It can be very difficult to entertain five rambunctious kids on a limited budget, especially if you don’t want to keep them plugged in all day with a DVD or a video game. Keeping them busy without electricity isn’t too difficult with a little planning and creativity. Here is our Top 10 List of Unplugged Ways to Entertain the Kids:
10) Nature Walks
When the weather permits we love to take all of the kids for a walk after supper. We live in the woods so we look for different animal tracks, bugs and flowers for the kids to identify on our walks, but city dwellers could look for other things like birds or signs, or even play games while you walk like those you would play on a car trip (think “punch bug”).
9) Library & Book Stores
Every Wednesday morning is story time at our local library and the kids really enjoy hearing the story and then creating a themed craft afterward. You can also find children’s book readings at local bookstores likes Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million.
8 ) Kids Events at Retail Stores
Local retail stores such as Home Depot will often hold free workshops for children that teach them how to use tools and build things while their parents shop. Check out more than just the national chains though, there are a couple of local art studios here that hold similar workshops for kids and the only fee is for the materials used to create their artwork or pottery.
7) Free Movies
Although this one doesn’t necessarily qualify as unplugged, it does count as frugal and makes for a nice change of pace for the kids. There are a few of different local movie theater chains that run free children’s movies a couple days each week during the summer and school holidays. Search online for the name of your local theater and ‘free movie schedule’.
6) Mini Road Trips
We have a family tradition where we load everybody up in the car (at least a couple of times) and drive around for an hour or so after dark looking at Christmas lights and decorations. We play holiday music and listen to the kids argue about whose side of the street has prettier lights.
Many people don’t realize that there may be quite a few smaller museums that house collections of local or regional importance. Our kids love going to the National Aviation Museum (pictured above) because there is so much to see and do, but they also enjoy going to a number of other much smaller facilities like the Foley Train Museum that is located in the old train depot and the T.T. Wentworth Museum, which has a children’s floor and is located in a 100+ year old building in Historic Pensacola Village. Check your phonebook and do a search online to find museums close to you.
4) Barter or Volunteer
My kids absolutely adore going to the local bouncy house but admission for all five is too expensive to do often. Instead, my aunt has spent the past year or so volunteering as additional help for Saturday birthday parties in exchange for membership and birthday parties for the kids. The business got reliable, flexible assistance without having to do any official paperwork, and our kids got free admission a couple days each week in return. Think about the things your kids like to do and brainstorm ways to make it happen cheaper. For example, you could volunteer to clean the skating rink once a month in return for weekly admission for your children.
3) Local Hot Spots
Every city or county has areas of local interest that you can explore with the children. We’re lucky in our area to be near the beach, but the kids also enjoy local bird watching trails, parks and nature areas. We try to find different ones and rotate them so the kids don’t lose interest and they’re always excited to go.
2) Arts & Crafts Festivals
There are numerous arts and crafts festivals in our area each year and no matter the theme, they all make sure to have entertainment for the children so we like to take advantage of those free events. Don’t get me wrong, we almost always end up spending some money, but its usually for games or rides for the kids or for a themed snack like a sausage sandwich at the Beulah Sausage Festival or strawberry shortcake at the Loxley Strawberry Festival. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce for help finding festivals near you.
1) Indoor Activity Box
For those rainy days or times that we just don’t feel like going anywhere, we keep an indoor activity box. We accumulate all sorts of things like stickers and labels that come in the mail, scissors and glue, clearance and dollar store activity items, water paints, empty toilet paper rolls, colored pencils, beads and scraps of lace and fabric then we pull out the box and let the kids rummage through it to pick their own activity.
What kind of unplugged activities do you enjoy with your kids?