Choosing Presents that Promote Creativity at Christmas

by Matthew Worwood

Santa… Claus… is coming to town! And this means lots of Christmas shopping for parents. My boys haven’t got to the age where they can identify a list of wants and send these off to Santa – and this means their choice of presents is mine to make!   So, what gifts can we buy that will create magic on Christmas morning, but also provide opportunities to nurture and cultivate creativity at home.

Below is a list of five items that I believe can be used to cultivate skills in creativity.

  • The Olloclip can be found on Amazon. It’s basically a micro lens that clips on to your smartphone and lets you take really, really close up pictures. Come Spring you can take your kids on nature walks and grab all sorts of images that will stimulate curiosity and provide a whole new perspective to the tiny world that lives under our feet.
  • My boys are a little to young for this gift but the Makey Makey – An Invention Kit, has got ‘Maker’, ‘Wow Factor’ and a verity of problem-solving skills written all over it. I confess I haven’t checked it out but have identified it for Christmas 2016. I’ve seen people turn bananas into remote controllers for video games.
  • Legos – this stuff doesn’t need an introduction, I just encourage you to be cautious when purchasing ‘branded’ based playsets.. There’s certainly a place for our little ones to reenact the stories they see in the movies, but we don’t want them to be confined to the characters in these worlds. Instead we want them to create their own characters for their own worlds. Apart from that I really don’t think it matters what Lego you purchase. Some kids will probably play, others will build, but whatever happens Legos make create ‘Makers’. I don’t plan to spend this kind of money on Lego, but for educators the story starter kits from Lego Education are worth exploring.


  • Science Kits/Telescopes/Ant Farms, anything that stimulates wonder and curiosity for the world around us. I’ll be keeping it simple and purchasing a magnet set. These types of activities will work best with parent participation, who can facilitate questions and arise curiosity.
  • Games should really have their own section. Most games are renown for their problem-solving skills. There’s certainly little debate on the learning that takes place in game. The discussion is usually on whether this learning translates into the real world. Personally I feel that probably varies from game to game. Just to clarify, traditional board games are just as important as digital games. Personally I’m not in a rush to introduce Lucas to video games so I’ll be keeping to simple things like Connect4 – Remember not to give it away – let the little ones try and problem-solving how to win the game.

This is only my third Christmas as a Dad so I’m still learning on what to buy. Generally speaking, play is a creative act so you can’t really go wrong. I’d just suggest that you try and vary the types of toys in order to stimulate a wide variety of creativity skills.

Happy Holidays!

Matthew Worwood
Matthew Worwood is an educator, Creative Studies scholar-practitioner, and co-host of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast. He is a professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Connecticut and a husband and proud father to three young boys.

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