Creative Thinking Gifts for the Shape Kid

Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks for a mini-series of gift suggestion blogs, each tied to a particular creative strength.The gift-giving season can provide ways to support and encourage the diverse imaginative and creative strengths of a child. Here are a few ideas to light up your holiday with imagination.

These gifts will honor your child’s imagination and make the holiday season more meaningful and more personal. While each person has a constellation of Sensory Alphabet strengths (line, shape, color, movement, rhythm, space, light, sound, texture), your child probably has one or two that really stand out — that you notice in his or her art work, in what your child pays attention to, likes to play around with, maybe in elements of his or her collections and activities.

We’ll start with the SHAPE kid. How do you know there’s one in your family?

A shape-loving child might gravitate to either 2-D or 3-D art materials, but what he or she makes shows a strong quality of shape, with clean edges and definite positive and negative areas. He might like to make animals with clay or play dough; she might like to tear or cut shapes and make collages. Puzzles may be interesting and easy for this child. He or she might like to collect items with strong shape qualities: interesting shells and rocks, for example.

For more ways to recognize your child’s creative strengths, see “Exploring Your Child’s Creative Strengths” in The Missing Alphabet, pages 135 to 153.

Here are a few gifts that foster a SHAPE imagination:

Do-it-yourself puzzles

You can purchase blank jigsaw puzzles from several online stores. Shape loving kids can draw or paint their own pictures, then work the puzzles, or perhaps make them as gifts for younger sibs. Here’s one source for blank jigsaws — a set of 24 blanks is only about $15.

You can also turn your child’s drawings or photos into puzzles yourself. Here’s a template and easy instructions.

Another kind of shape play is that with Tangrams, the ancient Chinese puzzle that uses a set of seven shapes to rearrange to make designs of animals, plants and more. This site has a great selection of templates and puzzles if you wish to make your own.

Here’s a handsome wooden tangram puzzle from Monkey Pod Games.

Die-cut paper shapes

Stencils and stamps

Any shape loving kid will have a ball with different kinds of stamps and stencils. For this child, find a set of simple geometric shapes, so that he or she can put them together to make scenes, creatures and abstract compositions. Here’s a stamp set we like from Discount School Supply:  set of 14 geometric Easy-Grip Shape Stampers.

You can also buy giant washable ink stamp pads from the same source. They also carry a wide variety of stencils, best to use with rollers or foam brushes. Some basic shapes are in this kit.

A shape collage kit

Fill a plastic shoebox with shapely stickers, glue sticks, double-sided tape, paper die-cut shapes, hole punches that make different shapes, a good pair of craft scissors and colored origami paper (fun because of its two-sided color). Give this kit along with a pad of bristol board or card stock, some sturdy paper that holds up to collage fun and games. Die cut shapes are available at local dollar stores often, or you can find them online here.

A block of “real” pottery clay

This gift comes in 10 pound quantities from a local ceramic supply store. As long as its kept in a closed plastic bag (we like to also put it in a plastic tub), the clay stays soft and pliable. What’s great about pottery clay is its wonderful plasticity. It can be messy, so the best place to play with it is outside. Use a large canvas drop cloth for easy cleanup. This gives the 3-D loving SHAPE kid a really wonderful experience with scale.

If you can’t find the pottery clay, consider another option with Crayola’s Model Magic (get a BIG tub) or some self-hardening potters clay from an art supply store. Another fun option is Colorations® IncredibleFoam® Dough, a kind of styrfoam bead modeling clay in various colors.

Patterned origami papers

Origami paper and how-to books

Older SHAPE kids might be interested in origami and other paper folding crafts. This is probably one of those activities you should “test out” before investing in books or materials. Your public library (and the web) has plenty of origami resources.  Some shape kids will love these, others may find the linear step-by-step instructions difficult and frustrating. Some websites to check out here and here. 

And if it’s a go, you can find beautiful origami papers, at this site (and others)


Tablet and Smart Phone apps for the SHAPE kid:

If you have a digital tablet (or smart phone for some of these), there are some great art apps out there with lots of shape fun to be had. Some of our favorites:

Stencils from 7Twenty7 

Draw Free from David Porter Apps for Ipad, also available for Android. This free app (has ads in a small banner) strikes a great compromise between features and ease of use. Color Free is from the same developer and has a really good selection of coloring pages.

Hope Poster makes a strongly shape oriented graphic poster design of any photo in your photo file with just a few clicks and swipes. Also available for Android. Poster is a similar app.

Digital Tangram Puzzles can be found with these and other apps: Tangram Mania (non-traditional tangram-style puzzles with different shapes) and  New LetsTans Premium, a traditional puzzle set (free version is available, but lower ratings).

You can also find a wide variety of traditional jigsaw puzzle apps available with different levels of complication. Search for jigsaw puzzle in the app store. Many of these offer in-app purchases of new puzzles when you solve the ones included in your original app purchase. Jigsaw Puzzle is one of the highest rated and you can use your own photos in the app. Kid Jigsaw Puzzle  is another.




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