I don’t know about your kids, but my kids absolutely love to play dress-up. We have more toy bins dedicated to dress-up and role playing than any other type of toy. When I walk into my kids’ room, the floor is nearly always strewn with hats, scarves, coats, dresses, and accessories. My kids may love dressing up, but my wallet doesn’t like the cost of buying dress-up outfits at the toy store. I always get sticker shock, and then am disappointed in the quality of the items. So we have found other ways to feed their role-playing habits.
I was especially inspired to make my own dress-up items after visiting the children’s museum in Fayetteville, NC on a recent trip. The kids move from room to room and get to play farmer, supermarket, ambulance, ER, dentist, post office, banker, army man, TV weather forecaster, and more. Most of the items were “real” items from that profession, and my kids had a blast. They were willing to forfeit lunch in order to stay and play longer!
Here are some ideas for frugal role-play and dress-up:
—Use “real” clothing that is larger in size. When we get hand-me-downs, I throw some of the scarves, hats, frilly skirts, and dressy shoes into the dress-up bin. The kids love it. They are creative and turn scarves into ropes when they are braving a hurricane from the safety of the bunk-bed. Purses become shopping bags when they “walk” to the store with their doggies. They love playing with “real” items.
—Save household and kitchen items. When we empty an egg carton I give it to the kids to play with. After a few days it has usually been stepped on and smooshed a hundred times, so we toss it out. There will always be another one coming! I rinse out vitamin bottles and save Band-Aid boxes for doctor play. We have a plastic Starbucks coffee cup and old measuring cups for our “kitchen”. Dead cell phones go in the toy drawer, and all of my kids love to walk around talking on a “real” phone. (My husband wears out his phones quickly!) When I am ready to pass on a scarf or necklace, I usually take it to the dress-up box instead of Good Will.
–-Make your own. At the children’s museum, in the play Post Office, my kids loved sorting mail and handing out packages. So I saved envelopes from the mail for about a week, laminated them, taped up a couple of small boxes, and turned an old wipes box into a mail box. Put on a blue shirt from Daddy’s closet, and voilà! Instant Post Office. We play with it for a few days and then pack it away for a few days to keep things new and exciting.
—An old box can become anything you can imagine. My kids love to pretend it’s a boat. We usually keep the boxes from our diaper shipment around the house for a few days. Turn the box upside down and glue on some red construction paper circles for a stove. Cut a hole for a mailbox. Make a baby cradle. The possibilities are endless (and free!). Two liter bottles become a jet pack. A towel and clothespin becomes a super hero cape. An empty toilet paper tube or paper towel tube can become binoculars or a pirate spyglass. We cut necktie shapes out of fabric scraps and added a ribbon for instant dress-up.
—Play store by setting out some toys on the coffee table. Print out some paper money and give them a purse. One child gets to be the shop keeper and one child can be the customer. We use my daughter's baby stroller to be the shopping cart. I love spending $5 and getting $20 in change! (We will work on math skills in Kindergarten this year 🙂
—My daughter loves to play Mommy, Little Girl, and Baby. She usually gets to be the Mommy and my husband or I is the little girl. I gave her a couple of real baby bottles, some newborn size onesies, cloth wipes from my diaper stash, and an old receiving blanket. She uses the tray from one of the twins’ highchair, and we set up a little meal, change some diapers, put the baby to sleep, and have a good time. No expensive baby doll accessories needed!
–If there is a particular role-playing adventure that you would like to have with your child, you can scour garage sales and thrift stores for needed items. You could find army items like canteens and binoculars. Old hats, gloves, purses, etc. can usually be purchased very inexpensively. I recently found some tiny tin muffin trays at a garage sale for 25 cents. Perfect addition to the kitchen set!
If you really need some inspiration, Pinterest offers just about every DIY imaginable! I have a Pinterest idea board with some frugal options, as well as ideas that may take a little more time or money. They make great gifts! Now get off the computer and go have some role-playing fun!
My kids are required to have a quiet time every day. I personally need that time to recharge in that middle of the day.
They are usually pretty good about staying in their rooms and being quiet. But there are other things that go on…
Yes, somebody likes to color. She's so quiet that I think she's asleep. Then when naptime is over — surprise! Look at my pretty picture, mommy! I don't think there is a blank wall left in her room.
