Time, No Money

Our Favorites

If you have a lot of time on your hands right now but are hawk-eyeing your finances, we've found one of the best ways to keep your kids occupied is with stuff they aren't usually allowed to touch at home. I've tried to focus on things that not only don't require you to buy anything but they don't use anything that is single use that you may have on hand. Here's our favorites:

Dress Up in Mom/Dad/Whoever's Clothes/Jewelry

My jewelry and clothes closet are typically off limits to my daughter, so any time I let her play dress up she can do it for a very long time. I have to supervise her carefully, of course, but this can easily kill an hour or two depending on your kid and how willing you are to engage in pretend play or story telling. Much of my jewelry can from my grandmother and I tell my daughter stories about here as so looks through and tries on the jewelry.

Kitchen Play & Cooking

Let the kids pretend to cook in the real kitchen using pots, pans, mixing bowls etc. Better yet, if they have a stool, let them help make lunch and cook.  Another good one is tea parties with "real tea" and, if you have ones you don't mind sharing, real tea pots and tea cups. Little kids will gladly accept a splash of juice in warm water as "tea". 

Freeze Dance with Grown Up Music

If you have records or CDs still, kids seem endlessly fascinated with them (at least every kid that comes to my house does). Play freeze dance, the dance class favorite where kids jump, run and dance until the music stops and they "freeze" with your records or CDs. Let them pick from a selection and then you control the music. Kids freeze when the music goes off and resume dancing or whatever when the music turns back on. Only have digital music? Kids love freeze dance, it works with whatever you have.

Adventure Walks

If its nice outside, go for a walk but not just any old walk. Let your kid(s) decide on a theme or story and use it to pretend as you walk. You could be pirates looking for treasure or a princess traveling through her kingdom. Once you've decided on a theme, encourage your kids to dress up or make props before you go.  This is a good time to offer up things that you normally wouldn't since you'll be keeping an eye on them, like a mixing bowl for a hat or some of your costume jewelry. As you walk, help them reimagine every day things - "that's not a climbing tree, that's a lookout tower", a mud puddle becomes a moat to cross, found objects can become clues. You have to get into your "kid mind" for this one but it can definitely be fun.


Other options

I wish I had time to write up everything but, I don't (at least not yet, let's see how long this lasts). So here's a lot of other suggests with links when needed:

  • Make paper from your junk mail
  • Shadow puppets
  • Treasure hunts - make a series of sequential maps that lead to different spots in your home or yard. At the end of the final map, leave "treasure" - found objects or items from around the house.
  • Winter Walk Bingo - quick! before its too late, or Sprint Walk Bingo if it is too late.
  • Get outdoors with young explorers activity sheets from Mass Audubon. Great if you can print them but not necessary.
  • FACETIME EVERYONE YOU KNOW - don't have FaceTime? Google Duo works for everyone
  • Storytime from Space - Now imagine Astronauts on the Space Station reading stories to and conducting science experiments for the children of Earth as the world rotates below. Imagine no more…it’s Story Time from Space!