Toy Blog - Toys, Parenting, and Kids

Fun Frugal Finds In Your Neighborhood!

Every summer, I feel the squeeze of my wallet as requests for summer camps, sport clinics and other activities come flooding through my door.  This year, I have sought out some not-so-costly ways to entertain my kids and make their summer just as much fun as that $60 ticket to Sea World.

First of all, start with your local Parks And Recreation Department (PARD).  Many PARDs have low-cost programs for kids during the summer, including swim lessons, craft classes and sport activities.  Our PARD even has free events throughout the summer, including a summer concert series and a movie night once a week.  We also have self-directed hiking activities with maps and explanations of markings along the paths, all available at our PARD office. 

My family LIVES for the Boys of Summer, and anytime we can catch a baseball game, we’re there.  However, paying up to $40 each to attend a major league game isn’t in our budget, so we look for other great games.  We have a minor league team about 30 minutes from our home, and we try to attend on Dollar nights.  Our local high school will play until the middle of June, and those games are usually free and in the evenings when it isn’t so oppressively hot.  We also have a college nearby that offers games at a low cost as well.  Our city Little League will be playing about six blocks from our house for the month of June, so we will catch a few games there as well.  Of course, don’t limit yourself to just baseball!  Look for other sporting events as well, and support your local athletes.

Explore your bigger backyard by looking for free or inexpensive outings just outside of town.  We have a blueberry farm about 10 miles from my in-laws’ house, so during the summer, we will visit and go blueberry picking.  We also have a peach orchard not too far from our house that allows for picnics and pick your own fruit activities.  Nothing tastes better than home grown produce.  Check your local paper for farmer’s markets and other outdoor markets nearby.

Getting Clean The Fun Way!

My kids BEG to take baths.  It is quite possibly the highlight of their evening.  But, it wasn’t always this easy.  We’ve come a long way from the anguish of putting our toes in the water and the screaming of the thought of hair-washing.  Here are some of the things we do to make bath-time…play-time (and clean-time)!

  • Bubbles.  The only other place my kids are allowed to blow bubbles is outside, but with the chillier weather, they don’t have much of a chance to participate in bubble-blowing – except for bathtime.  Bubbles are always fun for kids, and they are a great distraction to the real reason they are in the tub.
  • Hide and Seek.  We put several bath toys in the water, and after playing with them for a while, I hide one object under a wash cloth while my child isn’t looking.  He tries to guess what’s missing, and then the fun begins all over again.  This is excellent with preschoolers on up.  Start with just a few items, then move up to larger quantities!
  • Fill ‘er Up!  The bathtub can be a super place to work on measurement skills.  Take a set of measuring cups (plastic please!) into the tub.  How many 1/4 cups will fill a cup?  Or, use larger containers.  How many sour cream containers does it take to fill a whipped topping container?
  • Bathtub Idol!  Grab that shampoo bottle and strike up a tune!  Kids love the fact that their voices echo-echo-echo!  Bring out their favorites, whether it is “Old Macdonald” or the latest from Hannah Montana.
  • When my boys are feeling particularly anti-bath (which isn’t very often, but we do encounter it every now and then), we put on our bathing suits for a dip in the “kiddie pool”.  By simply wearing a bathing suit, my kids take on a whole new persona, and their attitude does a 180 degree turnaround.

If you have some great ideas to share for bathtime, leave a comment and let us know!

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