing. Both my 5 year old and 7 year old are crazy for that one right now.

Crayola Marker Maker $27.99 (7 – 12 years)

This kit is a great way to help kids learn all about color theory in an exciting, hands-on way. It’s also a great way to extend coloring time and get your little artist mixing and concocting along with drawing and coloring. One reviewer wrote, “My daughter is 9 years old and was so excited to get this. She had a blast for over an hour playing around making markers and concocting colors and she still has plenty to make. What you get is a nicely made and completely contained kit that folds open for use and folds up to carry and store. Then you get parts for making 16 markers including the nib, tube, foam insert, end cap and cap. There are three ink bottles and two mixing tubes. There is a mixing chart as well to use as a guide but you can also create your own color combinations. Coming up with fun color names adds to the creativity. My daughter had a blast making her own markers, labeling them and writing with them. She especially liked watching the ink wick up the foam insert and nib. I like how they are self contained, there is very little chance of making a big mess and parental involvement includes just basic supervision.” To extend your child’s fun even more, also check out the wacky tips version as well as the refill packs.

Crayola Inspiration Art Case $39.99 (3 – 12 years)

This 150 piece art set gets great marks for everything from it’s special looking case that keeps all the components snapped in place to the quality of the art supplies inside. If your child is getting serious about art, this gift will show them you are proud of their burgeoning skills and it’s sure to thrill. My son and daughter seem so much more motivated to create since they received their own art case- and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the attractive case has them always picking up their art supplies and taking care of them with pride.

Crayola Watercolor Colored Pencils $7.51 (3+ years)

These cool new pencils start as extra vivid colored pencils but they also have a secret trick. Add a little water and kids can experiment with all sorts of watercolor effects (with very little mess). These are a great stocking stuffer idea if you have an art-lover at home.

Crayola Oil Pastels $4.37 (2+ years)

With their creamy and vivid colors, kids can tell there’s something extra special about oil pastel crayons as soon as they start using them.  They’re also fantastic for learning about color theory because they blend to create true secondary colors.

Crayola Telescoping Crayon Tower $14.99 (4+ years)

This is such a clever (and exciting) way to gift your kids a basic crayon set.  It’s a storage case that expands into a handy dandy dispensing tower with an included crayon sharpener. The grandparents have this at there house and our kids beg to take it out all the time.

Crayola Color Alive Color Action Pages – Minions $5.97 (4 – 10 years)

The concept behind these come-to-life coloring pages is just so cool. And I absolutely love how they merge hands-on creativity with tech. From crayola, “changes coloring forever by blending traditional coloring with a virtual experience. With a special app and crayon, kids can take coloring to the next level, bringing their creations to life”. Wherever kids color with the special crayon will show up as some kind of special effect, like sparkling ice, in the app. Check out the reviews, and especially the pictures that reviewers have uploaded and you’ll be convinced to try it. (And there are lots of pages available in the characters your kids love.) MPMK Toy Gift Guide: Best Art Supplies, Art Books and Art Kits for Kids - So many cool and interesting picks here, love the age recommendations and detailed reviews.

Art Books & Kits

Klutz Paper Flying Kits

  1. Klutz Paper Flying Dragons Craft Kit $13.30 (6 – 12 years)

    Our babysitter gifted my 6 1/2 year old son this super-cool book last year and he has had so much fun making the flying dragons and testing them out. From the publisher, “Made of sturdy card stock, these 12 fearsome, stunning dragons are ready to fold and fly. Use expert tips to build a custom dragon, then read on for fascinating dragon facts written by award-winning science fiction author Pat Murphy.” If you’re trying to picture what this is, think a punch out book that makes really good paper airplanes, except they’re dragons! This one is sure to be a hit with any kids who’s a fan of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, and pretty much every other kid too from what I can tell. One of my favorite parts about the book/kit is that once kids construct their dragons, it provides ideas on how to make tweaks to achieve different flight path results. The book is also full of all kind of interesting facts about dragons and different dragon species. Parents rave about the beauty of the illustrations, the high quality of the paper, and the fact that even the tape is included!..

  2. And if you have an airplane lover in the house, be sure to also check out the classic Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes Kits which also gets amazing reviews!

