In today’s economy, a lot of parents are looking for fun activities to do with their children that won’t break the bank. Being a parent of a small child, a 3-year-old little girl, I’ve come up with ways to entertain her for free or nearly free. Below, I describe six activities that my little one enjoys, as will most young children.
Activity #1 -Nature walks – My little one loves to be outside which is a common thing with children. We go for walks around our neighborhood and explore the local grass, flowers, trees, and animals. She is always finding sticks to bring home, which of course can be used for a variety of fun activities which will be discussed later in this article. A game can be made out of paper and crayons to be played during your walk, such as nature bingo. Draw grass, trees, flowers, and animals on a bingo grid. Have your child mark off the items as she sees them to get bingo.
Activity #2 – Educational Games – Find items around the house for various games, such as drinking straws, paper, utensils, pictures, etc. You can play Bigger or Smaller, Light or Heavy, What’s the Color?, or counting games. Use scissors to cut the paper and drinking straws into pieces for the Bigger or Smaller game. For the What’s the Color? game, simply find items around the house, and ask your child to sort the items into similar color groups, such as a group for purple items, one for yellow items, etc. You could also use the paper and crayons to make little doodles and cut them into a memory match game.
Activity #3 – A Visit to the Library – Hands down, reading will always be one of the best ways to educate your child. Reading will provide lifelong enjoyment and learning opportunities. Libraries are an excellent way to get you and your child out of the house together (especially helpful for us stay-at-home-moms), and will provide all kinds of fun activities. In the children’s section of just about every library is a reading area. Have your child pick out a book, bring it to you, and read it to him/her. Also, for the children who haven’t yet learned to read, have your child tell you a story from the pictures. This provides an excellent outlet for your child’s creativity, and gives your child practice in assessing situations. Libraries in today’s world also have a wide range of electronic activities, such as computers, audio equipment, video equipment, etc. Get on a computer with your child, and explore some educational websites. Fun sites include playhousedisney.com, and nickjr.com. Also many zoo websites include educational information on various animals, and many websites are tailored specifically for a young child’s educational needs.
Activity #4 – Active Games – games such as freeze tag and catch can be played just about anywhere, and they promote an active lifestyle. All you need is you, your child, and a ball. These games will be a fun and engaging way to get your child (and you!) off the couch and pursuing physical fitness.
Activity #5 – Making Up Stories – This is another activity that will stimulate your child’s imagination and creativity. Get a magazine, and open it up to a random page. Have your child help you make up a story about the person or animal you see in the picture(s). If you don’t have a magazine, you can use anything that has a picture on it such as junk mail, or even the character on a box of cereal.
Activity #6 – Volunteering at the Local Animal Shelter – Your child can help out with many of the everyday tasks needed to care for the animals such as brushing their fur, putting food in their bowls, playing with and petting the animals, carrying items for the adult volunteers, etc. Not only will your child have fun with the animals, but he/she will be learning a valuable quality for future life. Your child will learn to give of their time to others, and will learn to include volunteering as an everyday part of their life. It will also be an academically educational experience, as your child will learn about the different animal breeds and how they interact with humans and the other animals.
I hope this list will help you have an engaging and rewarding experience with your preschooler. The wonderful thing about young children is the fact that they find so many ordinary and every day things fascinating. Not only will these activities stimulate your child’s body and mind, but you will have a fun and energizing time teaching them about the world and how it works.
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