My daughter made a friend in her pre-kindergarten class last year, and his energy matches hers. That is to say: the two of them chase each other around like they’ve each had a double shot of espresso. When I say they never stop moving, that is no exaggeration. They never. stop. moving. At their playdate last weekend, I made a futile attempt to subdue them once the late evening hours rolled around with a movie and popcorn, but to no avail. They couldn’t resist the trampoline…or the gym mats… or the crash pad… or the obstacle course that is my living room.
When my daughter’s friend left our house last weekend, he went home begging his mom for a “peanut.” She assumed it was some Trader Joe’s snack I had on hand because my pantry is full of kid-approved snacks from my favorite grocer. It was not. When she text me to ask what type of “peanuts” I buy at Trader Joe’s and that her son wouldn’t stop asking for one, I explained to her what he was referring to. A bouncing peanut.
He’s not the first kid to come to my house and beg for one of his very own. My nephew now spends his evenings bouncing at his house — turns out, my daughter isn’t the only one who loves to bounce while she watches television. I keep a second bouncy peanut at my house now for when we have kids over because the peanut is not only a source of fun – it’s a source of jealousy when there aren’t enough to go around. Sure, my house has a trampoline, a pool, a bounce house, and enough toys to fill a preschool, but it’s the “peanut” that gets the kids’ attention.
This $20 peanut (that comes with both an inflator & a spare plug) by Gaiam has stood the test of time – my daughter has been bouncing eagerly and frequently on hers for two years now. I can’t attest for lesser-priced brands other than to say they didn’t survive in a classroom. The investment of $20 has bought me some peace and quiet when my daughter bounces, and it’s bought her endless joy. Mom-recommended. Kid-approved.
What are your fave sensory products for under $20?
My daughter loves to create and I always want to encourage her artistic endeavors. What I don’t want to encourage is the scenes that look like they are straight out of a Dexter kill scene with red splattered on walls and furniture everywhere. Did I mention she really loves painting with red? Who wouldn’t it though right? It’s bright, stains everything, and is full of emotional expression. I have paint stained grout and walls that make me feel more like I live in an artist studio than a grown-up house.
When I found the “Mess-Free” line of Crayola products, I felt like I had just been let in on a big parenting secret. From the stamp set to the markers, I was excited to give my daughter the chance to create without the work of wiping and scrubbing out all the “outside the lines” marks she makes.
Here are some of our faves:
Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Art Desk
The stamps make for creative fun from making scenes to just getting some proprioceptive input by drawing on the solid board. My daughter spends lots of time creating with this magical set and there are no smocks required at this art desk.
Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Light Up Stamper
What kid doesn’t love to stamp things? What parent doesn’t loathe scrubbing excessive stamps off their kids’ hands, face, arms, legs, and themselves? This is a match made in heaven for stamp loving kids and parents who aren’t so keen on going to work with smeared ink on their cheeks. The ink pads light up as you use them for added visual input and fun.
Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Finger Paints & Paper
What? Finger paints that don’t require drop cloths and a hose to clean up after? Sign me up. Crayola has really outdone themselves with this
magic mess-free line up of art products that will give your child lots of creative sensory play.
Crayola did not sponsor this post, but I wouldn’t say no if they offered them to me, because I am smitten with the entire Color Wonder Mess-Free line.
Once my daughter got the hang of stacking, there was no stopping her. When she struggled early-on to put one block on top of the other, I did what any other panic-stricken mom afraid her daughter was falling behind would do: I invested in stacking toys and found a couple that really helped give my daughter the edge amongst her stacking peers. Stacking quickly became one of her favorite ways to avoid bedtime. She would stack the hell out of blocks and toys while I applauded and cheered her on well past her bedtime. She learned early on how to get out of sleeping, and here are some of her favorite bed-avoiding
These classic toys seem almost as necessary as diapers. I still find these mixed in with other toys. The durable wood construction means they survive toddler antics. My flat screen tv is another story. The Melissa & Doug ABC/123 blocks also work for sorting by color as well as number and letter recognition. And baby’s first drums. Stacking towers and destroying them made for lots of laughs and fun.
This brightly colored gem was introduced to me by one of my daughter’s therapists. The two layers and unusual shape made for good sensory exploration. These uniquely shaped Tobbles by Fat Brain Toys are weighted to make stacking fun and easy in all sorts of combinations giving toddlers a chance to explore different sizes, balance, and spinning.
Melissa & Doug toys are well known for mixing up fun and skill building into great toys and who doesn’t love this classic take on shape sorting? My daughter was sorting shapes and colors long before she could ever say words like “circle” or “red”. The Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort board is a great introduction to counting too. She would do this over and over and over and for a toddler who had the attention span of a fruit fly, that was a big deal.
What are your favorite stacking toys?