10 Thrifty Ideas for Fun with Kids


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While it’s tempting to let your kids stay busy with electronic devices, encourage them to use their hands and imaginations as much as possible. For many parents, money is tight, so we’ve collected these 10 thrifty ideas for fun with kids.

Sea Life Habitat

Save egg cartons to make a sea life habitat. In addition to egg cartons, gather pipe cleaners, paint and googly eyes. Let your kids use these materials to create cute crabs, fish and sea anemones.

Starlight Tin Can Lanterns

Consider making starlight tin can lanterns with older kids. You need several cans, a nail and a hammer to make them. Add water to the cans and freeze them. Once they are hard, place them on a cloth and hammer nails in them to make holes. You can even come up with pretty designs. Place a tea light inside to light up a dark room or the great outdoors.

Plastic Bottle Terrarium

Teach your kids about ecosystems by showing them how to make a plastic bottle terrarium. For this project, collect two soda bottles, tape, gravel, soil, plants, pond water and water bugs. Cut the bottles and invert one bottle into the other for the dirt. You’ll then need to add the water, bugs and plants.

Spray Chalk

Spray chalk gives your kids a new way to express their creativity. To make it, you’ll need cornstarch, water and food coloring. Mix the ingredients. Then, pour the concoction into a spray bottle. Hand the bottles over to your kids, but be sure to keep the camera handy to document their creations. Also, consider stamping the spray chalk bottles with labels from Label Your Stuff.

Fairy Bracelets

When going on a hike, bring duct tape and wrap it around your kids’ wrists loosely with the sticky side facing out. As your kids spot items of interest, encourage them to place these items on the bracelet, making a fairy bracelet.

Button and Pipe Cleaner Caterpillars

For this thrifty and fun idea, gather three buttons of varying sizes, two pipe cleaners, a pencil and dry rigatoni. To make the caterpillars, thread the pipe cleaners through the largest button’s two holes. Use the pencil to curl the ends for the antenna. Then, add several rigatonis to the pipe cleaners. The next step is to add the medium button followed by more rigatonis. Add the smallest button last.

Sponge Bombs

Sponge bombs provide hours of summer fun. Making them is easy since all you need to do is purchase several packages of sponges in different colors. Cut them up, and use elastic bands to connect eight or nine sponge strips. Once made, have each competitor kneel in front of a water-filled bucket. The goal is to see who can fill each other’s buckets with sponges first.

Giant Bubbles

Make giant bubble wands with wooden dowel rods, eye hooks, a large metal washer and cotton string. Once assembled, concoct a homemade solution to keep your kids busy for hours.

Make a Large Slingshot

If you have a couple of two by fours hanging around, nail them together and attach a bungee to make a large slingshot. Set up a stack of boxes to create a life size Angry Birds game.

Kid’s Size Zipline

This summer, make a kid’s size zipline in your yard with a slack line, two tall trees and bike handlebars. You may also need a ladder. You’re sure to hear squeals of delight as your kids slide down the slackline while holding on tight to the handlebars.

If you need to get out and about, visit Living Social. The site offers deals on things to do in your town.

Ideas one, two and three are from All Kids Free Crafts.

Ideas four, five and six are from The Thrifty Couple.

KidsActivities.com suggested numbers seven, eight, nine and 10.

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