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Inexpensive summer fun for kids

By on May 2, 2009

cats cradle

Families are redefining fun. Many are staying home more often. Some are canceling summer camps, too. That leaves a lot of hours to fill to combat boredom. Your community offers many free activities. You can often find where to go and what to do on the bulletin board at your local library, by calling your chamber of commerce or in your newspaper. While independent play fosters creativity and confidence, you’ll still have to plan some activities, or kids might start climbing the walls. Many old-fashioned activities and outdoor games are making a comeback, but with a fresh twist. They’re homemade and often with materials you already have at home. Coincidentally, they’re frugal, too.
Here are a few fun ideas.

CAT’S CRADLE: All you need is some yarn or string. Don’t remember how to do string games? Directions can be found at, or look for the book “Cat’s Cradle: A Book of String Games” by Camilla Gryski.

sensory bag

SENSORY BAG: You can make a sensory bag that kids (and you) will love to squish. You’ll need a plastic zip-closure baggie, hair gel, craft foamies, glitter and clear Contac paper. Fill the bag with the craft supplies and gel. Seal the bag closed and then sandwich the bag between two pieces of Contac paper. This will prevent leaking.

SHAVING CREAM PAINT: You can also combine non-gel shaving cream with a couple of drops of food coloring. Let your child use construction paper, a sliding glass door, a section of foil, a cookie sheet or just sit in a tub for finger-foam fun. Easy to clean from household surfaces. Simply rinse with water. Puffy paint can be made from shaving cream, too. Use equal parts glue and shaving cream. Add a couple of drops of food coloring or tempera paint for color. Use a paintbrush and paint onto construction paper.

SIDEWALK PAINT: You’ll need 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1/2 cup water and food coloring. Combine the cornstarch and water. Using a small container, mix until smooth. Add a few drops of food coloring. You can make a few batches of different colors. Kids can use paintbrushes, foam paint rollers or sponges to paint the sidewalk.

WINDOW PAINT: Mix together equal parts dishwashing liquid and washable liquid paint or powdered tempera. Mix until it’s a creamy consistency. Use paintbrushes. Easy to clean from windows with a moist paper towel, too.

FLUBBER: This makes oozing, gooey, cold and wet play goop.

2-1/3 cups warm water
food coloring, optional
2 cups Elmer’s school glue
3 tablespoons borax

In one container, mix 2 cups warm water, food coloring and glue. Stir until glue has dissolved. In a separate container, combine 1/3 cup warm water and borax. Stir until borax has dissolved. Add borax solution to glue mixture, and mix with hands for about 5 minutes. Pour out extra water. Let sit for a few minutes on a tray before playing. Store in airtight container.

TABLE-TENNIS FUN: Two or more people sit on either side of a table or kneel if it’s a lower table. Each person blows the ping-pong ball and tries to get it to fall off the table.

BAGGIE ICE CREAM: This recipe makes a delicious anytime treat.

1 gallon-size zipper-type bag
crushed ice
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 cup liquid half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pint-size plastic zipper-type bag

Fill the large bag halfway with crushed ice. Add rock salt. In the small bag, add half-and-half, vanilla and sugar. Seal bag. Place the small bag in the large bag. Seal it. Shake for up to 7 minutes until it is ice cream.

POOL NOODLES: Not just for swimming pools. Drag them out of storage. Visit your local library, and find the book “50 Ways to Use Your Noodle” by Chris Cavert and Sam Sikes. It offers hours of ideas for fun.

What types of frugal fun activities have you done?



photo by Libby Koponen


  1. Stephanie - Green SAHM

    5/2/2009 at 2:26 pm

    We’ve done the Flubber before, and the sensory bag in a preschool program. They’re fun stuff and really easy.

  2. Sara Noel

    5/2/2009 at 3:12 pm

    They are super easy. I like making the surprise yarn balls, too. You wind yarn around a surprise toy or candy and form a yarn ball. My kids LOVE not only the surprise in the middle, but playing with all that yarn throughout the house. Which prompted me to do a hunt game, too. You attach the yarn to the toy and hide the toy. Then trail the yarn throughout the house and leave the one end loose. Kids can then start on the loose end and following the yarn trail to the prize.
    Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Monroe on a Budget » Frugal Village’s summer fun for kids

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