Best indoor toys for kids: The Quarantine Edition

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Now, we’re all faced with a dilemma quite unlike any other– entertaining and educating our kids indoors, 24/7 for the foreseeable future. Below, find a list of my favorite indoor activities that can keep your kiddos entertained (screen free!). Whether you’re looking for indoor toys kids can do solo while you’re working, activities to keep siblings entertained together, or games that the whole family can enjoy– I’ve got you covered. 

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Indoor activities & toys kids can use independently

"Independent play" doesn't mean a child is lonley-- it just means they are focusing on themselves and tuning into their own thoughts and body. Added bonus? You can do the same!

These are a fun twist off of regular drawing.

Non-messy Arts & Crafts

Blank notebook, crayons, colored pencils— you name it. I’m always surprised at how long this entertains my son. I switch out the drawing utensil to mix it up. 

These books are bursting with activities. They have so many options for different interests– dinosaurs, ballet, and more. These sticker books can keep my son happily entertained on his own, even though he can’t read the instructions on each page. Sometimes, we go through the book together so I can show him the activities inside, but mostly, he loves moving the stickers around as he sees fit.

Magic Mom Hack

Peel off the back part of sticker pages to make it easier for little fingers to pull off stickers independently.

These come with pens, and to mix it up you can also give cut up sponges, Q-tips, cotton balls, or even water and paintbrushes. I love this because it gives kids a creative outlet but has no messy clean up.

This activity is perfect for kids 5 and up who love getting in touch with their artistic side. They can follow pre-made patterns and watch their designs come to life before their very eyes. It’s also great for travel!

Indoor activities & toys that can be perfect for sibling teamwork

Legos are the perfect toy for hours and hours of fun. Toys like these are wonderful to teach kids practical skills about balancing structures, physics, and architecture.

  • For sibling pairs 1.5-4 years old or so, a Duplo set could be their perfect match. They’re rated for children 1.5 and up. I tend to gravitate towards sets that are open-ended, so my son can create an infinite number of things (which, truth be told is often cars and trucks in various formats).
  • For sibling pairs 4+ years old, this Classic LEGO set has smaller pieces that make it possible to make different structures with more details.
  • For sibling pairs 6+ years old, there are also more intricate LEGO kits where kids (and adults!) can follow a design to make a more intricate design, such as the Frozen II Arendelle Castle or a Dragon’s Mountain.

Open-ended creative thinking toys

Toys such as dramatic play clothes and play scarves can be perfect opportunities for siblings to pair up and conquer the world, together. They can pretend to be fairies, create forts, set up their very own play kitchen or doctor’s office.

For my comprehensive post on creative thinking toys, click here.

Play cooking scenarios are so powerful for children– they allow them to take an active role in something that they see us doing every day to take care of one another. Play doh has some really fun toys here to bring this to life– whether it’s a breakfast cafe, a play oven, a pizza parlor, or a BBQ set, these toys can be a great way for siblings to work together and “cook”! Plus, as explained by Michigan University, playing with play-doh also encourages creative thinking, fine motor development, and sensory exploration!

One note is that the kits come with great tools, but don’t come with a lot of actual play-doh. I like to grab some extra upfront.

These classic toys can be used by kids in so many different ways. While marketed to make cabins, my son always makes garages for his cars. I’ve found that at 2.5 years old, he needs a little help building. But one of these sets could be used independently by a child around 3.5 years old and up, or by a younger child who can play with an older sibling or parent. This is their largest set available right now– and for this, the more pieces you have, the more structures kids can build. But, they also have many smaller sets available if you’d like to try that out first before investing in more.

Play builds the kind of free-and-easy, try-it-out, do-it-yourself character that out future needs.

James L. Hymes, Jr.

Indoor activities & toys that parents/caregivers can to together

kid playing jenga
Family game nights (or afternoons!) can be a nice break from monotony or screen time.

Cooking and baking

Being stuck indoors can be a great time to get your baking on in the kitchen. Grab an apron and see what different things you can make. Some of my favorite kitchen tools are silicone muffin liners and mixing bowls with lids (these double as great food storage!).

Magic Mom Hack

Silicone muffin liners are reusable and dishwasher safe. Plus, they bake cupcakes/muffins that are more moist than the standard paper liners. 

Family games-- oldies but goodies

Now, more than ever before, we have lots of opportunities to play games with our kids. These can be a great alternative to screen time. A lot of these are classics and well known to parents, but rarely played by this generation. What better time to pull these babies out and share them with the next generation. Kerplunk, Jenga, Life, or Monopoly are some of my favorites.

If you have younger kiddos, I recommend Monkey Around.

This is one of the only games I’ve found that my 2 year old can play and enjoy. It would be great for children 2-4 years old. 

Puzzles

I love puzzles because they promote mathematical thinking skills such as spatial reasoning, fine motor skills, and problem solving skills. They are perfect opportunities to practice the Growth Mindset as well— if a piece doesn’t fit where you thought it would, try a different spot! This can help build resilience and flexible thinking– invaluable skills for the duration of their life. 

Plus, puzzles come in varying ability levels. For very young children, chunky wooden puzzles are wonderful. As they get older, Petit Collage has beautiful, durable, kid-friendly puzzle designs. 

Magic Mom Hack

When you’re doing a puzzle with your child, do it alongside them, but try not to do it for them. Let them see you try different ways to fit pieces together, and let them hear you think aloud. Soon, you may hear them saying things such as “I wonder if the brown spots here go with the brown spots on this piece?”

We’re all trying to find silver linings right now.  I am yearning for a time when we can resume our outside play time. But, for me, introducing new activities that my son loves are a great way to make all this time at home a little sweeter.

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