Providing your children with hours of fun does not have to be expensive. Oftentimes, the simplest toys provide more fun, and they extend kids’ imaginations, which develops their creativity, encourages pretend play, and provides them with a fun way of learning.
Here is a list of simple toys or recycled materials that you can have handy at home, that will hopefully generate countless ideas for inexpensive kids activities to do at home:
- Bubbles. This is a kids favorite, enjoyed by all ages from babies to older children. Bubbles strengthen babies’ eye tracking, as well as their perception of depth and distance. Older children love blowing bubbles, as well as chasing, catching and popping them. Best of all, it is so inexpensive, you can even make your own bubble solution at home.
- Boxes. As inexpensive as it can get — Big boxes, like those from large appliances (TVs, refrigerators, lawn mowers, washing machines, etc.) will provide, not only hours, but days or even weeks of kids activity fun. Kids can decorate these boxes as a house, a shop, a restaurant, a boat, a train, or a castle, drawing windows, doors and other things that strike their imagination. Smaller boxes (such as cereal boxes or even egg cartons) can be used as the ‘house’ or ‘chair’ of Barbie or any other doll. Or these recycled items can become ‘buildings’ or ‘stores’ in a ‘city,’ letting little toy cars pass through. With a big imagination, boxes are simply a jump off point that can open your child up to a huge array of other inexpensive kids activities, the possibilities are endless. And best of all, it costs nothing.
- Jump Rope. An inexpensive kids toy that is great for kids’ physical coordination, as well as providing a total body workout. There are also fun games that 2 or more kids can play with a jump rope from doing a limbo rock competition, to tug of war, to just plain skipping while 2 other children hold one end each.
- Big piece of fabric or cloth. Just like boxes, the possibilities of creating inexpensive kids activities with a big piece of fabric or cloth, is endless. Kids can make it into a picnic mat, a cape of a superhero, or even a ‘roof’ of a ‘house.’ My nieces would tie the ends on 3-4 chairs, creating a canopy, that they pretended to be a ‘roof’ of their ‘house,’ while they did role playing (pretending to be mums/dads caring for their dolls).
- Pompoms or Ribbons on sticks. Inspired by rhythmic gymnastics as seen in the Olympics, little girls especially love dancing with pompoms or twirling long ribbons with one end glued to a short stick. Paired with a bit of music, these inexpensive items, whether store bought or homemade, will provide hours of fun, exercise and body movement.
- Homemade Play Dough. Play Dough not only enhances the imagination, but also improves finger dexterity and coordination, and fine motor skills that prepare children for writing. Play dough doesn’t have to be expensive. You can actually make your own play dough at home.
- Paper Puppets. For older children who are able to do simple drawings, provide them with paper, and encourage them to draw a face of a dog, cat or person. You can either stick a paddle pop stick on it or fold the sides and top, in a way that when a hand is slid between the folds, the paper stays on the child’s hand. Extend this into other inexpensive kids activities by creating a puppet stage out of boxes, and doing puppet role play using your child’s favorite book.
- Paints, Old Toothbrushes, Old Rags. This can get a bit messy, but oftentimes, it’s the messiest toys that really sharpen kids’ creativity and imagination. Provide pieces of paper and paint, and use things you can find at home as your medium to apply the paints, such as old toothbrushes or old rags cut into strips and bunched up into a clothespin to hold them together. Younger children can even use their little fingers, to see the effect of their movements on paper.
- Toilet Paper Rolls. Stick 2 toilet paper rolls side by side, and attach a piece of string on either side, and you’ve made pretend binoculars. Cut them into 1-2 inch widths, allow children to decorate them, and they are able to create their own bangles or bracelets. Cut out a circle shape, write numbers, draw a long and a short hand, and stick them on the homemade bangle, and they have made a homemade watch. Again, lots of inexpensive kids activities can be generated out of something as simple as toilet paper rolls.
There are many more simple toys, either store bought or homemade, from recycled or inexpensive materials, that could be added to this list. I am sure you have your own ideas as well. We welcome your ideas and contributions, so don’t hesitate to add on to this list by posting a comment or sending us an email.
Image credit: Flicker by chimothy27