30 April 2009

Some News, Finally (and a Plea for Help)

It is official: I'm writing a book!

It's probably not the book you're expecting it to be. It's not the story of me and John and the twins (although that's under discussion, too). This first book is going to be a collection of free/very inexpensive stuff to do as a family, to be published by Hallmark. It will be organized to span a calendar year, with one activity per week. The activities are intended for preschool/grade-school aged kids and their grown-ups.

I'm very excited to be working on this, but also a little daunted, so here is where I shamelessly ask you all for help. Free/inexpensive entertainment seems to me to fall into the same category as quick, healthy meals. We all have our few favorites, and we seem to do the same ones over and over. My quick list of free/inexpensive activities gets me about 1/3 of the ideas I need. Who can help me out? Feel free to post ideas in comments or to e-mail them to me. If you're thinking, "Screw you, come up with your own ideas!", I hear you. I'm embarrassed to ask—I'm quite awful at asking for help. Given the book's production schedule, however, I need to use all the resources I have available to me, and you, my readers, are one of my best.

Thanks in advance. I'm going to be hunkered down writing for the next few weeks, but I'll try to come for air and post. It will be nice to be occupied for a while rather than just preoccupied. Being preoccupied takes up so much brain space.


Anonymous said...

I AM SO FRICKIN' HAPPY FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cobblestone said...


Scavenger Hunts. I've done them for neices and nephews. They require some planning but they are great for thinking and the kids leading around the grown-ups.

Single Parent Dad said...

That's brilliant news. Good on you.

Will have a think about ideas.

Mommy, Esq. said...

That is so great - congratulations! I can't say I have that many ideas that you probably don't already have covered but can I say "car trip" would be a good one. Minimum of 2 hrs without any DVD player. Just sing-alongs and snacks getting you to where you wanted to go. With some car games in the mix (like the alphabet one).

Kate said...

Congrats!!! What great news!

Amber said...

Hooray! Congrats!

Here are some of my ideas (which are not very original, but hopefully they will help).

Sew a pillow

Color on tee shirts with markers

Tie-dye tee shirts or bedding

Make things with pasta:
-photo frames

Make/fly a kite

Make Christmas ornaments out of dough

Make strings of popcorn/cranberries for the Christmas tree

Plant a seed

Go to the local park/wading pool

Go on a nature walk


Buy passes to the zoo, local museums or amusement parks and use them all year long.

Volunteer as a family at the food bank

Sign up (as a family) to do a walk for a charity

Make a large picture by finger painting with chocolate pudding

Plan and cook a 4-course meal together

Plan and inexpensively renovate the playroom

Make a birdhouse out of material around the house

Make a scrapbook of your recent vacation/school year/exciting event using items found around the house

I hope these are the kinds of things that you are looking for, and I hope I've helped!

Best of luck. :)

Snickollet said...


Scavenger hunts are definitely on the list. Fun for the kids *and* the adults. In fact, John used to do scavenger hunts for me on the rare occasions that he bought me gifts.


These are just the kinds of ideas I'm looking for. Geocaching is BRILLIANT. I love that one.

Thanks, everyone!

Becky said...

That is so exciting! Congrats. Let's see if I can come up with some ideas:
*Make an obstacle course in the house
*Playing in a sprinkler
*Make-your-own pretzels (or some other inexpensive food)
*Home-made MadLibs (my mom used to make them for my birthday parties)
*Write a home-made book
*Chalk drawing in the driveway
*Hide and seek
*Singing/making up songs

me said...

Congrats on your book!!!

A freebie idea:
When I grew up we would take a pack lunch or dinner, some lawnchairs and head to the airport where people gathered to watch planes land and take off. There was even a radio station where you could hear the pilots calling in. It sounds a bit lame, but I have to say looking back it's one of my favorite memories.

Beth said...

Have a restaurant night at your home. The kids get formally seated at the table. (This is especially fun if you have a dining room that you never use!) They get to order from a menu. (You can either make this ahead of time, or have the kids make menus ahead of time.) Mom and Dad serve as the waiters. The kids order their meals and then they get to order dessert. Follow up with a movie!

I can't actually take credit for this idea. It goes to Oh I Likey Dat!

Colleen said...

We have a very large pet store nearby (and no zoo, alas) so we love to go visit the various animals in the pet store. They even have a separate room with 6 or 7 parrots(!). It's great fun.

Tamara said...

