Summer is here, and things are far from normal right now. With restrictions in place at almost every business and establishment, there are fewer options for keeping the kids entertained. Maybe your family, like mine, is still erring on the side of caution by mostly staying home. In that case, summer isn’t looking too different than when we were ordered to shelter-in-place. Keeping kids busy in the middle of a pandemic, seems like a challenge. All the creativity has left me since I finished teaching out my preschooler at home, so I’m done Pinterest-ing ideas. Sometimes it’s just nice to save sanity by having options that you can buy for your kid. Here’s my list of 10 sanity savers for you to buy your kids. Bonus: They are all on Amazon and mostly educational!
Gemstone Dig Kit
This gemstone kit kept my son busy for hours! With a chisel and brush, kids can excavate 15 real gemstones out of a dig brick. I wet the brick in whatever part my son was digging, to soften it and make it easier to chip into. It also includes a brush, mini magnifying glass, and educational booklet so you can examine each stone. Great activity to promote STEM learning! They also have a dig kit for fossils, bugs, and shark teeth.
Kite, Bubbles Machine, Bike, and Sidewalk Chalk
These basically make up the starter pack for outdoor fun. Summer is all about being outside and these things can all be used in your own backyard or driveway. The kite and bike also involve some exercise when you run/ride. No matter the age, bubbles are always a win. Use the sidewalk chalk to draw pictures, obstacle course on the driveway, or create a game to practice letters and numbers.
These colorful, wooden, magnetic blocks have endless building possibilities. They are easy to tote along to a restaurant, for a car ride, or on the plane. The purpose of these blocks was to promote learning through play by developing fine motor skills, recognizing patterns, problem solving, and storytelling. Tegu is the perfect option for screen-free play that encourages imagination. I love that the packaging says that it’s great for ages 1-99!
This marble run can occupy hours of time for kids! The see-through pieces can be used to build multiple projects at 2 skill levels. My kids love watching the marbles run through the tubes, spinning and sliding down pieces along the way.
Puzzles are inexpensive ways to keep kids busy, no matter the age or skill level. From chunky wooden puzzles, cube puzzles, to traditional puzzles with more pieces, I love that they are a great exercise in problem solving. Puzzles are great for my kids because I can incorporate learning with puzzles that teach numbers, shapes, colors or letters. Doing puzzles usually doesn’t involve any arguing between my kids. My preschooler will quietly work on one that’s more challenging while the 2 year old sorts shape puzzles next to him.
These two puppy bots use a screen-free, storybook coding method to introduce kids to basic coding at an early age. The storybook illustrates codes to get the puppies to play hide and seek, fetch, catch, and more. There’s also “play mode” to pet, feed, and interact with the pups like pets. This is another way to bring STEM learning into preschool play.
Kinetic sand box
We love this portable sandbox. Play at home or take it on a roadtrip. Kinetic sand makes for easy cleanup and the fact that this comes in a box, minimizes the mess even more. It also comes with some tools and various molds so my kids love building their own sandcastle. I like the box for easy storage and a controlled environment.
My boys got these last year and they’ve been a hit. This is a fun idea for friends in the same neighborhood to play together and stay connected. These are designed for children and easy to use. Great for indoor and outdoor play!
Hey Clay, Dinos
The perfect art project for young kids! This is like more advanced Model Magic. The kit includes 18 containers of non-toxic, stain-free clay in different colors. An app pairs with the modeling kit to guide kids in creating dinosaurs with the clay in an easy-to-understand, interactive way. Just like Model Magic, the clay dinosaur will harden when you leave it out overnight. Then my kids will play with them like collectible action figures. Hey Clay has been a hands-on way for my kids to spark creativity.
Insect Lore Butterfly Garden
The coolest activity to do with your kids! Over a couple weeks time, we watched 5 little caterpillars turn into butterflies, and it was just as magical as it sounds! The neatest part was watching them cocoon and emerge into something completely different and beautiful. After the butterflies got accustomed to their wings, we set them free in our yard to go out and pollinate! We will definitely do this again, maybe each spring!
I’m usually crafty and adventurous, coming up with fun projects to do at home or taking the kids to a fun outing. In the current state of a pandemic and limited options, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with some things you can buy that will entertain the kids. Mama is tired and it’s harder to get stuff done with everyone being home way more than usual. Let the kids play with these purchasable options and leave the mom guilt in the shopping cart!