Sheltering in place with kids is no joke! Especially for parents who relied on school and childcare and are now taking on the role of teacher along with regular parenting duties, this is an especially stressful time. It seems like you can't grab a moment for yourself without some small person you created yelling your name for the millionth time that day.
What these children need is a distraction and diversion to keep them out of your hair for a sweet, sweet second of quiet time. Fear not, brave parent - we've got the secret ingredients for smoother days and happier kids. Here are 37 inexpensive things that'll entertain your kids for hours so you can get a much-needed break!
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These Jiggly Cubes Are Sensory Fun Personified
via: vat19I'm sure your kids are familiar with those super fun water beads that grow once you add H20. Well these are the next gen version of those - stackable cubes with the same sensory goodness as the original, but these let you build cool jiggly structures!
This Roller Coaster Designer Will Keep Em Busy Forever
via: vat19This might be the most fun STEM toy yet. Kids can DIY their own roller coaster toy in a million different configurations so they can play over and over again. It includes all the parts they need to create exciting twists and turns for hours of play.
This Slushy Maker For Delicious Snacks
via: vat19I swear my kids have hollow legs due to how many snacks they have during the day. Either they're starving all day at school or they're just eating because they're bored, but the amount of food they consume in a day is staggering. Maybe these slushy maker cups will slow 'em down for an hour or so - just freeze the cup, fill with their favorite beverages, and minutes later you have a delicious slushy drink! Make it even a little healthy with smoothies or yogurt drinks. Or use it for your own Quarantini, no judgement.
These Color Changing Markers For Art Time
via: vat19These blendy markers are so cool. You can attach two markers together and their colors come out blended on the paper! Not only does it cut down on the number of art supplies you need to store, it'll keep kids busy for hours as they create tons of different color combos for their masterpieces!
This Floof For Indoor Snowballs
via: vat19While in normal times I wouldn't encourage indoor snowballs, we're in unchartered territory here. This Floof kinetic sand lets them create snowballs or mold and shape to their hearts' content. When they're done simply squish it back into the large bucket and clean up's done!
This Light-Up Basketball For Night Games
via: vat19Just because the sun's down doesn't mean the kids have to be inside for the night. Let them keep playing after dark with this light-up basketball so they can shoot hoops until bedtime. Not only will it tire them out since they're getting exercise, but you can get even more time to yourself!
This Gorilla Grabber For Hard To Reach Places
via: vat19These grabber tools are very handy for retrieving items from hard to reach places, but this one is extra fun since it's a hairy gorilla arm! They'll have loads of fun grabbing each other (or maybe even picking up their toys) with this creepy arm. Fair warning, they're probably going to scare the heck out of you at some point with a sneak attack.
This Flying Toy For Outdoor Fun
via: vat19This throwing toy is so cool - I've never seen anything like it before. The gyroscopes are weightless, but when thrown side arm can travel the distance of two football fields! They'll burn off a ton of energy chasing after these things and finding new ways to throw 'em.
This Jumbo Eraser Makes Homeschool More Fun
via: vat19Homeschooling is no picnic, but you can make it a little more fun with this gigantic fruity-scented rainbow eraser! For big or little mistakes, this might even make the math portion of your day a bit more pleasant. One can hope, anyway!
This Light-Up Slingball For Long Summer Nights
via: vat19This slingball toy is the ultimate in after-dark outside fun. Kids simply hook the elastic part around the top of the catching mitt, then fling the light-up ball to their partner, who catches it in their mitt. In case they're less than coordinated, the ball is easy to find in the dark if it goes off-course!
This Snot Squirter For Gross Playtime
via: vat19For some reason, bodily functions = the height of humor for kids. This snot shooting toy is no exception - each ball is filled with green slime that pops out when squeezed for a splattery surprise that'll keep them giggling.
This DIY Snowglobe For A Cool Art Project
via: vat19Multi-step projects are great for keeping them entertained for more than five minutes. With this DIY snowglobe, kids can create figures or scenes out of the included clay, wait for it to dry, then finish assembling the globe. This could easily fill an afternoon, and they'll have something they're proud to show off at the end!
