30+ activities your kids can do instead of homework

Too much homework for kids can be harmful. Here are other ways for your children to learn at home.

Should homework be banned
@christyhermogenes/Twenty20

There are many aspects of my more than decade-long career as a teacher that I'm proud of. My reputation for giving lots and lots of homework—sometimes over two hours' worth—is not one of them. My intentions were good: I, like their parents, didn't want my students to fall behind.

However, when I entered a doctoral program in education policy, I learned that some research suggests homework is not good for elementary school-aged kids. Not only does it fail to improve the academic performance of elementary students, but it might actually be damaging to kids' attitudes toward school, and to their physical health.

After hours spent sitting and engaging in mostly adult directed activities, children's minds and bodies need other kinds of experiences when they get home, not more academics. It's not just that homework itself has few academic benefits for little kids (and may even be harmful), it's also that homework is replacing other fun, developmentally appropriate and valuable activities—activities that help children grow into healthy, happy adults.

If your child is having trouble figuring out how to focus on homework, they're not alone. Here's the rundown on homework for kids.


Who invented homework, anyway?

Modern homework was invented by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who created a compulsory school system that was meant to support the effort to unify Germany (it had originally been a set of city-states, and reached unification in 1871). For Fichte, homework was a way for students to be involved in patriotism: They attended state-sponsored schools and spent their free time doing assignments related to their state-sponsored education. It was brought to America by Horace Mann, a pioneer of public education in the United States, in the 1840s.

However, in the interim, a lot has changed in education. With time and research, educators are learning more and more about how children learn best and what kinds of work are developmentally appropriate at different ages and stages.

What does the research say about homework for kids?

While researchers think that homework is beneficial for academic achievement, the amount and type of homework makes a difference. One study published in the Journal of Experimental Education found that excessive homework leaves kids stressed, sleep deprived, and lacking balance for social and family activities even when those students come from upper-middle class families and go to top-performing schools—and many students don't have those advantages.

Then there's the issue of whether homework is actually effective at changing academic outcomes. Education researchers generally agree that kids get more benefit from homework the older they get, but one 2020 Rutgers study found that homework has become less effective at reinforcing classroom learning as smartphone use has become widespread. Kids use their phones to complete their assignments and get good grades on homework, but then don't perform well on exams. On the earlier end of education, researcher John Hattie argues that homework doesn't make a difference with regard to achievement for grade school-aged students, and that parents should encourage kids to learn at home through more engaging activities (like reading books they're interested in, pursuing hobbies, and getting in physical activity).

Harris Cooper, mentioned earlier, believes that homework is effective, but it should be increased incrementally over time. He recommends the 10 minute rule: The amount of homework students receive should be 10 minutes times their grade level, so that first-graders get 10 minutes of homework, fifth-graders 50, and high school seniors get two hours, for example. Cooper also has stipulations about the kind of homework kids receive, saying, "Homework for young students should be short, lead to success without much struggle, occasionally involve parents and, when possible, use out-of-school activities that kids enjoy, such as their sports teams or high-interest reading."

What can kids do instead of homework?

Spending time with family

Spending time with family

@lizaastark/Twenty20

Many parents have daily battles with their elementary-aged kids over homework, and for many it negatively affects their relationships. Instead of parents nagging their overtired kids to do homework, families can spend much more time talking together about their day. In fact, conversation is the best way for all of us—especially young children—to learn about our world and cultivate empathy.

Encouraging multigenerational relationships can also yield many lessons for kids. By spending time with Grandma and Grandpa, they can learn how other adult role models in their lives who love them handle conflict, create and negotiate rules and routines, and embrace family traditions.

Suggested activities:

  • Talking to parents
  • Helping out with dinner
  • Hanging out at grandma's
  • Reading a book together

Self care

Self care for kids

@lolodean/Twenty20

Just like adults, kids need time to take care of themselves so that they can perform well in school. And also like adults, a lot of kids don't have self-care basics in their routine.

