2017 Orange Marmalade Non-Electronic Gift Guide: Create! Imagine! Investigate! Edition

 Cardboard, dirt, sticks, water — these are some of the best tools of play out there!

The gift ideas on my blog today may come in stores, but are still geared toward creative, imaginative, investigative pastimes.
There are lots more ideas in past years’ lists which you can find via the gifts tab at the top of the page.

All items are linked to websites.

Amazon links are affiliate links. That means if you click through to Amazon, I get a little dab back from them no matter what you purchase. It works a bit like a tip jar 🙂 Thanks for those of you who use my links at this time of year!

Ages 0-2

Stacking Cups
Discovery Toys makes my favorite set of these. Lots of details make ’em good for play long past the baby stage.
Amazon Link

Pat Bells
Older siblings will try to steal these away from the little one! Even very young children can make a beautiful sound and eventually follow the colors to play a tune.

Ferry Boat
Green Toys are awesome! Made out of recycled milk jugs to help keep the planet cleaner. Huzzah!  This ferry is a nice hefty size. Comes with a couple cars to load on. Check the Green Toys site for many more well-designed, Earth-friendly toys.

Colin Camper Van
Darling! Retro! If you click the link, you can see what a nice big size this is. Load the people in, take ’em for a spin. Groovy.

Playground Ball
Simple as that. How can you not smile at that frog face?!

Amazon Link

Natural dough
Feel a bit more peace of mind when the kids eat it. Because…they will.

Ages 2-5

Magna Tiles
I have heard from many moms that these are the cat’s meow. Sets come in various sizes.
Amazon Link

Play Silks
Fabrics for dress-up and imaginative play are foundational. Remnants work great for this, but Sarah’s Silks has lots of beautiful choices so take a peek at their website.

Sugarbooger Aprons
Oh my gosh! The prints at Sugarbooger are charming as can be. This jolly hedgehog print is just one of many. Let’s get those kids cooking and baking!

Haba Geomix Wood Mosaics
I played with a set quite like this as a child for hours and hours. Classic toys have staying power for good reason. Great choice for creative, solitary play.
Amazon Link

Wooden dough tools
This is a particularly nice variety of tools.
Amazon Link 

Wooden Tree Fort
I’ve drooled over this set for years. Quite pricey, but if you have a special present in mind, this is amazing. Lots of scope for kids making more furnishings and expansion sets themselves.

Ages 5-9

Lego decals
My kids actually made clothes for their Lego guys. And wigs out of Sculpey dough! Sometimes you just have to alter the Legos to fit the scenario. Now you can do that with easily-removable decals. From mad scientists to pet shops, kit your Legos out with pizzazz!

Fort Building Set
Chairs and sofas make great forts. With this giant set of curved and straight “pipes” and gobs of connectors and clips, you can make one much bigger. Prepare for entire rooms to be taken over! Awesome rainy day fun.
Amazon Link

Soda Powered Science Kit
Power a geyser car and have lots more fizzy fun with this keen kit.

Doodle Adventures
For burgeoning cartoonists. Help create this book by following prompts and adding illustrations! There are other Doodle Adventures besides this one.
Amazon Link

Art Play
This looks like a truly splendid activity book! From marbelizing paper to creating a pictogram language of your own. Take a peek at some of what’s inside at the link.

Sew and Knit Valise
Isn’t this sweet? A charming way to introduce children to needle crafts.

Beeswax Candle Rolling
Our children really enjoyed making and decorating candles to give as gifts with this kit. The beeswax smells and feels soothing. 

Ages 9-12

Little Bits
I know basically nothing about electric circuits. This kit is pricey, and it’s the least expensive of the Little Bits kits. But my research says it’s the best kit out there for actually learning a bit about circuitry.  And the projects sound quite tantalizing!
Amazon Link

This Book is a Camera
It really is a camera! With film. And the supplies to develop it! Astounding! Watch the demo at the link

642 Things to Write About: Young Writers Edition
642 prompts to tempt young writers. It would feel like homework to some, candy to others. Give it to the candy crowd.
Amazon Link

Felting Kit
Create this darling squirrel or choose another kit from Wool Pets.


Art Snacks
A subscription to Art Snacks brings a new package of art inspiration to your door monthly. Check it out here. These are geared to adults, but may appeal to more serious artists at the upper end of the age range.

Bath Bombs by Klutz
Make your own bath bombs. Great gifts and fizzing fun to boot.
Amazon Link

The beautiful cover of this set unfolds to reveal origami paper. Inside, you’ll find art-inspired origami from The Met.

Don’t forget about giving classes or family outings as a gift. Bonus: They don’t collect dust.

In Minnesota, you can find a few kid-friendly classes at the fabulous North House Folk School, and lots at The Loft Literary Center, and MacPhail. There are community art centers, rock climbing centers, circus schools, concert tickets, horseback riding lessons…you name it.

Come back tomorrow for games and puzzles tested and approved by families like yours!