It is BA-LAZING hot in our corner of Kansas right now. And, dusty too, because there ain't no rain to be speakin' of. Since we are surrounded by farm ground, most of which is currently a most unpleasant shade of tan, and gravel roads, most of which blows in my house or in my teeth when I run, the portrait of my household is a leather-skinned mama in a double-wide full of dirt with 5 sun-stroked kids. And, we're out of Pledge and popsicles. That's the report.
This photo was taken last year when the earth produced green things.
Oh, another country summer bonus is living half a century away from a pool. The boys have set up a sprinkler park and made mini-coolers out of rubber made containers (more about that here if you're super-procrastinating today), but neither of those things keep them from coming in the house tomato faced, begging for a bucket of lemonade, a fan and some cartoons.
Lemonade and a fan I can do, but when they ask for the creativity crusher a.k.a. the boob tube a.k.a. the television, I start looking for my stompin' boots (more effective when you need to "put your foot down"). There's just no need to vegetate, my sons! Unless of course you want to watch Anne of Green Gables with me while I sip on a special kind of iced tea???? But, alas, there is dusting to do, so scratch that.
I've started writing on our white board a list of options that the kids can choose from when 1. It's too hot to go outside, 2. Their chores are done 3. They are bored and whining because there's nothing to do. In the past I've tried to get great crafty, inventive, budget-friendly ideas from Pinterest to occupy the boy's creative and intellectual cravings, but despite the fact that I stay up until 2 a.m. burning myself with a hot glue gun, most of the projects either bomb or are too short-lived to be worth my time.
I need tough toys that stand the test of time and are challenging for the boys - ones that they will come back to over and over again and won't end up in the Goodwill bin. For this week's Five Favorites link up at Moxie Wife, I'm sharing 5 of my favorite time-tested toys and games.
1. Blu Track
Blu Track is hands down the best way to take your Hot Wheels collection where it's never been before! Because it requires some engineering skills to set it up, and set up options are limitless, your kids will feel so accomplished when they create the perfect raceway for their cars. BONUS: The track won't break, and it rolls up for compact storage!
2. Keva Planks
I have a little obsession with these things. So, without going into great detail, I will say this - it is the best "toy" investment we've ever made. Seven years strong, and the kids still play with them every week. I use them often for school projects and lessons for every grade level. This blog post covers Keva in detail. You can also find dozens of great videos on You Tube.
3. Settlers of Catan
You have to use your brain to play this game. I like that. Cerebral activity is good. My eight year old can hang in there surprisingly strong when playing the game with his older brothers, but younger ones might enjoy Ticket to Ride, another great game, made by the same company, better. Settlers of Catan details can be found here.
When we lived in Kansas City, we visited an amazing company called Moon Marble, and they introduced us not only to the beautiful world of marbles, but also to marble runs. Quadrilla quickly became one of our favorite toys. You can find discounts on e-bay, Fat Brain Toys and occasionally on Amazon. Check out RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes.
5. Scrap Wood & Tools
Henry building with scraps from the chicken coop project.
Get a large Rubbermaid container, drive to your local hardwood store or lumber yard and ask for any unusable scraps of lumber or plywood that the company is going to throw away. Buy a small hammer, a pair of pliers and different sizes of nails. Let your kids construct anything they like. Maybe you're thinking that hammers and nails can be dangerous, but (I know this is crazy) boys like danger. It's not like your plugging in the rip saw and turning 'em loose. Our 5 year old loves to build stuff, and I'll admit it, he has hit is finger with the hammer, but has lived to tell the story, and still LOVES to go out and "build." It's cheap, and it's fun. If you really want to go all out, give your child some sand paper and some paint so they can give their carpentry a professional finish.