This week marks one year since “Stay at Home” mandates were declared for us here in the U.S. For those of us with children-even us homeschooling moms and even moms with a baby or very young children who felt we were home “so much” already, this was next level. Can we all agree on that in unison? It. Was. A. Lot.
I wrote this post at the start of quarantine rounding up all the resources and recipes I relied on most as a work-at-home, homeschooling mom of three and I still highly recommend it and stand by it. Now, after living through last year, I’m giving my top nine. These are the nine games, toys, books or activities I’d buy 100 times over if given the chance to do it again because they were such a source of joy and entertainment for my kids in such a challenging time.
1. This exact tie-dye kit: look. I’ve been whipping out this tie dye kit for years before this pandemic hit and will continue to do it for many years after it finally ends. The amount of fun the kids and I have while doing tie dye simply makes no sense. It’s squirting color on fabric. Who knows the magic of it but it’s there in this kit, y’all. (Did I just scoop up another one to do tie-dye with them this week? YEP.)
2. Tea set: We’ve amassed quite a few tea sets over the years but in my opinion, the exact tea set you have doesn’t matter. Tea sets make room for some of the sweetest moments between siblings, between siblings and parents and for children and their own imagination. It’s also a great way to practice making invitations, acting proper at a party and being ladies and gentlemen.
3. Beyblades: If you have a boy between the ages of 4-7, you likely are familiar with these suckers. Oshiolema is h o o k e d on Beyblades and he and our neighbor played outside in the yard with their stadiums every single day for months on end. Before we were seeing people, he and Keogena had battles during rest time and it’s so much fun.
4. Games: Between Uno, War with a regular deck of cards, Hi Ho Cherry-O and Candyland we were set. Set, guys. Having a game to play together to look forward to at the end of the day is so helpful when the days feel long and you just need something on the schedule. Our game nights always end in laughs and were some of the most bonding and predictable nights of the year and I highly recommend the games listed above.
5. Dollhouse: Keogena had this for two years without having any interest in it at all and yet last year, this became her best friend. She transitioned out of taking a daily nap and her “room rest” time each day often looked like sitting and playing make believe with this dollhouse in front of her window. We cherish it now.
6. Ice cream: You know how you can’t predict what exactly will be the winning toy for your kids? This is one of those things. We’ve had this for years but every single time friends and cousins come over, they end up playing with this ice cream set. Something about the feel of “being behind the counter” and getting to act as an employee at an ice cream shop and also getting to feel like a customer makes it really special. Our 9 year old niece loves it just as much as our 3 year old nephew which goes to show how versatile it is.
7. Magnatiles: this needs no introduction. None. We have multiple sets and this entertains them for hours on end. The hours is not an exaggeration. Multiple. MVP.
8. Art station cart: This was Keogena’s big gift for this Christmas and it quickly moved to first place in her heart. I linked everything on LiketoKnow.it (I know, I’m sorry.) and can’t recommend the things there enough. Simple underdogs like popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners make for the most fun creative play and crafting.
9. DogMan Books: we read constantly over this past year. Oshiolema actually learned to read at 5 and a half this summer and has been reading these books to us every night. They are silly and easy to get through in comic-book style which makes it breezy and a bit more simple. Keogena and I read Junie B Jones books before bed and collectively we probably read hundreds. It was certainly a good reading year!
What were your kids’ favorite toys and activities this year?