Easy & Cheap Ways to Keep Your Kid Busy

If you have read any of my other posts you know that I am the mother of a busy, rambunctious and curious 2-year old. As she started reaching the age of around 12 months I knew I was in big trouble. She got into everything. The folded laundry, the kitchen cabinets, the pantry, the freezer, etc. I remember asking my friends who had older children, “what the heck do you do with your kid all day?!”
Before having kids I told myself I wasn’t going to be the Pinterest mom that makes crafts and activities for their child. But then I stepped into real life and realized that I had a financial budget and I couldn’t just run out and by every educational and stimulating contraption for her at all ages.
And to be honest, she didn’t really play with her toys at all hours on end for me to be willing to spend more than $5 on it. I came to the sad conclusion that in order for her to not totally destroy my house I would have to exhibit some sort of creativity and craftsmanship. But, I also knew that I didn’t have the creative bones in my body to execute some elaborate project for her, and I didn’t have the patience to make a large undertaking. On second thought, maybe Samantha’s lack of attention span is what she inherited from me.

Anyways, Pinterest was going to be my best friend. I love that I could go on there and find good ideas from ingenious craft wizards that didn’t require me to do any thinking myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, not all of these require any preparation. And some of these only required the dollar store and some extra time.  But lets be real here, some of the days she spends play-doughing (not a word) painting, digging in dirt, and looking at books. But every once in awhile, some endeavors happen, and they are so easy and cheap that I want to share them with you.
First, you should also know that I frequent the dollar store. My two favorites are Dollar Tree- which I think has better quality. the 99 cent store has more of a selection. I got these things for some sensory boxes I made for Samantha. But a lot of it (measuring cups, funnels, and cars) I already had. I totally scored on those little plastic shot glasses. Perfect size for scooping and dumping. I chose to do one with beans and one with rice. At a later date I have plans to do one with sand and rocks. But, she can play with these boxes for about an hour. And that gives me some good solid uninterrupted me time. Disclaimer: I wish I wouldve gotten these tupperware-like bins larger than I did. They do make quite a mess, so definitely don't leave the kids completely unattended, and just do it outside. 

Dinosaur Bath- requires, dinosaurs, dirt, soap and brush. Get them all clean and then put then they can put them in a bath and scrub them real clean. After she was finished I threw them back in the dirt, and she did it again.

Church bag puzzles - I got the popsicle sticks at the dollar store and then cut the pictures out of old Ensigns. Modge podged them on lined up popsicle sticks as a whole and then slit them separate with an exacto knife. 

I took another 99 cent tupperware bin and made it into a homemade stove. She already had the fake food and utensils. I didn't want to buy a huge Little Tikes kitchen, because, who has space for that? This one doubles as storage for the utensils. Easy peasy. 

 I buy a lot of the little painting pallets at the dollar store and have her go crazy. lay down a cookie sheet and some paper.

Obviously, she needs exercise and we take this little bicycle all over the neighborhood.

If her Dad would've been home, this would've been a lot more expansive and fancy, but she really loved sitting in this little fort. Almost no effort, at all.

I learned from all our travels how valuable stickers can be. They can keep her entertained for quite awhile.

Bubbles are the greatest. Another low budget activity.

Theres a little pond by our house where you can go feed the ducks and the geese. We go here at least once a week. I am pretty sure these ducks know her by now. She has started calling the cheerios "duck cereal".

Samantha loves to read, and she really likes going to the public library. Of course I usually have to let her play a few educational games on the computer before we sit and read, but she loves going there. Plus, the library is free. Win Win situation! We also like to go to toddler music/reading time at the library once a week. They do songs, read books, and at the end they get out big blocks and cars and let them go wild. We go to this with friends.

 Just taking the baby out for a walk.

Something that she started to do when I was working on the computer was to comb my hair. She could literally do it for a half hour before getting bored and I have let her experiment with bows, also. She likes playing beauty parlor and sometimes I will let her also put makeup on me with clean brushes.

 Playdough. I have a love/hate relationship with because it keeps her entertained but it can get messy, and it definitely is a supervised activity.

She has really always loved to "read" so she often just takes a bunch of books off her bookshelf and looks at them. I love seeing her experience reading, since it is one of my favorite things to do. I can't wait until she will actually read the pages and we can read books together. I like reading out loud to her, but she's pretty good at just flipping through the pages, also. 

Painting, painting, coloring and stamping. I got these dot paints at target and the fingerpaints at Lakeshore on sale. She still prefers to use a brush for the fingerpaints, but we'll get there. 

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