Inexpensive ways to keep kids entertained.
It’s that time of year again, when parents must attempt to stave off their children’s boredom without going bankrupt. Check out the following ways to keep your kids busy during March Break while maintaining your bank balance!
Retail therapy. Several stores, including Rona, Home Depot, Chapters and Michael’s, offer free or inexpensive kids’ activities. Contact them for details.
In the kitchen. Whether you’re a slice-and-bake cookie type of parent, or you want to pass down traditional family recipes, the kitchen is a great place to share time with your kids. Bonus: if you play your cards right, you could actually inspire them to start packing their own lunches or put dinner on after school…it could happen!
The hills are alive. If it’s still a winter wonderland out there, pull out your toboggans, tubes, and carpets and make the most of the last snowy days.
Clean the house. No, really! You won’t believe what kids will part with when they’re promised yard sale proceeds. Have them sort through clothes, toys and books which can either be donated or saved for a springtime yard sale. Do your own room at the same time, following the golden rule of organizational gurus: if you haven’t used it in a year, it’s gone!
Try a change of scenery: Instead of an expensive trip, why not have a house exchange with a friend in another town. Then take in all the free entertainment it has to offer.
Give unto others. What about spending time together helping someone else? Volunteers are needed at food banks, soup kitchens and animal shelters, and visitors (especially children) are welcome at many senior citizens’ homes. Someone you know might also appreciate help: kids can help Grandma label her photos, or give the next-door neighbour a hand with spring cleaning.
Trailblazers. Take advantage of local trails, and go for a nature walk. Take along a tracking book and look for tell-tales signs of various critters. Or try a scavenger hunt – prepare a list in advance, and kids can check off items along the way.
Get crafty. A project to devote themselves to, whether fingerpainting, scrapbooking or assembling Lego, provides kids with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Be forewarned that you will have to find a display area for these masterpieces! For craft ideas, try this great Canadian website: www.dltk-kids.com (It’s free!)
Mmmm maple syrup. Check out the sugar bushes near you for a taste of spring – prices are usually low. Or if your really adventurous, tap your own maple trees and make your own syrup. (For instructions, go to www.northumberlandkids.com and click on Back Yard Maple Syrup.)
Call of the wild. Well, sort of. Have a camping night, right in your own living room. Pitch a tent, grab the sleeping bags and pillows, make s’mores or jiffy pop, and shut off the lights. Then play games by lantern or flashlight and tell ghost stories.
Read all about it. Most libraries offer regular storytimes for younger children, but some also have special school-aged programs during March Break. Curling up with a book may seem like a traditional idea, but if you can get your child hooked on a title (or even better, a series), hours of time can be filled in a very worthwhile way.
Home movies. Though cinemas offer reduced prices for children’s tickets and matinees, you can also consider turning your family room into a theatre: rent a new release, dim the lights, and serve up the snacks. (You can probably feed your whole family for the price of one cinema combo!) If you’re able to borrow an LCD projector, you can actually show the movie theatre-sized by projecting it onto a wall or a sheet. The kids will definitely want to invite friends over for this one!
A bit of culture. Have you explored all of the museums and art galleries in your community? Maybe it’s time to take a drive! Try: The Art Gallery of Northumberland (www.artgalleryofnorthumb-erland.com); Peterborough’s Centennial Museum (www.peterboroughmuseumandarchives.ca) or Canadian Canoe Museum (www.canoemuseum.net); or Oshawa’s Canadian Automotive Museum (www.oshawa.ca/tourism/can_mus.asp), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (www.rmg.on.ca) or Parkwood Estate (www.parkwoodestate.com – check out their kids’ Reading Challenge). All are open on the March Break; some even offer special children’s programs.
Finally, check out the seasonal events and program listings at the back of this magazine. Good luck, and remember, the summer holidays are only months away!