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7. Play Stages
Kids don’t have to have expensive toys to be entertained. Encourage their imagination by creating their own “stages” for them to play in. Think of a thin blanket or thick material and some small wooden poles, along with some markets and paint, so kids could make their own teepee in the backyard. Or a refrigerator sized box, with a piece cut out and plastic film taped or stapled over the hole, maybe with a wooden stool and a steering wheel inside becomes a great spaceship. Combine these stages with dress up and you might not see your kids all day!
8. Musical Instruments
This is NOT for the faint of heart, friends. Think twice about this one, especially if you have more than one child. The noise level of three kids playing musical instruments rivals any rock concert. For some kids, however, these are great gifts they truly enjoy. Simple wooden instruments such as harmonicas, guitars, tambourines, bells, maracas, and xylophones are hours of fun for most children, especially if you can convince them to make their up their own songs. Tell your little one mommy needs a song to cheer her up and your kid will spend all day singing to you. (Isn’t that sweet?)
9. Kitchen Play
This is one for both girls and boys. Be sure you have plenty of pots and pans, pretend foods, (save old food boxes and small plastic bottles for their pretend food) dishes, small serving table, and either a little wooden stove or make one yourself out of boxes. You can make kitchen cabinets out of boxes and even a refrigerator using an old ice chest.
10. Puzzles and Games
Even little ones can play simple games like chutes and ladders. Older kids enjoy card games, and even preteens enjoy games like Sorry, Life, and Monopoly. Preschoolers love wooden puzzles and many elementary school kids love to do a puzzle about their favorite subject (animals, airplanes, spaceships, ballerinas, etc.) then glue a finished puzzle together and hang it in their room. You might also want to think about some outdoor games such as tetherball, croquet, volleyball, soccer, or badminton.
Continuing with games, kids of all ages love balls. Softballs, footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, even small red rubber balls that are perfect for games of kickball or handball for smaller children. No matter their age, there is bound to be some type of ball that is perfect for your kid.
12. Bicycles, Wagons, and Tricycles
Ok, so these aren’t made of wood, but these are endless hours of fun as well as good exercise. Double check the paint to be certain it isn’t lead based. Again, as an extra measure of safety, you might want to think about buying these items from makers in the USA and/or Canada as opposed to China.
Toddlers enjoy small wagons that they can both push and pull and fill with treasures. Older kids like tricycles or small bicycles with training wheels, and older kids will be happy to have their own bicycle. Do you remember when you got your first bicycle and how thrilled you were? There is nothing quite like a bicycle for Christmas.
TIP: Encourage your child to play with the things they have, instead of tossing away the old and look for something new. Limit screen time and encourage your child to play outside whenever possible. Limit time spent in group activities (such as soccer or dance classes) Children need time for self-initiated play. When their lives are overscheduled, it leaves very little time for imaginative play.