Sometimes the best kinds of thrifty fun can happen when you go with your impulses and use the most basic things you have available. Blanket forts, reading a favourite book with crazy voices, and simple sock puppets are all examples of simple, classic fun you can have with your kids. So put a no-TV-before-noon ban on this summer and
cruelly force your kids to play like you did when you were a kid!!
Some more simple fun:
Small socks taped onto a headband.
Nicole declared that morning that she wanted to be a bunny. I was in the middle of folding laundry and possibly even had a baby sock in my hand right at that moment, so I thought, meh, why not?! If I had done it to show you a sweet, aesthetically pleasing project, I would have probably at least done matching socks. More likely there would have been felt, and glue, and a perfectly pretty project. This, however, was just good clean fun, 100% for Nicole’s benefit!
She had a blast; other variations can be using long socks tucked into waistbands for tails, add extra arms to be a bug or spider with stuffed pantyhose (save your torn hose!) - pin the waist area to a shirt and then use yarn to connect the end of the pantyhose arms to your children’s wrists. They don’t care if it looks ghetto, it’s all about the fun!
Don’t have a pool? Pull out any bucket and fill it with water. No, your kids cannot swim in a bucket of water, but you’d be amazed how much they enjoy just having water play! Also, there’s nothing wrong with picking up the $12 pool from Toys R Us and tossing it in your backyard. I empty and refill mine almost every time we use it, since you put so little water in it its no big deal. Plus its clean water so I care not if they decide to drink half of it, or if they go straight from the pool to their beds.
Pool noodles + sprinkler. Most people have sprinklers, and you can pick up a pool noodle for about a dollar, maybe two dollars, depending where you go. Your kids can have an epic battle with the sprinkler; you would not believe how long they can keep themselves entertained this way. Bonus, if you’re cool with it and they’re between four and six (older can generally wield them well enough to sting), they can do epic battle with each other. It is pretty hard for one four year old to hurt another four year old with a pool noodle. Careful though, you know your kids best, and some of them can figure out pretty quickly how to get enough momentum to do some damage.
Kids love to be the epic hero in their own mind. Whether its a battle against the sprinkler or a rousing game of the-carpet-is-made-of-lava, they eat it up. If you feel really sneaky, you can incorporate this into cleanup – set a timer and tell them its a bomb, and the only way to diffuse it is to clean up all the toys in time. Then tear around the house crazily with them, shouting at them to hurry, quick, we’re running out of time! The most ridiculous things can become awesome in your kids eyes if you’re willing to jump in there yourself and act like a looney toon.
Take costumes outside. Obviously this only works on cooler days for some costumes. I am working on building up a dressup box; you can find costumes right after halloween on clearance, or you can often find a great deal at a garage sale. The above costume I bought for $2 at a garage sale. Acting like a wild beast of the forest takes on a whole new level when you’re actually outside. Dress like pirates and go to the park, the play structure is your ship and arrrr, matey, thar she blows! You don’t even need a dress up box for that one; cut up some playclothes to be more ragged, tie on a bandana, and whip up an eyepatch. Be adventurers and pitch a tent in your backyard (or if you don’t have a backyard, pitch a tent in the park! You might get some strange looks, but who cares? Just grin and explain the game and that you’re not moving in for an overnight stay ;) lol). If you do have a backyard, you can even sleep in the tent.
Later this month I’ll show you how to make a temporary tent out of four emptied & cleaned 4L milk jugs, some sheets, some twine, a bunch of clothespins, and either a laundry line or a tree branch.
What’s your favourite simple kid-pleasing game? We are always up for more ideas around here!