Children, Family, Family Finances

Fun Doesn’t Have To Cost Much!

Kids toys are expensive. And on top of being expensive, my favorite part of kid toys is that the kids usually get bored of them relatively quickly considering the price. So, what you end up having is a bunch of toys the kids ignore until you go through with the donate bag, at which point those toys become a most prized possession.

What I think we sometimes forget is how important the imagination is and I’m guilty as well. There’s so much available and for some reason we’ve put this thing on us to have to entertain our kids every waking moment. Again, guilty. The times I see my kids “miserable” with boredom, my first instinct is to create magic for them. But the times I held strong and said “go figure it out” to my kids when they present me with their boredom? Magic happens.

Case in point: sweet husband had a character building class with younger boys that he taught at our church. One of the group games he had them play was a cup stacking game- which team could create the highest tower of cups without it falling over. So, he bought cups at the dollar store. A ton of cups! And at the end of the program, we were then the proud owners of these cups. We had them in a milk carton box and put them in the kitchen when we returned home from church. No sooner had we put the box down, the kids had grabbed the box and had begun to play with the cups.

They played and played and played. They played the next day. They built forts. They stacked them. They knocked them over. They were in fits of giggles and laughter. They played bowling with the cups.

The only down side was the reluctancy the kids had in cleaning up…that part is a work in progress, I guess. But this generally got me thinking about what makes a great toy for kids.

Empty boxes, paper towel rolls, empty milk containers, plastic (or paper) cups, small wooden blocks, jump ropes, blankets, clothes pins…I know some of these sound like the kitchen trash, but these objects open up so many possibilities to let kids figure out on their own what to do with the objects. What to make from them. How to use them together. Inventing things with them. Designing things with them.

I know this isn’t brand new information and I know it’s not cutting edge advice, but I’ve seen more success in playtime and boredom busters with these type of objects over complicated gadgety toys. Granted the mess is big so be forewarned about that. But I will say I can deal with this kind of mess over lots of little pieces of toy crap laying all over the place.

Give it try if you don’t already…give your kids some generic objects and see what they do with them.

PS…You’ll be a long-time hero if you have a refrigerator box!


Sticky Feet the chameleon

IMG_8654This is Sticky Feet…he’s a chameleon we often find around our house (he’s a toy critter, not the real thing). Sticky Feet resembles the creative play that our children display around our house and yard.

A sampling of creativity at work:

  • I may come home from work to find all of our family room blankets covering kid chairs and boxes in our family room.
  • There may be thousands of tiny pieces of paper on the kitchen floor and hand-cut construction paper balloons taped to the windows from the birthday party that was held for a stuffed animal
  • We could find several strings tied together to dangle a basket from the stairway to make a swing for some toys
  • Occasionally, I have been known to smack what I think is an actual spider or cockroach, only to find it’s a ring or plastic bug
  • The kids may have used the Christmas stocking hooks on the fireplace mantel to hang blankets and make a stage
  • The kids may have used those same hooks to hang underwear and socks from each hook…I’m not sure why
  • I might find Duplo¬†blocks inside my sneakers¬†1517500_10207625471542820_7698157076414408890_n.jpg
  • Our TV tray tables may be lined up with blankets on them to create a puppet show
  • We may find empty cereal boxes and mac & cheese boxes amongst the building materials of a fort
  • There could be rolled up pieces of construction paper all taped together to make a paper doll, or a hat, or a dress
  • Any pair of our shoes may be tied to each other to make a shoe train
  • A pile of now-wilted wild flowers is sometimes waiting for me on the counter from an earlier walk in the park
  • And Pleasant the Pheasant sometimes likes to hang out in a bowl on our counter…just because.11391582_10207262576910681_3841689643813185550_n.jpg

I can’t tell you how much I love their creativity; some of the things they come up with is really impressive.

Messiness aside, I love to see their minds at work!