Marble racing! When Abbey was a baby I sold Discovery Toys for about 5 months- great product, neat people, not such a great job for me since the point was to make money and I most assuredly did not. However, I did get some great toys out of the deal and this was one of them. It's a marble raceway that you take apart and rebuild in a billion different ways. On a good day it can be hours of entertainment for the girls.
Here's another shot of the raceway they made on this particular day. Keep in mind this toy is more than 10 years old so due to a few missing pieces, we use the stairs of their bunk bed to hold it up...
Next favorite item, PLAYMOBILE! I was completely unaware of the existence of these wonderful toys until we moved to France in 2004. In the little town just a few minutes from where we lived, there was a Playmobile wearhouse type store. It literally had every Playmobile toy in existence out in a big wearhouse type space with all the accompanying accessories in bins all around the main item- dollhouses of all shapes and sizes, pirate ships, princess castles, knight sets, grocery store, you name it, they had it set up for the kids to play. There was a snack area for the parents to sit while the kids played, and of course, you had to walk through their store on the way in and out. This was our introduction to Playmobile toys, and yes, I admit they are a bit pricey but I am a huge fan. So detailed and so much fun to set up! Our first Christmas in France the girls got the Playmobile Grocery Store on Christmas morning. Jason and I stayed up until all hours laboring to get every sticker pulled off and applied, every little piece (and I mean LOTS of little pieces) in place. Here's the basic frame:
(Yes, AJ at age 10 still loves getting it out and setting it up...)
And here it is when you get each little piece in place....
A disclaimer here that these toys are definitely for at least age 3 and up (although Playmobile has some great things for little ones too)- we found this out the hard way on that Christmas morning. Abbey (who was 3 at the time) has always been our details girl- very careful, very meticulous, even in her play. You can tell, I'm sure, from the way she set up the grocery store above. Maddie (2.5 at the time of this story) was more like, well, a bull in a china shop. One of her first phrases was "Fatch this"- this meant she was usually about to cause herself or possibly someone close by physical harm by flinging her body off of a surface or doing something else very precarious. (oddly enough she is still the only one of the three girls not to have had stitches). I'm sure you can see where this is going... Maddie and Abbey came charging down stairs on Christmas morning to find their beloved grocery story all meticulously set up (thanks to the hours of work by mom and dad the night before). In all of her exuberance, Maddie charges toward the grocery store, and you guessed it, takes a nose dive right into the grocery store knocking plastic laundry detergent containers, grocery carts and fruits and veggies all helter-skelter. She immediately jumps up seeing all the rest of our looks of dismay and says, "I o-tay, I o-tay!"' Oh sweet little Maddie, you had enough cushioning that we weren't the least bit worried about you- we were gasping over the poor grocery store! Thankfully, playmobile toys are quite resilient though and we had it put back together pretty quick...
Here's the little tub-o-luv...How could we stay mad for long??
We now have quite a collection of Playmobile toys and the great thing is so many of them are interchangeable. We build entire playmobile villages somedays and again, on a good day, it can provide hours of entertainment.
Here's the girls most recent- an ice cream shop
Next item, wooden blocks combined with just about anything! Before we moved overseas, my mom got us a great set of wooden blocks- you know the kind they always had in the church nurseries growing up?? (I know as a good blogger I would provide you with the link to the place where she got them, but I have absolutely no idea- pretty sure it was an educational supply place- can let you know if interested...) Anyway, I was so wrong to think they would just be a toddler thing! Abbey and Maddie (almost 11 and almost 9) still use them for building villages for pollypockets, playmobile, littlest pet shop.
Here's a "store" they set up for their Polly Pockets (another favorite activity)
(the plane in the background was Naomi's Christmas present last year- I ordered it and had it sent to Jason's mom and failed to look at the dimensions. I was thinking it would be around the size of that old Fisher Price plane- NOT! oops...)
And yes, we have collected A LOT of polly pockets over the years, thanks to grandparents, garage sales etc but with three girls and no backyard it has been GREAT!!
Here's Naomi playing "zoo" with some of the playmobile things and the blocks
And, of course, with our wonderful blocks, there have been many castles over the years...
Some more elaborate...
(I love this of Naomi and Papa..)
We've definitely gotten our money's worth out of those blocks- thanks Mom!!
On a more spiritual note, another of our favorite things for lots of reasons is our Betty Lukens Bible story felt set. This was a gift from the WMU group at one of our partner church and we have LOVED it so much. THere are a bazillion felt pieces that you cut out and arrange on the big blue cardboard and then they store neatly under the bed or on top of a book shelf or something. We got three backdrop boards as well.
Ours goes through the Old and New Testaments giving the Scripture reference for each story and re-telling it in a way that's simple for kids. You can use the book version or the Scripture. It also tells you which felt pieces to use for each story. We have so much fun with this. Here is the story of Jesus getting left behind at the Temple when he was 12.
The girls also love to "play felt board" which I don't always let them do because there are so many pieces that are kind of hard to put back up, but every once in a while after our morning Bible story they do it and it's always a treat.
Hope you've enjoyed this glimpse into our playtimes! Let us know what some of your fave rainy/hot day activities are!