children&#039;s activities en-US 10 Budget Design Ideas for a Kids' Playroom <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-budget-design-ideas-for-a-kids-playroom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family" title="family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want to make a cool place for your kids to play, but don't want to spend a fortune? Whether you have an entire room or just a dedicated corner, there are a number of ways to make an affordable play space using some creativity, smart shopping, and items you already have around the house. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="">The Best Money Tools and Toys for Every Age Group</a>)</p> <h2>1. Turn a Wall Into a Chalkboard</h2> <p>A nice touch in any child's play area is a chalkboard. Save the money on fancy easel displays or a full-blown hanging board and just paint a wall area with chalkboard paint. This type of paint is now available in any color and transforms your wall into an actual, erasable chalkboard for a fraction of the cost. <a target="_blank" href="">Benjamin Moore</a> has a great guide to chalkboard paints, as well as some excellent ideas on how to use these paints beyond the walls.</p> <h2>2. Make Your Own Storage</h2> <p><a target="_blank" href="">Storage containers are a necessity</a> to corral the sea of toys most kids seem to have. A great and attractive way to do this on the cheap is to decorate large, sturdy shipping boxes or extra-large diaper boxes. You can try ideas like covering the boxes in brown packaging paper and letting the kids paint or scribble on them. Or, if you are going for a more sophisticated look in a common area, find fabric you love and cover the boxes using glue. I took a hodgepodge of fabric pieces I had lying around and glued them to a giant shipping box to use in our playroom. It makes a great stuffed animal holder.</p> <h2>3. Find Cheap Seating</h2> <p>If you are handy sewing, then by all means making a square floor cushion for the kids to lounge on is easy and economical. However, if you are less than jazzed to fire up a sewing machine, there are still some cheap options. Check out affordable floor pillows and poofs from crafters at <a target="_blank" href="">Etsy</a>, where there are always some very economical, hand-made styles. Don't forget to check sale areas and clearance racks at superstores and discount stores, where there are usually some decent choices, too.</p> <h2>4. Decorate the Walls</h2> <p>Even if your kids are not budding artists, there has to be something they have made in school or at home that can easily get framed and hung on the wall. Some of my three-year-old's abstracts are perfect for this cause. Find a discount frame, and <a target="_blank" href="">you have instant wall decor</a>. Personalizing the space with such creations can add flair to a designated kid's corner or playroom and also make the artist proud.</p> <h2>5. Install Sensible Shelving</h2> <p>If you are looking to add some shelves or small bookcases, many inexpensive options are available to accomplish the task. Some options, such as storage cubes and crates, only cost a few dollars. Single wall shelves that you can install yourself, like those from <a target="_blank" href="">Ikea</a>, are also great options often found for under $20. Or, make a corner useful and look for some budget-friendly, free-standing or wall-installed corner shelves sold at many big box stores. For the more adventurous DIY types, consider other affordable solutions, like <a target="_blank" href="">making your own bookshelves</a>. The possibilities are endless.</p> <h2>6. Look Beyond Kid's Furniture</h2> <p>Often, children's furniture has a huge markup compared to non-kid items. With a little creativity, however, you don't need to buy super expensive kid's furniture to make your playroom complete. Look for cheap coffee tables, other low-height tables, stools, or ottomans that can do double duty as children's tables or seating. I randomly searched online to find a padded, faux leather, living room ottoman for our young daughters to use. There are no sharp corners and it's the perfect height, and it cost all of $40. Or search online to track down kid's tables and chairs on sale, and avoid paying the hefty mark up that many name brand furniture retailers charge for full price items.</p> <h2>7. Organize an Art Area</h2> <p>For kids that like to draw or make crafts, consider designating one of your table finds as an art center. You can easily use your table to keep art supplies lined up in containers and within easy reach. Clean and reuse small jars, such as old jam or salsa jars, to hold pencils, markers, and paintbrushes. You can also paint or wrap ribbon around these holders for a decorative touch. Shoeboxes, which can also be embellished to your liking, are great to store crayons and paper scraps, while small jewelry boxes and old spice jars can hold anything small from beads to glitter.</p> <h2>8. Install Replaceable Flooring</h2> <p>Kids like to play on the floor. This means that any flooring can get worn or messy. Find a cheap carpet that works in your play space to not only create a comfy place to sit, but also limit the damage to your area rug or hardwood. Carpet tiles are a cheap way to accomplish the task and can be re-arranged and cleaned easily as compared to a rug. There are also foam kid's floor tiles and mats, which often cost a bit more than carpet tiles, but are still pretty affordable, not to mention extra cushiony for smaller kids.