Indoor picnics on rainy days.

Blanket forts.

Caroling around the holidays.

Progressive story-writing: you write a line, one kid writes the next line, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Backyard camping or indoor 'forts' out of sheets/blankets. Either way, pack picnic meals/snacks/etc, lay out the sleeping bags, build a fire (fireplace/firepit), tell stories, and play games.

Anonymous said...

turn over rocks to look for rolypolys and worms, etc.
count animals on a walk
go berry picking in season
go swimming
plant a small container garden
dye easter eggs
pick wild flowers
go the beach, look for shells
look for rocks
look for leaves
petstore/spca/humane society
make special pancakes/cookies

cv said...

volunteer at the local spca or soup kitchen (best for school aged kids, not toddlers). This might be a good one for the Thanksgiving time-frame. You could list volunteering ideas.

Anonymous said...

We always did a family camp out for New Year's Eve. Everyone in their pajamas in the den by 7 p.m. We'd start a new jigsaw puzzle that had to be finished by midnight. Slumber party foods. Games, reading, movies--anything was OK, as long as we all stayed together in the den. We'd have noisemakers and sparkling grape juice. Each person wrote a resolution in a journal, and we read aloud resolutions from last year. Everyone slept on sleeping bags in the same room--parents included. It sounds cheesey, but the kids wanted to do it until they hit their early teens (at which time they didn't want to do anything until they turned 20, but that's another story).

Anonymous said...

I don't have any ideas (yet), but congrats! Very exciting for you. I'll think....

Melissa said...

I 2nd the pet store idea. When my twins were small they didnt have the attention span for the zoo, so we'd spend 30 mins to an hour sometimes at a pet store. Honestly it was just as exciting for them... we called it "the toddler zoo" and everything is just their size.

I dont know if you can mention stores by their name in your book, but we really enjoy the 1 hr free babysitting at IKEA. We often enjoy a very inexpensive meal afterwards at the resteraunt. If I'm with DH we just sit in the sofa section and chat (presuming I have no shopping to do) If I'm by myself I bring a book to read or soemthing to knit and have a tea in the resteraunt by myself. FREE. A whole hour. Lovely!!

Sarah said...

Don't know how safe this is, but as a kid we used to slide down the stairs in a sleeping bag. That would entertain us for about a week during the summers. And we'd build a fort of pillows and blankets to slide into at the bottom (if that makes it safer--hahah).

Anonymous said...

In the winter, I bring in buckets of snow and dump them in the kitchen sink. Kids will play with them for hours while they melt--and I don't have to bundle anyone up in winter clothes.

Fill cookie sheets with dried beans or rice, add a handful of Bob the Builder toys, and you're set for at least an hour.

Shaving cream is a great toy--squirted on a cookie sheet or on the walls of the bathtub with no water in it. It's a great medium on which to draw or write or just squish around with your hands. (The bathtub is especially great, because you can just hose down the little critters when they're finished.)

Anna said...

Rubber boots and a local pond/lake/creek. Bonus points for adding a muddy dog and a tennis ball in rural areas...

beyond said...

yay great news! congratulations!

Cari said...

Every fall, my dad and grandpa would take me on an acorn hunt. We'd gather as many acorns as possible in a coffee can/bag/whatever and then come home and count them. We'd plant a couple and then my grandpa would go back out and dump the acorns in a couple key spots so that the squirrels could still have them for the winter. I LOVED finding them and counting them -- it's how I learned to count big numbers; sometimes we'd get over 300. Also, sometimes we'd make a game of it by seeing who found the most.

He would also hollow some out with a pocket knife and make little things for me like a mini-tea set, pipe (toothpick for the part you put in your mouth) [ok, that's not so PC these days) and strung them together to make a necklace.

Cari said...

Dive for pennies at the local pool.

Learn how to skip rocks at a creek.

Local historical sites.

Visit a dog park and watch (through the fence if kids are scared) the dogs play. [I see lots of parents of toddlers bring their kids to the fence when I'm at the dog park.]

Make ice pops with one of those at-home popsicle molds.

Get a tape recorder and record a sing-along, then play it back and giggle.

Make your own board game.

Play Snail (MUCH more fun than hopscotch): http://www.ehow.com/how_4494347_play-snail-hopscotch.html

Older kids (like age 7-8) can learn to finger-knit: http://www.how-to-knit-guide.com/finger-knitting.html or spool-knit to make a "snake."

