Thrifty and Nifty - Great Ideas to Keep Kids Busy On A Budget!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

When we finished college and landed jobs, life was quite a breeze. We partied hard, went shopping with the girls (which included lunch and cocktails!) and spent our money on whatever took our fancy. Holidays were fun, we had little responsibilities (besides work) and always had extra cash in our pockets.

Then, we fell in love, married the man of our dreams (or someone close to that) and started having children. Suddenly, shopping for clothes and cocktails with the girls didn’t seem as appealing as time spent with the most precious objects of our affection - our children. Of course,  our money now poured into them. 

There is no end to the fun you can have with your children. When you literally go down to their level, simply sitting with them on the floor, building things together with your hands, makes you realize just how much fun it is to get down to grass roots basic play - it really is the simple things in life that bring so much joy, and they don’t cost a thing!

There are a multitude of things you can do/make/play in order to keep your child busy for hours, that are free or cost very little. A quote by the famous educator Maria Montessori is “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence”. Children learn by using their hands and the more fun exercises you can give them whereby they use their hands, the more they will learn and the more their fine motor skills will develop.

Here we compiled our list of top 5 fun things to make (based on the Montessori Method) that your children (between the ages of 3-6) will love doing, especially when you are on a tight budget!

1. Tweezing

  • Ice Tray ($1)
  • Plastic Bowl ($1)
  • Small Cotton Balls ($1)
  • Big Plastic Tweezer ($0.50-$1)
With the ice tray placed in front of you take the bowl, which is filled with small cotton balls, and place the cotton balls from top to bottom, left to right, inside the ice tray using the tweezer. Show your child, once done, to then repeat the exercise, only this time taking the cotton balls from top to bottom, left to right and placing them in the bowl. 
Total cost: $4

2. Sorting By Color

  • Circular Art Palette ($1)
  • 20 Small Buttons (10 matching pairs -all same size) ($1-$4)

This is a fun exercise that will keep your child entertained for a while. Place 10 buttons around the center of the palette and stick them down with Blu Tack. Then place the remaining, matching buttons in the middle of the palette. In an anti-clockwise direction (from the 2 o'clock position - indirectly teaching directionality) start matching the buttons one at a time, color to color. When the exercise is finished, show your child how to take the matching buttons, one at a time, from around pallete and return it to the center.
Total cost: $5 

3. Sorting By Size  

You will need:

  • Plastic Pill Box (with at least 5-7 slots) ($1.95) 
  • 25 Beads or Buttons (all same colour, 5 sets of same size) ($2-5)

In this interesting exercise your child’s differentiation of size will be tested. In the first slot place all the beads or buttons. In the next 5-7 slots stick down one bead going from largest to smallest or the other way round with Blu Tack.You will then proceed to show your child to sort out the beads/buttons from left to right according to size. Once done, teach your child to put all beads/buttons back in the first slot.
Total Cost:  $7

4. Folding Socks

You will need: 
  • Socks (preferably your child/children’s socks)
In this fun exercise your child will learn to match socks and fold them. Put a whole bunch of single socks on one side of the carpet and their matching pairs on the other side. Pick up the top sock from the left side and slowly start to match pairs and fold them. Let your child carry on doing it themselves. Leave a small, empty washing basket nearby for your child to place the folded socks into.
Total Cost: $0

5. Pegging

You will need:
  • A Plastic Bowl ($1)
  • Plastic Clothes Pegs ($1)
This is a great activity as it exercises the web of your child’s hand, physically strengthening it for being able to write and hold a pen, pencil or crayon. Place the plastic pegs into a bowl (around 8 pegs). Show your child how to open and close a peg. Start at the 2 o’clock position, go anti-clockwise and begin placing the pegs at the edge of the bowl one after the other. Once done, reverse the action, grab the pegs from the 2 o’clock position  and place in the bowl one at a time.
Total Cost: $2

At the same time that your child is doing these exercises, it’s important that you promote an environment that allows them to  concentrate, whilst doing the activity. The best way to guarantee this is by placing them in a spot in the house that is quiet and will be without distraction. 

It’s also important for your child to be consuming the right nutrition to aid concentration. Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids has been  directly linked to better cognitive functioning. Such foods include salmon, sardines, pumpkin seeds etc. If they are unable to consume enough Omega-3 rich food, supplement their diet with Omega-3 supplements/oils which can easily be poured over and into their food. A leader in the health supplement field offers high-potent Omega-3 oils. Read our Research Verified reviews to find out more. They also have really good deals for multiple bottle purchases, which is great when the  budget is tight. 

Young children love repetition and naturally perfecting their actions. Teach your child these exercises and they will keep busy for hours! And the best part - these are great for anyone’s budget! Get ready and have fun with your child now!

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