Fun Gift Ideas, Games, Things to do during COVID closures

Dominoes!

During quarantine, we all repeatedly heard how it was a great time to find a new hobby or develop a new skill. Well, Nugget listened and has taken it to an extreme. He found the world of toppling dominoes and I’m not sure he will ever leave.

I had stumbled across a cool video by Lily Hevesh and spontaneously showed it to Nugget and he was hooked. Much to their dismay, Chicken and Nugget are not allowed to cruise around YouTube, but I did give him permission to watch Lily Hevesh’s videos because not only are they amazing, but she seems like a truly delightful and inspirational human being.

After several videos, he begged and pleaded for dominoes for his birthday, and so dominoes he was given. He has never been a Lego or building kind of kid, so I was skeptical and pretty sure nothing much was going to come of this. So, I found a relatively inexpensive set of wooden dominoes and he was off! He was building towers and walls and all kinds of cool things. About a month later, I got him a book with colored photos of how to build even more domino tricks and he was in heaven.

And then Lily Hevesh came out with her own line of dominoes, H5 Domino Creations. And of course he had to have those. I drug my feet, because how different could they be from the ones he already had, right? But I eventually caved and I have to say, they are significantly better. I’ll save you the nitty gritty details of the differences, but in general they are much more stable and it really has made a difference in the success of his building and he now uses them exclusively, shunning his wooden ones to they toy bin and pulling them out only in times of desperation.

Nugget now spends hours each day building things and knocking them down. He has so much fun and I love seeing his skill, confidence, and creativity grow. He now incorporates other elements, making his own chain reaction machines. We have dominoes lines winding throughout the house and down the stairs. Heaven help you if you knock it down by accident. He even started his own domino YouTube channel (all videos have to be approved by me first), and he loves it. Dominoes go with him to the park, to daycare, on picnics- pretty much anywhere he goes that has a flat surface.

He’s surprisingly patient and persistent when structures fall before they are supposed to, usually only getting upset if he’s hungry or right before bed time. I could see it being a source of frustration for some kids, though.

For us, dominoes have been a great way to keep Nugget busy while building fine motor skills, being creative, learning indirectly about physics and engineering, increasing patience and persistence, and just plain old having fun.

If you think dominoes might be for your kid, give them a try! There are lots of inexpensive plastic and wooden domino sets that come with a large number of dominoes. If you are more convinced your kiddo will be REALLY into dominoes, I highly recommend the H5 Domino Creation sets. They are more of a money investment, as the price is higher and they come with fewer dominoes, but the building experience really is better.

So… dominoes…

What the are: fun, educational, easy to store and easy to take places, creative, a great way to fill time and learn new things

What they’re not: for kids with low frustration tolerance

Do we recommend them? For a kid with a building mind and determination, 1000%!

Theater, Things to do during COVID closures

SpongeBob the Musical- Broadway Across America

SpongeBob. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode. And if my kids have, it wasn’t at our house. But when Chicken and Nugget learned that the SpongeBob musical would be passing through our state- not our town, our state- they just HAD to go.

And because I am a complete sucker, I bought tickets. Actually, it’s because I’m date challenged. Tickets were going to go in their Easter baskets, only for me to realize after the fact that the show was over a month before Easter. Oops.

When the day a month before Easter rolled around,before we were all asked to remain in our homes and maintain social distancing, we loaded up on coffee (me), hot chocolate (them), and snacks (all of us), and loaded up for the 2 hour drive. Two hours. Each way. But I digress.

Thanks to some serious traffic issues, we arrived with just enough time to check out the lobby, use the restroom, and get in line for the door to open slightly late. Having not been at the particular venue in yeeeeeeears, it was a pleasant surprise when we entered. It was lovely!

The first cool element of the show began as soon as you walked in. Lighting was used to create the impression of rippling water, giving the illusion that you are entering the sea to visit SpongeBob and friends. A couple cast members were already on stage, casually playing ukulele and bongo drums. Other cast members slowly joined in until they had quite the little band going, playing island style music. Ushers were all over the place holding signs tell you not to take pictures or videos, but as the formal announcement was made at the beginning of the show, a pirate came waltzing down the aisles, dragging luggage and holding a sign stating he was president of the SpongeBob fan club. He snapped pictures and walked onto the stage only to be confronted and run off by “security.” He made another appearance at the end of intermission and again at the end of the show. They were some of our favorite moments.

Overall, the show was kind of like being in the middle of a neon rainbow that exploded. It was colorful, over the top, high energy, and pure fun and silliness. My favorite character by far was Sheldon, the resident villain. He was portrayed by a fantastic actor who “accidentally graduated a year early” from college. How does that happen? Chicken loved Squidward and Nugget was a fan of SpongeBob himself. The women portraying Sandy and Pearl were off the charts amazing in their singing abilities. The end of the show was also a lot of fun, with cast members forming another band, streamers shooting into the audience, and beach balls tossed out for the audience to play with.

For me, it was a fun show, but not something I need to see again. For my kids, it has been their daily obsession for almost two months now. They sing the songs all day, want to listen to them in the car, and quote lines from the show at random times. They LOVED it.

For better or worse, you are also able to purchase the show from Amazon for $9.99. Ever the sucker, I did. It was odd watching it back in our current circumstances. The characters are in quarantine, waiting for scientists to save them, living under questionably competent leadership, and fear turns them against those who are not like them. I never thought like my life would be so accurately reflected by the citizens of Bikini Bottom, but here we are.

So…

What it’s not: my favorite show ever, a serious life altering show, scary, inappropriate for kids

What it is: funny, good music, colorful, fast paced, surprisingly relevant to our current situation, kid-friendly

Would we recommend it? My kids totally would. I would recommend it to huge fans of Spongebob, or to a family looking to entertain their kids over themselves. But for $9.99, it’s also a fun way to entertain the kids at home and likely get them singing, dancing, and giggling.