The delightful Jennifer Cooper (the brilliant mind behind the oh-so-fabulous Classic Play online magazine and blog — not to mention the creator of Ellie Bellie Kids!) is swinging by today with gift ideas for the kids in your life. Or, let’s be honest, those who are kids at heart, too. We love her eclectic mix of things that can be found locally, online or in the — gasp — big retail chains.

12 days of play… what’s inspiring your imagination this holiday season?


1. Tegu These magnetic blocks are ingenious. Children can quite literally build whatever they dream up. To illustrate this point, check out their site. There, you’ll find streaming video of a tegu builder making everything from dogs to flowers to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater. And if that wasn’t cool enough, the company is eco-friendly.

2. Subscription to Anorak This colorful magazine is chock full of amazing stuff—everything from original stories to games, cooking ideas, crafts (check out the super cool Made by Joel cutout city) and oh-so-much more. This publication out of the UK is more than a cute kids magazine, it’s art that inspires the imagination. Oh! and Anorak has recently launched a cookbook that not only features recipes but foodie games too. Brilliant!
3. Little Bear Mask Every kid needs a dress up box. Fill your child’s box with these adorable animal masks available through Craftsbury Kids. They make a great catalyst for getting your kids playing and thinking creatively.

4. Tinker Toys What can I say? They’re a classic for a reason. Generations have been playing with Tinker Toys (my son’s set was purchased for him by his grandfather, who as a child declared them his favorite toy). They’re simple, fun and are a must in any playroom.

5. Sophie & Lili Dolls If I had to use only one word to describe designer Jennifer Vallez’s dolls, I’d use the word: delightful. These soft dolls are fun, modern, and provide an age-appropriate, positive image of childhood. And parents of boys, here’s some great news! Jennifer has expanded her line with a boys collection. Fantastic!

6. iStopMotion Watch as your child’s stories come alive! This innovative software allows your child to create his or her very own stop animation movies. . Making short films requires kids to create stories, plan ahead and play with characters. Our family did a short stop animation movie last winter and I must admit, it was a blast! (here’s a link if you want to check it out!)

7. Daring Disguises Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Harriet the Spy and Nate the Great all had something in common, they loved a good mystery. This super-fun kit from the Spy Museum allows kids to slip into someone else’s shoes. The kit comes with disguise props, cover story and a booklet filled with spy tips and techniques. It’s so cool, I want it!

8. Ids Every good guy needs a foil—enter the Ids: Gimmee, Notmee and Litterbug. This silly trio of super cute characters are a little rough around the edges (each one has a backstory and a bad habit) but completely redeemable, making them perfect for kids to use in their dramatic play.

9. Melissa and Doug Magic Set Abracadabra! Everyone needs a little magic in their life and this deluxe magician set is ideal for kids ages eight and up. Just imagine the after-dinner shows. Oooh! Aaah! *cue applause*

10. Lego Building with legos is not only a creative activity, did you know it strengthens fine motor and visual-spatial skills too? Kids can create entire worlds, take them apart and build them all over again. It’s genius! And I highly recommend a trip to THE Lego store in Arundel Mills Mall and say hi to our friend Desmond, the store manager. He and his staff know everything there is to know about all things Lego. So worth the trip!

11. Doodle-Track Car One of my absolute favorite finds this holid
ay season is something I found at aMuse Toy Store right here in Baltimore. It’s a little car that kids control by drawing. Simply use a marker to draw a line and the car will magically follow it. I can only imagine how many kids will be inspired to become civil engineers because of it. You can see the car in action here. It’s at the top of both my kids’ lists this year!

12. Eco Kids Eco Dough Also at aMuse—Never underestimate the power of dough. It’s portable, limitless in its possibilities and now it’s all natural. Eco Kids eco-dough is free of chemicals and artificial dyes. It’s a fantastic gift for kids of all ages.

Many many thanks to Jen for sharing! Tomorrow? We’ve got ideas for the mini fashionistas in your life…