Must have to keep your kids entertained this Summer

8:00 AM

Summer is coming! This not only means heat and living on lock down for most of us in India, this also mean the end of the Academic school year is round the corner. If you are a stay at home parent, chances are I heard you emit a loud groan.

April marks the start of a 2 months school holiday during which you are pretty much stuck indoors trying to keep your little ones from going insane. After all, you want to keep the insanity from spreading, since you pretty much lost the last shred of your sanity the instant the school shut its doors.
The endless hunt for activity camp, perfect craft project, and ways to remain productive as an adult has or is about to begin. Fess up! You've been drafting a couple of war plans to make this Summer a success with minimal blood shedding and hope to still have half of your hair still on your scalp come June.

I know I have, and still am. But you know what? I decided to share the love, and put together a little shopping guide for toys and games that will help you gain a few precious hours of peace and quiet. You know, for when nothing else works...

Like all the monthly Shopping Guide, this one features Amazon affiliate links. If you buy something, anything, I get paid (it will go toward regaining my sanity once the school starts again).

And because keeping our kiddos entertained is a mammoth task, I put together not one, but two lists. One for creative activities, and one for board games.

1) This pretty Princess wand is one we actually own and Ishita had a blast painting hers and still use it when she plays dress up with her friends. It comes from the high quality brand "Melissa & Doug" which really makes the best wooden toy and activity kits there is out there. They have many a creative kit at fairly affordable price, not to mention plenty of pretend play props of the highest quality. Take time to check all the goodies they have available.

2) If your child is old enough, chances are you heard of loom bands, the super fun rubber band weaving game. There are many version of the toy, this "Fashion loom kit" is one of many affordable starter kits that include the rubber bands and the loom. You can still supplement with more elastics as you go. Youtube has a huge selection of tutorial videos to make the most amazing designs. This is another toy I highly recommend, it kept both Ishita and I busy for hours. And we even took the small hooks and "Y" loom with us on holiday and got my nephew into it as well.

3) We got this Quilt making kit as a birthday gift last year, and not only it is fun to make, you get to keep the result for a long time. The set comes with fringed squares of fleece fabric you knot together to make a big quilt. It's a no-sew quilt, all you need to do is tie knots, the best toy to get your kiddos to practice if they don't know how.

4) This Sparkling gel candles kit is one of the many craft kit I have on my wish list for this Summer. It comes from the brand Toy Kraft, which is famous for their range of craft kits. Of which we already made quite a few, including the rag dolls, painted plates, and painted clay vase. You are bound to find one kit your child (or yourself)would love to make in their collection.

5) If you child doesn't own an easel yet, consider getting one. This tabletop one has a white board, black board and a roll of paper. This should keep your budding artist entertained enough that they will keep the crayons and markers off your walls, sparing you hours of cleaning after them.

Artsy crafty activities not your or your child's thing? Consider stocking up on interesting board games. Games that will be fun for you to play with (sorry Candy Land, we HATE you over here). Games that are fairly simple and no mess enough that you can round up you building's kid for an afternoon of good old fashioned board game fun. I omitted the super classic Ludo, Snakes and Ladder, and other Chinese checker from this list, because let's face it, we all own them already (along with Candy Land if you have or had a toddler).

1) I can't even begin to explain what kind of special spot Yahtzee has in my heart! This simple dice game has been the companion of all my childhood holidays and camping trip. It has provided hours, and I mean HOURS of entertainment for the whole family. Blowing on the dice for good luck, hoping to score that elusive "Yahtzee" (all five dice with the same value) until bed time came...those where the good old TV less holidays. The game is simple enough that younger player can grasp it and the only real skill you need is luck, older players aren't guaranteed to do any better.

2) Ranking as high as Yahtzee in my heart is Uno, the world famous card came of matching numbers and colour and cursing your opponents with booby trap cards. The goal is simple: all start with 7 cards, the first player to place all his cards down on the table wins. But is it really THAT simple? You are guaranteed to want to play for hours and the more the merrier at this addictive game.

3) Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the library! If you never played Cluedo, put it on your Bucket list ASAP. This game is best enjoyed with as many people as the game allows, so round up your neighbourhood kids, and play away until they all know how to play it on their own. This is the best board game to sharpen your budding detective's skills.

4) Last but not least, consider buying Jenga if you haven't already. Like Yahtzee and Uno, it is a game that has fairly simple rules, and anybody with enough fine motor skills to handle wooden blocks can play it. Each players take turn removing one wooden block from anywhere in the tower to place it on top and form a new layer. See how high you can go before the tower comes crashing down (P.S if you are the one who get it to crash, you loose).

