'Play expert' mom shares 5 gift ideas that will stimulate kids’ imagination and keep them busy for hours

Rachel Grumman Bender

Meredith Sinclair has a fun job. Along with being an educator and author of Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit, Sinclair is a play expert, which means she knows exactly what toys kids want for the holidays. Even better, Sinclair, who has more than 11,000 followers on Instagram, understands which ones stimulate their imagination and keep them entertained for hours.

Wish you could pick her brain while planning your holiday gifts this year? We did too. So the mom is sharing her favorite picks for the holidays with Yahoo Lifestyle.

Play expert Meredith Sinclair loves Moluk’s Oogi doll, Animoodles and Otrio’s board game. (Photos: moluk/the animoodles/Walmart)
Play expert Meredith Sinclair loves Moluk’s Oogi doll, Animoodles and Otrio’s board game. (Photos: moluk/the animoodles/Walmart)

First up is Moluk’s Oogi doll ($29) and Oogi Pilla ($26), which are flexible toys with suction cups all over designed for kids ages 3 and older. They can cling to a wall, hang upside down or connect together. “What I love about them is that they’re totally open-ended,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “What I love is that kids can create their own stories, take them on their own adventures.”

She’s also a fan of another toy by Moluk called Bilibo ($25), which looks like an oversize plastic helmet but is much more. “Now it just looks like a piece of plastic — right? — with some holes,” she says. “But what you’ll discover when you give this to your kid is that they will find all kinds of ways to use it. They’ll fill it with water or sand or dirt. They’ll flip it over. What I love to do with young kids is give them very open-ended toys and let them be the creator of their own play.”

Another item at the top of her list: Animoodles ($25 each). These look like regular plush toys, but they are also magnetic, so you can “mix and match” their heads, arms and legs, allowing your kids to create completely new creatures. “So kids can mix and match and create all kinds of silly little animals,” she says.

Her final pick is the Otrio board game ($24.95), which she says that everyone in the family ages 6 and older will love playing. “What I love about it is more than just two people can play,” she says, “but it’s basically a tic-tac-toe game — but it’s three-dimensional.” So there are several ways you can win, and it means a longer game that will keep your family engaged.

Check out more of the Walmart toys that kid experts — and their parents — are loving from our Holiday 2018 Top Toys Guide.

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