Take sleep, for instance. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that between 25 and 50 percent of children aren't getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can cause all sorts of problems in kids, including poor attention, behavior problems, academic difficulties, irritability and weight gain. But even small amounts of additional sleep can have big impacts. One study found that only 20 additional minutes of sleep can improve kids' grades.

Other self care activities benefit children, too: Reading aloud to a child helps them build their vocabulary, having a bedtime routine improves children's social and behavioral habits and having some relaxing downtime recharges their ability to pay attention and concentrate.

Suggested activities:

  • Sleep
  • Building a consistent bedtime routine
  • Cleaning their room
  • Zoning out
  • Meditation
  • Listening to classical music

Independent activities

Independent play

@leencrombez/Twenty20

Solitary activities—those that children can do on their own, without the help of adults—build kids' confidence and help them to relax. Plus, if there's an element of learning, like your child acquiring a new skill on their own, it can improve their motivation and memory in the long run.

Kids benefit in different ways from different independent activities. According to the National Literacy Trust, reading for pleasure has a greater impact on children's achievement in school than their family's economic status and not only builds vocabulary and comprehension but builds confidence. Knitting and crochet build fine motor skills, and gardening helps kids apply what they're learning in their science and math classes to the real world.

Suggested activities:

  • Independent reading
  • Working on a puzzle
  • Learning to knit
  • Conducting a science experiment
  • Planting a garden

Play

Kids play

@amyhilbrand/Twenty20

An important part of how young kids' minds develop is through free, self-directed play. According to David Elkind, Ph.D., author of The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children, free play is more critical now than ever, as recesses are shortened or eliminated and kids' calendars are busier than ever. "Through play," Elkind writes, "children create new learning experiences, and those self created experiences enable them to acquire social, emotional, and intellectual skills they could not acquire any other way."

There are a lot of different kinds of play: Risky play, sensory play, parallel play, constructive play, cooperative play, and more. All types of play have benefits for children, like building social skills, increasing creativity, improving problem-solving skills, and providing opportunities to explore the world in new ways. It's even good for parents: As the American Academy of Pediatrics says, "Play offers parents a wonderful opportunity to engage fully with their children."

Suggested activities:

  • Go up a slide backward
  • Dig in the dirt
  • Playing with a friend in a sandbox
  • Play dress-up
  • Create a collage
  • Play Simon Says
  • Make a fort

Physical activity

Physical activities for kids

@DelanahBanana/Twenty20

Kids who are physically active—as well as adults—have stronger hearts, lungs, and bones. They are less likely to develop cancer or be overweight and more likely to feel good about themselves. Even rough-housing can be beneficial. Rough and tumble play is not the same as aggression. It's vigorous, freeform, whole body, energetic, happy play. Kids learn decision making skills, relieve stress, improve their ability to read social cues, and enhance their cardiovascular health.

And walking the dog counts: Kids who help take care of family pets may be less anxious, less likely to develop allergies and asthma, and are more active.

Suggested activities:

  • Jumping rope
  • Wrestling with siblings
  • Riding a bike
  • Walking the dog
  • Setting up an obstacle course in your living room

Volunteering

Volunteer opportunities for kids

@KookkaiFoto/Twenty20

Through volunteering, kids can become more grateful, empathetic, and feel more connected to the wider community. Volunteering at an animal shelter can be especially enriching for children. Even kids who don't have pets at home can benefit from being around animals. The emotional and psychological benefits of being around animals can also be found when kids care for injured animals and take on care-taking responsibilities for other people's pets.

Suggested activities:

  • Playing with animals at a shelter
  • Bringing flowers to seniors in nursing homes
  • Organizing or contributing to a toy drive
  • Picking clothes to donate to a women's shelter
  • Picking up litter in the neighborhood

Creative expression

Kids creative activities at home

@criene/Twenty20

According to the American Psychological Association, creative expression has incredible benefits for children's mental health. Various studies have found that engaging in creative expression while experiencing negative emotions like anger and sadness helps people, including children, to process those emotions healthily. It doesn't matter what kind of creative expression it is: Drawing, acting, writing, playing music and more can all build resilience along with improving kids' imaginations, fine motor skills, and communication.

