Inside: lockdown toys that were inspired by 2020! You’ll love these great gift ideas for kids too. This post contains affiliate links. Products were received free of charge to help facilitate this post.
Lockdown is a word we never imagined would become a big part of our daily lingo, but 2020 was a special year. I decided to share with you some toys that lockdown inspired: fantastic items to have handy for those times that might be more stressful: sick days, rainy days, and those days we need a little more calm in our lives.
Table of contents:
- Toys for home-with-the-kids days: top picks for kids of all ages
- Highly Engaging STEM lockdown Toys
- Games, Crafts, and Puzzles
- Lockdown Toys that Serve as Anxiety Busters
- Sustainable Lockdown Toys
- Find loads more gift ideas beyond lockdown toys here
So much changed in 2020, and one of those was play patterns. New toy trends emerged. Puzzles sold out, as did swing sets, sandboxes, and freestanding pools.
But besides for those toys that we all know were hot items last year, I wanted to share some other game-changers that make being stuck at home more fun. These are some of our favorite staycation activities and toys for when getting out there isn’t an option. They fall into a few categories, and I’ll be sharing with you an example or two from each – and for every age group.
All of these make great birthday gifts, holiday gifts, and “no, I’m not taking all three of you to the zoo by myself today” activities.
Okay, about that last one? Sometimes when my kids have vacation from school but I know I won’t be able to take them out on my own, I spend those admission fees on an at-home toy or activity instead. The main thing is to do it together with them because it’s the together time that’s important.
And it’s about quality – not quantity. So even if that means sitting with them, without my laptop, for a solid half hour while chatting about their day, and then going to my home office to work when we’re done, we got some good quality time together. It’s even better than going out on an outing where my nose is in my phone (even if it’s just to take pictures) the whole time. So, as lockdown taught us, we focus on what we can do and make the most of time together.
On that note, you might want to read some of my tips for working with kids at home here too.
Toys for home-with-the-kids days: top picks for kids of all ages
To help you along besides for specific examples, here are some general categories of toys that lockdown taught us to look for. For each, you’ll find some specific examples as well.
Highly Engaging STEM lockdown Toys
In our home, we find STEM toys to not only be educational, but they are also some of the most played with toys and activities for my kids. These are highly engaging and very immersive, making them a fantastic tool for when I need to get work done with kids at home. But beyond that, they are also great together activities, as they’re fun for me too!
For the little ones: Stick-O
This magentic building toy is even great for toddlers, but awesome for preschoolers as well. My big boys spend hours on Magformers. This is Magformers’ little sibling. The large pieces are easy for young ones to grip, and hidden magnets make them safe and simple to attach. The shapes you make with them are quite simple and don’t have to be realistic, making it a highly entertaining toys for kids ages 1.5 and older. The “forest friends” set has those faces that appeal to the social nature of little kids.
For the big ones: Gravity Bugs
We love Thames & Kosmos STEM kits, especially those that make robot-like creations. M (age 7.5) can build these on his own, and he loves to do just that! But if you want to, you can build this together as a fantastic one-on-one experience. We’ve done this with these kids of kits before! Gravity bugs are microbots that have suction cups on them so that they can actually climb smooth surfaces. If you are getting it as a self-led activity, I recommend it for kids who are skilled in this area at age 8+, but a little older if your child ranges average in building STEM kits. If you’re doing it together, you can go as young as 6 (for engineering-minded kids).
Games, Crafts, and Puzzles
With kids spending way too much time on screens for virtual learning, wholesome screen-free fun became a mainstay of our days. This includes crafting and playing games, as well as puzzles.
For the puzzle lover: CREATTO
CREATTO 3D puzzle kits feature light-up sculptures you can make with a unique interlocking piece. It’s a bit of a learning curve to really master, but once you do, it’s a lot of fun to watch your sculpture progress. It doubles as room decor, really encouraging kids to complete it. While you can create a few designs with one, some kids will prefer to leave it as is. M tends to take his apart and reassemble it as he remembers it.
We love the lion (and the price is on point!) but the designs do go beyond just animals, so check them out! Kits are compatible with each other, so your child can also invent some new designs.
For the family to enjoy together: Ubongo
Ubongo is an award-winning 7+ game that my family has been enjoying for a few years. It’s a fast-paced puzzle game that requires you to beat the timer in filling in the blank spaces on your card with different shapes you’re given. M enjoys playing with me. While Y can’t play it properly yet, he does enjoy playing with the shapes and boards too.
It’s a unique game that’s really appealing to school age kids AND to adults at the same time.
For summer: Ice Dyeing – The Coolest Tie Dye Kit
A Quarto Kids STEAM Club pick, this ice dyeing kit is a unique take on tie dye. Even with summer camps closed, lockdown turned tie dye into an even more popular activity than it was. But how do you switch it up? By using ice, of course! This kit contains instructions along with basic supplies to make your first projects. It even comes with a length of cotton fabric!
Lockdown Toys that Serve as Anxiety Busters
One thing that broke my heart as a mom was watching my kids’ anxiety skyrocket. Even my complacent child became really uptight. So I, the anti-slime mom grinch, even pulled out the slime. Anxiety busting toys are always popular, but lockdown made them more so.
With a texture that resembles a putty (thicker) rather than a slime (stickier), Crazy Aaron’s Thinking putty is a better choice for people like me. It’s a little sticky but, you know, under control. But the reason I really love this so much is that it doubles as a find it game. It has loads of little stuff inside and you have to find the “odd ones out” – whether it’s a panda bear or a ladybug.
Y can’t get enough of it and plays with it all the time!
The 2020 TrendSetter: Pop-it
Oh, I’m gonna get such backlash for promoting the fidget spinner of 2020 (hey, this entire post is just my opinion on things, right?)… but seriously this thing is awesome! There’s a reason it became the new trend toy – but for a few bucks. Kids can play cooperative games with it, or just use it as a fidget toy. As a child, my fidget was doodling, which meant all my work was covered in doodles. Today, kids have outlets like Pop-it toys to keep their hands busy so that they can focus better. It’s our new chore chart prize of choice.
Sustainable Lockdown Toys
Finally, with families spending more time in spread apart nature settings, we might have gained better appreciation for the world around us. Toys that practice sustainability are a great way to do our little thing for the world, without even any sacrifice involved!
For the Baby: Green Toys Mickey Mouse Stacker
Made out of recycled milk jugs, with minimal, sustainable packaging as well, Green Toys is a long-time favorite of ours. But as Disney fans, we absolutely love their Disney line! A enjoys her Mickey Mouse stacker – a fantastic developmental toy for older babies and toddlers. Of course, she eats Mickey, but we’re cool with that. And guess what? It is so affordable too!
Did your play patterns change at all in 2020? Which new types of toys and hobbies did lockdown inspire in your home? Comment below!
Find loads more gift ideas beyond lockdown toys here
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