Kids' activities can turn expensive in the blink of an eye. The cost for movies, concessions, sports tickets and video games adds up fast. Making matters worse is the fact that many of these more expensive activities favored by kids aren’t beneficial; after all, when has a video game ever created a lasting memento? Introduce your child to some low-cost activities that will help to build memories, rather than burn a hole in your pocket.
With a little creativity, you can turn everyday household items into learning activities. For younger kids, try going on an outdoor stick hunt, the results of which can be used for creating rustic picture frames. For kids who love action figures, egg cartons, paper plates and old boxes can turn into intricate forts with some scissors and markers. For the budding clothes designer in your family, let her turn Dad’s old shirts into cooking aprons with some cutting and stitching. Older kids might find it rewarding to contribute via some cost-cutting activities. Re-painting old chairs and dressers are two examples of how they can give the house or their room a fresh new look at a fraction of the cost of buying new furniture.
Venues compete for audiences every day. Take advantage of this by finding low-cost outings your whole family can enjoy. Call your local fire station to learn the date of the next open house. Libraries offer everything from magic shows to basic computer skills classes, and museums offer kids' programs as well as family discounts on certain days. For outdoor fun, take advantage of local park programs. Many of these venues host outings that enable kids to learn about their local habitat, interact with some friendly animals and experience a healthy dose of environmental responsibility. As an added benefit, your younger kids can race around the park’s playground afterwards.
Many young kids love the idea of a big to-do. If your kids are interested in grand parties, princesses and dancing, help them plan a regal ball. Old blank thank-you notes can become invitations. A sketchpad can become the itinerary planner. The dinner table can become the banquet hall. And old clothes plus some sequins can become their glamorous attire. During this activity, you can even sneak in some good tips on manners and proper hosting. Older kids might enjoy the more tangible activity of planning a dream vacation. Show them a globe and let them pick an exotic destination. Then, challenge them to arrange everything: the travel, meals, lodging and activities. Show them some travel websites and -- if they’re really motivated -- give them a budget to work with.
Sometimes kids just need to expel energy through rigorous exercise. Traditional sports like football, baseball and basketball are go-to activities for many families, but options exist for those looking for something new, different and less physical. Old-fashioned games like tag, duck-duck-goose, and hide-and-seek work wonders with young kids. Older kids can make obstacle courses in the backyard or play disc golf, and an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt can challenge the brain and the body for kids of all ages. An alternative to outdoor games is to get your family involved in an exercise event. Organizations across the United States hold walks and runs throughout the year that benefit various causes. If an illness or a disease has affected your family, your kids may find it emotionally gratifying, as well as physically beneficial, to participate in such an event.
- Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images