Giveaway: $100 gift certificate from Imagine Childhood (Back to School Week)

This giveaway has now ended. Thanks for entering!

Not long ago we had some new friends over to play. My kids eagerly gave the mom and her children a tour of their rooms and of our house in general.

Later, when the mother and I were alone she said, “Your kids have no toys! I’ve never seen anything like it. I love it–tell me how you’ve done this.”

I laughed along with her–because while it’s not true that my kids have no toys, it is true that they have significantly less than the typical child in the United States. They definitely do not receive the average 70 new ones a year either. And I think that’s a good thing.

I would rather have fewer toys and know that those we do have are of the highest quality–that they nurture creativity and imagination–that they encourage growing minds and inspire little hearts. In a world full of plastic gizmos and battery-draining what-nots, I’m thankful for the online store Imagine Childhood, offering an incredible alternative.

I have been a customer of Imagine Childhood since I first discovered it a few years ago. I head there when there’s a birthday or holiday in our house that needs just that certain something. (I’ve mentioned before how my youngest, Elijah, is in love with any and all of the lifelike plush animals they have.) And last Christmas Steve and I picked out stocking stuffers for the kids from their stash of indoor creative supplies.

The store’s outdoor play section is filled with items perfect for science experiments, optics and navigation, and other discoveries. (Head here to read more about the microscope they carry in my review from last year.)

The staff at Imagine Childhood have also made it easy to find anything you might need for back to school–creating a special category filled with everything from backpacks to lunchboxes, binoculars to new crayons.

Be sure to check out the summer guide they’ve put together to get a good overview of the seasonal toys in their shop. The Imagine Childhood philosophy is simple:

“At we believe that children should experience the world through their own eyes, ears, fingers, and toes. That direct interaction with nature is the best way to learn about the world, and that open-ended imaginative play is the best way to learn about what it could be.”

This philosophy is sadly lacking in our modern-day era and needs to be spread, which is why I was thrilled to find out that Sarah Olmsted, co-founder of Imagine Childhood, was writing a book of her own: Imagine Childhood: 25 projects that spark curiosity and adventure.

Projects from the book include:

Part One: Nature

• Seasonal Capes
• Earth House
• Bird of Paradise Mask
• Maple Leaf House
• Nature Fairy
• Color and Shape Activities
• Flip-Book Animations
• Zoetrope
• Magic Lantern Projector

Part Two: Imagination

• Tree Shadows
• Play Tents and Structures
• Wands and Other Enchantments
• Boats for Sailing Imaginary Seas
• Nature’s Marionettes
• Nature’s Stage
• Adventures in Cartography

Part Three: Play

• Paint Can Banjo
• Steel Drum
• Bows and Arrows
• Lawn Bowling
• Rube Goldberg Machine
• Exploration Bag
• Game Seeds
• Simple Drawstring Game Bag
• Wishing Kite

Imagine Childhood, the book, will be released on October 16th, but you can see a sneak peek on the store’s blog and also go ahead and preorder your copy now!

One Simple Homeschool reader will receive a $100 gift certificate from Imagine Childhood!

(Sarah is also offering a discount to all readers: From now through August 17th, use the code ‘simplehomeschool’ to receive 10% off your order!)

How to Win

Everyone has two chances to win. Here’s how:

1. Comment on this post, answering this question: What toy currently sparks your child’s imagination the most? (If you are reading this in an email, you must click over to the blog to enter your comment!)

2. ‘Like’ Imagine Childhood and Simple Homeschool on Facebook. Then — this is importantyou need to come back and leave an additional comment here, telling me you have done so.

This giveaway has now ended. Thanks for entering!

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. Our kids love paper…paper to make crafts with, paper to make comic strips or stories on, paper to cut up and turn into tickets or money or puzzles. They are thrilled with a gift of a ream of paper.

  2. …I’ve “liked” Simple Homeschool and Imagine Childhood on Facebook.

  3. I love this post! I am checking out their store and falling in love right now!

    My little 15-month-old gem has her imagination transfixed by a clipboard that I set up for her. It’s not a real toy, but I have a clipboard that I keep all of my home org on, and she is just starting to show signs of wanting to be like mama, so I set her up with a blank sheet of paper and she’ll draw on it, then bring it to me, and I’ll put check marks on it for her and write her name out, just so that she gets used to seeing it. So adorable! And she does this for about an hour every morning while I’m working on my daily planning and getting some of my contract work done <3 Love it!!

  4. I liked Simple Homeschool and Imagine Childhood on facebook. Awesome!
    Kiersten’s latest post: Sophie signs

  5. Oh I am on the same page as you about toys. I dont buy a lot but what I buy is usually open ended and creative kinda toys . I alreadylike u on fb and i have added imagine childhood now

  6. I’d say for one kiddo it’s dolls, for the other our play kitchen. I love those life-like stuffed animals–they look great.

