As I write this, Robin and Evie are at Lakeshore Learning, making, I hope, a Lucky Shamrock Rainbow Ribbon. It’s a free activity that our local store offers every Saturday. We did this last weekend, too, when Evie made an animal headband. Then we went to the Yale Bookstore Storytime, also free. I expected it to be packed, but we were the only family there…. which would have been awesome, had Evie not wandered off to play with the stuffed cars in the middle. Now, as Robin says, we can never ever go back. Ever.
I’m lucky that there’s a fabulous website devoted to kids’ activities in this area, called KidHaven. The website, among other things, features an events calendar and weekend highlights. The events calendar lists ongoing events like storytimes, crafts, etc — usually free. We also could do things at our local library, but annoyingly, they often have preschool storytimes during the week. It also doesn’t help that because Evie goes to an independent school, we miss all the school vacation activities in February and April. (Of course, those things are usually absolute chaos, so maybe it’s not THAT bad.)
Last week, we went to Walmart and I got a kite, a jump rope, sidewalk chalk, a mini flashlight, cream of tartar, and shaving cream for about $15. The kite was the most expensive item at about $9 and a HUGE hit — it’s one of the most fun outings we’ve had as a family, aside from our trip to the ice skating rink a couple of months ago (also very affordable, but very difficult and involved). The sidewalk chalk was a buck fifty and we’ve used it every sunny day this week. The cream of tartar went into a massive batch of homemade playdough that was as much fun to make as it is to use. The shaving cream became colored foam to use in the tub (just add food coloring). The jump rope was 89 cents and she’d wanted one forever, even though she’s still too little to really use it. The flashlight, a dollar, can be used for “scavenger hunts” and exploring dark rooms, always fun.
In addition, I’ve found a few great mom blogs that have free/cheap crafts. One idea was to use food coloring to color water and see how colors combine. Easy enough. Another idea was to see what materials dissolve in water — you can use stuff like dried beans, couscous, flour, sugar, etc. You can also play sink or float. Of course, we’ve been baking a lot, because it saves money on snacks/treats AND it’s fun AND we already have all the ingredients we need in the house. If I have the energy, I can also make crayons, gak, ice eggs, paper towel marble runs…. there are so many things to do with stuff you just have lying around the house.
We’re off to my parents’ tomorrow, so I’m busy scouring the web to find free activities in their neck of the woods for next week. Thank goodness there’s always Barnes & Noble!