Draw your dream house (with elevators, indoor pool, trapeze, catwalk, lofts, upside-down ceiling gardens... use your imagination).

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Awesome! A book I would definitely buy. Our latest fun thing to do is to make really huge boxes into forts and playhouses. Just decorating them can take hours! (Most hardware/appliance stores would gladly give away a box or two.)

Anonymous said...

Have your child come up with a list of questions for their grandmother (or other adult) and then record them while they interview her. It's a fun exercise and great for future documentation.

Make holiday cards.

Set up a picture website.

Plant flowers.

Make snow ice cream.

Attend storytime at the local library.

OTR sister said...

Mom had a bunch of puppets that my brother and I would use to create and perform puppet shows. After rehearsing for a week or two, we invited the neighbors and charged 25 cents apiece.

Taking all the cushions off the sofas and jumping around on them.

Play gyms at neighborhood centers.

Computer games at pbskids.org

django's mommy said...


SO excited for you!!

We did a LOT of sliding down the stairs in sleeping bags... hehe. We also played 'Hot Lava' a lot, after having built elaborate forts out of pillow/blankets/giant Tinker Toys.

My next door neighbor and I for some reason thought it was fun to draw a giant hopscotch from her house to mine.

We also did a lot of... hm. Baserunning-type races? Like naming a series of things we had to touch, and then racing to touch all of them.

Making popcorn the old fashioned way, on the stove. Roasting marshmellows (can do indoors on a gas stove).

Oh, this is probably really dangerous, but SO FUN-- my mom had this 9x13 electric hot plate that she covered with aluminum foil. We would draw on it with crayons (which melted), and then gently place white paper on top and peel it off- you get really cool looking inkblot-type art.

Shrinky dinks

Abby said...

If you don't do it all the time, and it's available: public transportation. Kids who are used to cars find getting on a city bus quite exciting. I sometimes take mine on the bus to a thrift shop, let everyone pick a $1 toy, and we take the bus home with our haul. Use a route finder if there is one and (duh) have the whole schedule with you if your original one doesn't work out. Check for handicapped-accessible routes if you are traveling with a stroller, and try to keep to a 2:1 child:adult ratio if possible. More than that gets hard in crowds.

Joy said...

milk carton boats at the local creek. :)

Sarah said...

use ketchup and mustard to fingerpaint . . . on the kitchen table! (make sure they aren't too cold from the fridge, though).

Get a bucket of water and a wall brush, and paint the brick of the house, or fence, or the sidewalk on a hot day - the water evaporates in about a minute, and then they can 'paint' again.

mix bleach with water. Use q-tips dipped in the solution to 'paint' on construction paper.

Abby said...

Oh yeah, and pretzel alphabets. That's easy and keeps them busy for a long time. There's the dough-making, then go do something else for a while, then the snake-rolling and letter-shaping. Then of course, baking and eating!

Leah said...

We like to take walks from our house and I let my daughter (7) pick which way we go. Along the way we point out interesting houses, cars, trees, flowers etc. We almost always end up in a new location. We love to take bike rides, go to the park, the ocean, the woods. For inside activities she loves arts and crafts. Painting flower pots and planting seeds. Build forts in the house.

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! I don't have any killer ideas that aren't already covered, but wanted to say that this sounds awesome!
(although perhaps improv games, simple ones, which I loved from about age 9 and up... i can send specific examples if interested).

Megan said...

Congratulations! You're going to be awesome :-)

Maybe this would be better for older kids : getting inexpensive durable (digital) cameras and going on photography tours/walks/journeys. The next day (or next weekend) can be spent uploading and looking through the pictures. THEN you can print them off or order prints and frame / mount / hang / tape to the walls / whatever works.

Rjoyce said...

Congratulations!! Baking is always fun and cheap. Little children love decorating cookies or cupcakes. When I say little I think 6 or 7. Also dress up using items in your closet (or old clothes). Neighborhood block parties are fun too.

Sylvie said...

Ooh congratulations, that sounds very fun. I'm sure you already would have all my ideas, but what about design your own swine flu face masks...OK not funny, but we are going bonkers here!! I'll stick with collages, bread making, letter writing, making a surprise gift and giving it to a neighbor to make their day...

JNU3 said...

