As we wrap up the 2020 holiday season, I thought it would be a good idea to feature a few Christmas toys that I came across. Instead of playing Connect Four or Mancala, these toys can work in your youth programs, and maybe give your participants and staff a new spark. I know budgets can be tight right now, so modify or make your plan based off your enrollment. Being mindful of your budget, and having a plan is key to program quality. I have seen programs with tons of kids, and using the same equipment from three years ago. The participants deserve nice things and not stale programming. You may not be able to buy anything, so save this and get it for Summer Day Camp which will be here in less than six months! The bright side about COVID-19 is that we have an even bigger appreciation for sharing things and ideas with in our own programs. It is OK to not spend money, some of the best games are sold by you the staff member and the enthusiasm you bring to that activity. Don’t forget your creative kids and staff, they may have an idea or activity they want to create or invent. For those looking to buy in 2021 or need ideas for Summer, here are some toys that could be fun for your program….
- Plinko – If you have seen the “Price Is Right”, you have heard of “Plinko”. If you haven’t heard of the “Price Is Right”, please get your life together and go to YouTube fast. This is sold at Target and other places. It is $31.99 right now at Target. Great game for Rides In/Out aka when kids are dropped off or waiting to get picked up. https://www.target.com/p/plinko-play-the-price-is-right-39-s-most-popular-game-at-home/-/A-79396282. You can also build this yourself, will take some time, but I have had staff do this before and the kids love it too!
- Skee Ball – Too bad most arcades are still not around. I grew up on this game. It is $27.99 right now at Target. Another great game for Rides In/Out. https://www.target.com/p/skeeball-the-classic-arcade-game/-/A-53275985. You could modify this or create a fun contest if you didn’t have the money right now. Many fun contest ideas in the Resource Zone on my website too!
- Monopoly – Kids love this game. I mention many times on the website, that simple and basic wins too. There are tons of versions of this game, some for younger and some for older. We have used double dice before, and a great way to sneak in some Math, check this link..https://creativemathematics.com/itndex.php?route=product/product&product_id=147. I also like the rules and gameplay in “Monopoly Cheater’s Edition”. Check that one out https://www.walmart.com/ip/Monopoly-Game-Cheaters-Edition-for-Ages-8-and-Up/845273886. Most games range from $13 to $25 or so. You can also do this yourself, and make a life sized monopoly game. I will talk about these in a fun post in January if you want more clarity or how to!
- Air Hogs, Zero Gravity Racer – A great car that you can have the kids race and keep social distance at the same time. Setup an indoor or outdoor track and have a contest to see who is the best racer at your program. The cars are on sale at Amazon at $18.73 and free shipping for over $25. Check the link out to learn more...https://www.amazon.com/Air-Hogs-Gravity-Laser-Guided-Climbing/dp/B07NJHYXMD
- Nerf Halo Motorized Blaster – Any Nerf gun can work, this one is just really cool! It is sold out on Walmart.com but something to keep an eye on when it comes back in stock. Kids can wear gloves and have target practice, setup an obstacle course and time them on how fast they can hit targets, etc…Nerf wars are very popular! This one is $49,99, but can find Nerf guns from around $19.99. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Nerf-Halo-MA40-Motorized-Blaster-Removable-10-Dart-Clip-10-Darts/756200567
- Botley The Coding Robot – A great STEM project and also features “Screen Free” playing. No phone, tablet, to use. This is for 5 and up. You can find on Amazon for $50.50 and free shipping. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083T5G5ZK?linkCode=ogi&tag=goodhousekeeping_auto-append-20&ascsubtag=[artid|10055.g.31132135[src|[ch|[lt|sale
- Outside – This isn’t sold in stores. If you can get your participants outside, please do it! Have them be creative, explore, pretend play, just do what we did when we were kids. Relay races, kite flying, lay in a field and look at clouds, etc…Time to get off the screens, and breathe the fresh air.
This is just my top 6 toys that I either saw on my timeline or found during my own hunt for cool things for my kiddos. I hope this list helps bring in some new creative programming for you in 2021. Nerf Wars/Contests is something I want to research some more. Many YMCA’s, Parks and Recreation, and Youth Group’s have hosted or held these recently. Not sure of the success, but I remember having fun with these back in the day. Remember ask your participants what they want to do. They may say “I don’t know, and walk away” or they may give you the next BIG game for your program. If you hear of something, share with me and I will post in 2021!