Friday, February 21, 2014

Not-So-SAHM Top 10 Toys + Games Under $20

We don't normally review or recommend commercial items -- we love a good DIY project. But the weather (or, more accurately, the threatened weather) this winter has forced us inside a lot while mom actually needs to get some things done. So we've found ourselves investing in a bunch of nice, but not overly expensive, items that will hold our interest for a good amount of time. And that are often small enough to travel with us for dining out, which we've also been doing a fair bit -- it's often one of the ways we get out of the house even in inclement weather!

No one is paying us to do so, but we thought it would be helpful to share our top 10 favorites under $20. We know so many of you are in the same situation! (And if you're not, don't tell us). So here they are. Stay sane without breaking the bank. Enjoy!

1. Pentominoes and Pattern Cards -- pentominoes are a set of 12 shapes that can be combined in various puzzles and patterns. Mom originally bought us this set and some pattern cards after we became obsessed with the "Wright 3" series. While touring the Robie House in Chicago, we also each picked up a 3D set, which we also love. If your kiddo likes puzzles and math, this is a perfect somewhat portable game.

2. Pantone Color Cards -- for those interested in art and design, these cards are a great way to introduce color and design to your kiddos while playing a super fun hide and seek game. Mom bought ours at the Building Museum. They are oversized, but sturdy and we've still traveled with them.

3. Modern Artists Go Fish for Art -- we picked these up on one of our visits to the Hirshhorn and LOVE them. It's a small set of cards that can be used in games of varying levels of difficulty, up to full on go fish. We particularly like trying to find pairs of similar things (subjects, color, feeling, etc.) and the game includes a booklet with information about each artist as well.

4. Story Cubes -- Grammie B gave these to us last year and they are well loved. You'd be surprised at how even the younger set picks up on the idea quickly and we love to come up with super funny, elaborate stories at the dinner table. We've got the basic set, but there are a few different variations.

5. Wonderboard Play With Shapes Magnet Set -- Mom couldn't find a great online pic to do it justice, but this was another purchase from the Hirshhorn and Kane is obsessed. He even likes to play with it while he watches his "shows" and build things that go along with what he's watching. Cam likes the bright colors, too. The double-sided board is still compact enough to bring with us -- although we have to be careful not to lose the magnetic pieces.

6. Eric Carle Lacing Cards -- Cam picked these out, but we all love them. Kane follows the pattern and Cami insists she "can do whatever she wants." Whatever. They've been the focus of a lot of our time and forces Cami to use her pincher fingers, which she doesn't really like to do when gripping a pencil, so mom doesn't really care.

7. Melissa + Doug Puffy Sticker Sets -- these sets are a slightly more temporary version of the Melissa + Doug magnetic dress-up sets and much smaller, which is great for bringing them on the go. They do actually last a while if you are careful enough to keep the stickers on the scene. Cam obviously favors the mermaid one. Kane likes the pirates. And mom thinks the chipmunks are adorable.

8. No Stress Chess -- we started playing this last summer and both of us have really progressed. We can even play a game against each other. Well, at least for a few minutes before we start bickering over pieces. An uncomplicated version of the game, players learn the basics by moving whatever piece is on the card they draw. The cards visually describe how the piece can be moved, so those who can't yet read can still learn easily.

9. About Face Card Game -- this game is so addicting. You rearrange four tiles of found object photographs into a seemingly endless arrangement of faces. Super silly and creative.

10. Bath + Beauty Products -- what can we say? Cam is a girly girl and mom tries to roll with it. She spends a lot of time playing in the bathtub with various bubbly concoctions and begging mom to let her wear makeup (which mom doesn't let her do outside of the house). Her favorites include: fizzy colored bath tablets, glitter lip gloss, and a sparkly powder pouf.


Darcy said...

you're the second person who has recommended no stress chess, i think i'm going to have to buy it!

Kane and Cameron said...

It's awesome! I also recommend "Kids Book of Chess." The set that comes with it is junk, but the book lays out nicely in historical terms that T would like (e.g., soldiers fighting) how the game of chess was developed and why each piece can move the way it can. Lots of swords involved. Kane loves it.