Preschoolers are the most awesome, funny, creative, frustrating, emotional people around. And the most fun to buy presents for. They love role play and make believe. Their imaginations have no limits. I know - I have one.
Right now, Arielle is wearing fairy wings and a crown and staring into a full length mirror. We just had this conversation.
"I'm a fairy." she states. "Am I a fairy?"
So, I answer "Yes."
"Then why can't I fly?"
So I explain that she's a pretend fairy and little girls don't fly. But, I'm not pretend.
Preschoolers love gifts that let them expand their imaginations and let them be creative. Here's the list.
1. Dress-up clothes
I love Etsy.com for finding dress-up clothes. Arielle's tutu came from Doodle Factory. This wonderful store sells tutus ($27-$32) and dinosaur tails ($20).
World of Whimm sells crowns for little princesses and kings. The beautiful crowns are $20 and won't squish or break, even if a little sister sits on them. They are very well made and will last for years.
Her Flying Horses sells cloaks ($20 and up), princess and wizard hats ($16), fairy dust ($10) and princess gowns.
There are many many other dress-up options at Etsy, just search on "dress-up". And dress-up doesn't have to be fancy. Thrift store vintage, hats and even your own old clothes can be fun for child to dress up in. And ever-versatile play silks always make great gifts.
2. Wooden figures
Arielle has adores her Holziger wooden figures. Prices range from about $4.99 to about $15.99 and unnecessary accessories can cost hundreds. Oompa has a large selection, and Rosie Hippo has even more. These figures are carved from hard wood and stained with non-toxic water-based colors. They are made in Germany. Sizes start at 1.5 inches for a mouse and go up to 7.5 inches for an elephant.
I started with some of the characters from Bear Snores On (bear, rabbit, mouse) and then randomly added others. Arielle loves to create stories with these figures and always has them out.
I recently bought a few figures from Anne Moze Toys. Anne Moze hand makes her figures in the USA and they are of comparable quality to the Holziger figures. I will be spotlighting her toys very soon.
Of course! If you are a regular reader of this blog, you've heard a lot about Arielle and her puppets. Right now she treats them like small dolls. She tucks them into shoes and tea cups. As she grows she'll learn to manipulate them with her fingers and make-up stories for puppet shows.
When I told my family that Arielle wanted puppets for her third birthday, my sister said "but Rachel is getting her puppets, what if she gets too much puppets?" No such thing! Puppets are characters waiting for a story. The more characters, the more stories.
Kathe Kruse puppets are among the most beautiful I've seen.
Finger puppets are $7.95. And the whole finger puppet ensemble, theater and all is $58.95
Those are MY dream puppets. Arielle has a hodgepodge of puppets - some are handmade by mom, some are hand-me-downs from siblings, our local toy store has a big selection of puppets (mostly MIC) for $5 each and she sometimes gets one as a special treat. Hand puppets are also nice. But since they are larger, they are more expensive. Magic Cabin has Kathe Kruse hand puppets for $16.98 each. Folkmanis puppets are amazingly detailed and there's a huge variety available.
4. Art supplies
Art supplies are an awesome gift. Kids this age love drawing, so an assortment of markers, crayons and colored pencils is nice. Trying something different like highlighter pens is also fun. A pair of safety scissors won't cut hair and will make a three year old feel grown-up. Glue sticks and collage materials like feathers, buttons, confetti, plastic gems, sequins, tissue paper scraps, old magazines, colorful junk mail, stamps, cotton balls, old Christmas and birthday cards... make for a fun time. Arielle loves rubber stamps and Magic Cabin has super-cute sets of stamps for $14.99.
5. Role Play
At least once a day Arielle declares herself Mommy and I get to be Arielle. Kids this age love pretending to be grown ups and love all the props that go along with it. Even a child without a play kitchen will enjoy play foods and child size pots and pans.
I recently gave a child Palumba's Simple Strainer ($4.99) and Cute Cherries ($6.99) as a gift. She played with them for hours because the strainer was "just like Mommy's!" Oompa, Moolka, Maukilo and Three Sisters Toys all have nice selections of play food. For some reason, whisks (as in from my kitchen) are a treasured toy item in my home. This cooking set from The Wooden Wagon ($31.95) is just like mom's only smaller.
Play food can double as a prop for store play if a child has a shopping cart (see previous post) or tote bag, and a tote bag can also double as a mail pouch so the preschooler can play postman and deliver recycled junk mail.
Well... my own preschooler is getting antsy, and we have much to do. More later.