I could have added so much more to these two lists, the options for craft kits are endless, and there are so many board games and puzzles out there to try. The sad truth about Summer in India is that you are going to end up spending money, one way or another, so you might as well spend it on games that can be played for years to come, or on projects your child will proudly display in their room. 

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  1. Anonymous6:58 PM

    can u suggest something to encourage reading. my son is good at pictures but not interested in reading. He has entered third grade and now reading is necessary. due to his hyperactivity and speech problem is less inclined to read. He quick to understand through picture as that us how his therapy was conducted through pictures.


    1. Is there a library in your neighbourhood? We have a Just books outlet where I live and I know they have outlets in all Metros. I take Ishita there regularly as we took an "Avid reader" plan. She can choose whatever book she wants to read, I leave her total control over that choice, and she now picks books she can read more or less on her own. The fact that she is in charge of what she picks makes it exiting to her.

      Second, we did a "reward log" for a while, each time she read a book, she had the right to put a sticker on the chart. Each 5 books she read on her own, she would get an additional surprise. This really helped her getting motivated to read.

      Since his attention span is short, I would focus on books that will not take too much of his time to read and just ask him to devote 5-10 minutes reading whatever he fancies reading. Ishita is 6.5 years old, and she can read "Step into reading books of level 2-3" but she really still loves reading simpler cardboard books like "Peppa Pig" and I let her do it.
      Kid should first discover the fun that there is into reading books to gain confidence and start tackling bigger books and more serious ones. The Summer time is a great time to encourage that fun reading behaviour.

      You gave me an idea about making a children book list blog post, Ishita has a lot of books that she loves.

    2. Anonymous10:30 AM

      His theraphy started with pictures and things which he recongnizes like his stuff, family members etc. Later on there were pictures like apple, transport etc. So, after seeing a picture he can say 'apple' but he does not want to read "this is an apple" since it requires some amount of speech and atriculation which he lacks. He perhaps feels shy or ill equipped to read or plain bored to read from a book or blackboard.

      His therapist drew pictures so he kind of got hooked to it. But real world is not about pictures/bookish pictures but words and sentences. You are right perhaps books with little to read is the way to go. He has problems sitting on his seat and gets off and roams a little, mood swings etc. but he doing all right academically for his age. Everydays is a struggle. We would like his to develop this habit of reading so that he can read from the blackboard and book and does his study independently and it would also enahance his speech skills.

      He hates languages but loves maths which does not requires much articulation.


    3. It seems to me that he is more of a visual learner and languages, at least on the surface require more auditory learning skills which is not how his brain function. He might actually benefits from relying on images to learn how to read.
      Have you tried introducing comic books to him? It could be just what he needs to connect the two, the image is there describing the action, but not to the point of being fully understandable without reading the texts in the bubbles.

    4. Anonymous3:11 PM

      If he's interested in pictures I would suggest you buy him Anant pai comic books. Trust me kids love comic books. Please do not buy Tinkle, but is selling independent versions of those. Check them out. I would recommend individual copies of Nasruddin Hodja, folktales of Japan, China, South India, Central Asia, Europe and America. Those books have been illustrated beautifully and are so rich in morals too! They have a HUGE range and if you're Indian it couldn't get better because books on Indian mythology, Moghal rulers, and Freedom fighter are presentedd in the best way possible.What better way you have other than this to both enjoy and learn stuff! Just buy one or two and see how it goes from there. Also you don't have to worry about the grammar because it is simple yet rich in vocabulary unlike those atrocious Pran's comic books like Chacha Chaudhry where the sentences aren't even grammatically correct.

    That was the first game I taught my nieces & nephews after I got married. It's quick to learn, you don't need to speak English to play it, it's easily portable, almost any age can play it, and it's fun!

    1. That game has everything to make it an instant success I swear. I can't remember how many games of UNO we wore out over the years, or lost, or gave to others who didn't have it. As a kid you could be that there was at least one game that made it on our week long school field trips. It also came on all of our sailboat trip, camping trip, ski lodge stays, basically everywhere there would not be a TV that game came along and we would play it for HOURS.

      I had to buy a new one this week, because for some reason the old game got glue all over it and some cards were really damaged from playing it too much anyway. We may or may not have lost a few cards during our many relocation moves too.

  3. Ksenia10:37 AM

    Our entertainment of all times - Suspend game by Melissa adn Doug. Check it out!

    1. I just checked it out and WOW! I have to get this one it really looks like a game we could play on no end.


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