Thursday, February 20, 2014

Activities For Kids On A Budget

We hear it everywhere: having a baby is beautiful, and gorgeous, and demanding and overwhelming all at once. And yes, it is all those things, but something else it is? EXPENSIVE!  From having to buy more diapers than the number of surgeries on Joan Rivers, to the million activities they start undertaking as they grow older, a little human can take a major toll on your wallet!

However, as they grow they need to see and explore and discover and learn, so cutting out on their activities when the budget is small isn't a very good idea. It is during those times that parents need to make use of all their creative neurons and find dynamic, fun activities to do with their little ones without breaking the bank. This list I am providing below isn't exclusive to parents, though! If you are babysitting for a relative or friend, or just want to do something fun with the kiddo in your life (and even if you do have spare cash), here you can find some inspiration for different activities to do with them.

1. Go hunting for funnily shaped rocks/leaves/etc: Go with them to a nearby park (or even your backyard) and have a contest to see who can find the funniest rock or leaf or anything else you see there. Then try and see what it is shaped like (perhaps a dinosaur? a car? a bird?).
We are trying to find a rock shaped as another "plane" so mommy can fly too.

2. The classic fort: An oldie but a goodie! Make a fort in your living room out of pillows, blankets and rugs. If it is dark, grab flashlights and pretend to be camping there.
3. Create your own game of memory: With some paper or cardboard and some markers, a basic game of memory can be easily created. Make an even number of flash cards out of the paper, draw a simple picture (twice), face them down and spread them evenly on the floor and let the child turn them over and match them.
4. Prepare a concert: Go into your kitchen and grab an assortment of pots, pans, lids and utensils. Create different songs using them as your musical instruments. (Just try and not do it at night time - your neighbors might hate you after that!).
We didn't do a concert with this potholder, but we did have a puppet show!

5. Balloon Characters: This is a favorite! Firstly, make some papier-maché: cut some long strips of newspaper; make the paste with 2 parts of water, 1 part flour and a teaspoon of salt. Paint a layer of the paste on the newspaper strips and stick them on the balloon, applying even strips until you've built up a good, strong layer. Once all the strips are on the balloon, cover it with yet another coat of paste. Leave to dry for a couple of hours or if you can, overnight would be preferable because you want to make absolutely sure that the papier-maché has dried. Once it has, apply a base coat of white paint, and then enjoy painting all kinds of different designs and faces on it!
6. Mad Libs: There are hundreds of free printables on the Internet for hilarious mad libs for you to fill out with your kid. To make it even better, why not create your own version? One of you asks the question and the other one answers, and then read the final result. Then reverse the roles.
7. Bean-bag contests: A big hole in a cardboard box and some bean bags provide the setting for an awesome tossing contest, where the goal is to get the bean bag through the hole.
8. Have an election: Grab all of the child's stuffed animals (or cars, or dolls, you get the idea) and have an election to determine who shall be the Official President Of Stuffed Toys. Each of you can put forward your arguments as to why each toy shall/shall not be elected and then decide who will hold this very important title.
Turns out Mickey won this one because "he is the only one wearing pants". Fair enough!

9. Make a mud picture gallery: Make some mud with water and dirt, grab some cardboard or boxes that you aren't using, an old brush or toothbrush, and start painting!
10. Make Soup: Fill a container with water, go to your backyard/garden/nearby park and start finding "ingredients" to add to your soup. The mud from the previous point works wonders too!
11. Create a little house/room in a shoebox: Again, the more creative the better. Start filling the shoebox up with what you find: an old cloth can be made into curtains, for instance; a bed can be created by cutting a small piece of cardboard or with an old plastic container. A kid's imagination is unstoppable, so let them find ways to add elements to the room.
12. I spy clouds: If it's a nice day, take them out and play "I Spy" with the clouds. Find as many silly and quirky shapes with the clouds as you can and encourage them to do the same.
13. Good ol' time capsule: The shoebox becomes useful once again! Find stuff around the house that can be stored to be found "hundreds of years later".
14. Works of art: Dried noodles and popsicle sticks can be made into houses, picture frames, and a zillion more things! Ask what he/she wants to make, and help them create it out of it.
15. Create a construction site: If your kid has an assortment of diggers, trucks and cars, all you will need to create an awesome construction site is a big cardboard box that serves as the site, and diverse props such as sand, rocks, grass and maybe even some mud to create some pretend cement.
You can easily recreate this in a big cardboard box!

16. An alphabet tour: Perhaps I was way too nerdy, but I loved this as a kid! The idea is that you play with your kid to see who is the first one to find an object that starts with the letter 'a', then 'b', 'c' and so on. Educational and plenty fun!
17. Hopscotch: Another oldie but a goodie! If you don't have chalk, you can create the hopscotch out of lined-up pencils or whatever else you have on hand (which makes it great if you are indoors, too!).
18. Egg race: The classic! If you don't want to waste any eggs, little balls will do too. Put them on a spoon and race away!
19. Toilet paper rolls: Oh the possibilities! Binoculars and telescopes, for example. Or why not some cute bunnies or perhaps a castle? I think my favorite one, however, is this awesome car!
20. The Dress-up Box: Gipsies, fairies, pirates... they can all come to life with a few garments and a lot of imagination!

These are only some ideas that have provided hours of fun with my kiddo without having to spend any significant amount of money. The best part is I found that these activities aren't only cheap and easy, they are also very educational as they encourage lots of creative thinking!

On the next rainy day, stuck at home, be sure to come back to this list instead of gluing your kid to a screen and I guarantee you'll both have a blast!

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  1. I hear you on expensive! Good job coming up with these ideas! Hey, if I'm not involved with the game or activity, I'm all for it ;)

  2. I love mad libs! Definitely fun for kids and adults. :) Cheap entertainment is the best entertainment.


    1. Agreed!!
      Thanks for stopping by, Christina ;-)

  3. great post! :)

  4. Thank you for posting this! I have been looking for activities to do with my nephew and this helped TREMENDOUSLY!



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