Suggested activities:

  • Practice an instrument
  • Draw a picture
  • Write a story
  • Take pictures

No homework? No problem

Homework takes away from the time available to engage in endless other forms of learning, such as social, physical, and emotional, as well as rest. And in any case, the learning done in school is only one form of learning.

Our kids deserve a chance to spend all their other hours outside of school doing their most important job of all: being a kid.


Original story by Jessica Smock for Parent.co.

How one company is making a huge difference for LGBTQ youth

Take notes, all you other brands, this is how it's done

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

This article is sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

We spoke to Chris Bright (he/she/they), Director of Public Training at The Trevor Project, who works closely with H&M. Chris shared with us the Trevor Project's important mission, and what all brands should do to best support LGBTQ youth today.

1. For those that do not know, what is The Trevor Project's mission? What is it all about and its impact on society?

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. Our mission is to end suicide among the estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth under the age of 25 in the U.S. who seriously consider suicide each year.

Founded in 1998, The Trevor Project launched TrevorLifeline, the first 24/7 national lifeline supporting LGBTQ youth in crisis alongside HBO's broadcast of the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor. The first calls were answered that night. Since then, we have grown from reaching several thousand LGBTQ youth per year to becoming the preeminent resource for LGBTQ young people in crisis, directly serving over 200K LGBTQ young people in the last fiscal year alone. We work tirelessly to save young lives by providing support through our free and confidential crisis programs on platforms where young people spend their time — online and on the phone. In addition to TrevorLifeline, we offer 24/7 digital crisis services including TrevorText and TrevorChat, as well as TrevorSpace, the world's largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth.


H&M + The Trevor Project

2. Can you describe the nature of the relationship/partnership the Trevor Project has with H&M?

Our collaboration with H&M has been remarkably successful, with H&M driving awareness of The Trevor Project and our services among its audience while also demonstrating its strong support of LGBTQ young people. H&M first partnered with us in December 2020 during our "Every Single One" holiday campaign, where they donated $250K in matching funds for Giving Tuesday. This helped The Trevor Project have our best-ever Giving Tuesday moment.

Our work together has had extensive impact, allowing H&M to engage employees, customers, and community members in conversations about LGBTQ Allyship through Trevor's resources and mission. We're thankful for H&M's support, which helps us continue to operate and improve our 24/7 life-saving crisis services so we can serve more LGBTQ young people.

3. Why was H&M the right company to partner with?

H&M is an established yet relevant brand that has the attention of young people, and we're always so thankful to partner with youth-facing brands that can not only spread messages of love and support, but also can increase the awareness of our crisis services and resources. We know that H&M genuinely cares about creating a better future for LGBTQ young people.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge or struggle for LGBTQ kids today?

LGBTQ youth are incredibly diverse, with so many intersecting identities and unique experiences — making it difficult for me to pinpoint what might be the single biggest challenge or struggle for all LGBTQ youth today.

What I can say, however, is our research reveals numerous challenges or struggles that may be more prevalent across the board for LGBTQ youth. According to our 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which captures the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 across the U.S., nearly 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. Over 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health and more than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful.

What's clear is that while there is no single biggest challenge or struggle for our LGBTQ youth today, it's critical that we find ways to uplift and support each and every LGBTQ young person that we can.

5. Since it's back to school time, are there stressors or situations that are uniquely heightened for LGBTQ youth, other than the standard new school year jitters, that people don't necessarily know about?

Our research has found that LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one LGBTQ-affirming space had 35% reduced odds of attempting suicide in the past year, with LGBTQ-affirming school environments having the strongest association with reduced suicide attempts. Since the onset of COVID-19, the volume of youth reaching out to us has significantly increased, at times nearly double our pre-COVID volume. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anxiety have been heightened as a result of the pandemic, further emphasizing the need for LGBTQ youth to have access to spaces that affirm their identities, such as gender-neutral bathrooms, trans-inclusive sports, and positive extracurricular activities such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs).

