Everything I recommend has been purchased and approved by me. We own all the things on this list because they are good. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
**This is hands down a favorite small toy in our house. You can hide sight words, letters, or numbers inside to change up the play, you can use these inside sensory bins or for scavenger hunts, or simply let them take apart and put together.
**Since we’ve been in quarantine we’ve been building tons of little towns with blocks, magnatiles, and recycled Amazon boxes. I bought these to add to our towns and also to use to start talking about places around the world. We’ll also use these with our map puzzle to let the girls put the landmark on the country where it belongs.
**These are super cute ways to practice colors, numbers, and to hide special toys inside. My littles love to use these with their Barbies and towers. When you get them home you’ll be surprised how much play they encourage.
**This book is an incredible resource for outdoor activities. There are tons of ways to play together and learn outside. I can’t wait to start using this as it warms up.
**I’ve been looking for a great devotional book and this one works best for my girls. It’s tangible, relatable, and not too long.
**This is the book that I have loved the most, to the point that I ordered one for each of my girls. Each day has a sentence Bible verse and a blank page with a cute border. We talk about the verse and each of the girls draws what they want. Simple as that...but we are all talking about Jesus and what the verses mean to them.
**I’ve been looking for a good art book to work through with the kids. This book is organized chronologically by famous paintings but most importantly includes activities for most of the paintings that allows you to better understand why the work of art is important. This feels perfect for quarantine Tuesdays and hot summer afternoons.
**These are not your average sticker books. I absolutely love that I’ll be giving a girl based action hero to my girls. We love a princess too but these action heroes are top notch. (I love these but just so you know, these are the height of a piece of construction paper so won’t fit into a little backpack if that’s what you are after)
**I bought this pack so each girl would have her own. We will using these for nature journals...ie, drawing our observations, doing leaf rubbings, writing down scavenger hunts, whatever. I love the idea of each girl being able to have a full notebook of our adventures.
** I use these in playdough and kinetic sand whenever we work on sight words, spelling, or letters. These just make the arduous task of spelling a little more fun.
**Like the smelly markers of our childhood, only washable for when someone tries to tattoo themselves.
12. Foam Puzzle Pack
**These are perfect for messier sensory bins or bath time. The possibilities are endless and the material and price mean you can do more without worrying they will be destroyed.
**Same brand as earlier; however this book is a little smaller (think playbill size)
**My newest book obsession. There is a two page, beautifully illustrated spread on cities around the world. Such an inspiring book that I have loved reading with the girls.
** These are a magnetic tin activity that lets you build your own unicorn. My 2 and 4 year olds have loved this.
**I previously bought the Hidden World: Ocean book and I’m adding this to our library as well. It’s all the fun of the flip book for little kids with all the information for your big kids and the illustrations for the mom. The whole series is gold...but we’ll be using this to learn where animals in our toy collection live.
**We have all the books in this series but by far this is the favorite. We’ve learned more about wolves from this text than is socially acceptable, so if that sounds like a good time to you...buy this book. The illustrations are perfect and the facts are organized in way that is engaging instead of overwhelming.
**These are a great set of watercolors that I’ve recommended before. Everyone is getting a fresh stash to keep us creative at home.
19. Scrubbie Pets
**These are the coolest. The kids color them, then clean them. Simple, easy, fun.
**This is going to my 4 year old. You use the ink pad to stamp your fingerprint in a different scene, then use pens and markers to turn your fingerprint into something special. I love that this literally makes the tips of your fingers creative.
**We have most of the Learn to Draw series but lately the girls have been obsessed with unicorns. We’ve had more than one breakdown about the body being “just too weird” so this is basically a gift for myself.
**This is our favorite family game. There’s something for every age group in here and the fact that my favorite childhood character is on the cover only helps me love it.
**This is the best world map puzzle I found...and I bought a few. I love that it’s not the easiest or the hardest one, the colors are beautiful, and you can see the animals and landmarks from each place.
**I bought this as a guide for myself. My goal for our spring and summer (or during quarantine in our backyard) is to learn more about the world around us. I really want my kids to fall in love with the nature around them. This has practical outside ideas that cost nothing and add value to your play. So so good.
**I’m not sure where I’ve been on these but you need them. We’ve used watercolor crayons before that had similar vibrancy...but these dry and don’t leave a smudged mess. My kids are obsessed and so am I.
Stockings are huge tradition in our house. They love all the special little pieces and I love the chance to stock up on our favorite art and activity supplies. We own and love every item on this list so the things I’m recommending are ones that I’ve invested in myself. Hope you love them as much as we do!
1. Counting Bears
**My love for all of Days with Grey’s breakfast invitations runs deep and these are a go to manipulative she suggests regularly. So great for color sorting, following directions, counting, color matching, working on spatial concepts, or anything you can dream up. Also, they are super cute tiny bears...
**These are great for all ages; however these will go in my 2 year old’s stocking. They are bigger than their traditional counterparts and a little easier for tiny hands to build with. I’ll store these in a dollar store container for easy stacking when they make their way to the playroom.
**This particular set came in the mail this week and I’m not sure anything better represents by 4 year old. You dress the little girl and her collection of animals (including sloth) and the clothes are what she would describe as “really cool mom.” There are tons of options for boys and girls with various interests and the quality is great.
