1. Take the child to the dollar store
The dollar store can provide hours of entertainment for children from 3-8 and can teach them independence, counting, and create a day of fun for under $5.00. (for more ideas check out the article on my blog “HOW I TAUGHT A CHILD LIFE LESSONS FROM THE DOLLAR STORE”
2. Use a pinecone and add some peanut butter (or almond butter) and add some nuts with a string and you have an instant bird/squirrel feeder.
Colorado there are pinecones everywhere and
with a little string, peanut butter, and some seeds you can create a feeder
that is inexpensive, and can create hours of entertainment. In addition, you
can use this project to teach children about nature, conservation, and caring
for the environment for under $5.00.
(You can substitute almond butter or sunflower butter for children with
3. Use old formula and food containers to create boxes for your children to practice opening (as babies) and to decorate as art projects for older children.
I save old water bottles, cereal boxes, and baby food containers to use as recycled toys. I give clean containers to older children along with markers, paper, stickers, tape and pipe cleaners, and have been amazed at the creations children have made. I have seen everything from cars and trucks, to home-made books, and robots (with younger children I make sure there are no choking hazards on the containers and I monitor the child very closely while playing with the container).
4. Use big cardboard boxes to create giant structures.
I went to a big box store and picked up 5 clean jumbo sized boxes and gave them to a child I was caring for. I told him he needed to use his imagination to create whatever he wanted with the boxes. We proceeded over the course of 2 weeks to make a castle, a house, and a car he could sit inside and pretend to drive (complete with a steering wheel).
5. Use YouTube videos to enhance the child’s curiosity.
I don’t usually approve of watching videos while caring for children, but I think YouTube videos can be incredibly valuable as an educational tool. I had a little boy ask me what “germs” were. I proceeded to discuss bacteria, viruses and the lot. He then asked how our body gets rid of germs and I was able to show him a video of white blood cells attacking pathogens. We then used that one video to make a whole day of non-video entertainment. We made a puppet show for his parents and had a great day creating projects based off the one video we watched.