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29 ways for kids to play, discover and have fun offline

11. Flower necklaces—remember how fun those are?! ?

29 ways for kids to play, discover and have fun offline

Let’s talk about keeping those babies occupied...


As a mama to an 8-month-old and 4-year-old, keeping them both occupied can be hard. This summer break definitely proved that: It wasn’t long until they were bored with the toys they had around the house. But, as easy as it would have been for me to give my 4-year-old an iPad or turn the TV on, I was bound and determined to figure out another way to keep him occupied and away from anything with a screen.

And as any mom who gave her child an elaborate present only to have him play with the cardboard box can attest—this can be done! I just had to think back to what I liked as a kid and turn off my adult-brain to discover the games and toys that would keep my boys occupied.

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Here are some interactive and fun ideas that were hits!

1. I spy: This game is such a favorite around here—and a lifesaver in the car.

2. Blanket forts: Couch cushions, blankets, pillow... Anything goes!

3. Dominos: We love lining up a bunch of these and watching them go down.

4. Cloud animals: Making out shapes in the clouds is one of our favorite activities for pleasant days. Set a blanket in the yard and let those imaginations soar!

5. Tag: Inside or outside, the game of tag is always fun!

6. Visits to the local fire station: Fire stations are always so kind to give kids a tour—just be sure to call ahead!

7. A short nature walk: Even if it is just in the backyard or around your neighborhood, nature walks are fun and educational.

8. Tea parties: Invite a few of their favorite stuffed animals and make some tea and cookies.

9. Dress-up: Let them explore your closet... I know my little guy loves wearing his dad’s work shirts!

10. Paper airplanes: Dust off your old paper airplane skills and pass the tradition on. This provides entertaining during construction and play.

11. Flower necklaces: Making flower necklaces or crowns was one of my favorite activities as a kid. Now, I enjoy tying those clover flowers together and making pretty creations with my kids.

12. A homemade band: Kitchen cabinets are full of good “toys.” Grab a few bowls, pans and wooden spoons to make a little family band!

13. Scavenger hunt: I love hiding my little guy’s lego men around the house and setting up clues for him to find them. This is great for their thinking skill sets, too!

14. Simon says: This game is fun and teaches them listening techniques—which is always good!

15. Puzzles: Puzzles are especially great for rainy days and something the whole family can get in on.

16. Sidewalk chalk: We could spend hours in our driveway making sidewalk chalk creations. A few of my favorites include tracing each other, hop scotch and making a play road to take the bikes on!

17. Secret handshakes: You know this was always a favorite thing to do as a kid!

18. Dance: Turn up the music and dance the afternoon away.

19. Coloring: We colored a few of those giant posters this summer, which were both fun and strangely meditative.

20. Start an indoor garden: Get a few herbs seeds, plant them in Styrofoam cups and place them in your windowsill. In a few weeks, you will be enjoying fresh spices!

21. Hide n’ seek: You can never go wrong with hide n’ seek and scoping out new hiding places is always the best!

22. Splash in puddles: Don’t even bother with rain boots!

23. Make a busy box: Grab a few of their favorite things, place them in a box and pull the box out of the closet when they get bored. This makes for a great activity during “quiet time” as well!

24. Paint in the bathtub: Squirt a little washable paint in the tub and let them have at it. No need to run water until they are done!

25. Make play-dough: There are a million homemade play-dough recipes out there, including many that probably don’t require a trip to the store.

26. Practice writing numbers and letters: We own a Kindergarten Toolkit and it's been so fun to use the flashcards to practice number and letter writing!

27. Read a new book: Weekly library trips make for fun excursions and entertainment at home.

28. Make a cardboard craft: Whether it's a play sword or animal, an afternoon of crafting is always fun and keeps my little one busy.

29. Redesign the house—with imaginations: Turn the house into a world of play by encouraging them to use their imaginations. I know my little guy loves using our kitchen area as a “lookout spot” and mason jars make for a great pretend spy glass.

