Spring Break is here, and this year your vacation consists of keeping your kids, happy, stimulated and entertained without breaking the bank. Here are a few inexpensive games, activities and recipes you can do with your kids.
Be the Mommy (or Daddy) for the Morning!
This idea came to me from a dear friend, Amy Hamill, who is one of four children (all girls). Amy’s very smart mother would allow each of her daughters to be the mommy for the morning. That meant the child got to make all the morning decisions including making breakfast, getting everyone dressed, choosing a morning activity, you name it! Giving your children this type of ownership strengthens their self-esteem and self-reliance as well as provides a lot of fun and memories for your family.
“YOJNE” Backwards Day
Another fun idea is the timed honored Backwards Day. Basically you and your kids spend you day in reverse! For example, when you wake up in the morning, watch a movie with popcorn. After the movie, cook up a little pizza for “dinner”. In the afternoon, make a big bubble bath for your children using handmade “paints” (shampoo mixed with food coloring). Kids can stay in the bath till the water gets cold, painting on the walls and tub with their handmade “paints.” After their bath, everyone gets into their jammies for a delicious pancake breakfast.
Capture the Moment with Pictures
A wonderful activity to do when the weather warms up is to create a photo gallery with your children. The first step is to get a disposable camera and then take your children out for a walk. I recommend a disposable camera because they are inexpensive and more importantly, they are fairly indestructible (which is always a plus when dealing with children). Take a walk around your neighborhood with your budding photographers and watch their imaginations run wild as they snap away at all the “cool” things they see. You might even consider taking your children into the city and letting them photograph the busy streetscapes and skyscrapers. Once the roll is finished, get the pictures developed and sort through them with your children, picking out the photos they like best. Together you and your children can create an art gallery by mounting their favorite pictures on colored paper and hanging them on an empty wall. Encourage your children to name each image just as a professional photographer would. To make the gallery theme even more special have a “gallery opening” where you invite family and friend over for a viewing. Be sure to serve refreshments. I recommend following the stained glass cookie recipe (listed below) for a delightful and colorful treat!
Think Spring with Stained Glass Window Cookies
These cookies make great window decorations or are a tasty treat when served with cold milk!
You Will Need
One bag of hard candies (Jolly Ranchers work well)
1 roll of Pre-made sugar cookie dough or make your own sugar cookie dough.
Step 1: Pre-heat over to 350.
Step 2: Crush the hard candies into small pieces by placing them in a plastic bag and pounding them with a mallet (Let your kids do this – they’ll love being “allowed” to pound something).
Step 3: Slice cold cookie dough into circles and roll out into 1/4-inch thick circles. Using a sharp knife cut a hole in the middle of each cookie and fill it with bits of broken candy.
Step 4: Place cookies on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (you do not want to ruin your cookie sheet!) Bake for 17-20 minutes or until cookies are brown and candy is melted. Allow to cool and enjoy! To hang your cookies in the window, punch a hole at the top of each cookie prior to baking and then thread ribbon or string through the hole once the cookies have cooled.
Open a restaurant in your home
Spring Break is the perfect time to get your kids interested in cooking and nutrition. Talk to your children about their favorite kinds of food, restaurants and store bought items. Encourage your children to look through cookbooks and recipe boxes for new ideas and twists on old favorites. To make the meal planning more memorable, let your children turn your kitchen into a restaurant for the night. Your chefs can shop with you for the needed groceries, design the menus, decorate the tables, pick the mood music and wait on their customers. Who knows, you might find your child is the next Wolfgang Puck.
Can’t go to the Beach? Watch the Waves with an Ocean in a Bottle
This is a great project that is easy to make, requires a few ingredients and teaches your a little science in the process.
You Will Need
1 Clear Plastic Bottle with top (A liter soda bottle works well)
½ – 1 Cup of vegetable oil
Blue food coloring
Fill 2/3 of the bottle with water.
Add oil until the bottle is almost full.
Add a few drops of blue food coloring.
Place cap on bottle and make sure it is screwed on tight.
Now, move the bottle around and watch the glittery waves roll.
And For something really different…try Letterboxing
Check out www.letterboxing.org to learn about this fascinating and fun activity. Letterboxing is a community-organized treasure hunt where unconnected people place letterboxes throughout the United States. It is best to do with children over 5 and requires some planning and preparation. Be sure to check out the website or the book, The Letterboxer’s Companion by Randy Hall.
Image by: Caro’s Lines, Flickr
Beth Engelmen is the author of a monthly column for Pioneer Press Called “Mommy on a Shoestring.” The column is filled with activities, games and craft ideas parents can do with their kids on a shoestring budget. She has written multiple articles on the subject of having fun while on a budget for a number of high-profile websites such as www.sheknows.com, www.cafemom.com, and www.bettyconfidential.com. Ms. Engelman is the author of a number of children’s books published by Piggy Toes Press and Chronicle books including Finding Fairyland, The Good Knight Night, and Superhero Detectives. To find out more information about Beth Engelman, visit her Mommy on a Shoestring column at www.pioneerlocal.com or view www.mommyonashoestring.com.