Congrats! I don't have kids (yet) but here a some things I loved as a kid:

*Story time at the library
*Picnic lunch @ a park
*Make snow ice cream
*Put on a play
*Play dress up with old clothes
*Make bubbles
*Plant a tree/garden/flowers
*Bake (we liked to make monkey bread)
*Combine and bake your old nubby crayons to make swirled ones (in cupcake pans)
*Finger paint
*Make breakfast together and eat it in bed on trays
*Make homemade fruit leather (like fruit roll ups)
*Visit a local farm or petting zoo
*Camp out in the backyard

shaynee said...


Here are a few suggestions:

Make your own "sensory tank"--fill a bucket with rice, bury some marbles or plastic animals in the rice, and add some measuring cups and spoons for scooping and "cooking."

Make "monster" puppets with brown paper bags, google eyes, shapes cut from construction paper, etc. When you're done, stage a puppet show.

Bake something for a local shelter or other charity and drop off the food. (This is good for younger kids who wouldn't be able to volunteer at a soup kitchen or such.)

On a warm summer day, turn kids loose outside with paintbrushes and buckets of water so they can "paint" whatever they want.

It's a throwback to the '70s, but if you have access to a metal detector and a beach or wooded area, have at it.

On a slightly larger scale, arrange a week-long craft camp with a few other families who have kids of the same age. Each day, a different family is responsible for an art project or craft. You'll have one day of chaos in your house, but in exchange you get a few days where the kids are occupied elsewhere.

Rose Connors said...

Great news!

When I was a kid we had absolutely no money, so everything was free. Most of the games I remember playing were all about imagination. Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, tea parties with all the dolls and stuffed animals we could find.

In Portland we have a few city parks with a water feature for the kids in the summer, and I noticed one when I was in Boston last summer. These things are hugely popular and fun, especially for pre-schoolers.

My niece, who is four, loves to dance, dance, dance. I'm guessing this could kill lots of time, and there must be an age where kids are open to learning some ballroom steps or a fun linedance routine, which is still based on ballroom, but might seem more fun than pairing up.

Best of luck!

Watercolor said...

Check on the airport viewing suggestion before you include it. Not sure that is allowed anymore...? Or at least it isn't at large airports I am fairly sure....

Miss Lady Finger said...

How exciting! Ok, here I go;
1. Take a plastic sheet or bag to the nearest hill and slide down, run up, slide down.....
2. Go rockpool investigating at your nearest beach.
3. Go to an animal shelter and give some animals cuddles and love.
4. Go to your nearest train station. Take a train ride (hopping in the first carriage). Ask to visit the train driver and have a go blowing the whistle!
5. Go to a marina and look at all the yachts. Play "if I were rich, I would own this yacht".
6. Contact your local conservational crew - join in on their public tree planting days.
7. Go to a glass blowing studio and watch the masters at work.
8. As above for pottery studio.
9. Go on a small road trip. Stop at all the craft stores and educate your children in arts and crafts.
10. Put on your own circus in your front yard. Invite your neighbours to watch all the kids' new tricks!
Have fun writing....I can't wait to see the final product!

roberta said...

School playgrounds. Every elementary school has a playground, and every town has at least one elementary school. When my kids were 2, 3, & 4, we'd do a "playground day" once a month: visit 4 or 5 playgrounds, for about 30 minutes apiece.

In the summer, we'd often paint the driveway. The kids had a lot of partially-used painting kits (they often came with coloring books) and I never cared for painting indoors (too messy!) but outside, they could be easily hosed down afterwards. The driveway would remain decorated until the next heavy rainstorm.

Also, our local newspaper would sell the endrolls of paper inexpensively - the kids loved it. They could draw giant outlines of themselves, wrap themselves up, or make huge banners.

Anonymous said...

cooking is always good (and cheaper than going out)... very little ones can stir (cakes, etc)-- my nieces (ages 3&4) really liked chopping nuts--there's a gadget that my sister picked up at a thrift store where you add nuts to the top and then the girls would crank the handle to grind them.

you could learn about a different culture/part of the world-- I brought my nieces little stick-on Bindis (found at the local Goodwill), which they loved to wear. and we made dal, which was easy... and some kids even like dal and rice!

gardening (I think someone mentioned this)-- but starting tomato plants to sprout indoors, then planting it outside, watering, weeding, etc. it's good to play in the dirt-- and growing vegetables is good because the kids *might* be tempted to eat what they grow.

allie o said...