LGBTQ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult — whether it be teachers, coaches, or counselors — were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. The Trevor Project created the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention, which includes requirements for teacher training, mental health instruction for students, and policies and procedures for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that as in-person learning returns, schools provide LGBTQ students with safe learning environments where they can feel empowered, supported, and accepted by their peers and educators.

H&M + the Trevor Project

6. In what way is the support that The Trevor Project provides crucial to LGBTQ youth, especially as it pertains to suicide prevention?

The support that The Trevor Project provides is so crucial because suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people — and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight or cis peers. LGBTQ youth reach out to Trevor because we are LGBTQ-affirming and a trusted provider of crisis services. All of our volunteers are highly-trained to answer calls, chats, and text from LGBTQ youth 24/7 when they are feeling suicidal or need a safe, non-judgmental place to talk.

Almost three-quarters of youth stated that they either would not or were unsure if they would have another service if The Trevor Project did not exist. We aim to be there for every young LGBTQ person in crisis with a clear message: you are loved, your life has value, and you are never alone.

7. What do you think the responsibility is for brands to be involved in pro-social, activism-related work?

Everyone can play a role in creating change and building progress in our society. Brands — especially those with large platforms and influence — have a responsibility to fulfill that role as well. We recognize H&M and our other brand partners for helping spur progress on important issues, and we encourage others to follow suit. Beyond the essential financial support that brands can provide to nonprofits like The Trevor Project, there's also a direct benefit for the community when brands are loud about their support of Pride; we've found that more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community positively impact how they feel about being LGBTQ. Finally, it's important to remember that Pride doesn't begin and end in June — the opportunity to support Pride is 365 days a year. We are thrilled to have H&M as a year-round partner for The Trevor Project, demonstrating their authentic support for our work.

8. What is one of the biggest impacts or positive results you have seen come from the partnership between The Trevor Project and H&M?

We wouldn't be able to do the work we do and make the progress we've made without our brand partners like H&M. The Trevor Project has experienced significant growth in the last few years with the implementation of our five key program areas: crisis services, peer support, research, education and public awareness, and advocacy. Since 2019, we've been working to scale our volunteer training to increase the number of crisis services counselors on a yearly basis. In addition to original, intersectional monthly research briefs, our research team launched the world's largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health in 2019, and has released a total of three national, annual reports. We've ramped up Trevor's advocacy work on the local, state, and federal levels to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, including bills to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy that have been in introduced in 40 states. H&M's partnership helps us advance this work by raising significant funds and awareness for our mission. During June 2021, when H&M served as one of our key Pride Partners, our crisis counselors served over 19,500 crisis contacts with free, confidential support via phone, chat, and text.

9. How important is it for LGBTQ+ youth to see allies in popular culture, be it a celebrity or high profile person, mainstream brand, etc.?

LGBTQ representation in the mainstream media is extremely important as it makes LGBTQ youth feel seen, validated, and confident that they are not alone. Over 80% of youth said that celebrities who are LGBTQ positively influence how they feel about being LGBTQ, and more than half of youth said brands who support the LGBTQ community have a positive impact on their LGBTQ identity. As we continue to see increased visibility for marginalized communities in popular culture, diverse images will become normalized, which in turn creates a safer, more accepting world for all of us.

10. For people who want to get involved with a cause like The Trevor Project, what is the best way to make a difference?

There are a number of ways to get involved with The Trevor Project – from making a donation (TheTrevorProject.org/Donate) to applying to be a volunteer (TheTrevorProject.org/Volunteer) to spreading the word about our resources.