5. Petit Collage Big Magnet Set
**I ordered these for the 2 year old because she has been fascinated with faces and emotions lately. The quality of this brand is the best I’ve found and the faces are all so cute and different. Pretty sure all the kids will play with this.
6. Tic-Tac-Toe Magnet Set
**I bought this for my 6 year old who is obsessed with this game. Hopefully this will save a few trees. There are tons of games options from this company and we have been really happy with the sets we own.
7. Silicone Rolling Pins
**These are the best ones I’ve found. I have them at work and at home and can’t recommend them more.
10. Mad Libs Junior
**I recommended the Christmas version of this already! I gave this to my oldest in a little travel bag and as of today she has finished the entire book front to back. This will hopefully last us longer!
**I bought these and have opened them but haven’t been able to see them action yet. There are 8 different colors and 40 markers total so I will be splitting up the set between the 2 little girls. I’m hoping this will make painting with the baby a little less messy and frustrating for the big girls.
13. Special Watercolors
It’s no secret that my kids are art obsessed and these are supposed to be a great set.
14. Gel Crayons
**These are just the coolest. They look beautiful on paper but you can also draw on the glass windows or trays and wipe off with water. They are a favorite in our house and we are restocking.
**We recently had a pretty amazing hot chocolate bar at work and these were one of the items I became instantly obsessed with. If I’m late to the party, I don’t care. These are tiny delicious treasures.
**These are the most amazing, self contained coloring sets. The include a coloring book, markers, and stickers and the set closes with a little magnet. The girls are able to use these in the car and you can bear down on the hard service. The company is Australian and mother in law surprised the girls with sets this summer. Lucky for us, they are cheaper on amazon than we can buy anywhere else.
During the holidays we seem to be out and about more than ever. This year we are seeing the Nutcracker, a Christmas play, and heading to the movies which means my littles will have plenty of time to practice sitting quietly. Add in the fact that we will grab more dinners out with friends and family and you can see why I started looking for special grab-and-go activities to bring along. The best part of these…besides the fact that they are all Christmas themed?...is that they are totally affordable, reusable year after year, and pair perfectly with our Christmas kits.
**My favorite tried and true stickers. This pack includes 2 different Christmas scenes and even my 2 year old can remove the stickers from the plastic on her own. The girls had the brilliant idea to use their playdough on the cards (without the stickers) so these will be serving double duty as playdough mats when we head out to restaurants with their Christmas mini kits.
**While my big girl loves all things stickers, I’ve been on the lookout for something that was more big girl. These are absolutely perfect. They are essentially reusable paper dolls in sticker form. She has also been designing playdough outfits for the girls in the book and the pages have held up perfectly.
**We swear by this magic over in the Walkenhorst house. Add the fact that these smell like the holidays and we were sold.
**While this won’t be heading out on our holiday adventures, it is one of the coolest books I’ve come across to teach little kids the true meaning of Christmas. I’ve grabbed a few bags of rocks and we will re-create the scenes in the book to retell the Christmas story using rocks and our playdough. There is something really special about sitting together to think and talk about the birth of Jesus. While I know the girls will love it, I can’t help but think this will be so special for me too.
**If you buy nothing else, you need these. Every girl has her own set now because they are that good. The pieces are very magnetic and stay together perfectly, there aren’t a ton of pieces, they’re just the best. They can easily fit on a tray table or a cookie sheet in the car.
**We’ve had every set they make in these. They are perfect for the car, restaurant, any time. Also, they aren’t as big as the other big pad ones and the stickers are easier for kids to get off by themselves.
**My littles hate pencils for whatever reason. These are amazing and I even bought myself a set for my paper calendar.
**We have the princess, animal, and Christmas editions of this series. My oldest pulls in out multiple times a week. These would also be great for big kids to use with their play dough kits because they give step by step instructions for how to draw that you could interpret as how to build.
**I hope you already know about these but if not you can thank me later. They are everything.
6. Style Me Up
**Great for your little fashionista who wants to create their own outfits. This is a hit in our house. The one linked is the generic version but all of the Disney princesses are available.
**Something a little different that we keep in the car bags. We use metallic gel pens to change up drawing a bit. Still working to find pens I love. The ones we have are ok but I don’t love them.
**We bought this for the baby at Christmas but everyone loves it...especially my husband. It’s completely addictive. We’ve used to practice letters, shapes, but they mostly just draw whatever they want. I like the smaller one best because it’s cheaper and fits in the girl’s car bags.
**We have tons of these. I rotate them in the girl’s bags. They are just awesome. The pieces go in their mini box play dough containers all the time because they are sturdy.
10. Color Wonder Set
**These are pricey in my opinion but if you have a little who colors outside of the lines (literally) then these are great mess free, contained option for the car.
**These come in a variety of princesses. Pretty sure we have them all and each is a hit.
**Just placed an order for this one. Looks like a great, reusable activity for a bigger kid.
**Washable marker/ paper set.
**I had one of these when I was a kid and thought it was amazing. I bought 2 for the big girl’s Easter baskets and they have loved them in the car.
**My kids have loved this game. We usually don’t play it in the car but it’s great for the book bags and then taking to wherever we are going and playing there. All the pieces are magnetic and it is ideal for planes. They have a matching and tic tac toe version that look great too.
**Self contained puzzle with magnetic pieces. This was a favorite when we flew to Australia and lives in our car bags now. Love the second option for animal habitats as well.
**Self contained, magnetic building exercises.