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This is the Jewish holiday season, and our kids are off school until October 11th.

I'm looking for ideas about things to keep the kids busy. (And by "things" I mean "free or very cheap things.")

Any suggestions?

We have three girls (age 5) and a son (9).

On days when the weather is nice, they can ride their bikes, or I can take them to the zoo (where we have a membership).

But they won't want to do that all day, every day.

Today I took the girls to Somerset, an upscale shopping mall where they like to ride the escalators, glass elevators, and the "skywalk," a moving sidewalk that connects to parts of the mall on opposite sides of the street. We brought lunches and ate in the food court. I also let them spend about an hour playing at the kids section in the Apple store. Aside from the gasoline I used to drive there, my out of pocket expenses were zero.
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Go to the library

look for parks and museums to go to that are free

plan a meal or dessert to make, then go to the store and buy the ingredients, go home and cook it
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All good suggestions.

I also just thought of another one: Play-dates with schoolmates who are also on break!
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playground(s), beach(es), help in the yard (rake--or just jump in!-- the leaves, pull weeds), create art (crayons/markers; chalk on the driveway/sidewalk; collage with old magazines/newspapers/junk mail, scissors and paste), make homemade birthday cards for friends/ & relatives; play dress-up/role play; ball game(s) such as kickball, street hockey.

Make no-bake cookies/pancakes/waffles/French toast or homemade yeast bread (rising & punchdown are fun for kids); make homemade butter from heavy cream; go to a you-pick orchard/farm; make an early jack-o-lantern or do other fall decorating with leaves/gourds/whatever you have.

Teach them something new--a board game or physical game, household task like setting/clearing the table, dusting, sweeping, loading the washer or dryer. My mother used to have us clean out cabinets and closets on school vacations.

Put the triplets in a warm, sudsy tub to play; go through family photos and tell stories about everyone--let them make up stories, too. Story hour at the library or book store, my Barnes & Noble has a track for running cars/trucks/trains that 5-year-olds might enjoy (smaller toy stores sometimes have things out for kids to play with, too). Watch a video they haven't seen lately or borrow a new one from the llibrary.

Take a walk and try to identify whatever you see & hear--plants, birds, kinds of dogs & cats. Invite a couple of friends over to play.

Watch you fix something, maybe hand you the tools you need.

Have them read to you. Start reading a chapter book to them so you can read a couple of chapters a day through the whole vacation.

Places that hold music, art, and gym classes for children often have a free week between terms so people can try them out.
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create art (crayons/markers; chalk on the driveway/sidewalk; collage with old magazines/newspapers/junk mail, scissors and paste), make homemade birthday cards for friends/ & relatives

Adding to this, if you want a good purpose for the art, ask your local senior center or assisted living place if they'd like it. There might be people that would like some harvest/fall art from your children, plus it'd be a good opportunity to practice sharing and giving.
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Wow! What a fantastic list! I'm going to print that out and save it.

Thank you, alstroemeria!
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A new fun thing we do is a "nature scavenger hunt". Or nature bingo.

Make a list of things - rock bigger than your hand, a triangle shaped leaf, a white flower - and put them on a list or bingo grid and have them see who finds them all first.

I also get huge mileage out of chalk and bubbles in the driveway.

Marianne
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We occasionally visit the kitties and dogs at the local animal shelter too, but that excursion can run the high risk of leaving with a new pet :)

Ours always needs old towels and blankets and sheets, so we donate stuff there a lot whenever we go on a cleaning binge. So we typically pet the animals a while when we are there.

Marianne
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I'm looking for ideas about things to keep the kids busy. (And by "things" I mean "free or very cheap things.")

Any suggestions?


I was just going through my web bookmarks and ran across one that may be useful. It's a listing of 30 classic outdoor games:

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/05/30-classic-games-for-si...
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Any suggestions?

If the schools are closed, take them to the school and play in the playground there. I do this with my kids on weekends pretty frequently.

Cook with the kids. It's apple season!!! Apples are plentiful and cheap, and there are so many things you can make and do with them.

Fall Leaf Rubbings.
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