I am so excited! Mark me for a few copies, I would love to have one for my "someday" family and it sounds like it will be a great gift for friends! Here are some ideas:

• Indoor/Backyard Camping trip (all lights off, microwave smores, ghost stories, tents and sleeping bags)
• Bake together and bring the goodies to a soup kitchen (good karma!)
• Breakfast for dinner (pjs and slippers welcome!)
• Bring kids to work for a day
• Write letters to family and friends who live far away.
• Record a music video, complete with rock star outfits (so many digital cameras can do it now!)

Good luck Snick!

Anonymous said...

* picnics in the living room
* picnics in the backyard
* during the summertime (at least in boston) they often do free friday night movies at the hatch shell... I'd bet there are free movies in other towns... OR...
*in summertime, or where there's a warm climate, hang a white sheet on a clothesline, borrow the projector from work (if you have access to one), and project a dvd onto the sheet. invite friends over and pass around popcorn.

tmarie said...


Anonymous said...

Congrats on the book deal!

Here's an idea: Do some science experiments/games together. For example, preschoolers or very early school-aged kids can make a volcano using play doh with baking soda and white vinegar to create the lava. Mine loves this! Of course older school-aged kids would want to pick a more advanced/detailed project (not sure what to suggest for the older kids).

mek said...

When I was growing up, we had a book called What to Do When There's Nothing to Do - and some of our favorites were the classic build a fort. But also making puppets out of paper lunch bags, collecting leaves and making a collage (with flour-water paste for glue), and making a bouncy ball out of rubber bands. Out of season stuff like a "beach party" indoors in January - everyone in bathing suits, smores over the gass flame, etc. - is fun, too.

Anonymous said...

Yeah for you!!!
I know our girls loved to volunteer at a local animal shelter and once a week we would go walk dogs. It's a free activity and promotes social actvisim. We would talk about how the animals got there. Neglect, abuse and old people who had to give them up but were glad to have someplace for them to go, which opened up a whole new line of dialogue.
Geocaching - GPS's do cost money, but quite a number of state parks have ones they allow people to borrow. geocaching.com We still love doing this!

Anonymous said...

letterboxing.org too. No equipment required except a rubber stamp!...and I saw someone said caching, should really read first!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the book deal. Many great ideas have already been posted. You have very creative and resourceful readers!

Among my kids favorite things to do when they were small was take a picnic to the train station during rush hour and watch the trains arrive and depart.

Also, dancing in the living room after dinner was so much fun. Our kids have very fond memories of this and they know SO many song lyrics as a result!

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Supercongratulations! This was unbloggable?!? It's just plain fantastic!

I have a million ideas but I will write them up under separate cover for you. When you say "free," how free do you mean? We assume they have paint around, right? Details please. (I'm very artsy).



d. said...

Congrats! That's awesome.
What we like to do:
go to museums on days when they're free (generally one evening a week, here in Canada)

Anonymous said...

Yay Snick!! How exciting!

For free fun we like to go to the library for storytime or just to play with their books and toys for a while. A change of scene is so good.

Sorry I've been out of the picture for long. Life has been hectic and I'm really behind on a lot of blogs. Been thinking about you and hoping all is well.


Anonymous said...

Make play dough from scratch. My daughters and I loved doing that. It was the best. . . all it takes is a lot of salt, a bit of flour, water and cream of tartar.

Tempe, Arizona

Anonymous said...

A bus ride around town.

In our town, a ferry ride, to no where.

washing money (no, no , not money laundering, but washing coins until their nice and shiny. This is stolen from WiseCraft, where I first read it, but it's a great idea).

Melanie said...

Cut and paste! I would spend HOURS as a kid cutting and pasting magazines and catalogs. I still do it - (scrapbooks). Furnish a dream house, paper doll wardrobes, rainbows, (seed catalogs are great for those.)

Anonymous said...

A few suggestion:

Scavanger hunt using cameras. Form 2 teams and go around taking pictures of things from a list made up ahead of time.

Take your favorite book and make it into a play. Dress up like the characters and use the book as the script. I used to do this with friends all the time when I was little.

Congrats on the book!

Jane said...

Congrats!! Great news! I will definitely buy this book.

I am too tired right now to think of any ideas, having pushed myself bedtime to see the end of the Celtics game, but will let you know if I think of any.

Go, you!

Sadia said...


My newest free activity with the kiddos is attending our local farmers' market. Outdoor time + in-sidewalk fountain + off-leash dogs + live music + fresh produce = FUN!

