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10 Educational activities for kids that are low cost or no cost

Esther A. Jantzen, Ed.D., is an educator, children's literacy advocate and writer who spent 25 years in urban public high schools. She is the author of Plus It: How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Leaning Adventures for Kids, ava...

Plus it! Learn from everyday activities

To “Plus It” means to take what you're already doing at home (like eating soup with a kid at the kitchen table) and add something to that experience (like asking a question: Why do you think tomatoes are red?). Parents can strengthen a child's ability to observe, reflect, and share their thoughts by that kind of simple question. And those skills lead to greater school success and enjoyment. In this excerpt from Plus It! How to Easily Turn Everyday Activities into Learning Adventures for Kids by Esther Jantzen (Morgan James Publishing, 2009), find out 10 fun budget-friendly activities that teach kids about money.

Plan a No-Cost Party

Doesn't everyone like a spontaneous party or potluck meal? One way to have one is to invite neighbors or friends to your home.

Tell them the One Rule: they must not spend any more money on food or supplies than they'd already planned to use, not even for paper goods. If you or they do not have paper goods in stock, tell folks to bring plates that can be washed before they go home. That's even the more ecological way!

Learn Survival Skills

Field Trip

Do you ever wonder how you would manage if for some reason you couldn't stay in your own home for a period of time? What if there were an earthquake or fire? Could you and your children find ways to take care of yourselves?

It can be fun (and very wise) to plan what you would do in such an event. Check out library books about wilderness survival or city survival. Learn about edible plants. For example, did you know dandelion leaves are not only edible, but also good for you?

Learn where your community resources are. Take a trip to the fire department and ask them to teach you what citizens need to know in the event of a fire or natural disaster. If you live in an earthquake-prone area and you don't have an emergency survival kit for your home and your car, create one.

Use the Public Library Services

Do your children know how many great things are available free at the public library? With your children, go to your library with pencils and notebooks in hand. Pretend you are on a treasure hunt and jointly make a list the treasures you find there. You may all be surprised.

Plan a Spend-No-Money Day or Weekend

For some people, this is a challenge. For others, it's easy. Make it a game to see how long your family can go without buying something. Do you have things sitting in the cupboard or refrigerator that you can cook and eat? Are there toys that have long been neglected? What about reading a book together rather than renting a movie?

quotation mark open It is…fun to have things, but more to make them. quotation mark close

Of course, please don't take this to the extreme. If someone needs medication, special supplies, or special food, be sure you take care of their real needs.

Have a Scavenger Hunt

It can be an amazing adventure to find what's out there in the world that either nature or people are finished with, like plastic containers; nuts, bolts, and pipes; cardboard boxes; bottles and caps; furniture pieces; shells, feathers, and seeds, and so forth. Then see what you can invent with your found treasures. Plenty of artists make sculptures with "found objects," and you can get ideas on the Internet or from books in the public library. What could you and your children create? Add your own ideas for no-money-needed fun.

related video:

How to Motivate Your Child In School

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