- Wooden blocks
- Wooden airplane or trucks
- Scarves or playsilks
- Red wagon
- Writing kit -- A notebook or two, a hole punch, pencils (preferably made out of wood, newspaper, or old currency, not the ones coated in cute plastic designs!) and crayons, stamped envelopes (with your address on them!), looseleaf paper, a wood or metal ruler, a clipboard. This is a great opportunity to reuse/recycle office supplies you don't need any more. Put them in a box or tin, or make a fabric bag to hold them. My old gift guide recommended transparent tape and markers or highlighters, but if, like us, you are trying to cut down on plastic, here are some alternatives: a staple-less stapler, fancy paper photo corners, and watercolor pencils.
- Felt board -- Staple black felt to a board, then cut out multicolored felt shapes.
- Sewing cards -- You can buy these, or make them by cutting shapes out of cardboard (collage it if you want it to be pretty) and punching holes around the edges. Tie a shoelace on and you're good to go! Or if you want to get really fancy, get this one.
- Jacob's Ladder
- Wooden spinning top
- Clothespins -- No joke! Give a kid a dozen clothespins, and it'll keep her busy for hours.
- Tea set -- Collect mismatched but pretty pieces, put them in a nice box or individual velvet bags along with a promise to share tea together.
- Organic canvas or leather pouches to store treasures in
- Stick pony
- Dress up box -- Go to a thrift store or two and collect wacky ties, jackets, scarves, shoes, hats
- Playdough -- There are lots of good recipes for homemade dough. If you want to get really fancy, put a little dab of paste food coloring in the center of a plain ball of dough and seal the dough around it. As the child plays, the color will permeate what was formerly white/tan dough. Throw in some cookie cutters and it's the perfect gift.
- Tool box -- The year he was three, we gave Dante a real red metal toolbox, with real hammer, wrench, screwdriver, plus nails, screws, nuts, bolts. We also wrapped up a couple of pieces of pine (about 8 inches square and 2 inches deep). You could use any soft wood. One of the pieces had predrilled holes for screws, the other was plain to hammer nails into. He loved it!
- Magnet -- A big horseshoe magnet, or several smaller magnets, and a box of washers is a gift that's both educational and fun.
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