It is easy to quickly become bored during the winter months. The snow can begin to fall as early as October and continue to blanket the ground through March. It is a long and cold season and when there are days when we can’t get outside its time to get crafty but be thrifty. Heading to an indoor play land full of germs can be expensive, indoor water parks cost money and just about anything indoors and away from home, besides the library, costs. On a budget with the economy the way it is, entertaining children from home makes more sense.
Entertaining a kid is easier than you may think. If you know the types of things they like, you are one step ahead of the game. Younger kids enjoy ripping things to pieces. Their little hands find joy in destruction. When the wrecking ball is over, they are still delighted laughing about what they have accomplished. For them, something durable is in order.
One frugal craft that can stand up to the beating (at least for a little while) is to create a town or village for their dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals. It keeps the children busy and they can play with this indoor masterpiece for days to come and in a variety of way.
1. Play Village
You will need:
- Cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes
- Construction paper
The play village is easy to construct. Before cutting into the cardboard boxes, decide what each will be used for. A little girl may want a palace for her dolls. Kids with stuffed animals might enjoy creating a zoo or a farm from their boxes.
Each box can then be decorated with construction paper signs and decorated to their liking. If the kids are small or the boxes are big, they can crawl into the buildings with their dolls or action figures. A play set like this can be used over and over again. If one box rips or tears, throw it out and use another one. Those expensive play sets in the store wish they could last as long.
2. Indoor Eco-Crafts
Kids can use their imaginations to aid in the craft construction. In school art teachers are the greatest people on earth. They teach us to make pinwheels out of construction paper, pencils and stick pins. Kids can create flowers using tissue paper and pipe cleaners.
Around the holidays, the frugal crafting gets a bit easier. Water, flour, and baking soda can be used to make Christmas tree ornaments and table decorations. Start thinking Valentines and begin making table decorations and Valentine gifts now. Green and Clean Mom has some great earth friendly Valentines Day ideas and recently, I wrote about some Eco-friendly craft ideas that can be adapted for anytime of the year.
Kids love to role play. With a few cotton balls, construction paper, and crayons, they can create costumes. Pilgrims and Indians, Santa and his elves, a princess, a dinosaur, and other creations are all fair game when the imaginations get going. These crafts are easy to make and take little time so the playtime can begin immediately after.
Who said that crafts couldn’t be edible? Freezer lollipops, Jell-O eggs, chocolate ornaments, and candy necklaces will keep them still at the table and satisfy their sweet tooth when playtime is over. Decorate cookies, bake chocolate chip cookies and dig for the chocolate chips as though you were an explorer looking for dinosaur fossils or a treasure. All that is needed, a toothpick and then you eat what you discover!
Use your own imagination and come up with some ideas to entertain kids with frugal crafts of your own. Think back to your own childhood for some inspiration. Don’t forget to ask the kids for their own ideas as well. Using items from home and recycling toilet paper rolls, used cards,buttons, yarn and other items helps to make the crafts even more thrifty and Eco-friendly!
Plenty of online sites such as Kaboose, Sprout Online and Family Fun offer ideas, instructions, printables and more! If you plan ahead and have craft supplies on hand (glue, scissors, construction paper, glitter, etc.) it makes having a craft day easy. When you’re done take the children to a nursing home or children’s wing of a hospital and let them give what they have made to others to cheer them up this holiday season.
3. Indoor Obstacle Course
The kids might have cabin fever and need to burn off some energy. Create an indoor obstacle course using pillows, hoola-hoops, cones, laundry baskets and jump ropes. Get creative and take turns making different obstacle courses. Yes the house will look like someone robbed it but trust me the children will have a great time and be tired when they’re done!
4. Opposite Day
Get a little crazy one day with the kids. Let them have pizza for breakfast, eat lunch in the living room on a blanket and breakfast for dinner. Instead of getting dressed have the kids put on new pajamas, not brush their hair or do chores. The opposite of everything they’re supposed to do! They’ll love it! Eat dessert first not last. Walk backwards all day and yes means no. The kids will be entertained all day trying to do everything opposite of how they ordinarily do things and you’ll have some great memories!
Pick one meal and let the children plan the meal. Allow them to create menus, decorate the table, play hostess and turn your kitchen and dining room into a real restaurant for one meal. They’ll be busy making placemats, menus, going to the grocery store and cooking with you that the day will fly by! Pizza is probably the easiest way to go based on my experience but it really depends on how old your children are.
This doesn’t sound like a ton of fun but you can make it fun! With all the new toys you probably need to make room for them. Which usually means it is time to do some cleaning and organizing. Involve the kids in this activity by giving them one large box. They can pick whatever in their room that they no longer play with and put it in the box. When the box is full you can go through the box together and decide what should be kept, sold or donated. Take the children to personally donate the items and if they have items to sell use eBay and encourage them to donate their money to a good cause.
7. A Field Trip
Take a field trip to your local humane society. Call ahead of time so they know you are coming and offer to walk dogs, play with puppies, and play with kitties or help clean. Remember to talk with your children before going to the humane society that you are going to help not adopt an animal, unless of course you’re ready for a new member of the family.
Excellent Resources for the Book Shelf: