With autumn rolling in we have the odd sunny day where it’s great to get outdoors and enjoy a brisk walk amongst the falling leaves, but most of the time in the U.K. it’s rainy, miserable and cold. It’s really easy to pop on a movie and snuggle up, but very quickly this becomes boring …. and it’s far too early to crack out the Christmas movies so this is where board games and puzzles really come in handy.
I’m a parent to a four year old so it’s impossible to look anywhere in our house without finding toys, Arlo has some treasured favourites which he drags everywhere… I have to prise his hands open when he’s asleep to put his cars safely away, and now that he has started school I find that he is a lot more independent and gets. Really involved with inventing make believe play scenarios with characters and action figures, and I recently realised that I miss playing together the way we used to.
I decided to order some family friendly games and toys for rainy days in collaboration with Very which we could play with together and review. Arlo already has his kids Amazon fire tablet and lots of fun (and educational) apps and accessories, and we also like to curl up and watch movies together too, but we do not want to rely too heavily on screen time even though we are fans of technology in this house so I’ve put together a list of some our favourite STEM toys for kids and creative toys for kids to share with you all:
Connect 4 £12.99
This is a really simple game to play in pairs (or two teams) and one I remember vividly from childhood myself. The idea is that you have to create a line of four in a vertical drop board using red or yellow tokens. This is an ideal introduction to strategy for little ones and is the kind of game you can play repeatedly and never get bored of…. We tend to end up playing “best of three” when someone wins twice in a row and then it escalates from there.
One of Arlo’s favourite things to build is a marble run so I thought we could try out Kerplunk together too, this is another strategic thinking game which stretches those problem solving skills. You have to carefully pull out sticks and avoid dropping any marbles – this requires concentration and focus, excellent hand eye co-ordination and of course is great for practising counting and recognising more/less than – all disguised as fun!
Magformers are the perfect example of STEM construction toys. Using simple polygons which attach with magnets to build all manner of things. This introduction kit includes an adjustable wheel base which can be used to create different types of vehicles. This is something Arlo can play with independently, but I like to get involved and then we set up our own Formula 1 racecourse in the living room complete with a starting ramp (my chopping board propped up on the sofa) to race our models and decide who’s the fastest. Inevitably this can get quite involved and competitive so it’s the perfect rainy day activity.
Construction is one of Arlo’s schemas and so I’m keen to work and build on that, and training as a design and technology teacher means I’m fascinated with toys such as this open ended robot kit. I think it’s important to give children access to technology and to also develop problem solving skills. This kit comes with a guide to create a gear robot which gets you used to the resources and then you can go wild with creativity as the kit includes eyes and tracks and all sorts of fun extras for budding engineers to explore.
Dinosaur Drawing £15.99
Arlo has always been obsessed with dinosaurs and we also love our arts and crafts in this house. I have a huge stash of materials and supplies which I like to keep safely out of reach to avoid complete chaos but I like to make sure Arlo has independent access to something creative – this little kit from Melissa and Doug is perfect, because it’s a wipe clean dry erase board and booklet complete with dinosaurs and it’s all contained in a neat little carry kit. I’ve left it up to Arlo to take responsibility for it and he takes great care to pack it all away neatly after playing. This is something we have taken out with us for car and train journeys and have used in restaurants too.
Switch and Go £13.99
This V tech range of switch and go toys are hands down one of my favourites purposely because they are so robust. Each dinosaur transforms neatly in to its own vehicle, they all have an LCD screen which lights up and make noises which are tolerable for parents. We can race the vehicles, create lands for the dinosaurs and just let imaginations run wild. These are the toys which Arlo always wants to carry around with him and they get bashed around and dropped from heights as our stairs become a volcano that dinosaurs have to escape from (don’t try this at home) and every dinosaur we have from this range is still in tip-top condition.
Snail World 12.99
If you follow us on Instagram then you’ll know that Arlo managed to keep a pet snail hidden in a jam jar his bedroom this summer for two weeks before I discovered it. He loves bugs and creatures and so I couldn’t resist picking up this snail world kit from my living world. This is going to allow us to set up a snail habitat at home and safely explore and investigate his favourite creatures. I’m going to create all sorts of different activities around this – so it’s not just about being responsible of taking care of his snails daily, we will be able to try observational drawing and constructing snails from play doh etc
360 cross RC £24.99
Of course not everything we do has to be educational, sometimes we just like to have fun and these little remote controlled cars are high octane adventure. We have an open plan downstairs and these little cars keep him running around downstairs and having loads of fun…. He pulls the cushions off the sofas and makes obstacles and jumps to invent new tricks – and when we do get a break from the rain we can take this to the park for a run around because they work on all sorts of terrains.
It’s been fun reviewing all of these toys and certainly kept us busy, we hope we’ve managed to create some rainy day activity inspiration – it’s not too early to start creating those all important Christmas wish lists to send off to Santa too.
Toys provided by Very for the purposes of review