Affirming spaces and support systems work to save young LGBTQ lives. People can be active in their communities to ensure that more safe, affirming spaces are available and thriving. Even making an effort to respect someone's pronouns and encouraging those around you to do the same can make a huge difference. Our research has also found that LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt. If you get the opportunity, be that one person for a young person in your life.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project's trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

Our Partners

This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.


Honestly, it's no wonder. Originally designed as a better blanket for luxury hotels and engineered with textile experts to create this uniquely soft fabric, it has made my bed into the vacation I so desperately want these days.

The comforter is made up of two layers. On one side is their signature knit "snug" fabric which out-cozies even my most beloved (bought on sale) cashmere sweater. The other, a soft quilted microfiber. Together, it creates a weighty blanket that's as soothing to be under as it is to flop face-first into at the end of an exhausting day. Or at lunch. No judgement.

Miraculously, given the weight and construction, it stays totally breathable and hasn't left me feeling overheated even on these warm summer nights with just a fan in the window.

Beyond being the absolute most comfortable comforter I've found, it's also answered my minimalist bed making desires. Whether you opt to use it knit or quilted side up, it cleanly pulls the room together and doesn't wrinkle or look unkempt even if you steal a quick nap on top of it.

Also worth noting, while all that sounds super luxe and totally indulgent, the best part is, it's equally durable. It's made to be easily machine washed and come out the other side as radically soft as ever, forever, which totally helps take the sting out of the price tag.

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

Here is my top pick from Sunday Citizen, along with the super-soft goods I'm coveting for future purchases.

Woodland Snug comforter

Sunday-Citizen-Woodland-Snug-comforter

The bedroom anchor I've been looking for— the Snug Comforter.

$249

Braided Pom Pom Throw

Because this degree of coziness needs portability, I'm totally putting the throw version on my list. It's washable, which is a must-have given my shedding dog and two spill-prone kiddos who are bound to fight over it during family movie night.

$145

Lumbar pillow

sunday-citizen-lumbar-pillow

What's a cozy bed without a pile of pillows?

$65

Crystal infused sleep mask

sunday citizen sleep mask

Promoting sleep by creating total darkness and relaxation, I've bookmarked as my go-to gift for fellow mamas.

$40

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

$139

Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$24.75

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Target's car seat trade-in is back and it ends soon! 🎉

Here are all the details you need to know about the 2021 deal.

Joe Raedle/Getty

Cat seats are, of course, a necessity—but they're a pretty big-ticket item for those on a budget, especially if you have multiple kiddos or cars. As always, Target is here for us.

Target's popular car seat trade-in program is BACK! It runs through September 25, 2021.

So break out the busted car seats sitting in your garage and get ready to trade it in! It doesn't matter how many goldfish crumbs or questionable stains are on it, Target will welcome it with open arms—and you'll get a discount on a new one to boot.

Just bring your old car seat to the designated boxes inside your local Target and you'll score a coupon for 20% off a new car seat, booster seat, car seat base, travel system or stroller. Oh, and the coupon can also be applied to select baby gear, such as high chairs, swings, rockers and bouncers. 👏

Find a participating store near you here.

Here's how to scan the coupon code into your phone: Open your Target App to scan the code on the box (you can always talk to a Team Member in Guest Services if you need help). Open your Wallet in the Target App to find your coupon and other contactless savings. Click the red "+" to save the offer and place your order online, or scan your barcode at the register.

Since 2016, Target has held several of these car seat trade-in events in an effort to help parents recycle the seats, which are not eligible for curbside recycling and take up a lot of space when sent to landfills. The retailer hands over all the old car seats to Waste Management and the materials are recycled to make grocery carts, plastic buckets and construction materials like steel beams. More than 14.4 million pounds of car seats have been recycled through the program.

This is such a great deal because you get to upgrade your current car seat (because, as we all know, kids go through multiple styles and sizes through their childhood) AND you get a discount for giving your old, crusty car seat a second life.

Now excuse me while I head to Target to make the most of my trade-in discount!

News + Trending

Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

Motherhood knows no bounds.

When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

"When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

Our favorite viral mama + kid videos