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Monday, August 29, 2011

Frugal Ways to Entertain Kids

Lee making a "Train" with some salt dough.
“Mommy, I'm bored.” That's a refrain that any mother hears at least at some point in her life. Parents might feel pressured to spend lots of money to keep their entertained, but with a little bit of time and effort, kids can have a really enjoyable, entertaining days without breaking the bank.

Here's some ideas to keep your kids of all ages entertained cheaply.

Activities at Home
  • Perform- have your children put on a:
    • play- either improvisation, making a play up based on a story they've read, or using a prefab script
    • circus- from clown shows to acrobatics to "animal trainers", etc
    • choirs
    • magic show- even if your kids don't know many magic tricks, library books can teach them lots, and there are plenty of great ideas online as well, from the simple to the very complex.
      Older children can be the directors, younger kids can participate or be the audience.
  • Turn your bathtub into a swimming pool, dressing your kids in their swim clothes, and have them play in the water with their pool/beach toys.
  • Water balloon fights.
  • Camp in the backyard:
    • build a tent out of blankets and rope
    • sleep in sleeping bags in the tent
    • star gaze
    • campfire (if allowed in your location)
  • Take out some books from the library on origami, the Japanese art of paperfolding, and make all sorts of paper sculptures.
  • Go bowling with empty soda bottles.
  • Make a home movie.
  • Have a gymnastics day, practicing bridges, summersaults, headstands, etc.
  • Do exercise routines:
    • Lunges
    • Leg lifts
    • Sit ups
    • Push ups
    • Crunches
    • Squats
  • Have a dance party.
  • Play games. If you have board games, take them out. Otherwise make your own.
    • Mancala sets can be made from beans/rocks and egg cartons.
    • Pictionary can be played with only a paper and pen.
    • A personalized Taboo set can be made in a short time.
    • Charades needs no equipment. 
    • Card game can be played with only a basic deck of cards:
      • Uno
      • Spit
      • War
      • Go Fish
      • Black Jack
      • Poker
      • Kent
      • President
      • Solitaire
      • Gin rummy
      • Bluff/I Doubt You/BS
    • You can make your own checkers set easily out of cardboard and soda bottle caps. 
    • Dots, hangman, and tic tac toe can entertain with just a paper and pen.
  • Involve your kids in food preparation.
    • Make cookies
    • Make and shape breads
    • Roll their own sushi rolls
    • Roll out their own pitas
    • Top their own pizzas with a variety of toppings
    • Make their own wraps. 
    • For older children, make cooking contests. Give them each a few ingredients and have them come up with either the most original or most tasty dish using those ingredients. Designate a judge or judges to pick the winning dish.
Activities Out of the House
  • Supermarket scavenger hunt:
    • Draw or take a picture of all the items on your shopping list. 
    • Send your children throughout the supermarket in search of the items on your list. 
    • Provide some entertainment for your children while at the same time making the shopping trip less of a hassle for yourself.
  • Take your children to the library for story time or crafts if your library has such activities. Take out books to read and keep your kids entertained at home.
  • Get a few books on edible plants from the library. Take your family on an outing to anywhere there is greenery and try to identify (and pick) as many edible plants as possible. Make a meal together out of these edible plants.
  • Pack up a picnic in a cooler/basket and bring it to the park.
  • Go to the park and have a sports day. You can find a large selection selection of DeMarini bats and soccer equipment online before you head out to play. Play:
    • Soccer
    • Baseball
    • Elimination
    • Dodgeball
    • Red rover 
    • Relay races






  • Go to the nearest Metropark/ Regional park and go hiking, visit the nature centers, etc.

  • For children not accustomed to using public transportation, take your family on the bus, train, subway, etc. You can do this just for the experience of riding public transportation with no specific destination in mind, or you can use public transportation as the means to travel to another activity.

  • Many museums are either free all the time or on specific days of the week. Use the internet to find out details specific to your location.


    • Money being tight doesn't need to mean kids are bored and making trouble. Entertaining your kids throughout their vacations and on weekends can be done without a lot of money.

      Coming soon- frugal crafts you can do with your children!

      How do you entertain your children without breaking the bank? Have you done any of these on the list? What's your favorite, low cost activity to do with your children? What is your children's favorite frugal activities? How old are your kids?
      Do you find your kids usually entertain themselves, or do you need to direct them to doing constructive activities?

      P.S. No mention of gluten free in this post. ;) Oops, just blew it, didn't I?

      Linking up to Frugal Tip Tuesday. Women Living WellSimple Lives Thursday, Frugal Friday

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