Winter is here and the days are short. Unless you’re a parent, that is, in which case the days are interminably long, your kids are bouncing off the walls and you’re one snowstorm away from losing your freakin’ mind. When outdoor play isn’t in the cards due to cold weather, it’s critical to have an arsenal of toys and gadgets that will occupy the young ones in your life and keep everyone sane until springtime. For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of our top picks. (You’re welcome.)
14 Random but Useful Gadgets to Keep Your Kids from Going Stir-Crazy This Winter
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1. National Geographic Hobby Rock Tumbler Kit
This nifty tumbling kit will transform that pile of unremarkable rocks your kid has been keeping around into shiny gemstones fit for a young hobbyist’s collection. Best of all, this STEM toy is easy enough for kids to operate solo, and features a noise-reducing rubber barrel—you know, so it won’t drive you bonkers while it’s working its magic.
2. Shashibo Shape Shifting Box
Forget about fidget spinners—this shape shifting box from Shashibo promises to occupy both the hands and mind of any bored kid this winter. The award-winning puzzle box is composed of rare earth magnets that can be rearranged to make over 70 different shapes in a variety of visually-striking patterns. The end result is a highly engaging brain-teaser that boosts problem-solving skills while stimulating the senses and calming the nerves.
3. Ecerangus Big Pop Fidget Game Board
The only thing better than bubble wrap is this reusable silicone version of it—a colorful fidget toy featuring bubbles that can be popped and snapped till the cows come home. Here, the oversized pop board provides a mood-boosting and stress-relieving ASMR experience that can be enjoyed as a multi-player dice game to banish both boredom and the cold-weather blues.
4. Powerup Smartphone-controlled Paper Airplane Kit
Paper airplanes are a lot of fun, but let’s be honest—unless you’re a master of both aerodynamics and origami, the project can be hard to, um, get off the ground. That’s no longer the case, friends: This favorite pastime just got a serious upgrade in the form of a Bluetooth module that can be attached to any ordinary paper airplane, and then controlled from a smartphone to ensure a successful flight. Pretty neat, right?
5. Sphero Specdrums App-enabled Musical Rings
So you’ve got an aspiring musician on your hands, but no room in your pad for a full-size drum kit. No problem—these innovative LED rings have app-enabled technology so that kids of any skill level can drop beats and compose original music whenever they please with just the tap of a finger (literally).
6. Gktz Kids Digital Camera And Camcorder
Let your future documentarian take on the task of creating home videos this winter with this kid-friendly (i.e., silicone-coated and shock-proof) digital camera and camcorder combo, which boasts impressive 12 mega-pixel photo and 1080P video capabilities. Yep, this one will put your kid’s imagination to work all season, while yielding high-quality results as well.
7. Ancesfun Hover Soccer Ball Set
The weather is frigid, the playing field is covered in snow and your energetic kid is going completely stir-crazy. Good news: You can successfully host an indoor sporting event without fear of total destruction to your home. Here, an LED hover ball with a cushy foam bumper that’s designed to glide across smooth surfaces and bounce off objects without causing damage. Score one and your child will be able to enjoy a lively game of soccer no matter the season.
8. Crossed Signals Game
Kids of all ages will get a kick out of this fast-paced electronic game in which players compete to be the first to respond to various physical commands issued by the talking light wands. This boredom-busting activity is sure to put your kid’s hand-eye coordination to the test, while serving up a serious workout to boot.
9. Kinderfeets Wooden Balance Kinderboard
OK, this one isn’t a gadget per se—but when it comes to keeping kids entertained indoors, a kinderboard certainly fits the bill. Aside from boosting balance and coordination, this simple wooden board is also just a blast to use. Gift one and watch with satisfaction as your bored child turns into a surfin’ bird. Oh, and feel free to get in on the action—particularly, if you’re looking for a fun way to strengthen your abs.
10. Wowee Got2glow Fairy Finder
What to do with a kid who’s been stuck inside for too long and is understandably sick of looking at the same four walls? Easy—just transform your home into a fantastical fairyland with this clever electronic toy. This interactive fairy jar will have your kid running around looking for (and finding) pixies in the unlikeliest of places (i.e., in the pantry, under the bed, etc.). Better still, the fun doesn’t stop when the hunt comes to an end, since kids can continue to virtually engage and play with the fairies they’ve found.
11. Carson Micromini Lighted Pocket Microscope
Stoke your child’s curiosity and encourage exploration with this two-in-one microscope and flashlight, which allows kids of all ages to view ordinary things in a whole new and fascinating way. Pocket-sized, but powerful—this gadget boasts 20x magnification and a built-in LED light for close-ups that don’t disappoint.
12. Street Walk Lcd Writing Tablet
When that box of crayons has lost its appeal and you’re up to your ears in loose sheets of colored-on printer paper, it might be time to introduce your young artist to a new medium. This LCD writing tablet will turn your child’s artwork into a veritable light show that inspires oohs and aahs of admiration, but without the mess.
13. Playzoom Kids Smartwatch
This wrist candy has plenty of features to keep the under-ten set entertained—a swivel camera and a large assortment of games, for starters—but at a budget-friendly price that’s decidedly more appropriate than, say, an Apple watch. Plus, the available games are educational and the smartwatch itself is a great way to introduce time management skills to young kids.
14. B. Toys Light Me To The Moon Projector Flashlight
A fresh take on the classic View-Master you might remember from your youth, this flashlight projector toy comes with two reels that feature scenes of our solar system and beyond. Gift this gadget to a toddler or pre-K kid and bedtime battles will become a thing of the past.