  3. Klutz Star Wars Folded Flyers: Make 30 Paper Starfighters Craft Kit $16.99 (6 – 12 years)

    If you have a Star Wars lover in the house, be sure to also check out this Star Wars version. From the publisher, “each of the six-starfighter designs has been rigorously tested by the Klutz Aerodynamics Team. And they look as great as they fly, because they’re made from full-color, custom-designed papers – representing galactic vehicle exteriors, authentic to the last bolt. With five copies of each design, kids can have a fleet of Y-wings and X-wings at their command.”

Spirograph Deluxe Design Kit $22.99 (7 – 15 years)

I get so excited when the toys I loved as a kid come back into vogue! I remember spending HOURS playing with my spirograph as a kid. The things you can make with this are unlimited but also so impressive looking. This one is a classic for a reason and the 50th anniversary edition has some cool extras including a carrying case with a built-in work surface and putty to keep the spirographs in place (so smart)… I also love, and will be buying for our daughter this year, this Spirograph and Spirograph Coloring Book Combo Kit that comes with a spirograph set, as well as a spirograph coloring book, similar to the mandala style coloring books highlighted in this guide, and colored pencils.

The Mandala Coloring Book $9.19 (5+ years)

Mandala style coloring books have become all the range for helping adults to relax and relieve stress. So, of course, they are wonderful for children for the same things! One reviewer wrote of this one, “purchased this book for my five year old son as a gift. I am stunned with how he is able to put together amazing looking drawings with ease. He absolutely loves colouring them in. He is usually a very, very active child but this book has had an incredible calming effect on him. Not only whilst he is colouring but also when he has finished. He is incredibly proud of the end results and I have to say I am bowled over with the completed pictures. It’s become one of his new favourite pastimes and we as parents feel blessed with how colouring these beautiful mandalas has calmed his general behaviour! My wife and I have also become somewhat addicted to colouring and the effects that it is having on us.. so much so that we have bought two more copies so we can all colour at once! A truly beautiful book that will keep our family busy with 100 wonderful designs. I can’t recommend this book enough!

Sticky Mosaic Kits $14.79 (5 – 12 years)

I really appreciate that kids can open up these engaging mosaic kits and start creating right away. The sticker-by-number format is easy to master and kids will spend hours peeling and sticking the shiny and glittery stickers onto each sheet. I also love the vast variety of themes in these kits. From unicorns and card-making kits to dragons and pirates, there’s something for everyone… Also check out the over-sized My First Sticky Mosaic kits starts at $5.63 (3 – 8 years) to include younger kids in on the fun.

Fashion Design Portfolio $7.93 (7 – 12 years)

At first glance I wasn’t overly impressed with this fashion portfolio and accompanying stencils. But then I read the glowing reviews and remembered how much I loved sketching outfits like this when I was a girl and realized that I would have been elated to have a deluxe kit like this one! Plus, it’s a great price for what looks to be a very solid and popular toy.

My Little Pony Full Size Sketch Portfolio with Art Set $10.29 (4 – 10 years)

If your little girl is into stencils and design but not so into fashion, this My Little Pony sketch portfolio set is equally cool. I’m eyeing this one for my 5 year old this Christmas. I love the options to use lots of different tools, from stencils to stickers, to make each pony look unique. My daughter is loving both My Little Ponies and stencils right now so I know this will be a winner. Plus, she always adores anything that’s presented as a self-contained kit that she can pack around with her. (And I love stuff that works well in the car too.)

Lulu Jr. Book and Comic Book Making Kits starting at $20.97 (4 – 12 years)

These award winning kits allow your children to author, illustrate, and publish their very own book hard cover book. My daughter and I have been making books together at home for a while now so I’m excited to surprise her with this kit allowing her to make a professionally printed book. I also love the comic book making kit for kids who need a little encouragement in the areas of reading and writing. From the manufacturer, “Lulu Jr. allows children to become published authors, encouraging creativity, strengthening literacy and building self-esteem. Your child writes and illustrates their own original story that will be printed as a full-color, hardcover, professionally printed book. You choose whether to mail your completed book pages to us in the included prepaid envelope, or you and your child can create the book online. The final product showcases your child as the published author on the book’s back cover using our ‘About the Author’ feature. With Lulu Jr.’s award-winning book-making kits, IlluStory, My Comic Book and My Awesome Book, children can realize their potential as an author and artist. With 800,000 kits sold and over 15 industry awards, Lulu Jr. is the ideal destination for young authors. “… For younger kids, also check out the low-tech Create Your Own 3 Bitty Books kit that allows them to make three of their own mini-board books for only $10.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book $14.39 (3 – 8 years)

The hilarious Mo Willems plus lots of activities to keep the kids happy, what more do I need to say?

