Plastimake is a toy that children can use to make anything. In fact, dads can steal some to replace the handle on their screwdriver or mom could borrow some to augment a Halloween costume. It's plastic beads that melt easily, but once cool it's hard. So kids can warm the beads, mold the plastic into something -- a doll, a dinosaur, an art project -- and then cool for a permanent toy. But if they need to fix something, or they tire of it, throw it back in the hot water to make it malleable again.

What I like best about this is the permanence. SO MANY TIMES my kids bring me something they made -- a drawing, a clay sculpture, an elbow-macaroni necklace -- and it has no durability. A month later it's lost, or torn or thrown away. This allows them to make things and then keep them forever.