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Low-Cost Entertainment for the Kids

Every parent wants to provide their children with the basic needs, and also enough of the extras to give their kids an enjoyable childhood. But kids don't always know what they need to have fun. You know how it is, they beg and beg for an item because they saw it on TV or their friends have it. You finally shell out the dough to pay for it after you believe that it means that much to them, and you think they'll get a lot of use out of it. They play with the toy or use the item a few times until the novelty of it is gone, and then it becomes one of those things you realize you wasted your money on.

Entertaining the kids doesn't always have to be expensive. We certainly like to treat our children to the latest toys and gadgets once in a while, but it's important to balance those pricey items with low-cost alternatives. When we do that, our children learn a valuable lesson. One day they'll have to go out and start earning and spending their own money. It's good for them to learn now that you can have a good time doing things that don't cost a lot.

School's about out for the summer, and kids will have a lot of free time on their hands if they don't have anything to keep them busy. Here's a list of ideas that are either low cost, or may come with an initial cost that's likely to average out to a low cost-per-use. My teenage son even contributed some of the ideas, and it helped to reassure me that what is really important to kids, at any age, is to spend time with their parents, no matter how little or how much it costs for the necessary equipment and supplies.
  • Go fishing, whether for your dinner or simply catch and release.
  • Have a water gun or water balloon fight, or get a fun attachment for your water hose for the kids to play in.
  • Fly a kite or a remote-controlled aircraft. Get two and see who can go higher!
  • Bubbles are fun for kids of any age, the older kids can blow them and the young ones can chase and pop them.
  • Let the kids get artistic on the driveway with some sidewalk chalk.
  • Go to a farmer's market, town festival, or free concerts in the town park.
  • Pick fresh strawberries at a U-pick farm. It'll mean a lot more to them than eating store-bought strawberries, especially if you make home-made strawberry shortcake afterwards.
  • Get involved in any kind of sport to keep you and the kids active and healthy: biking, blading, basketball, tennis.
  • Set up a net and play volleyball or badminton in your backyard.
  • Jumping-rope is fun and good for your heart. Teach your child the jump-rope games and songs from your childhood and bring back old memories of your own youth!
  • Make a set of corn-hole boards and fill bags with dried corn or beans for a fun backyard game.
  • Go to the neighborhood pond to feed the fish or ducks, to the park to feed birds, or to a petting zoo to feed livestock. Most kids love to feed any kind of animal.
  • Plant a garden together, and give the kids space to plant something of their own choice.
  • Have a picnic at the park or in your own backyard.
  • Go hiking in a state or national park.
  • Visit the playground and bring snacks.
  • Catch bugs or lizards.
  • Teach an old dog new tricks, or at least try to.
  • Roast hot dogs and marshmallows on your backyard campfire and tell stories and jokes.
  • Take a tent or rent a cabin and go camping as a whole family, or pitch a tent in your backyard and let the kids have their own hideaway.
  • Go swimming in your neighborhood pool or at the YMCA. Enroll beginners in a swimming course so they become safer swimmers.
  • Let kids help you prepare dinner, or let them take charge of dessert. You can teach them a valuable skill while getting some help.
  • Solve puzzles. There are puzzles for all ages and preferences, whether picture puzzles or word and number puzzles.
  • Let the kids get dirty sometimes. Kids can make mud-pies for hours with no cost other than a little extra laundry.
  • Build a sandbox and add sand. Use beach toys and build sand castles.
  • Go to the library for movies, music, and books, and check out the children's programs while you're there. Many libraries have story times and various activities for different age groups.
  • Check your local churches; many have kid's camps and daily activities during the summer months. They may be free for members, but usually still allow non-members to participate for a reasonable fee.
  • Play board games or make up your own games.
  • Help the kids set up a lemonade stand; it'll let them earn money and teach them basic entrepreneurial skills.
  • Let kids earn money by doing extra chores.
  • Encourage older kids to offer babysitting or lawn mowing services. That will let them earn some of their own money, and give them something productive to do over the summer.
  • Take them to garage sales so they can spend the money they earned on some super deals, and help them learn to bargain shop.
  • Make crafts like beaded jewelry, wooden airplanes, or picture frames.
  • Kids enjoy sleepovers, and they also give you some free time to yourself. Get together with the parents of your child's friends, and plan to rotate whose house they stay at so all parents can have an occasional night to themselves.
With a little creativity, it's easy to keep children entertained without breaking the bank. Once in a while you can splurge on a big-ticket item or activity, but there's no reason to over-spend on entertainment when there are so many low-cost alternatives to keep your whole family happy.
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Wednesday, 05 August 2020

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