These are all simple ideas that keep us busy and encourage play, which is so essential to development. Plus, you may be surprised by how fun these activities are for mama, too!

P.S. The waterproof + wipeable playmat shown at top is from Gathre. Unsolicited promotion because I just love it so!

When it comes to registering for baby products, there's one word we love: convertible.

In contrast to items you use for a short period of time, convertible (or multi-use) products are made to grow with your baby… and trust us, that makes them worth their weight in gold.

Convertible items allow you to reap the benefits of your baby registry for years to come—and that's just savvy shopping, mama. Also savvy shopping? Creating your baby registry with Target and enjoying their Year of Benefits registry program for expectant parents. Just by starting your registry, you will get a welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. And Target's newest registry perk, the Year of Exclusive Deals, gives you discounts on essentials for your baby's whole first year when you sign up for Target Circle as well.

If you prioritize value and longevity when creating your registry, here are 10 items you'll love from day one through day 1,000… and beyond!


A crib that can grow through childhood + beyond

Simmons Kids Slumbertime Monterey 4-in-1 Convertible Crib

A crib is a necessity as you plan for life with your baby—you know that already. But what about in a couple of years when they need a toddler bed? Or a few years beyond that when they graduate to a bigger bed? Well, you're in luck: With the right attachments, this bed can be the only one they need until college.

$299.99

A cozy blanket for snuggles + security

Plush Velboa Baby Blanket I Love You - Cloud Island\u2122 White/Black

Blankets have earned their spot on millions upon millions of registries for good reason: They function as stroller covers or play mats during the early days, then become beloved security items in the toddler years.

$14.99

A comfy spot for feeding + stories

Baby Relax Addison Swivel Gliding Recliner

During your first months of motherhood, a comfortable gliding chair will be your second home as you spend time feeding and bonding. As your child grows (and mobility makes those snuggles harder to catch), you'll discover a new love for this cozy spot for stories and bedtime snuggles.

$329.99

https://goto.target.com/YJj2e

Sealy Cozy Rest Extra Firm Crib and Toddler Mattress

Fun fact: A standard crib and toddler bed actually use the same size mattress. That's why it's smart to get a quality crib mattress right out of the gate: One less thing to change up in a few years!

$59.99

A changing table that doubles as a dresser

Simmons\u00ae Kids Monterey 4 Drawer Dresser with change top

If space is at a premium in your baby's nursery, look for a combination changing table and dresser. That way, you can keep using the dresser long after your little one is potty trained.

$319.99

A car seat that converts to a booster

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

The safest place for your child is in the backseat of your car, in either a car seat or (later) booster. But instead of buying a new seat for each phase, you can check off multiple boxes at once by adding a convertible car seat to your registry.

$159.99

A stroller that accommodates big kids, too

Graco FastAction Jogger LX Stroller

The need for a good stroller doesn't end when your little one learns to walk, so look for a stroller that can accommodate bigger kids, too. We recommend a jogging stroller that allows you to attach an infant car seat and is still perfectly spacious for toddlers.

$146.99

A place to dine for years to come

Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

From first bites to family dinners around the table, one single high chair can be the solution you need. That is, if you look for a version that adapts into a booster seat when your child is ready for a plate at the table.

$99.99

A white noise machine + alarm clock in one

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

After spending months listening to ambient noise in the womb, white noise remains incredibly comforting for your child. It's nice to have a sound machine that can transition to a time-to-rise clock down the line. By cueing with sounds and colors, these clocks reinforce healthy sleep habits.

$59.99

A baby carrier that can haul a toddler, too

Infantino Flip 4-in-1 Convertible Carrier

A carrier is a major help when your baby loves being held, but you need use of your hands. But even months or years down the line, you can still get use out of that carrier. To maximize longevity, look for one that can be used with your child facing outward or even carried on your back as they grow.

$29.99

Enjoy building your registry with Target, mama! The Year of Benefits is calling your name with a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more! 😉

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

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She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

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