Inexpensive Entertainment For Children

by Kelly

in A Frugal Family

Summer is coming, with its months and months of vacation stretching before us like a vacuum.

I predict many hours of small children whining ‘Let us watch some TV Mama?’. Luckily, in France, summer vacation is only two months long, so the prospect is not quite as daunting as it could be. On the other hand, there’s no school on Wednesdays, so I’m already used to trying to fill the hours with fun, meaningful and educational activities- and trying not to break the bank while we’re at it.

Here are some ideas, both of things that are tried and tested chez nous and things that we will be trying soon.

There’s a great thing called Play Mais (Play Corn) which is like those environmental cornstarch packing peanuts. They are colored pellets of puffed cornstarch which can be moistened and stuck together to create different shapes and objects. They can even be unstuck and reused later. The best part (besides the cheap price)? They are environmentally friendly and can be composted.

Give your kids a small ball, like a ping-pong ball or a tennis ball for the younger ones, and a large wooden spoon. They’ll have tons of fun walking across the room without dropping the ball… just don’t let it develop into a game of baseball!

Bubble wrap can be a blast, both literally and figuratively. My boys will spend hours trying to pop all of it, with their fingers or with the less traditional method of jumping on it!

My kids also love dirt. Not just rolling in it, but gardening. We have quite a few potted plants in front of our house which they love to water and look at. They also are happy as pigs in, well, muck, when I let them loose in the dirt with a trowel, pail and bucket of water.

Two excellent websites for games and educational activities are PBS Kids and CBeebies (the British equivalent of PBS). My boys love both of these sites and can navigate their way around for hours.

A surprising resource for games is the Super Baby Food book. One idea that I love but have not yet tried is the number sheet game. Write a bunch of numbers or letters on an old flat sheet- call them out and have your kids jump to them one by one. Or older kids might try spelling out words. This sounds like a good activity for a rainy day, but I would make sure to stick a nonslip mat underneath.

Some More Resources:

Unclutterer has a good article with more ideas like helping with laundry- now that’s a good idea!

Simple Mom hopes “to post one idea a week for preschool summer fun“; here’s her first, for homemade play-doh. I bought two jars of cream of tartar several summers ago, for this very recipe. They are still unopened. I wonder if I will get around to making it this year?

What is your favorite summertime frugal fun?

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