Let your child's imagination run wild with our pick of the best creative toys. From arts and craft toys to construction toys, there’s something for every age and interest. There’s even a spy kit for older kids to get creative in communicating secret messages with friends.
1. Chill Factor Ice Cream Maker: £11.46, amazon.co.uk
This handy machine means your kids can make their very own ice cream treats at home in minutes, with no mess or fuss. Simply freeze the ice cream maker, add your ingredients, give it a little shake then squeeze. Hey presto, you can enjoy a delicious ice cream treat.
2. Build-A-Bear Workshop Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle: £25, buildabear.co.uk
This is no ordinary soft toy — kids get to make one of their very own furry friends at Build-A-Bear shops, of which there are 59 across the UK. There is a vast and frequently changing variety choose from and the staff are all amazing with kids, offering them an unforgettable experience. There are loads of outfits and accessories to pick up too.
3. Crystal Laboratory Kit: £25, sciencemuseumshop.co.uk
This laboratory kit inspires youngsters aged eight and over to create crystals of all different shapes and colours. Using use plaster and plastic moulds, they create geodes and discover the chemical reactions of the salts. It’s a great way of bringing science alive in a way that enables littluns to really impress friends and family.
4. Cra-Z-Knitz Ultimate Designer Knitting Station: £29.99, toyrus.co.uk
Get creative with the Cra-Z-Knit Ultimate Design Station, which helps you knit funky hats, scarves, gloves, leg-warmers and more. It comes with portable desk to rest on your lap as you knit your creations and storage areas for your yarn to keep everything neat and tidy.
5. Spy Message Kit: £12, iwmshop.org.uk
Few games for youngsters are as fun as pretending to be spies. This set, aimed at kids aged 8+, lets you get really creative in communicating secret messages with friends, with contents including a Morse code shutter torch and card, a super-spy journal, spy gear bag, secret codes library, invisible writer and more.
6. Buttonbag Learn How to Sew Suitcase: £19.99, brightminds.co.uk
This has everything children aged eight and over need to learn how to sew, all stored away neatly in an adorable suitcase. The idea is to start on easy projects and then progress, mastering skills in different stitches, appliqué and embroidery. Projects include three different elephants, a drawstring bag, a cat and kitten and more.
7. My First Crayola Doodle Magic Colour Mat: £19.99, argos.co.uk
This is the perfect way for preschoolers to get doodling. Simply roll it out on a desk, floor, wall or door and let kids get creative with the markers and accessories, which neatly store away when not needed. Unlike the water equivalents, the colours stay put until erased away, so children can show their drawings off to Mum and Dad.
8. Lego City Police Station: £79.99, shop.lego.com
Lego has a long history of getting kids of all ages to be creative. This new set from their City range is fabulously comprehensive. Rip out the jail doors using the grappling hook on the crook’s truck, flip down the toilets for a secret escape roof and use the mini figures and accessories to catch the runaway prisoners. And that’s just the start. 6-12 years.
9. Seedling Design Your Own Superhero Cape: £32.99, johnlewis.com
This New Zealand-born company is the king of creative toys, with sets to inspire all ages to create anything from a shield to a butterfly mask. This particularly innovative set, aimed at kids aged four and over, has everything you need to create an imaginative superhero design all of your very own.
10. Box Props Robot: £5.99, borngifted.co.uk
The Box Props range is all about teaching children aged three and over how to up-cycle junk materials and encouraging them to play with what they’ve made imaginatively. This one enables youngster to transform any box into a robot character, using the first ever child-friendly plastic screws for fixing the props to the box.
11. Melissa & Doug Wooden Stringing Beads: £12.99, elc.co.uk
This set of colourful wooden beads is great for practising threading and developing hand eye co-ordination, as well as creating wonderful bracelets and necklaces. There are oodles of alphabet beads and different shapes and animals, including fish, bears and butterflies.
12. Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Cake Mountain: £19.99, elc.co.uk
Load one of three different cake moulds with Play-Doh, then press and pop to make your cake. You can even decorate the outside of the cake, adding colourful plastic candles or turn them into Play-Doh lollipops.
13. Sew Cool Sewing Studio: £34.99, argos.co.uk
This revolutionary threadless sewing machine is ideal for a first time sewing experience, allowing youngsters to do nine projects ranging from stuffed characters to fashion items. It also includes eight sheets of fabric, three pre-cut featured projects, a strap, 14 decorative pieces, buttons and a bag of stuffing.
14. Miniland Educational Activity Buttons: £11.14, amazon.co.uk
This is great for preschool children who are just learning the concepts of colours and numbers. As they lace the buttons, they also develop important skills such as hand-eye coordination, colour differentiation, concentration, dexterity and, of course, counting. There’s Braille on the buttons, so visually impaired children need not miss out on the fun.
Verdict: Build-A-Bear goes from strength to strength with its wide range of soft toys that kids actually make and dress themselves. Meanwhile, our older child testers gave a big thumbs up to the Science Museum Crystal Laboratory Kit, which they said had great play value and achieved results that impressed family and friends.
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