Hi ho summer! The fun has begun, and kids have more time on their hands than ever. Not an easy combination for parents and kids who have been cooped up all year. So, what’s a parent to do? Here are some creative suggestions along with timeless toys and no-mess, no-stress activities that will make summer a bit more fun and the living (hopefully) easier!
Nationally known toy expert Chris Byrne, The Toy Guy, shared with the AJT, “As we emerge from the pandemic, we anticipate that the backyard will still be the prime vacation destination for kids and families.”
That means families can schedule outdoor familytime playdates. From backyard badminton and driveway chalk masterpieces to family walk-and-talk outings, play together. Learning new skills are also wonderful boredom-busters from riding a bike to patio chess or family checker matches.
Learning Express in Buckhead, https://learningexpress.com/buckhead, specializes in age-appropriate backyard fun and toys that teach, some of which the AJT personally tested for this article. Here are some of the shop’s suggestions:
Eezy Peezy Bike: Give a toddler (ages 1-3) this bicycle, which encourages learning to balance. Motor skills are great enhancers for little ones who are on the go, and the bike’s bright colors make this a fun first tricycle for your toddler. The three-wheel design offers added stability to help toddlers balance, maneuver and have fun.
Power of Magnets: Connect kids with this SmartMax magnetic discovery toy that helps little ones safely build. Your child will connect the building pieces together with the magic of magnetism, and this toy features colorful bars and large metal balls that lead to incredible creations. They are designed to be safe from ages 1 and up, while older kids enjoy creating increasingly complex structures with added play value.
Jewelry Making: DIY Sparkle Charm Bracelets presents four sparkly charm bracelets that kids ages 6 and up can make with puffy stickers and no mess. This fun DIY bracelet kit has everything kids need to create jewelry for gifts or themselves.
Lego Friends: Lego kits reign as one of the most popular activities for kids of all ages, particularly the Lego Friends kits for ages 6 and up. From Lego backyard themes to even assembling a toy electric car that is ready to roll. Kid’s imaginations run wild with Legos, and they encourage direction-following and the satisfaction of creating something special.
Sticker Fun: Check out the Melissa & Doug sticker books ideal for on-the-go travel with pages of stickers for instant entertainment. The sweet shop is ready for toppings with these popular themed sticker book activities.
Ready, Set, Read: Next up, summer reading lists prompt kids to read, and here are a few page-turners for restless kids. Try a series of chapter books for the middle-aged reader and select books that enhance skills for little ones, too.
Here Comes Sesame Street: To help kids build mindfulness skills useful in any situation, Headspace and Sesame Workshop teamed up with Random House Children’s Books to adapt their successful Sesame Street Monster Meditation series of animated shorts into a six-volume series of board books for children ages 2 to 5. The series launches with “Sesame Street Monster Meditation: Being Patient with Cookie Monster.”
Magic Tree House Series: Regarded among parents, teachers and librarians for its power to instill a passion for reading, Mary Pope Osborne’s award-winning Magic Tree House series for ages 6 to 9 and Magic Tree House Merlin Missions series for 7- to 10-year-olds are an international phenomenon. The Magic Tree House series has sold more than 143 million books worldwide since its debut in 1992 and has been translated into 35 different languages in more than 100 countries around the world. It only takes one read to be hooked on the Magic Tree House books!
Dot Art Hits the Spot: Dot away with this set of Do-A-Dot Art! It just got easier to do arts and crafts and paint dots with six washable dot markets in no spill, no splash bottles. Do A Dot Art! is ideal for developing hand-eye coordination and color recognition. Easy to grip for young hands, made in the USA and each six-pack set will create over 1,000 art projects. Ages 3 to 103 will love it! www.dotart.com
Create a Crafts Closet: Save cereal boxes, have (uncoated) paper plates on hand for painting, and check out reasonably priced stores, which are filled with craft supplies, activity kits, paper, brushes, pipe cleaners and art supplies. Create an arts and crafts closet filled with great options for at-home creating, www.dollartree.com
Make this summer a time to renew family ties and enjoy backyard safe fun. There is no replacement for a parent’s supervision, so put safety at the top of your list and enjoy every minute. After all, it is summer and a child’s job to play.