Kids-activities

Entertaining The Kids On A Tight Budget

Congratulations! You’ve made it more than halfway through the holidays without giving the kids away for adoption. Some of you may have thought about it though, so you’ll be hunting for some budget ideas to keep them busy, now and in the future. These ideas can occupy kids of various ages, will keep them out of mischief, encourage their creative side and keep them away from technology. They are also excellent for cognitive or motor development. As they get a bit older, they can do these activities unsupervised and you won’t need to hear that never ending  cry that they’re bored.

Sandpits

Sandpits don’t need to be works of art or inside tiny little shells. Especially to entertain older kids, just get a trailer load of sandpit sand and literally dump it anywhere! If you don’t have a trailer, you can get it delivered and it will still be great value for money.

Free sided sandpits are much safer, more fun and hygienic than the ones in neat little boxes. Your kids can pile the sand into a mound and jump in and out of it without injury and the sand dissipates into the grass or garden easily and just dispapears. Therefore, it won’t get old, moldy and germ ridden. It’s just like being at the beach, but it’s right in the backyard. When it gets low, just grab another trailer load and they will think it’s Christmas!

When my boys were younger, I set ours up so they were close enough to the house that I could hear them, but far enough away so by the time they reached the back door, most of the sand was still in the garden, not in the house. They could wander out there at will and I didn’t need to supervise every second of every day. They could use their imaginations and get precious time away from me to create and explore. I loved the sound of their voices out there knowing they were having fun, staying safe and being outside.

The busy box

I got the busy box idea from Playschool almost 20 years ago. It was a favorite with my kids during hot, cold or wet days. It grew in size from a small container and expanded as the kids got older and started sourcing their own materials. They would ask friends and relatives to save stuff for them and before long we were collecting enough to take extra stuff to their Playgroup and school for others to share.

We bought some things, like paints, textas, pencils, chalk, glitter, plain and colored paper. The rest was collected. They sourced old magazines, scraps of wrapping paper, bows and ribbons, cardboard rolls, discarded plastic containers or jars, pegs or pop sticks. It was only limited to their imagination, so we had a bit of everything. The hardest thing was keeping them out of the recycling bin!

We also collected stuff during outings for them to take home and make wall hangings or add to scrapbooks. Things like shells, small pebbles, flowers, leaves, gum-nuts, seeds, feathers, pamphlets of the attractions we visited, photos we took and even soil samples! These decorated their rooms, were given to friends and family, made into cards and wrapping paper, plus I always had something new and spectacular to hang on the fridge or frame and take to the office.

Image via blessingsmultiplied.com

The Loom Band Craze

Rainbow loom bands are the latest kids craze to sweep the stores and online market. They are small coloured rubber bands which are plaited together using a rainbow loom and plastic crochet hook. As well as being affordable and a whole lot of fun, there seems to be more to this new kids craze than meets the eye, so we’ve decided to take a closer look.

What’s available

Rainbow loom bands can be purchased in kits and their contents varies. Most have a loom weave tool, hook and assorted coloured bands. Colour varieties include rainbow, silicon, opaque, glitter, glow in the dark, jelly and tie-dyed. Some kits include C-clips or charms. The travel edition is perfect for car or plane travel.

Cognitive and social development

Kay Margetts, Associate Professor of early childhood, primary education and development, at Melbourne University, believes that loom bands are excellent for children’s cognition of patterns, spatial awareness and fine motor co-ordination. Margetts also commented, that loom bands have a unique quality as they attract both boys and girls, which is unusual with craft activities.

Zoe, Adelaide mother of 3, step mother of 1, agrees, stating, ”It’s good for the kids minds and gains ability to focus and accomplish something they can finish. The boys will sit there for a while making them. It seems to get their minds thinking and as the boys love their footy, they will sit there for a few hours making (supporter coloured) wristbands.”

Emmy, aged 13, of Paringa Park Primary School, in a beach side suburb of Adelaide, supported the fact that boys are into loom bands too, saying, “ The boys wear simple ones, in their sports colours.” Unlike some Victorian schools reported in the Sunday Herald on April 1 and Sydney schools, discussed on 2GB on June 24, Paringa Primary has not enforced restrictions on wearing or making loom bands, although they have ruled against sales.

Emmy went on to provide an excellent perspective of why kids enjoy them. “They (loom bands) are really easy to make, they look really cool and you get a really good feeling when you finish one.” When asked what can be made, she suggested, “bracelets, necklaces, rings … anything you can think of really.” Even though she has only been making loom bands for about a month, each night as she watches TV, it only takes her around 15 minutes to finish a bracelet.

There seems to be other benefits coming from loom bands as well. According to Emmy, “kids are making loom bands to sell at fundraisers … we swap them and give them to our friends and stuff”. In this modern era of autonomy, knowing kids are getting involved in their wider community and exhibiting valuable social skills, such as sharing; it seems the benefits are far outweighing any negatives. Although parents are now having to budget for loom bands in their weekly shop, it seems well worth the reasonably small investment many parents are now making.

Prices and warnings

The prices of the original rainbow loom bands start at $2.50 for an individual packet of 600+ rubber bands. Starter kits are $15 and storage cases, around $25. Travel cases are under $10. Parents need to be aware that counterfeit versions are available but only the Rainbow Loom brand is guaranteed to be safe, non-toxic and meets professional toy standards.

Image via ecx.images-amazon.com

By Kim Chartres

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