  7. I like both on Facebook!

  8. Like both on Facebook !

  9. We paint daily! Also I am blown away to hear that kids average 70 new toys a year. Jeez! I now feel a lot better about our amount of toys!
    Lindsey’s latest post: Zone Defense 4: Clothes and Textiles

  10. oh the fun we’d have choosing from this wonderful company :)

  11. My son can occupy himself with a cardboard tube for a good part of an afternoon!

  12. My son likes to wear his superhero cape wherever he goes and it turns any time into an adventure.

  13. Liked both on Facebook!

  14. My kids like blank notebooks and markers. :)
    Melissa’s latest post: School plans for 2012-2013

  15. I like Simple Homeschool and Imagine Childhood on FB.
    Melissa’s latest post: School plans for 2012-2013

  16. Melissa V. says:

    My boys can entertain themselves with swords for hours at a time. They prefer the carved wooden ones. Btw, I was quite shocked to learn that kids average 70 new toys per year! Not in our house!

  17. Melissa V. says:

    I like both on facebook. :-)

  18. I liked them both on FB

  19. She really loves pipe cleaners right now! lol

  20. Legos have been the timeless toy in our home…from my 2yr old all the way up to my 11 yr old. Trains, buildings, Olympic sports representations, book reports…Legos have done it all.
    I have enjoyed browsing the Imagine Childhood website~ thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  21. For my daughter it’s a little house for her toy bunnies – she can play games for hours. For my son it’s a table full of random recycling, craft supplies and away he creates! He makes the most amazing things!

  22. My son’s favorite thing right now is a winch he took off of a toy – discarded the toy but loves the winch. My daughter, however, loves her dolls. She feeds them, bathes them, covers them with blankets and shushes everyone. And they both love any and all art supplies.

  23. And I “liked” you on FB. Thanks for the giveaway!

  24. Liked both on FB

  25. My son, age 7, loves anything that sparks his imagination. Costumes, stuffed , toy cars, or even a sandbox or just a dirt pile can occupy him for hours.

  26. Mary Beth says:

    For my little girls, it’s a toss-up between plain white paper with colored pencils/crayons and dress-up clothes. Lots of imagination in our house!!

  27. Liked both!

  28. Mary Beth says:

    I like Simple Homeschool and Imagine Childhood on FB. Thanks for the giveaway!

  29. Christine Chaluisan says:

    My son is sooooo interested in balls, any shape or size. He asks for a new one at EVERY store we go to. Would love to win the $100 and maybe spark his interest in something else. I have never heard of this store but think I could be a regular customer. Thanks Christine

  30. The toy that most encourages my children to use their imaginations is their capes. We made them from old sweat shirts and they get the most use of all their toys!

  31. My daughters are currently inspired by their simple wooden playhouse in the backyard… hours of play together, ‘cooking’ in the dirt!

  32. I like both on FB.

  33. I’ve liked Imagine Childhood and Simple Homeschool on Facebook! :-)

  34. My 5 yr old daughter could sit with paper and colored pencils all day, and my 4 yr old son absolutely loves building new structures with Magnatiles.

  35. I “liked” both. :)

  36. I think my son’s (who is 4) favorite toy right now is probably his play kitchen. It is probably the “toy” that has gotten the most play over the years. I love the toys at Imagine Childhood- thank you for the giveaway!

  37. And I already liked Imagine Childhood on Facebook and just added Simple Homeschool. Thanks!

  38. My kids like to play with their castle and fire canons back and forth. It keeps them occupied for a long time!

  39. Jennifer Huber says:

    My kids favorite thing right now is the big blanket chest in our family room. One minute it’s a boat, the next- a fort and then a place to play with cars.

  40. Jennifer Huber says:

    I liked Imagine Childhood and Simple Homeschool on Facebook.

  41. Currently the hula hoop is seeing lots of play – both kids get inside and play train with one as the engine and one as the coal car. Sometimes they are an airplane flying around. Sometimes it is the wheel of their pirate ship, and sometimes it is their row boat. it is fun to see what they come up with!

  42. Liked on FB. We spent the day at the beach today and the toy my son played with the most was…..SAND! He discovered sculpting on his own and created a whole fleet of ships. Awesome!

  43. do empty cereal boxes count as toys? 😉

  44. Great giveaway!

    When I found out I was pregnant with baby #2, I bought a beautiful handmade doll for my 2-year old daughter in anticipation of having a baby in the house. Now that baby brother has arrived, my daughter LOVES caring for her “baby”– burping, feeding, rocking, changing, and dressing her!

  45. I “liked” both pages on FB! :0)

  46. Liked both on FB! My kids are loving their radio flyer red wagon…they take turns pulling each other in it and their stuffed animals.

  47. Right now, my daughter loves her dolls! My son loves trucks. Especially a big dump truck that he can fill with dirt, toys, or whatever else will fit in there.
    Jaimie Daniels’s latest post: Self-Portrait Challenge {Just for Fun} | Reno-Tahoe Newborn Photographer

  48. I like both pages on fb!
    Jaimie Daniels’s latest post: Self-Portrait Challenge {Just for Fun} | Reno-Tahoe Newborn Photographer

  49. Catherine says:

    This site is lovely. I hope Australians are allowed to enter.

  50. My daughters have been loving this one plant that grows in our yards. When it dries up they take the pods and break them oen to spill out the seeds. The seeds have been medicine, food and fairy dust. They also love using our stroller for everything! Don’t you just love childhood?