These Hyperlips To Get The Sillies Out
via: vat19They need fun breaks from homeschooling so they can buckle down and concentrate again on the next assignment, and these hyperlips are a fabulous way to get the sillies out. The flexible plastic stretches your lips open to make an extremely funny-looking face - my kids were in stitches just looking at the product picture. Plus then you can see all the orthodontic work up close that your hard-earned dollars pay for.
This Taco Card Game For Fast-Paced Game Nights
via: vat19This Taco, Goat, Cheese, Pizza card game is great for family game nights, and it's easy for kids to play on their own, too. It's a fast-paced matching game that builds to a frenzied pace. Exciting enough to get their energy out during rainy days when they can't get outside to run it off!
This Flowing Play Sand For Building
via: vat19This flowing play sand is amazing - the bright, vibrant colors and moldability make it a kid magnet. My kids have this and play with it for long stretches at a time - you can shape it into anything you want then squish it back down and start all over again!
This Giant Stress Ball For Tense Homeschool Sessions
via: vat19As much as parents are stressed out, the change in routine and closing of schools is even tougher on the kidlets. What they need is a way to relax, and this giant stressball is a great sensory way to chill out. Let them use it during homeschooling and see if tantrums and meltdowns magically diminish.
This Mini Arcade Game For Brain Breaks
via: vat19A brain break that brings back retro fun? Yes, please! These mini arcade games are perfect for small hands to manipulate, and they'll get a kick out of playing the same things that mom and dad used to as kids. For "old-fashioned" technology, these are definitely entertaining for modern kids.
This Marshmallow Blaster For Injury-Free Antics
via: vat19We don't condone violence here, but this marshmallow blaster is a great outside toy for sneak attacks on siblings. They can duke it out without fear of making a trip to the emergency room since the marshmallows can't do too much damage.
This Gravity Maze For STEM Learning
via: vat19This STEM toy is so cool, I want one, too! You build a gravity maze using the different cubes to get the metal balls all the way to the end. It comes with an idea book, but kids can get really creative in making their own mazes. And it doesn't take up much room at all - keep it next to their homework station for fun brain breaks.
This Cereal Mug To Make Breakfast or Snacks Tidier
via: vat19I'm making dangerous trips to the grocery store twice a week due to how much these kids are snacking, but it would be a lot easier if they'd just nosh on cereal instead of individually sized snack packages. This cereal mug keeps your milk and cereal separate until you drink from it, where they mix in your mouth. Super crunchy cereal and no spills - count us in.
This DIY Putty Making Kit For Mad Scientists
via: vat19Sure, this putty mixing kit counts as the science lesson of the day! Kids can swirl colors, mix it all up then name their creation! It's a great busy fidget toy for schoolwork sessions, too. And it's from Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty so you know it's quality stuff.
This Milk Mixer For The Best Chocolate Milk Ever
via: vat19At the rate my kids are drinking milk, I'm hesitant to get this chocolate milk mixer, but it's too good to pass up. Kids can add the ingredients then press the button to instantly swirl up their fave drink. Moo-licious. Do you think it'd work for gin & tonic mixing too? Asking for a friend.
This Moon Lamp To Learn About Space
via: vat19This color-changing moon lamp is a great way to reinforce kids' interest in outer space, and it doubles as a fun nightlight! It shines in five different colors and comes with a remote so they can operate it from bed.
This Spinner Puzzle Brainteaser
via: vat19This brainteaser puzzle is a colorful toy that'll keep 'em stumped long enough for you to make dinner, check your email and maybe do a little online browsing. It's a five-lobed geometric puzzle that you have to spin to get the colors to match up - it's harder than it looks!
These Animal Masks To Delight Them, Scare You
via: vat19My kids were entranced by these admittedly creepy animal masks. They immediately chose their favorites and started concocting plans on how to do the best jump scare to freak me out. At any rate, you won't be looking at the same few people you're sheltering in place with for all these weeks! And they can't snack with a mask on, so...
