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A water table. Pool toys. Bubble guns, wands and gloves. A Play-Doh Fun Factory. A busy board. An indoor slide. A subscription to YouTube Premium and Disney+ (because, let’s face it: Screen time is a matter of survival in a pandemic). Throughout quarantine, I’ve tried to fill my daughter’s daycare-less days with all kinds of activities—including all of the aforementioned splurges and many failed toddler crafts. But there’s one thing she keeps coming back to every single day, and had I known earlier what an impact it’d have, I probably could’ve spent a lot less time scrubbing “mess-free finger paint” out of my carpet…and a lot less money on guilt-ridden impulse buys.

Hands down, the best purchase I made was a roll of Con-Tact paper. Seriously.

Our Director of Special Projects, Rachel Bowie, shared on Instagram that she’d taped a sheet of Con-Tact paper to a wall, leaving the adhesive side facing outward, so her son could stick pom-pom balls to it. It kept him busy for half an hour! Up to 30 minutes of fun for my kid…and 30 minutes of peace for me? Sold. (Plus, it appealed to my practical side: She could refine her fine motor skills while learning about shapes and colors. But let’s not downplay the downtime it provides for parents everywhere.)

weirdest 6 spent emerie
CANDACE DAVISON

I bought a roll of clear Con-Tact Paper, cut off a poster board-sized piece and peeled off the backing, before taping it to the wall. My daughter had zero interest in attaching pom-poms to what she calls the “sticky wall,” but that’s the beauty of this project: Any craft supplies you have on hand can work, and at this point, I’ve tried them all. Now, whenever I’m in a Target or Dollar Store, I scour the crafts and party supplies sections for potential additions.


Some favorites include:

Depending on your child’s age, you’ll want to be wary of any potential choking hazards and keep an eye on your kid, so he or she doesn’t sample the supplies.

weirdest 6 spent sensory wall
CANDACE DAVISON

Once the sheet of paper starts to lose its stickiness—or starts looking a little grimy—you can just take it down and replace it. After two months of near-daily use, I’m still finishing up that initial $6 roll. My daughter may not devote half an hour a day to rearranging and redecorating the wall—most afternoons, it’s more like ten minutes—but I can’t say she’s gotten as much use out of the other quarantine purchases I’ve made. And I’ll take little victories wherever I can find them these days.

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