Imagine This

As most parents know, children are amazingly—and very naturally—imaginative. How many times have your little ones turned salt and pepper shakers, spoons, forks, knives, and anything else within reach into families, villages, or battling armies? Some kids, of course, need no prompts at all, while others prefer a little more structure and guidance. Here are some imagination-stimulating toys and activities that offer something for just about any child.  We love ‘em and think that you will, too.


Cabbage Patch Kids Little Sprouts (Wicked Cool Toys)

cabbage patch little sprouts mysterySchool—and imagination—are always in session. The Cabbage Academy Playset includes three play areas (a study hall, classroom, and playground) and a variety of accessories (desks, a chair, a double-sided easel, a globe, a basketball and hoop, lockers that open, a working swing, a slide, and more). And since there’s no sense having a school (or recess) without a student, you even get a 1.5” Little Sprouts figure, Piper June, who happens to be quite rare. The adorable, cabbage-shaped Little Sprouts Mystery Packs contain either a single kid or a baby plus a pet. There are 120 possibilities, including rare and ultra-rare figures. The Academy retails for around $20 and the Mystery Packs are about $3. Additional sets, with four or eight figures, are also available for under $10. Ages 4+.

Egg Babies (Wicked Cool Toys)

egg babiesThe latest collectibles from Wicked Cool. Series 1 has six mystery eggs: Turtellini (a turtle), Bubble Gum (a bunny), Hamlet (a pig), Kiwi (a chick), Patches (a puppy), and Snowflake (who might be a kitten, but you’ll have to find out for yourself). Once mom or dad takes the colorful Styrofoam egg out of the hard-plastic packaging, little kids will love tearing the egg apart to reveal their new, huggable, cute little friend. Prices vary widely.


Wonder Crew (Wonder Crew)

wonder crewWonder Crew’s 15” “buddies,” which are aimed at boys (but girls will love too), combine the adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of a stuffed animal. There are a few really nice features. First, the action figures in question aren’t Marvel or DC. Instead, each child is his (or her) own action figure, a feat that’s made a little easier since each buddy includes a matching cape and mask for the child. Second, the adventure packs (sold separately) allow kids to dress their buddy as something other than an action hero (an explorer, a construction worker, and more. All come with matching accessories for the child. Buddies retail for around $25. Explorer packs are about $20. Ages 3+.


My Fairy Bean Blossom (PlayMonster)

my fairy garden bean blossomKids love imaginative play, but they also love real-life activities. This kit combines both. They get to plant quick-growing seeds, water, and care for their very own bean plant in a cute watering-can planter. But that same planter is home to a fairy named Misty (figure included) and her friend Fifi the frog. Comes with soil, magical message beans (the messages appear when the plant begins to grow), a trellis to help the plant reach incredible heights, a gardening tool, a watering spout, and even a swing and hammock for Misty and Fifi so they can be well rested before climbing their beanstalk to discover what’s above the clouds. Ages 4+. Under $15.