</p> <h2>9. Monogram on a Dime</h2> <p>Kids love stuff with their names on it. Using monograms on the wall or as labels in a play space is a nice way to decorate and stay organized. You can do cheap stencils on the wall for a just a few dollars by investing in some paint and a craft shop stencil. Or you can find affordable papier mache or large cardboard alphabet letters at craft stores, which can be painted and mounted on the wall or just placed on a shelf. You can also make attractive name labels on your own computer using free templates online, such as the ones found at <a target="_blank" href="">Better Homes and Gardens</a>, which are great for labeling toy boxes and containers.</p> <h2>10. Source Affordable Dry Erase and Bulletin Boards</h2> <p>You can easily add a bulletin board or dry erase board to the wall of any play area for well under $10. Dollar stores sell small dry erase boards that you can line up in a row for kids to scribble on or play games. Craft stores and discount home stores also have bulletin board options for older kids looking to hang pictures or artwork. Little touches like these can help make the play area personalized and more inviting.</p> <p><em>What are your best kids' playroom design ideas? Please share in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Kelly Medeiros</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Easy Ways to Keep Your Family Organized</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Re-Nesting: Tips for Moving Back in With Your Parents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Make Your Own Curtains</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Closet Bedrooms That Are Surprisingly Spacious</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Things to Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Home Organization budget decorating children's activities games kids' room Thu, 11 Jul 2013 10:24:30 +0000 Kelly Medeiros 980436 at 15 Free Ways to Entertain Kids for an Afternoon <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-free-ways-to-entertain-kids-for-an-afternoon" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="kid" title="kid" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>School's out for summer, and you know what that means &mdash; tiny people will be terrorizing your house on a daily basis. But that doesn't have to happen. With this list of free activities for kids, you can keep the tykes occupied and satisfied, all without going broke. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="">Summer Freebies and Bargains for Kids</a>)</p> <h2>1. Snap Photos at a Nearby Park</h2> <p>Most kids have access to cameras these days &mdash; whether it's mom or dad's point-and-shoot or the one on their phones. Facilitate <a target="_blank" href="">an appreciation for photography</a> by planning an afternoon at a park where you'll hike the grounds and snap photos of plants, trees, animals, and people. If you can find a park with a stream, pond, or lake, you'll find even more interesting critters to capture, which is sure to put a smile on the little ones' faces.</p> <h2>2. Search for Plants and Insects to Identify</h2> <p>When I was a kid, I loved to find caterpillars or lightning bugs and put them in jars as pets. The problem with that, of course, is that they die soon after from neglect or stress. Instead of hunting down bugs to enslave, consider embarking on a mini-safari with your smartphone. Armed with the <a target="_blank" href="">Bug &amp; Weed Identifier by Spectracide</a>, you can snap photos of interesting insects and plants and find out what they are instantly. This is a great way to instill an appreciation for nature while sneaking in an educational activity while school's out.</p> <h2>3. Volunteer to Beautify a Neighbor's Yard</h2> <p>If you have a neighbor who's elderly, disabled, or otherwise can't tend to their yard, offer to bring the kids over to help mow the lawn, pull weeds, plant seeds, rake leaves, sweep the porch, and perform other tasks to make your neighbor's day a little brighter. Not only will this activity enhance your neighborly bond, but you'll have the chance to teach your kids why it's important to give back to their community.</p> <h2>4. Go on a Geocaching Adventure</h2> <p>When planning this article, I put a call out on Facebook for free activity ideas in which my friends with kids participate. Several of the ideas are on this list, but this one is perhaps the most unique. I had never heard of <a target="_blank" href="">Geocaching</a> before, but I'm totally in love with it now.</p> <p>For those not familiar with the concept, Geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt, in which the participants use GPS, usually on a smartphone, to hide and seek containers called &quot;geocaches&quot; or &quot;caches&quot; anywhere in the world. Wikipedia explains &quot;a typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing into the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers or <a target="_blank" href="">ammunition boxes</a> can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value.&quot; You can expect to find plenty of caches in more populated areas, but there are likely a few near you even if your location is more remote.