Guide To: Craft Supplies, Toys, and Kits for Children (Mainly 3 yrs +)
Marketplace Link: Craft Stores
The best toys give kids the freedom to bring out their imagination and creativity as they play. Whether a simple paintbox or a more complex and customizable kit, crafty toys can encourage kids to develop their natural interests and skills. If you have kids that are old enough to participate in craft projects, we've rounded up a few ideas and sources for things you can make together.
Nova Natural Toys and Crafts (Online): This Vermont-based company believes in simple "open-ended" toys which encourage self-expression. They also believe in using natural materials that are safe for children and the environment. Nova Natural carries a wide variety of toys and crafts—art supplies, books, musical instruments, puzzles, blocks, etc.
Mahar Drygoods (Online): Founder Robert Mahar started this vintage-style shop, which focuses on artist-made toys and craft kits for children. The Pink Paper Dollhouse, for example, is a 23-page PDF you can download, print, and build at home.
Wall Candy Arts (New York/Online): This store specializes in wall decals, but they also sell a range of crafty stuff, including cardboard toys that kids can decorate and chalkboard decals for the wall.
Quiet Hours Toys (Online): This online-only store offers well-crafted handmade items that are detailed yet simple, fueling hours of make believe play for little ones. They specialize in "toys made by independent artisans, crafters, cooperatives and small companies."
Reform School (Los Angeles/Online) Operated by the dynamic duo of Billie and Tootie (makes you think that Mrs. Garrett works there too, huh?), and accompanied by crafting "home ec" instructor, Jenny Ryan, the shop is filled to the brim with design, decor and gift ideas for anyone between the age of 0 - 67¾. They've got a good selection of educational toys and kits.
Craftsbury Kids (Online): Another good resource for well-crafted and handmade items for baby, Craftsbury Kids' founder and president explains: Our mission in life is to inspire children's imaginations, and encourage them to be themselves.
American Science & Surplus (Chicago/Online): Not just for science projects, this store sells arts & crafts kits and educational toys for older kids. It's a cool place for adults to shop for DIY supplies, too.
Brooklyn 5&10 (New York/Online): This store has a good selection of build-it kits and paper crafts. Although their projects are a little complex for smaller children, the Japanese paper robot kits and wooden model kits are perfect for older kids.
SaveOnCrafts (Online): They have a huge selection of rotating stock at reasonable prices. Check out the kids section for project ideas and supplies.
Clementine Art Kits (Online): Clementine Art makes beautiful art kits that also happen to be organic. Even the packaging is made of recycled materials.