This week seemed like a good time for practical ideas to keep kids busy indoors, so here is a list of toys we have used and loved. This is the third post in our series about surviving the pandemic winter at home. You can read the first two posts here and here, which are more focused on Mom’s mental health and happiness. To find out about the best indoor toys for a pandemic winter, read on.
The links in this post are not affiliate. I just love these products and I just linked wherever we bought them from. I hope you enjoy! Share your favorites with me in the comments or on Instagram.
Toys to get Kids Moving
We are going to try to go outside as much as possible this winter, but I know there will be days when the kids (or more likely I) won’t be able to stand the weather and indoor movement will become a necessity. Fortunately, we have experience in this category, since I am a homebody and I hate the cold. Here are our favorite indoor movement toys.
Our bouncy cow is a favorite. We also have an exercise ball which the kids love to roll around on or bounce on with Dad’s help.
We just bought this pack of balls, and I am excited about it (though they are constantly everywhere to pick up). My parents have a bunch of balls in a tub and my boys have loved lying at the top of the stairs with Grandpa, throwing them all down, and then running down to scoop them all back up. I know that with the balls we will all be constantly picking them up, but they did come in a case with a zipper, so I know that if I ever want them totally put away, I can just throw them back in the bag. We also bought a ball pit, with tunnel, which the kids love, but I am not recommending the one we bought because it was the cheapest one we could find and it is pretty low quality (surprise!). I probably should have gone with a more expensive one.
Twister. An old classic I never would have thought of if my parents hadn’t bought it for my kids when they were in town.
Open-ended toys will lead to hours of play, as long as there aren’t too many available. I am amazed at how much better my kids play with less toys. We have plenty of stuffed animals, blocks, cars, and dolls on rotation, but one the best purchases I think we’ve ever made were our animal figures. We have these Asian animals, African animals, aquatic animals, and sharks. The kids have logged so many hours of play with these animals. And I keep them in a container in the closet when they’re not in use, so we don’t have too many toys out at a time.
The Best Indoor Games
I LOVE games. But I hadn’t enjoyed playing games with my kids until last winter. I think that’s mostly because I was playing the wrong games with them. And also because they were little. If you want your kids to love games, but they are still really young read this post for recommendations from one of my favorite blogs, My Little Poppies.
Here are some of our favorite games.
We have this kids’ card pack, which we love. There’s the traditional Go Fish, but we also have fun with Crazy 8s, Old Maid, and Slap Jack. They keep it a little more interesting for parents to play.
Uno. We introduced this to our kids a couple years ago, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it when they were younger. This one is super easy for kids ages 2-3 to join in.
Sleeping Queens. My three-year-old plays this game fairly well, but it is best for kids 4-8. My husband and I love it, though not as much as our daughter. We got it for Christmas last year, and she wanted to play it at least three times a day for a month.
Silly Street. We got this game last winter and our kids love it. It is great for younger kids. Cards ask players to do something silly (“Make another player an imaginary sandwich” or “Flamingo Contest! Everyone stand on one leg. Last person standing wins!”) in order for players to move ahead.
I’ve also found that I can adapt a lot of my favorite games for the kids to play, which means it can increase in difficulty as they practice and I get to play my favorite games.
For Those Days When Everything is Coming Apart
Shaving Cream. Use it in the bathtub or at the dining table. Try adding food coloring.
Water Beads. My sister-in-law sent us these one year, and they definitely added some fun to some long days.
A pile of books. I try to keep a rotation going, by stopping at the library once a week. A new pile of books has saved us from agitated afternoons many times. You can see some of our favorite books here.
There you have it, my opinions on the best indoor toys for a pandemic winter. Let me know if you try any of these. And share your favorites below or on Instagram.