</p> <h2>5. Bowl at Your Local Lanes</h2> <p>This is another program to which I was alerted by a Facebook friend, and I almost couldn't believe it was real. After checking into it, however, I found out that it's totally legit &mdash; and probably one of the coolest and cheapest ways to spend a steamy (or rainy) summer afternoon indoors. All you have to do is visit <a target="_blank" href=""></a>, find the participating bowling center near you, and register your children. Once you're registered, your kids are eligible for two free games of bowling every day all summer long. That's right &mdash; EVERY day ALL summer long. Can you believe it? Almost too good to be true, but you'll soon be happy it is.</p> <h2>6. Make Refreshing Summer Treats</h2> <p>I recently picked up ice-pop molds that I'm having fun with this summer &mdash; currently they're filled with lemon-flavored iced tea &mdash; and that's just the tip of the iceberg of what you and your kids can create in the kitchen for free (or nearly so) this summer. If you have a garden full of fruits and veggies &mdash; or access to fresh berries (perhaps in a wooded area nearby where you can pick them) &mdash; turn them into tasty treats like citrusy -ades, fruity shaved ices, or refreshing flavored waters.</p> <h2>7. Get Wet at a Local Splash Park</h2> <p>Many areas &mdash; especially urban ones &mdash; are installing splash parks to <a target="_blank" href="">keep kids cool during the sweltering summer</a> months. I once visited one in Boston's Copley Square, and even as an adult I had a great time. If one of these neat &quot;H2Oasises&quot; is near you, suit up the kiddos and enjoy a day of soggy fun.</p> <h2>8. Plan a Neighborhood Parade</h2> <p>Can't afford a <a target="_blank" href="">trip to Disney</a> this summer? Gather up the other neighborhood moms and kids and work together to recreate the theme park's famous parades by creating floats and dressing up in costumes that you'll parade up and down the street for the entire block to enjoy.</p> <h2>9. Perform Skits or Short Plays</h2> <p>I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house during the summertime, and I fondly remember many afternoons spent rehearsing a self-produced a play with my friends. Our play was based on Pippi Longstocking &mdash; probably not so popular with today's youth &mdash; but there are lots of other kid-friendly themes from which to choose based on current pop culture trends that will keep them busy for days on end as they write the script, design props, memorize lines, and choose costumes. When the show is ready to go on, get the rest of the parents together for a night out at the community theater.</p> <h2>10. Throw a Dance Party</h2> <p>Afraid your kids aren't active enough this summer? Subtly introduce exercise into their routine by throwing a dance party where they can bust out their best moves with their friends while the parents enjoy a brief respite. Maybe with an adult lemonade or two.</p> <h2>11. Plan a Book-to-Film Movie Marathon</h2> <p>Pique your child's interest in summer reading by encouraging him or her to read a book that inspired a movie &mdash; there are endless titles from which to choose, so you can cater to every personality &mdash; with the promise of a movie-watching party with popcorn and candy once they're finished the book. You also can flip the script, and plan a movie day when you'll watch films inspired by books that you'll have on hand for your child to dive into after the screening.</p> <h2>12. Visit a Local Dog Park</h2> <p>If you have a dog of your own, you can make a family outing of visiting the local dog park so Fido can enjoy playtime too. But even if you don't have a pet, there's no reason why you can't visit the dog run so your little one can run and play with the neighborhood hounds. Before you head off, however, discuss the proper way to handle other people's pets along with other safety rules.</p> <h2>13. Teach Necessary Life Skills</h2> <p>This idea is more geared toward older kids who are capable of a higher level of responsibility &mdash; tweens and early teens, specifically. They may not like this activity very much, but they'll thank you eventually for teaching them how to wash their own clothes, change a flat tire, build a fire, cook a meal, and <a target="_blank" href="">perform whatever other life skills</a> you can impart to them.</p> <h2>14. Take a Trip to a Cultural Institution</h2> <p>Check into your local institutions &mdash; botanical gardens, zoos, science centers, and art museums &mdash; to see if they offer <a target="_blank" href="">free days during the summer</a>. If they do, this is a great way to get out of the house while staying cool and learning something new. You also may want to look into <a target="_blank" href="">Bank of America's Museums on Us program</a>, which provides free admission to participating museums to cardholders on the first full weekend of every month.</p> <h2>15. Set Up a Homemade Water Park</h2> <p>When it's too hot out to move, bring the water park to your own backyard by setting up sprinklers, kiddie pools, and slip-and-slides for the kids to splash around in. Get creative by letting the water run down your backyard-playground slide and make water balloons so you can have an all-family wet-and-wild battle.</p> <p><em>Have even more free afternoon activities for kids? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. 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