This Catching Game For Solo Play
via: vat19This pick up ball with velcro ball targets will keep them busy for a while, and they can play solo (hallelujah)! Simply attach the elastic strap to your wrist then fling the tennis ball at the velcro balls to see how many you can pick up. Simple concept but lots of fun!
This Family Game With Fun Challenges
via: vat19Ok, this one's more fun when the whole family participates, but it's a great family game night choice or rainy-day go-to. It's called "I Got This" and it's basically a game full of silly challenges, from walking with ping pong balls between your knees to tossing a ring on one of your living room knick knacks. Everyone's gonna be entertained and it's a great way to bond as a fam.
This Microwave S'mores Maker For Easy Treats
via: vat19Speaking of snacks, here's an easy way for kids to make their own campfire treat, no actual fire involved! This S'mores maker goes right in the microwave where it expertly melts the marshmallows and chocolate onto graham crackers for a yummy snack without involving EMTs or fire departments.
This DIY Mini Eraser Kit For Creative Fun
via: vat19For kids that love to create, nothing's cuter than this DIY mini eraser kit. They can mold the putty to their heart's content, creating mini cacti, desserts, llamas or whatever the trendy icon of the moment is. When they're done sculpting, simply bake the erasers to set the shape permanently!
These Animal Balloons For A Laugh
via: vat19While these balloon animals might resemble what us adults will look like after all this mindless quarantine snacking, they're super fun for kids, too. In pig, elephant, cow and tiger shapes, these detailed balloons are sturdy enough for kicking, throwing and bouncing, so they'll stand up to hours of indoor games.
These Squigz Suction Cup Toys
via: vat19This suction cup building set looks like so much fun. I love open-ended toys where kids' imaginations can take over, and this is a perfect example. When we can actually leave the house again, these are also excellent for road trips since you can stick 'em on car windows and they're compact enough to take into a restaurant to keep kids entertained for a long time.
This Kanoodle Puzzle For Homework Breaks
via: vat19This 2-D and 3-D Kanoodle puzzle game looks simple but is actually pretty involved. Kids can play over 100 brainteasing puzzles with this little kit that comes with it's own carrying case. If they get too good at the original version, they can level up to the genius edition!
This Farts In A Jar Toy For Good, Clean Fun
via: vat19Again with the hilarious bodily functions, but instead of asking Alexa to "make a fart sound" every 30 seconds, now they can make their own with this "Farts in a Jar" toy. Fun for pulling pranks or just giggling over the flatulent sounds, kids anywhere in the preschool to middle school sweet spot will be doubled-over laughing over this toy.
This Mini Lite Brite Brings Nostalgic Vibes
via: vat19Remember how fun Lite Brite was as a kid? Now it comes in a micro-mini version that's perfect for small hands to master! Let them create fun scenes with the tiny, tiny lights. It'll take them a while to pop them all in, so sit back and enjoy your coffee break!
This Balancing Cobra Toy For Active Fun
via: vat19They can play all kinds of balancing games with this cobra snake toy. Try balancing while running obstacle courses or just walking across the living room, it's a fun toy to get them active while offering a bit of a challenge. Littler kids would definitely get a kick out of this, but older kids might enjoy it as a fidget toy, too.
These Magnaflex Building Toys Let Their Imaginations Soar
via: vat19These 3-D, flexible magnet building toys are amazing for STEM challenges! The 22 pieces can be attached in a myriad of different ways to build anything from a crab to a beachball to a palm tree. This is an excellent way to help little kids get the STEM bug while they stretch their imaginations!
This TurboSpoke Bike Toy Sounds Like A Real Motorcycle
via: vat19The ultimate in outdoor fun, this TurboSpoke bike toy makes their ride sound just like a motorcycle! Create tons of fun as they speed up and down the street, helmet on and hair streaming, imagining they're riding a superfast motor bike.