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20 Fun Ideas That Won't Break the Bank

by Amanda Formaro

Milk Jug Bird Feeders
Rinse out an empty plastic gallon milk jug with lid. Cut a window in the front of the jug, and make two small poke holes for the perches. Insert pencils for perches and fill the bottom of the jug with bird seed.

Juice Carton Crayon Box
Wash and dry an empty cardboard juice carton and cut off the top. Using bits and pieces of masking tape, have the children tape up the entire carton, covering all sides, the more tape the better. Use crayons to color the masking tape box. The tape makes the box sturdier and will make a great crayon holder for their desk or dresser.

Aluminum Can Crafts
Paint an empty and rinsed out tuna can with spray or acrylic paint. Decorate with glitter and glue, pom poms, buttons, lace, or stickers. These make cute holders for barrettes, pony tail holders, paper clips, rubber bands, keys, jewelry, or other small items. Using the same ideas, paint a soup or vegetable can to make a pen or pencil holder.

Coffee Can Wish Bank
Have the kids cut pictures from old magazines or draw pictures of something they want. Decorate the cans with glitter, the pictures, stickers or anything else you have around. Cut a hole in the plastic top of the can for the kids to deposit money. Each time they add money to the can, they are contributing a little bit more to the "wish" item. A great way to teach kids to save money!

Coffee Can Stilts
Using two 1-pound coffee cans, turn each can upside down so that the plastic lid is on the bottom. Using a screwdriver, poke two holes, one on each side of the can. Using several strands of yarn braided or twisted together, or some rope, thread through holes in cans. Tie off inside the can. Cans can be decorated if you like.

Jar Candles
Save the stubs of candles. When you have several saved, melt them together in a double boiler. Color the wax by adding bits of crayon to the mixture. Pour the wax into glass jelly or mason jars or metal cans. Use cotton yarn for wicks, or you can purchase a roll of wick at a craft store. Decorate the outside of the candle holder with acrylic paints.

Magazine House
Using an old catalog or magazine, cut out pictures of chairs, tables, curtains, bathroom fixtures and other furnishings. Spread out a newspaper or large sheet of drawing paper. Sketch an "open sided" house. Have children place the pictures of the furnishings in the rooms of their choice. They can cut out more pictures to redecorate their house, cut out pictures of people, toys, pets, anything they like!

Alphabet Catalog Collage
Using old toy, clothing, and plant catalogs, have the kids cut out colorful pictures that begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. Assign different letters to each child. Have them glue the pictures onto a piece of construction paper. Discuss the pictures afterward.

Paper Towel Rain Makers
Young kids love noise makers. Color, paint, and decorate paper towel rolls. Cover one end of a paper towel roll with waxed paper and close it off with a rubber band. Pour a handful or two of dried beans (split peas work well) in the open end, close open end the same as the other. Poke toothpicks through the rolls at different intervals to add a "rain shaker" sound.

Paper Towel Tube Holders
Decorate a paper towel tube with paint, markers, glitter, stickers, construction paper and crayons. This becomes a colorful carrying tube. Roll their pictures up and put inside to take to their teacher, grandparents, friends, or relatives. Some special pictures could be for their Grandparents, a special aunt or uncle, or even for a brother or sister.

Paper Plate Holders
Using two paper plates, cut one plate in half and place on top of the other plate (turn the half plate to form a pocket over the whole plate). Use a paper punch to make holes going around the outside of the plate. Use scraps of yarn and "sew" through the holes of the plate. Start and end at the top of the plate so that it can be extended about six inches and tied. Have your children color, paint or decorate their plates. Now they have their very own place to put prized possessions, notes from Mom and dad, special pictures and more.

Paper Plate Aquarium
Color an underwater scene on the "eating" side of a paper plate. Glue goldfish crackers to the scene, a couple pieces of plastic plant for seaweed, and using glue and a little sand or soft dirt, make the sea floor. Using a second paper plate, cut a circle in the middle. Cut a circle of blue plastic wrap 1 inch in diameter larger than your hole in the plate. On the "eating" side of this plate, glue the blue plastic wrap so that it covers and overlaps the hole on the plate. Glue or staple both plates together with "eating" side toward the inside. Punch a hole in the top and string a piece of yarn through the hole to hang your aquarium from the ceiling.

Treasure Shoe Box
Decorate an old shoe box and lid with construction paper, markers, paint, glue and glitter, crayons, googly eyes, stickers, lace, doilies, or whatever else you can find. Be sure to put the child's name inside the lid. This box make a great box for treasures found out in the yard, on the way home from school, or anywhere else your children "hunt".

Shadowboxes
Paint the inside of a shoebox with black or dark blue poster or acrylic paint. Alternatively, you can glue black construction paper inside the box. Using white crayons or stickers, make a night scene with stars and the moon on the black background. Get creative, use small plastic toys to create a scene inside your shadowbox, or make your own with construction paper and glue. Cut out small pictures from coloring books and color and adhere to your scene. Hang a spaceship or shooting star with a piece of string and glue.

Cartoon Strip
Make your very own cartoon adventure with crayons and a pad of paper. At the bottom of a pad, on each sheet, draw a figure (i.e., a dog). The first frame will be on the first page, second frame on the second page, and so on. Change the movement with each page. When you are finished, fan the pages with your thumb to see the show!

Create a Story
If you have several children together, this can be great fun. Give each child two or three pieces of paper. Have them each drawer a picture and write a sentence. When finished, see if they can put it together to form a story. New pages can be created as you go along. A book cover can be made from two pieces of construction paper, a hole punch, and yarn.

Number Fun
Pick a number from one to ten. Write it on a piece of paper. Ask the children to draw sets of things in that number. If the child get number four, have them draw four apples, four trees, four dogs, and so on. Have them color their pictures with crayons and markers.

Animal Jumble
Using construction or white paper, ask each child to drawn a different body part of an animal, but to have their animal be a secret. For example, have one child draw the head, another draw the tail, another the legs and so on. let the children pick the animal they want to draw. When they are done have then put the animal together with tape or glue. Have fun coming up with a name for the animal (monk-dog-lion-potamus).

Pet Rocks
Find smooth, flat or round rocks. Be sure to clean off any dirt or sand and dry completely before starting. Paint with acrylic paints. Decorate faces by using google eyes, yarn for hair, markers, glitter, and any other tidbits you like.

Bookmarks
Great for back to school or as a gift to someone you love. Make fun bookmarks with construction paper, markers, paints, and stickers. You can also use glitter, sequins, lace, doilies, buttons, and any other little bric-a-brac you have laying about. Cut strips from construction paper, painting the construction paper will make it sturdier, or you can visit the local library or office supply to have them laminated for longer lasting use. To complete the bookmark, attach a tassel make from strands of yarn.

About the Author:
Amanda Formaro is the entrepreneurial mother of four children. She and her husband live in southern Nevada. She is also the owner of FamilyCorner.com Magazine.
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If you have any educational articles, homeschooling techniques, activities for elementary aged children, parenting resources, hobbies/crafts, money-saving ideas, or family time activities, please submit them and we will be posting them soon! We would love to hear from you!



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