Cheap Fun for the Kids

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With the kids out of school, I know there are a ton of parents out there trying to think of ways to keep them entertained without draining the family’s coffers.  I know I remember my mother having the same problem with the three of us.  At the beginning of every summer, we’d get bored and slowly tear up the house looking for stuff to do.  After a few days of driving her nuts, we got used to playing on our own outside and she took us on a few frugal trips every summer as well.  Here are some ideas for cheap fun for the kids.


Our neighborhood had a great park.  It wasn’t as big as some of the parks I see around where I live now, but it had all of the necessities to have a great time.  I personally loved the swings and monkeybars.  My younger sisters always seemed to enjoy the slide and jungle gym.  We pretended we were on boats or flying through space.  We even spent some days pretending we were living in our own homes and deciding what we’d cook or decorate.

In short, we were classic children that could literally spend hours hanging out on play place equipment if we were allowed.  My mom probably appreciated that specific park since there was only one open side into the area, so it was easy to monitor all of the kids at play.

Active Games

Am I the only adult that still likes Hide and Seek?  I remember playing that nearly every day with my sisters.  We’d either play inside or Mom would give us permission to stay within the front and back yard.  I thought the inside version was the best since there were way more places to hide.  Plus, Mom would cheat sometimes and help me or my sisters find a really great cubbyhole somewhere to fit ourselves into.  It ended up bringing the whole family together on days that we started out pretty crabby.  I’d still play Hide and Seek today if any of my friends or family was willing!

Flying a Kite

I absolutely love kites.  There is just something awesome about getting a piece of fabric and a few sticks to actually fly.  Even though getting a silly $3 kite into the air took quite a while, I never noticed since watching it go higher and higher was just too cool.  The only big things to remember are not to try flying a kite anywhere near power lines and to avoid trying on super windy days when you’ll just get the kite torn to shreds in a few minutes.

Mad Libs

I don’t know how many rainy days we spent playing Mad Libs.  Mad Libs is a word game that you could buy in books (they cost $1-$3 in the 1980’s).  Each book has multiple pages of tiny stories.  Each of those stories would have a bunch of blank spots where words were missing and each spot would indicate if the word was a noun, adjective, or adverb.  One person would call out the missing blank, such as “noun”, and another person would name off the first noun they could think of to fill in the blank.  Once all of the blanks were filled, we read off the completed story and it usually was absolutely hilarious.  Of course, any story with the word “snot”, “spotted”, and “smelly” thrown in every other sentence is pretty funny for kids (and most adults).

What other frugal fun for kids comes to mind?  Does anybody else miss hide and seek?

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “Cheap Fun for the Kids”

  1. No Debt MBA says:

    We played red rover or capture the flag a lot as kids. Makes me nostalgic!

  2. Surewhitey says:

    Bike ride around the park or on the beach in Santa Monica is nice…

    It also gets them tired so they go to bed early.

  3. Shirley says:

    Kite flying was always a favorite for me as a kid, possibly because we made them ourselves and then had to ride our bikes a mile or so away from home to an empty field to fly them safely. It often turned into an all day affair.

    We now take kites and fly them with the grandkids whenever we go to the beach, and they love it too. The breeze is usually perfect there!

  4. Shirley says:

    Boxes… large packing boxes to small apple boxes and every size in between. Anyone who has been a parent for 18 months can tell you that children enjoy the box as much as whatever came in it.

    We have watched, and sometimes helped, as multiple boxes became cars, trains, airplanes, houses, tunnels, forts, and so many other pretend things. Imaginations soar and oftentimes hours are spent in making up stories to go with the new creations. Our only requirement is that the boxes be broken back down flat when the project is finished.

  5. mannymacho says:

    Alas, the jungle gyms have mostly been removed from today’s world. Too many injuries I guess…

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