Classic play is here to stay. With so many parents looking for alternatives to screen time, toys that encourage open-ended play are big this year. Play sets, building blocks, and puppets are all making a comeback because they let kids use their imaginations and provide unstructured fun.


Animal Puppets (Folkmanis)

Folkmanis has a variety of animal puppets that can bring the fun of wildlife into kids’ imaginative play. This season’s include a reindeer with movable mouth; a barn owl with moveable head, beak, and wings; a flying pig with movable mouth, wings, ears, and legs; and a sitting terrier with moving mouth and tail. These puppets range from $44 to $69.99, and are designed for kids ages 3 and up. Buy it now!

Antsy Pants Build & Play Pop Star Stage Kit (Beach House)

This 39-piece kit includes easy-assembly poles and a cover to create a performing space for an aspiring star. The stage is 51 inches high and 36 inches wide, making it the perfect size for a young singer or actor to perform at home. No tools are required for assembly, and a pop star microphone is sold separately. This toy is $44.99, and made for kids ages 4 and up. Buy it now!

Calico Critters Grand Department Store Gift Set (Epoch Everlasting Play)

The centerpiece of the Calico Critters Town series, the Grand Department store includes two levels of play, as well as an elegant layout with terraces, balconies, awnings, a revolving door, and more. The set also introduces Stella, a new Calico Critters character. The set comes with accessories and shops to fill the department store. This toy is $129.99, and suggested for kids ages 6 and up. Buy it now!

Sky Track Adventure Set (Magformers)

Available in either a 64- or 44-piece set, this sky track lets kids learn about motion and construction. Using the magnetic track pieces, kids can build one of the tracks included in the instruction booklet or ones of their own for the included sky shuttle to go around. Watch as the shuttle defies gravity, going upside-down over loops, and going over stunt track, such as the spin track and seesaw track. Sky Track is $129.99, and designed for kids ages 3 and up. Buy it now!

Romper Room Waterfuls (Kahootz)

This classic handheld game is back, still without a screen, cord, or batteries. Just add water to the Waterfuls game, insert one of the six game panels into the back, and use the button to swirl the water and propel balls into different slots in the game. Waterfuls is $14.99, and made for kids ages 3 and up. Buy it now!

The Explorers Hidden Temple with T-rex (Playmobil)

The Playmobil explorers embark on a Dino Island adventure with the Hidden Temple play set. Kids can use the ancient temple as a research base and a safe place to hide from the T-Rex. The set includes the temple, T-Rex, all three explorers, and fun accessories such as a heat-sensitive treasure map, a laser gun, and a UV flashlight. This set is $59.99, and designed for kids ages 4 and up. Buy it now!

Farm World Adventure Tree House (Schleich)

This tree house play set lets kids explore is the ultimate backyard adventure: a treehouse with a slide, a rope ladder, a stargazing platform, anda  tire swing. The set includes two children figurines with moveable limbs, a dog, a hedgehog, a pulley system, and other accessories. This set is $79.99, and designed for kids ages 5 and up. Buy it now!