5 Inexpensive, Summer Fun Ideas for Kids + a way to control screen time

Summer is in full swing in our house. We are loving the relaxed schedule, but with it come the need for some ideas to keep the kids busy. Since this site is about being thrifty, here are some of the ideas we have tried so far and most of them don’t require you to buy anything.

DIY Bird Feeder

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This project is very inexpensive and my kids loved doing it. I suggest doing it outside because it can be pretty messy depending on the age of your kids. The only item I didn’t have was birdseed, but I was able to purchase a box of seed at Walmart for $1.97. You will also need toilet paper rolls, some peanut butter and something to hang it with. Yarn would work great, I used floral wire cause that was the first thing I found in the craft bin. Just spread the peanut butter on the toilet paper roll and sprinkle birdseed on top. (We put our wire in first so we weren’t trying to string it through the peanut butter and bird seed.)

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30 Day Lego Challenge

If you want to help your kids imagination, this one is for you. This 30 Day Lego Challenge forces kids to use their imaginations instead of the step by step directions that come with the Lego sets. My son ended up spending over an hour doing his first creation and hasn’t stopped playing Lego’s since. It has, all of a sudden, spurred his desire to create stuff.

Another Lego activity we loved was this Lego candy dispenser.

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It was super easy to build and used pieces that were really common with most Lego sets. It only took us about 45 minutes, including trying to find the pieces in my sons massive box of Lego’s.

Creative Kid’s Cooking Challenge

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If you have a kid who is interested in cooking, this would be a fun activity. John and I love watching the Food Network and they currently have a show called Chopped Junior running. John really wants to be on the show but I told him he will need a lot of practice to get ready. This is a fun way to get your young cooks in the kitchen by starting them off with simple tasks, while making it a fun game at the same time.

Hands Free Bubbles

If you follow Simple & Thrifty on Facebook, you’ve already seen this, but I thought it would go well in our list of cheap summer ideas. Bubble are a timeless activity that all kids seem to love. If you have children like mine, the bubble solution runs out very quickly. We have one child who is a bubble dumper and another one who bends over and accidentally spills all her bubbles. In order to remedy the problem, I taped the tall bubble wands to our deck stair rails and now it’s much easier for the kids to play bubbles. I’m sure this concept would also work with the small bottles of bubbles. They love not having to hold the bubble solution and I love that I don’t have spilled bubbles all over the place.

Summer Vacation Screen Time Rules

It’s hard to always have activities planned for your kids and you shouldn’t have too. It’s important that they can learn to entertain themselves for awhile so you are able to do the things you have to. It’s very easy to allow the TV and other electronics to take over during the summer when the kids start complaining that they are bored. I had a feeling this would happen in our house, so before school got out, I found this nifty chart on Pinterest to give John a list of things to do in order to earn screen time. What usually happens is he gets distracted by doing one of the activities and a long time goes by before he remembers to move on to the next item on the list. I have it posted on our fridge so I don’t have to keep telling him what to do, he knows that he just has to go look at the list. It makes my life much easier.

Stay tuned for more great inexpensive ideas to keep your kids busy this summer.

 

 

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Our Favorite Learning Toys

In our house, toys are usually only purchased for special occasions such as birthdays or Christmas, unfortunately for Joshua, his birthday and Christmas are only 2 days apart, so we have learned to be very strategic in what toys we purchase for him. Usually, some of our family will call and ask us to research what we feel he needs.Then, we either order it for them, or tell them the toys that we think will encourage a continuous, yet fun, state of learning for the next year.

Can I just tell you, this process of picking out toys that are both educational and fun is no simple task. (Not to mention, they must be extremely durable because he is very rough on toys!) This venture usually ends up with Daniel and I both watching YouTube videos of all the products before we decide which ones we think will work best for him. I’d honestly say that around Christmas time, we spent hours researching all of our options. It may seem like overkill to many, but Joshua has such different needs that we had to make sure the toys fit the bill on many different levels before it made the list.

Here are a few of our favorite picks:

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Our first pick is the VTech Write and Learn Creative Center. It has so many different option such as writing upper case letters, lower case letters, pictures that coincide with the letter sounds, etc. It even teaches kids the proper way to form the letters. Joshua can easily sit for 15 minutes, at a time, playing with this toy and he uses it often.

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Our next pick is also from Vtech. It’s the VTech Lil’ Speller Phonics Station. We used to have something similar that was a magnet that went on the fridge, but we were always losing the letters. This toy comes with a nice carrying case so you can take it wherever you go. Even if your child can’t spell words yet, it will sound out the letters when they go into the slots and has multiple categories so this toy can grow with your child.

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This next toy was something I just found on Amazon while looking for a product that will encourage Joshua to practice what he is learning in school. It’s such a neat product that has so many additional books that you can purchase. We found them all the way up to 3rd grade math and reading. They have options for numbers, colors, shapes, vocabulary, etc. The learning ability of this toy is endless and my kids all loved to use it.

Hot Dot Jr

EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS HOT DOTS JR. LET’S MASTER PRE-K READING SET WITH ACE PEN

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In this set, they work on matching letters, letters with pictures, colors, sequencing, etc. It includes 2 books and the special dog pen that lets them know if they chose the correct answer. It’s super cute and the kids love it when they make the right choice.

Our next favorite, is not only educational, but a great “busy” activity if you need your child to sit still for long periods of time. This is the Melissa & Doug Alphabet Splash Cards. (They sell a bunch of different sets as well as books, we have quite a few and love them all!)

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It uses a small paint pen filled with water to “color” the picture. Once it dries, the picture goes back to it’s original state and is ready to be used again. When Joshua first got these, he literally used them for 5 hours straight! I actually had to put them in front of a fan to dry them quicker so they would be ready when he finished a different set. We use these when we go to church to give him a “busy” activity to do so he stays out of trouble.

Let me know if you end up trying any of these toys for your kids!