Hoorah, we’ve made it through another term of on / off, virtual and real school. Now that half term is looming, I’ve been stocking up on a few educational and just for fun toys to keep my young kids busy.
We moved back from Ecuador to the UK with little more than the shirts on our backs so I invested in a few toys and these seem to be a hit. Here are some of the best toys that my kids will no doubt be enjoying this half term.
As a guide, my kids are aged two, five and seven, so these are all with younger kids in mind.
Magicube toys are magnetic cubes that attach to each other on all six sides, made entirely from 100% recycled plastics.
My two year old has enjoyed playing with them, but this toy is great for older kids too. My five year old boy, Rafa, gets very fidgety and shouty, so giving him a toy like this helps him zone out, instead of getting all wound up.
This was one of the best toys for quiet, independent play I found.
Magicube shapes by Geomag by can be bought in 6- to 32- piece sets. An 8-piece set costs £18 GBP from The Entertainer in the UK.
Orchard Toys Games
I’m a big fan of the Orchard Toys brand. The educational games are mostly group games, so not something if you’re looking for a quiet moment to yourself. However they tend to be really good for families with kids of different ages.
A friend bought us the shopping list game which is one of the very few games that my two, five and seven year old all enjoy playing together.
Orchard Toys, various games to choose from, from £5.35 GBP each.
Play Dinner Set
While pandemic parenting has been rather stressful, thankfully my little girl, Annabelle, has always been on hand with a cup of tea (or soap, or mud, or fresh air). She’s been getting a lot of joy out of this little dinner set which is made from sugar cane.
Sometimes it’s the simplest toys like this one that make all the difference. As I prepare lunch, Annabelle gets her pretend food ready too, meaning I no longer have a child anchored to my ankles as I cook.
Dantoy Bio-Toy Pretend Play Dinner Set 22 Pieces, £19.97 from Amazon.
Galt Science Toys
We’ve been having a few rainy days here in the UK and my kids are getting a lot of enjoyment of Galt sets. My eldest is showing quite a passion for all things science related so I’ve forked out on a couple of STEM sets. They tend to be better put together than cheaper options on Amazon, I reckon.
All the sets I’ve bought contain fun activities and instruction manuals so kids get the most out of it (rather than emptying the contents, swishing it all around for two minutes then shouting they’re bored). We’ve bought the dino lab, the body lab, and our current favourite is the kitchen lab. (I’ll keep you posted on the mini volcano I also bought!)
Galt Kitchen Lab £6.99, from GaltToys.com
A great compromise on the messy, not too messy spectrum is kinetic sand. My kids can happily while away an entire afternoon with this stuff. The sand sticks to itself like a magnet, so it’s less messy than traditional play sand.
It’s not completely mess free, though. Some mum friends say the coloured versions have stained their upholstery, although I haven’t personally found this. Bizarrely, it does make a wooden floor extremely slippery… which is another form of entertainment itself. This sand is the best activity when I need some time to get on with something and I can’t be there hovering over my kiddos, helicopter style.
Kinetic sand, from around £20 for a large set, and £10 for a bag of sand on its own. kineticsand.com
Science lab kit
My seven year old has been showing a real passion for science, and especially chemistry lately. In the afternoons we’ve been up to a few experiments. We’ve got through a lot of Galt Toys sets, but this lab set has come in very handy.
I stocked up on a few chemistry experiment staple ingredients, including some alkaline / acidity test strips, vinegar, lemon juice, food colouring, bicarbonate of soda and white spirit (I had to explain to the pharmacist I wasn’t up to anything shady!). We’ve been having a lot of fun (and let’s be honest, yes some stressful mess) with this kit.
Unglinga science lab kit for children, £27.99 (currently on sale for £17.84 GBP.