Fun for Nothin’ Challenge

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I found this cool challenge (non-book related) over at Sew Liberated. Meg always has the coolest things on her blog. I will really miss all of the pictures of the children at the Montessori School were she taught. Anyway, Meg has talked about toys and children before, but now she’s offering us a challenge. Her philosophy is something like this: the fewer toys the better and the best toys would be natural and/or handmade. The challenge is to come up with ideas for fun things to do that inspired by a creative imagination and don’t cost a thing. I have always had similar goals as a parent. However, I have friends and family who are hard to keep on the same page. They are all well-meaning and they have given us some wonderful presents that fit the above criteria, but they have also given us a lot of other things, too. I do my best to put toys away and rotate them. Of course, if you saw my house you wouldn’t think so. It is hard to find the time and storage to keep this up. When my son was still an infant, we rarely used toys. Items from around the house were (and often still are) much more interesting. Here are some things we do for fun on the cheap:

Here are some favorites from when he was infant:
wooden spoons and metal bowls
old bottles filled with beans or grains: shake em’, roll em’
fill a basin with water and a drop or two of food coloring (optional) cut up sponges in different shapes: float em’, squeeze em’
Cruisin course: When my son could cruise, I had an area that he could get around by himself. I started at the couch and then I put chairs, big boxes or rubbermaid containers (filled with clothes to make them sturdy) until I had a circle that he could get around. I would put objects of interest around the course so he could stop and hang out.
Laundry basket tugboat or train: put a blanket in the basket and put your baby (who can sit-up) in the basket and push them around the house making different stops.

Toddlers:
Look at and talk about everything in your back yard
Walk down the street and visit neighbors
Sink or float (fill a bowl or basin with water, take a bunch of different objects and try to guess which will sink and which will float)
Wash rocks or shells in a bowl of water with a sponge or a bottle brush
Make a house out of a big box
Baking or concoctions: I would let my son have a mixing bowl and give him a little bit of some of the ingredients for whatever we were baking along with a spoon and some measuring cups and measuring spoons. He had a blast. He loved to eat the flour and cinnamon straight. Of course, now that he’s older he likes to actually help with whatever I’m making.
Cleaning: my son loves to swiff, use a spray bottle with water to clean his toys or the mirror we put up in the kitchen just at his level. By-the-way, the mirror wasn’t free, but it is a great diversion in the kitchen. He loves to look at himself making funny faces. No matter what he’s doing, he has to look at himself in the mirror as he goes by.
Gardening: the possibilities for fun are endless! Digging in dirt what could be better!
Our latest free activity – jogging!

Not to plug my own profession, but the library is a great source of books for children’s crafts and activities. I’ve read a bunch of them and I always manage to find something that’s worth trying.

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2 thoughts on “Fun for Nothin’ Challenge

    Jeane said:
    July 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I remember doing many of those same activities as a child. My sisters and I used to so love playing outside in the dirt! My daughter (three) is at this moment playing in a house she built out of empty boxes and cartons. I think less toys makes for more creativity.

    ta said:
    July 9, 2008 at 1:32 am

    I agree. Even though I wasn’t a huge outdoors-y kid, I was always outside looking at trees or rocks. When my son has too many toys out, he just bounces around like a superball from one to the other and he just can’t focus. But put him outside and he calms down is amused by the littlest things. I just don’t understand why people don’t get that.

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