Enter my new secret weapon in the war against naptime mischief:
Yes, baby monitors aren't just for babies anymore! (Disclosure: VTech sent me a VTech Safe & Sound Pan and Tilt Monitor to review. All opinions are my own.)
I seriously love this monitor. (I don't use the word LOVE unless I really mean it.) It's hard to describe such awesomeness in one short blog post, but I'll try:
1. Instead of just hearing audio, I can see what's going on with this video monitor. Since my little girl is a pro at stealth tactics, I need the visual element.
This occurred as I was composing this blog post…
The video quality is actually quite a bit better than what you see in the pictures too. I was having a hard time getting a good picture. It also has full color video, but the color doesn't really show up if it is dark in the room.
2. If she gets out of my line of vision, I can use the monitor to move the camera that is set up in her room and see whatever I need to see.
Ah, there she is…
I can move it side to side and up and down so that I have a view of the entire room. I can also zoom in if I need to.
3. If I need to talk to her, I can press the talk button on the monitor and she will hear me from the camera in her room. It is so sensitive that I can talk in a whisper and she hears me. I love this because if I go in there her baby sister will sense that I'm there and wake up, but if I whisper through the monitor the baby doesn't wake up.
4. This system can have up to 4 cameras connected to the parent unit (must purchase additional cameras separately). I would love to get an extra camera for the boys' room.
One of the most important things I wanted to know about this monitor was whether or not it was secure. After reading a scary news story about a family who had someone hack into their baby's video monitor and watch their child and talk to him in the middle of the night, I wanted to be sure there was no danger of that happening to us.
As it turns out, since this monitor is not connected to the internet in any way, it would be very, very, very, very, (did I say very?) difficult for someone to hack it. I am happy to know that I can watch my kids and talk to them without some strange creep having that ability too.
So now I can keep an eye on this little artist of mine during naptime! I wish I had gotten one of these a long time ago; we would have a lot less painting to do! (But it's a beautiful mess; remember that mama!)
If you need your own secret weapon, you can check it out right here.
Here's a brand new set of preschool printables I've created. It includes 5 different activities for teaching colors.
I have moved all of my homeschooling posts to christianhomeschoolfamily.com. You can go here to read this post at the new site.
You can go here to read this post at the new site.
Guest post by Nicole at A Living Sacrifice.
1.Dump ingredients into a bowl. You measure it and then allow them to dump it into the bowl.
2. Stir. Since they will probably not stir it as well as it needs to be done, you can tell them that you will start and they can finish.
3. Put toppings on pizza. Lay out the toppings and let them have fun spreading them on the pizza.
4. Put forks, napkins, and condiments on the table. Of course you're not going to let a very small child put the breakable dishes on the table, but they can set the forks and napkins around and help you put small items on the table like ketchup or salad dressing.
5. Sweep the floor. A child is not going to be able to get the floor completely swept, but they will feel like such a big boy or girl using the broom. It will probably keep them occupied for a while. You can also teach them how to hold the dustpan for you while you sweep the dirt into it.
6. Tear up salad greens. If salad is on the menu, you can keep children occupied tearing the lettuce. They may even do a better job at it than you!
7. Wash dishes. Give them a chair, a sink full of soapy water, and some unbreakable dishes, and let them have at it! They may end up a little bit wet, and you will most likely have to re-do the dishes, but they will have fun! They will also be developing the skills they need to wash them them right way when they get a little older.
8. Dry dishes. If you're not in the mood for a wet kitchen, you could wash and let them dry.
9. Chop Vegetables with an enclosed chopper. If you have a hand chopper that is enclosed, they could take a turn at chopping.
10. Help you unload the dishwasher. Kids as young as age 1 love to help unload the silverware from the dishwasher. They can hand you one piece of silverware at a time while you put them away.
Children will probably not do everything perfectly in the kitchen, and you may get frustrated when they use the spoon more often as a bat than as a stirring utensil. But when you allow them to help, they will develop skills that will allow them to really be a help in the future. You are also spending valuable time with them, and they will know by the time you spend how much you love them.
What did I miss? I'm sure there are more things that kids can do in the kitchen that I didn't think to put on this list. I'd love for you to leave a comment and give some more ideas!
For even more ideas and practical advice for getting kids involved in the kitchen, check out Adventures With Kids! In the Kitchen. It's normally $14.95, but when you buy it as part of the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle, you'll get it plus another $1000 worth (yes, that's one thousand dollars) of resources for $29.97!
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