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This List of Creative and Cheap Kids’ Activities Will Make Your Life Easier

This List of Creative and Cheap Kids’ Activities Will Make Your Life Easier

Keeping your kids entertained can end up taking more time and money than you have available. This list of 40 kids’ activities is easy on your budget and schedule, but encourages creative play for your children — and you!

1. Create a simple indoor “house” with a length of fabric and a few tension rods.

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    2. Put together a story bag from items you already have, then take turns pulling one out and telling a story based on what you get from the bag. (Or tell one long, connected story together!)

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      3. Teach your child how to finger knit (great for travel or rainy, cold days).

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        4. Or get them started on embroidery with felt, an embroidery hoop and thread, and a large, blunt needle.

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          5. Do a giant dot-to-dot puzzle. It doesn’t have to make a picture. Just use butcher’s paper, wrapping paper, or a disposable tablecloth, draw out dots, and number each one.

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            6. Build a simple, homemade catapult together and then do some target practice, indoor or out.

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              7. Get a garden hose and some PVC pipe and put together a ride-through bike (or scooter or tricycle) wash in the driveway.

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                8. Can’t get outside? Set up a mini, indoor car wash for toy cars inside. All you need are a pan or bowl, water, bubbles, and a few towels nearby.

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                  9. Make cool, custom designed t-shirts together out of old shirts and school glue.

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                    10. Go on a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list that works with the season. You don’t have to hide anything! Just go and find.

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                      11. Kids will love this balloon dart board.

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                        12. Let your kids get messy with squirt gun painting.

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                          13. Have a sandbox? Hide a few items in it (coins, shells, small toys) and then sit back while your kids dig for buried treasure.

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                            14. For indoor fun, gather up pipe cleaners and make cute critters, like this guy:

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                              15. Make an outdoor “river” with a roll of foil and some water. Kids can send their boats and small toys floating down. Make two shorter rivers for river races.

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                                16. Help kids make their own boats for the river! Use egg cartons for the ships and paper for the sails.

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                                  17. Use painter’s tape to create a maze on the floor for cars, trains, or just kids.

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                                    18. Go for a nature walk. Take along a magnifying glass and a sketchbook. Gather up interesting leaves, twigs, and rocks to bring home.

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                                      19. Use some of those leaves you gathered to make a leaf collage.

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                                        20. Then let them paint the rocks you collected on your walk.

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                                          21. Go on a picnic for dinner, or make it a picnic brunch on the weekend.

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                                            22. Let your kids use marshmallows and toothpicks to build cool structures.

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                                              23. A glow-in-the-dark bath time! Are you kidding me? How simple is this: non-toxic highlighters and water for hours of awesome.

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                                                24. Have a big cardboard box in the garage? Dust it off and transform it into an awesome fort or playhouse.

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                                                  25. Pick up a few packs of cheap sponges at the store, cut into strips, and have a tower building contest.

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                                                    26. Help your kids set up a post office. Then they can create and can send letters, flyers, and all sorts of mail to each other.

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                                                      27. Send them on a nature color hunt in the backyard. Paint the inside of an ice tray or old egg carton with different colors for a color list and carrying tray.

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                                                        28. Make finger paint with simple ingredients you probably already have, then get out of the way and let the art happen.

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                                                          29. Get out glue, fabric scraps, and any paper and craft supplies you have. Add in a few cut-out photos of your child. Collages are good for any skill level.

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                                                            30. More than one child to entertain? It’s group collage time.

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                                                              31. Kids old enough to safely use scissors can turn a pile of empty cardboard boxes and containers into a city.

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                                                                32. Puppet shows are fun, but not everybody has the space for a puppet theatre. Help them set up a tiny version with a couple of handkerchiefs, let the kids make puppets out of paper or craft sticks, and then they can create show after show.

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                                                                  33. Make a set of these “Get Up and Move” dice to encourage physical activity. Once they’re made, kids can play with them anytime.

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                                                                    34. On a warm day, set up a tub of water, some empty containers, brushes, sponges, and spoons for fun and easy water play. 

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                                                                      35. Younger kids love activities that allow them to work on those fine motor skills. Sorting pom poms and using tweezer, tongs, or spoons to move them around is great for learning and play.

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                                                                        36. Kids can decorate their own drum set, then put on a concert.

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                                                                          37. Pull out the Legos for a marble maze. Multiple kids? Each one can create a maze, then race to get the marble through.

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                                                                            38. This cool, easy bubble blower requires only an empty cardboard tube and some dish soap.

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                                                                              39. If you have bits of fabric and ribbon around, this simple weaving set-up will let your child have lots of creative time with no extra expense.

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                                                                                40. Gather up some play dough and blocks so kids can “lay bricks” and build roads and towns.

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                                                                                  Featured photo credit: tienvijftien via flickr.com

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                                                                                  Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                                                                                  How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                                                                  How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                                                                                  We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                                                                                  We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                                                                                  So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                                                                                  Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                                                                                  What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                                                                                  Boundaries are limits

                                                                                  —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                                                                                  Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                                                                                  Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                                                                                  Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                                                                                  Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                                                                                  How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                                                                                  Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                                                                                  1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                                                                                  Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                                                                                  You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                                                                                  To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                                                                                  You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                                                                                  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                                                                                  • When do you feel disrespected?
                                                                                  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                                                                                  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                                                                                  • When do you want to be alone?
                                                                                  • How much space do you need?

                                                                                  You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                                                                                  2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                                                                                  Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                                                                                  Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                                                                                  3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                                                                                  Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                                                                                  That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                                                                                  Sample language:

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                                                                                  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                                                                                  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                                                                                  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                                                                                  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                                                                                  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                                                                                  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                                                                                  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                                                                                  Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                                                                                  4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                                                                                  Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                                                                                  Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                                                                                  Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                                                                                  We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                                                                                  It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                                                                                  It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                                                                                  Final Thoughts

                                                                                  Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                                                                                  Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                                                                                  Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                                                                                  The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                                                                                  Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                                                                                  Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                                                                                  They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                                                                                  Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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