Doodle Cook $13.45 (4+ years with some adult help or reading age+)

I had the chance to review this unique coloring/activity book masquerading as a cookbook last year (see here for the full review).  I was really impressed.  What I liked most was that the “recipes” start the kids off with specific instructions (“draw four lines on the plate.  Make the lines nice and straight”) but also include lots of open-ended components to encourage creativity (“Garnish the kebabs with colors or patterns”).  It’s a big book too.  Not only does it have 20 different recipes, but it measures nearly 10″ x 14″ in size, providing lots of space for your littles to express themselves. My son and I used this book for our special one-on-one time for nearly a month straight before running out of pages – he LOVED it.

Best Art Supplies for Toddlers - So many cool and interesting picks here, love the age recommendations and detailed reviews.

Best Beginning Art Supplies for Toddlers

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Standing Easel $58.99 (2+ years)

There’s nothing like an art easel always set-up and waiting to entice a child to start creating! The folding design of this one makes it easy to store when not in use too, which I love. One side is a chalkboard, the other’s a dry erase board, and in between the two easel sides is a dowel for holding a butcher paper roll. Pull the paper through to either side of the easel for your child to paint or draw. Once the painting is complete, the paper can be torn neatly against the top of the frame and set aside to dry. The multiple options for making art will keep kids interested AND allow more then one child to use it at once so it’s great for siblings. From the Amazon review, “Our preschool-aged toy tester enjoyed working on the easel, whether she was drawing with chalk or painting with poster paints. In fact, her creative output increased significantly with the easel. She especially enjoyed mixing paints to make different colors. Like many children her age, she likes standing while engaged in creative play, and the easel makes it much easier for her to draw and paint large pictures without having to reach awkwardly across a table surface or kneel on the floor.” This easel along with the Melissa & Doug Easel Accessory Set will get your little artist ready to go.

Do-A-Dot Art Marker Rainbow 6-pack $15.99 (12 – 36 months)

To most of the world, these big dot markers look like something you use for BINGO night at the local community center. If you have young children and have spent much time in a toddler group or preschool, however, you might recognize these as the perfect first art tool for young toddlers. Their long, round shape make them easy for little hands to hold and the simple stamping movement is easier to master than traditional coloring. There are even a whole line of Do-a-Dot activity books to go along with these markers once your little one has the action down. If you want to expand your collection of markers, this Tutti Fruiti Shimmer Pack is pretty fun too.

ALEX® Toys – Early Learning First Scribble $10.58 (18 months – 3 years)

This is the perfect first coloring book as all it requires are scribbles. Parents report that it’s a nice, heavy duty book and a great keepsake for some of your child’s first attempts at art.

Junior Rubbing Plates $16.26 (2+ years)

These classic rubbing plates are fun for all ages, but are especially great for the youngsters.  Use them to create lots of different creatures (a horse-bird or butterphant perhaps?) in various colors and textures.  It’s amazing how creative kids can get with such simple little plates. Note: for young kids, these plates work best if you tape them to the table before beginning.

Play-Doh Case of Colors $9.99 along with this Play-Doh Clay Center with Storage Case $29.99 (2 – 10 years) 

Although not completely mess-free, Play-doh really is the ultimate quiet time art toy.  It’s unbelievably engaging to kids of all ages and, as long as you prep your space well with a table cloth or large placemats, allows for quick and easy cleanup.  Of course you can always make your own, but I like to also have a few tubs of the pre-made stuff on hand for when we don’t have time.  I also highly recommend the clay center with storage case.  It’ll give your kids tons of tools to keep them occupied and you a handy place to store them all when they’re done.

Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad $23.99 (2 – adult)

I wrote an entire post last year called “Meet the Light Box – Your New Must Have Toy?“, in which I explored all the amazing things you can do with one of these.  Since then a whole new crop of bloggers have been having fun with light panels/light tables at home and the possibilities have grown even more.  I really like the portability and easy storage of this thin option and, of course, when they get a little older it’s excellent for it’s original art purpose, tracing, too!

Light Table Panel Blocks $19.99 (babies – 8 years)

The light table is another favorite toy at our local children’s museum and they always have this set of blocks out with it.  They’re great for working with patterns, layering colors, and general creativity.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Alphabet Stamp Set $16.00 (3+ years)

As I’ve said before, I much prefer integrating letter learning and literacy into play over focusing on rote memory drills.  We have this set and, since around the age of 4, my kids both love to break it out to practice their letters during art time.

