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holidays with kids,  Simple & Sensible "Supermom" Ideas

The Best Gifts for Kids Stuck at Home

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In general, I’m a huge fan of experience gifts and other non-toy gifts for kids. With four boys, the stuff piles up so quickly. However, if we’re going to be stuck at home all winter with whatever viral grab bag is circulating, I want to have plenty of things to entertain the masses. Hence, the inspiration for my list of the best gifts for kids who are stuck at home (and their parents!).

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But first, a few general guidelines… 

Before I run through some of my favorite gift suggestions, let me give you a few don’ts to consider. When you’re shopping for gifts for kids who will be at home for an extended period of time, don’t..

  • Go for gifts that generate a ton of mess (slime, paint, etc.).
  • Pick gifts that have a bunch of little pieces (aside from choking hazards for little siblings, they’re easily lost, rendering the gift useless while everyone is still stuck inside).
  • Go for things that are complicated (simplicity is a welcome joy for overwhelmed parents)

Okay, with that out of the way, here are some truly awesome gifts for kids who are stuck at home!

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Magnetic Tiles 

These are some of my favorite toys for my kids! They have built countless creations with their magnatiles. They’re also way easier to clean up than Legos (and not a tiny choking hazard either).

My three, six, and eight-year-old all play with these, so this is a toy that has longevity. 

Bonus: If you have elementary-aged kids, these will come in handy when they start learning geometry concepts like vertices, faces, and edges.

I don’t know what I would’ve done without these during virtual learning. It’s so hard to visualize 3D objects, so I just had my second-grader build them with his magnatiles.

These come in a variety of brands, not just the original, name-brand “Magna-Tiles.” At this point, our magnatile collection contains tiles from Playmags, PicassoTiles, and actual Magna-Tiles. We’ve yet to observe any appreciable differences in our tiles and some of these were significantly cheaper than others. Go with with whatever brand your preference and budget will allow.

Trampoline

Being stuck at home in nice weather is one thing, but being stuck at home in the cold or rain is a whole different ball game. A personal trampoline is a great way to burn off some of that extra steam (and it sure beats ruining their mattresses by jumping on the beds). 

Most of the models I’ve seen are made for one, but I recently came across this duo-trampoline and am a little intrigued.

We haven’t tried it yet, but with a maximum weight limit of 220 lbs, this model offers a lot more flexibility for families with multiple kids. It’s even designed to permit adult and child to jump together. (Having birthed four children, trampolines aren’t exactly my jam, but they are a great option for wearing everyone else out!)

Board Games (well, SOME board games)

The right board games can make or break a long stretch of time at home.

I stumbled upon this No Stress Chess game in Target and it’s awesome! My eight-year-old was ready to learn chess, but had a little trouble remembering how the pieces could move at first. 

My six-year-old also wanted to play, but there wasn’t enough wine in my state for me to teach him chess on top of virtual learning and caring for a newborn, so…. Enter this game!

It’s a full chess set, with the option to play regular chess. However, in preparing kids for that step, there are other, intermediate forms of the game. The kids learn the game gradually.

Instead of deciding on their own moves, the players take turns drawing cards. You must move the piece printed on the card you draw, and (this is the clutch part) the card TELLS you, in words and picture form, what directions the piece may move.

My kids all loved it, it’s a great strategy game, and BONUS: it’s really cheap!

If you’re looking for some other great strategy games for the early elementary crowd, these have also been big hits:

Mastermind

Goblet Gobbler

Rummikub

Dominos

[I wrote a whole funny-but-true post about great board games for preschoolers and early elementary kids –and which ones are absolutely horrific. Definitely check that out for additional guidance (and a laugh).]

A balance toy

Physical activity is a must for kids — even if your kids are stuck at home and the weather is terrible. Balance toys are perfect for times like these.

A Balance Board like this one is great for an an older child (probably 8 and up). It helps them get the wiggles out and works on strengthening their core. It’s also great training for skateboarding or snowboarding, if that interests them. 

Obviously supervise your kid and have them learn on a carpeted, soft area. Bonus: With a weight limit of 500 lbs, mom or dad could use it as a workout tool too.

Kids can balance on this board while doing other things (watching tv, playing a video game, etc.) or you can have them compete to see who can balance the longest. My kids will do just about anything if it’s a competition.

If you have a younger or smaller child and this type of balance board is too much, there’s also these Fat Brain Teeter-Poppers. They’re open-ended and can be used for balancing/rocking, sitting, standing, or really, whatever your kid decides. 

Of course, if your child is younger and you think they’d want the full balance board, this Wooden Wobble balance board is designed specifically for children as a Montessori classroom toy (and still boasts a weight limit of 400 lbs).

A Gymnic Rody

We have a cheaper, donkey-version of this that was so well loved for around two years. And then it was well loved right into destruction. 

Based on reviews, this particular brand seems much sturdier than what we had, but what I like most about it (that ours lacked) is that you can buy two different attachments to change things up.

You can turn it into a stable rocker with this attachment (our playground has a mounted rocker like this and each of my toddlers has loved it). 

 You can also turn it into a ride-on toy with this wheel attachment.

*While the Gynmic Rody is designed for kids up to age 10, most of the accessories are for six and under.

Hop Balls 

We had these ride-on bounce balls when we were kids and loved them. My kids also enjoy them and we’ve used them both inside and outside the house. Pictured below is the Hop 66 (because it’s 66 cm.), but they also make a Hop 55 and Hop 45 if you prefer a smaller ball.

Be advised that my children also like to turn these into weaponry and hit one another with them.

I don’t think that’s a flaw in the product so much as it’s just a reality of raising boys…

Obstacle Courses

If you want a gift for your kids that will really wear them out, obstacle courses are a great option. This American Ninja Warrior-Inspired obstacle course was designed, I think, for outdoors, but as long as you can clear the space for it, you can definitely use it inside.

My kids treat every item in our home as an obstacle course at some point or another, despite my best efforts to discourage them. Every once in a while, it’s nice to see them climb on, over, and through things that are actually designed for that purpose. 

An Indoor Climbing/Swinging Option

If you really, REALLY need to wear your kids out, and you’re REALLY stuck inside, you might want to bring the playground swings and ladders indoors with this Indoor Playground by Gym 1.

This swing, trapeze bar, climbing ladder, swinging rope, and plastic rings support up to 300 lbs and require no drilling or holes in your door/walls/trim, which I find pretty amazing. With that said, I probably wouldn’t push it and would limit their use to children under 8.

A Climbing Dome

Okay, first of all, I know many people don’t have the space for this in their homes, BUT if you have some room in your basement, I think this would be amazing. I’ve had two friends with these — one in her backyard and one in her basement–and both loved it.

 

The particular climbing dome pictured above is 48″ tall and maxes out at 150 lbs, but there are other variations available on Amazon that are larger/smaller and made for lighter/heavier loads. If you plan to use it inside, really check the dimensions well against the space.

If you’re planning to keep it in the backyard, whatever size you decide on should be fine.

Most manufacturers say they’re for kids up to ages 8 or 9, but I think the appeal really maxes out around age 6. (A note to any spoiling doting grandparents or aunts/uncles: you should definitely check with the parents first before you buy something like this.)

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I hope you found this gift guide helpful! Staying home for long periods of time isn’t ideal, but with the right toys, at least it can still be fun!

What are some of your favorite toys for kids who are stuck at home? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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