Our local hospitals and parks host a lot of free festivals featuring local kid-oriented bands. I find a lot of cool kid activities here in Austin by checking out the Biscuit Brothers' calender. Perhaps that can be translated into something more generic, like "stalk your local kiddy band"?

Anonymous said...

I second the transportation suggestions. If you live in a city with a light rail or subway, kids love riding in the trains. When my son was a toddler, we would hope on our muni train for a few blocks just because. Also, spent a whole afternoon watching freight trains go by.
Make a train cars from juice boxes covered with construction paper, and bottle caps or corks for wheels.
decorating cupcakes
Letting kids play with an old digital camera. Great in markets, running errands, or visiting a museum they might not be too interested in.
dance party in the house

4whatitsworth said...

So this one probably is more than a weekend, but go green by teaching them the fun of growing a simple garden.

Jill said...

High school sporting events. Fall football, then basketball, ... all of it is fun, especially when the band plays. Oh! Don't forget gymnastics. And with little ones it is okay to leave early.

What a great time for you. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read the other responses but I find that festivals of all sorts are great fun. They're usually written up in the local paper and offer good opportunities to get out and about and see new things and new places.

How exciting for you to be writing this book - blessings to you!

Rachel said...

Congratulations! Can't wait to buy a copy.

Anonymous said...

I give my kids each a plastic bag and we walk around the neighborhood picking up trash. Whomever has the fullest bag wins.

We find the coolest stuff on these walks. My younger son found a toy car he loves, we found a real baby snake, and more bugs to look at than you can count.

Anonymous said...

Visiting a pet shop- a big country kind of one with sheep and chickens and not just fish/puppies and kittens.
(This might only work for very young children, but still very fun!)

Put up a tent in the backyard and have a fire pit and roast marshmallows

Anusha said...

Paper dolls, and making little outfits for them which could be fastened onto them. This kept my sister and me occupied for hours!! And it is sooo much fun. The other option is doing a city tour (worked wonders with my 7 year old niece) with public transport. She couldn't stop talking about it for days....... and public transport is exciting for kids, you see so much more than in a car!

Susan said...

WOW - won't leave any suggestions cuz I think I have read all mine already ;) Happy for you. My kids are past that stage but I would be interested in it for friends or future grandkids ;) I like your writing very much!! Have fun with it.

Joyce said...

What a great, great, book this will be! I can't wait to buy it!

When we were little, we would have the "Letter of the Day Meals". So if the letter of the day was "S", we would have a TOTAL hodge-podge of a meal -- Spaghetti, soup, sandwiches, etc.

Other fun things --

* Go to a musical instrument store and look at the instruments and talk about the sounds they make. We would do this with my dad, and at the end, he'd get us a kazoo, and we'd go home, tooting our kazoos.

* Freeze things in ice cubes and see how they look, and then see what happens to them when they melt. We were enchanted by freezing grass, rocks, etc., etc. Just make sure you don't put one in your drink!

* Pajama day. DO EVERYTHING in your pajamas. Even if you have to go out and run and errand. People may look at you funny, but you'll always remember the day you got to go out in your pajamas! Parents may be a bit more flexible and use sweatpants or yoga pants as "pajamas". :)

Angela said...

That is such amazing and wonderful news. Congratulations!
You have wonderful commenters, they've given you some really great ideas, if I think of something, I'll come back and add something.

Anonymous said...

Planting a flower garden, treasure hunts, painting bird houses, fidning a new park to play in, going on a walk and taking a picnic, oh and my personal favorite "lets help Mommy clean out the closets" - they actually love this because they find all the treasures that have been lost for months, baking cookies and delivering them to neighbors, lemonade stand.

Nancy said...

OMG!!! Go you :) That ROCKS.

I haven't read all of the comments, and I don't have a lot of suggestions - so I'm sorry if they are repeats...

* paint pottery
* "paint" with water on a chalkboard or a wall or a window
* Sidewalk chalk murals done by the whole family
* create "ME's" - find long, large paper and trace around each person (1 per sheet) and then color it in

Good luck!! I can't wait to read it :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Our daughter loves this activity. We call it shaving cream fun. If you have a water table for kids, it works perfect to use that. If you do not, we cover a table outside with a plastic tablecloth, spray shaving cream all over it, and the kids love it. We bring out all the bath toys, little people toys, cars, boats, whatever. They also love to put food coloring in the shaving cream so then you have all different colors. We've actually had shaving cream birthday parties and the kids love it. We tell everyone to bring a large t-shirt or art smock. It's definitely one activity kids love and easy clean up with a hose in the yard. Have fun.

grekrs said...