Best Art Supplies for Kids - So many cool and interesting picks here, love the age recommendations and detailed reviews.

Sewing, Knitting, Beads & More

Alex My First Sewing Kit $38.95 (5+ years with some adult help)

I love the idea of teaching our kids to be creative beyond the crayons and markers at a young age. This best-selling and highly rated first sewing kit is such a great way to do that.  I think any kid would love it but little girls with moms (or grandmas) who sew will be especially excited to receive one.

Woodland Animals Kids Arts & Crafts Project Kit $24.97 (6 – 12 years)

Both my 5 year old daughter and my newly 7 year old son have been showing interest in sewing projects since we made tissue ghosts threaded with string to decorate for Halloween. Of course, my response was to go on a hunt for a high quality and easy-to-use first sewing project that would appeal to both of them and produce some exciting results. This animal sewing kit totally fits the bill. It gets high marks from parents for how all-inclusive the kit is and for having pre-punched holes where the needle should go to sew up the animals. I love how adorable the finished products are and I know both of my older kids are going to love the stuffed critters that they made with their very own hands. This one’s already been ordered for under our tree this year.

Plush Craft Pillow Kits $12.99 (4 – 9 years)

This kit is a favorite for birthday party gifts amongst my friends (who happen to have a lot of girls ages 4 to 7). When I reached out asking about items for the arts and crafts gift guide, this “fabric by numbers” kit was what they kept talking about. Their little girls love using the clever tool to fill in the top of the pillow, and when they’re done their masterpiece is cute, cuddly, and doesn’t take up too much space. Reviewers wrote, “My daughter got this as a birthday gift. She just turned 5. She can’t put it down and loves how easy it is to follow the color coding. Best gift ever. I’m going to buy these on sale and stock them for future b-day gifts… My daughter (age 8) got a plush craft item for her birthday, and she begged for more of them. They are easy to do, and the resulting item is very cute. It is an affordable and fun activity!”

Twistz Bandz Rainbow Loom $15.79 (5+ years)

Billed by many as “the runaway toy of the year” a few years back, this award winning loom is the most exciting thing to happen to kid jewelry since the advent of the friendship bracelet. Using a special loom and the multitude of colorful twistz bandz that come in this kit along with a myriad of video tutorials available on YouTube, kids will spend hours happily creating with this fun kit.

Perler Beads Multimix Bucket $9.71 (5 – 12 years)

Did you guys ever play with perler beads as a kid?  Talk about the ultimate fine motor activity.  Tedious as some of the projects are, kids who like creating with these REALLY like it.  Getting to iron them at the end to create permanent masterpieces probably has a lot to do with it.  This is a very comprehensive set with 6,000 beads and a variety of pegboards included.

ALEX Toys Craft Chunky & Funky Scarf $10.64 (7 – 14 years)

An ideal first knitting project, this sweet set comes with a vibrantly colored ball of yarn and oversized knitting needles perfect for little hands. From the manufacturer: Your child can easily learn how to knit a 48″” scarf in just two hours. The instructions are color coded to make it equally easy for lefties and righties and instructions for a matching hat is also included… If you’re not a knitter yourself and are intimidated about the prospect of helping your little one to learn, you might also consider the Ultimate Designer Knitting Station. This loom style knitting toy is very similar to a rainbow loom and perfect for kids looking to move beyond the rubber bands.

Alex Toys Friends 4Ever Bracelet Making Kit $17.16 (8+ years)

The 12 year old girl in me squealed when I first saw this kit.  It has so many enticing materials and tools for creating all kinds of colorful bracelets. Also, how fun would this be at a slumber party?

Fashion Headbands Kit $16.50 (5 – 9 years)

This expansive kit gets lots of kuddos for being high quality, easy to use, and having a nice, big supply of materials included. Parents report that girls will spend hours designing, crafting, wearing and gifting their creations. This kit is a tried-and-true winner that will give your daughter lots to do and result in a set of cute headbands (that may even save you a little money).

Best Travel Art Supplies and Mess-free Art for Kids - So many cool and interesting picks here, love the age recommendations and detailed reviews.

