Real Life Deals: Free things to do with the kids

Toy IndustryNick Jr. (tv network)

Sometimes you need a fresh idea for a project to keep the kids occupied and happy. Here are a few ideas to get you started building memories and enjoying your time together.


Pull out the scrapbook supplies

Many adults look at scrapbooking as a time to be creative and precise. They approach the hobby as a time to show off their amazing design skills and look at each page as a masterpiece. But when you scrapbook with kids, you have to adjust your expectations and allow the child to explore and use his or her own ideas, even if isn’t the way you would design the page. 

Recently, I pulled out my supplies, gave each of my children a stack of pictures and free rein over all the stuff. They picked their paper, stickers, embellishments, glue — anything they wanted to use out of the box. The results were priceless: a huge mess (which they helped clean up), two pages that were less than perfect, by some standards — but absolute masterpieces in their eyes — and a whole bunch of memories.


Sew a dress for your American Girl

Liberty Jane Clothing, a Seattle-based company, designs and makes doll clothes for American Girl dolls. They offer a free dress pattern as well as 14 other free clothing patterns. These are great projects for beginners and would also be perfect for a mother and daughter to do together.

Here is the link to the free dress pattern.

You also receive two free patterns when you sign up for the newsletter!


Print out some paper dolls


If you need something free to do with the girls in your family, check out this site with free, printable paper dolls.

Print a Princess Kate doll and Disney princess dresses.


Take a local tour

 Do you have a child who loves fire trucks? Did you know you can call your local fire station and get a personal tour — for free? All you do is call ahead and schedule a time to bring your children to see the trucks. Danville Fire Department: (859) 238-1211

Does your child love police cars? Just call ahead and schedule a time so the police department can make sure they have an officer available to give you a great tour.


Watch a kid’s movie on your computer

Here’s another frugal option for watching current cartoons without having to subscribe to cable or wade through lots of commercials. Disney Junior offers full episodes online. There is no registration or credit card needed. Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse, Jake and the Pirates and more are available.

Don’t forget that Nick Jr. also offers free full episodes online!


Create a monster 

Need a fun food to serve for snack or lunch? How about octopus hotdogs? Just cut a hotdog in 3 pieces. Stab it with 4 spaghetti noodles. Boil.  Then serve. Or create a monster hotdog. Cut the hotdog in half. Cut halfway through the ends so when it boils the edges will slightly curl. Serve with 2 drops of ketchup or mustard to create the face. Need more creative food ideas? Check out


Learn to count with Fruit-Loop towers

 Grab a ball of playdough, a spaghetti noodle and bowl of fruit loops or cheerios. Stick the pasta in the playdough and have the kids start building a tower. This is a great counting exercise or a chance to practice making color patterns.

No matter what the weather or your budget, there are always things to do with your kids! What’s your favorite kid-friendly activity? I’d love to hear.


Sharon Williams blogs about saving money and pursuing your hobbies at and

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