Spending time with your toddler or preschooler doesn’t have to cost a lot for it to be meaningful. When the whole family spends time together, everyone gains a sense of belonging. Family activities, according to the site JumpStart, provide the perfect opportunity to learn more about each other, pass on your values, create memories and strengthen ties. When it comes to family time, a high-quality low-cost activity can mean more than an expensive activity that’s unfulfilling.
Make Children’s Songs Come to Life
On a rainy day, take the family on a bus ride so your tots can see how the wiper blades swish and the wheels go round. This experience is a real treat for those who have never ridden a bus. Similarly, if a family favorite is “Old Mac Donald,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep” or “Mary had a Little Lamb,” pack up the family and head to a farm that has a petting zoo or raises sheep. Do a night of star gazing for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” or visit a shelter for the song, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window.” When your children see what they’re singing about, their favorite songs have more meaning and they’ll associate the tune with a fond memory.
Make a Family Meal
Meal time doesn’t have to be about waiting for you to bring the food out of the kitchen. Make a family meal a big event that includes everyone’s favorite foods. Cooking is one of the ultimate sensory experiences — the family can watch yeast rise, squish dough between their fingers, hear pops and sizzles, smell the food as it cooks and taste the results. By helping you with the ingredients, your little ones can also practice their counting skills, identify colors and learn new vocabulary.
Check out the libraries in your area to learn about the family activities available. In addition to afternoon story times for kids, your local library may offer free movie screenings with kid-friendly flicks, arts and crafts workshops for the whole family, dedicated family weekends, family scavenger hunts, holiday events or even free passes to the zoo or area attractions.
Pitch a Tent in the Yard
Forego the long drive into the woods and crowded campsites by pitching a tent in your own backyard. This activity is a good way to help your little ones prepare for camping away from home, because it exposes them to new experiences in a way that makes them feel safe. Backyard camping is less expensive than staying at a campsite because you have most of the things that you need already inside your house; you don’t have to buy anything special. Place a plethora of pillows and blankets inside the tent, pack battery-operated lanterns, bring a couple of story books (or make up your own tales) and bring healthy snacks. Start the evening with a hot dog cookout on the grill. Then progress to campfire songs, roasted marshmallows or marshmallow treats and stories.