Best Mess-Free & Travel Art Gifts

Boogie Board 8.5-Inch LCD Writing Tablet $20.99 (4 – 12 years)

I had never heard of these awesome writing/drawing devices until a friend’s sister (who is also an elementary school teacher) told me about how crazy popular they are. Much like a magnadoodle for older, more tech-savy, kids, these ultra thin and light “tablets” are a great way to encourage sketching and writing at home or on the go. And the price absolutely can’t be beat. Kids use the stainless steel stylus (or anything else) to write or draw. The board will retain an image indefinitely without power until it is erased with the touch of a button – and a friendly flash from the liquid crystal display. Comes in lots of bright colors so each kid can have their own, easily identifiable board.

Crayola Dry-Erase Activity Center $17.99 (4 – 8 years) and the Zany Play Edition $18.20 (4 – 15 years)

This is one of the quiet time/learning toys I’m MOST excited about this year. It has a basic setup, perfect for travel, consisting of a clear writing and drawing surface that allows you to slide blank or preprinted template cards beneath the window. The board comes with five double-sided templates, offering your child a total of 10 different activities. An additional four-page instruction booklet includes ideas for over 25 additional games and learning exercises. The true genius of this, though, is that you can print literally thousands of worksheets and activity page off of pinterest or your favorite educational sites and instantly turn them into re-usable sheets.  I can see us get a ton of use out of this both on the go and at home. This year, I’m excited for my 5 year old to use it to practice her writing skills during her big brother’s homework time each day (like a lot of kids, she really likes having her own “work” to do alongside her older sibling).

Crayola Dry Erase Board & Crayons $8.89 (4+ years)

We really like to use dry erase crayons instead of markers on laminated activity sheets because they’re a lot less messy and stinky.  This set is also pretty fun on it’s own and it’s the perfect thing for coloring in the car or on a plane.

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pads starting at $3.99 (3 – 10 years)

Got a sticker lover in the house?  Welcome to the genius of reusable stickers! My kids love peeling them all off and rearranging them in the various settings over and over.  They’re also great for traveling and there are tons of themes to choose from. These books are one of the most popular items on my gift guides each year because they pack in so much bang for your buck. And if you’re looking for permanent stickers, Melissa & Doug also makes some really fabulous books for that too- my kids especially love the Make-a-Face Sticker Pad and the Make-a-Meal Sticker Pad.

Scratch & Sketch Activity Books starts at $8.48 (8 – 12 years)

These books take me back to childhood. I just loved scratching away at sheets like these to reveal the beautiful rainbow pictures below. Apparently, kids today feel the same way because the reviews on this one are great. Parent reviewers especially love these books for travel. Be sure to read the descriptions of the books as a few already have the design punched in to be traced (great for kids 4 – 8 years), and others have designs as inspiration to draw on your own. Each book each has blank pages on the back to let the creativity roll.

*Post contains affiliate links.

MPMK's Famous Toy Gift Guides

P.S. See all 15 of our 2016 Gift Guides here

NEW THIS YEAR: Check out our Alerts Page for Sales on All of the Toys – Updated Daily!

Still want more ideas? Don’t forget to check out all 10 of the MPMK Gift Guides, organized by your child’s interest, including:

Plus, our five guides organized by age:

If you like these recommendations, I encourage you to pin or bookmark them for later when you’re ready to start shopping.  I would also love it if you forwarded the list on to your parenting friends or shared it on facebook – trust me, your friends will thank you for the help and you get to be the cool mom (or dad) with all the best resources. It’s a win-win.

Also, don’t forget for even more recommendations and alerts when we spot our gift guide items on sale:

Follow us on facebook and subscribe to the MPMK newsletter!

One last thing, while shopping, please consider adding an item from Hope on the Hill Guild’s

Gift Wish List for Seattle Children’s Hospital

The list benefits the Autism Center & Opera​tion Family Care and contains items that are in high demand within that program. You can have the items shipped to the provided address and they will be delivered to the Autism Center or hospital directly. There are many items as low as $2 – $5 and every gift helps a child in need!

 

line-graphic

P.P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time so you can connect with your family? Follow these 2 steps:

1) Check out our “Back-to-School Super Saver Bundle”: over 50 pages of 2015 – 2016 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more PLUS 84 pages of low-stress holiday activities perfect for making memories with the kids!
Over 150 pages of organizational gold

line-graphic

2) Sign up for our newsletter:

sign up for the newsletter and get a free 6 week meal plan
line-graphic