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Last Updated Friday February 29th 2008

Inexpensive & Free Entertainment for Little Ones

New Ways to Have Fun With Your Tyke Indoors and Outside.

Whether you're saving your pennies for a family summer vacation or down and out because it's tax time, we've got a few ways for your to amuse your little guy or girl that won't break the bank.

Around the House:

1. Small children love to play dress up but you need not break the bank on brand new tiaras and tutus if you're watching your budget. You've probably got what you need right at home. To prepare for a good game of dress up, first clean your closet. This is great because it gets you organized and turns old junk into new treasures for your little one. Dig up the old neckties, handbags, hats, jewelry and other such items you no longer use and get them all into an empty box for your child to explore. If you've got nothing good in your closet thrift stores are a great place to find inexpensive dress up supplies.

2. Help your child build a fort. There are a few ways you can do this. You can go with the classic sofa cushions and blankets model or you can get some large cardboard boxes for your child to play in. You may find some especially big boxes discarded by your neighborhood appliace store. The other great thing about cardboard boxes is that your child can not only hide out inside of them, they can also decorate the boxes to look like little houses. You and you child can do this together with paint and brushes, construction paper and glue or even giant magic markers. If you want to make things even fancier you can cut "windows" and "doors" out of a very large cardboard box so your child has a miniature inexpensive play house.

3. Create your own bowling lane. Arrange some empty plastic bottles like bowling pins at one end of the room and have your child roll a ball across the room to knock them down. Your tyke can also help you set the "pins" up again after he or she knocks them down.

Around Town:

1. Take your child to the library. Most libraries not only have a wonderful selection of books you and your child can read together, they also have CDs and movies that you can check out for free.

2. Plan a picnic. Have your tyke help you prepare a lunch you two can enjoy together at the park. Your child can also help you pack up the meal into the cooler.

3. Organize a scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt is a great way to provide mental stimulation, get some exercise and help your child explore the outside world. For a young child learning about colors you can tell him or her to find something green (like blades of grass) or gray (like stones) or pink (like flowers). For an older child you can hide things in your yard for your child to find.

Posted on Friday February 29th 2008

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