Wow. Looks like you are getting a lot of help. Here are a few things that I do with the kids... check your local community activities (and those of surrounding areas). I found a community that does music in the park for kids etc. We go on a "park tour". We drive to different parks in the area. Kinda fun. When we are out doing other things the kids are scouting for parks. When they see one they shout out and we visit that one in the near future. We also check out activities at the library (and surrounding libraries- as long as you are a member of any library). Ours does movies, story hour, craft time (and we are in a small community). Call ahead to visit the local firehouse and police station. They are happy to have kids. Visit art fairs in the summer. It's free to walk! In the fall we visit apple orchards and they have play areas, corn mazes, etc (fun stuff for kids).

I look forwar dot your book. I need ideas.

Sandi said...

I sent you an email with an article wrote that hopefully will be helpful.

spa said...

Big congratulations on the book contract!

Someone suggested shaving cream--yes! We used to sit the kids at the kitchen counter, give them each a can, and let them go to town. Hours of fun, especially if food coloring is involved. Bonus: counters get amazingly shiny!

Make "concoctions" or "scientific experiments" with whatever's in the pantry and especially the aforementioned food coloring.

Anything done inside a blanket fort (indoors or outdoors) is fun.

Get out all hair accessories as well as ribbon and bows and scarves etc and let everyone do each other's hair. I spent many a day with 400 tiny ponytails when my kids were little.

Teach the dog a new trick.

Make huge signs, drawings, tracings on huge sheets of paper. I got the end of a roll from a local printer--lasts for years.

Make homemade pizza or cookies in funny shapes.

mlg said...

Yey Snick!

Sorry to say I did not read through all of the comments to see if these are repeats...

Puppy / Kitten Cuddling - Go to your local shelter and cuddle and play with and socialize the animals waiting for new homes. The kid and I signed her up as a volunteer for weekly kitten cuddling because it was a volenteer thing she could do.

Plant a garden and watch it grow! Use the food you grow in family cooking adventures.

Family cooking adventures. Starting with the menu prep and shopping all the way through to cleaning.

Make a video for grandparents or other loved ones.

Make a web page together and spend a could hours per week updating it.

Wash the car

Get fabric scraps from store and hand sew doll clothes, hot pads, kitchen towels, etc.

Tie Dye!

Go on a hike

Go on a rock / shell collecting adventure

write a letter to grandparents

walk the dog.. walk the neighbor's dog.

Go roller / Ice skating

Paint a bedroom

write a story

Gone on a picture taking scvenger hunt.

Melissa said...

So happy for you, would love to know how it happened! Here are a couple of suggestions:

-In New England around March/April- some local farms have Maple sugar tapping from the trees (and free samples yum!)

-When my daughter was young we would have candlelight dinners (make dinner and then put some candles in the middle of table and shut the lights off except for the candles- was a lot of fun for us)

-Home salons for girls - soak feet in bins, put lotion on, do our nails and toenails with "chick flicks" for us (Princess Diaries was my daughter's favorite)

-Rice bins- fill a bin with rice and get different size cups, slotted spoons and toys (also could use water instead of rice)

Good luck and can't wait for the book!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the book deal! You rock! As for ideas, what about a trip to the local library? Maybe for a storytime, or maybe just to sit in the children's section looking at comics and picture books for half an hour.

We also like to go to the parking lot of McDonalds, first thing in the morning, and chase the hell out of the seagulls. If not McDonalds, seagulls surely congregate in some empty morning parking lot near you. It's top-of-lung-screaming running fun.

Lynnette said...

I like this website for inexpensive things to do in my area. http://mom22kids.wordpress.com/

Some of it is specific to the area, but some things are general enough that there are surely equivalents in other areas. Lots of good ideas, anyway. HTH!

Julie said...


Here's an inexpensive thing that my kids and I are having fun with.

Every time we get a $1 or $5 dollar bill we log it onto the website: www.wheresgeorge.com We bought a small stamp and stamp each bill that comes through our house and the stamp says"Please report this bill on www.wheresgeorge.com" We've had some hits from our dollars as they travel around the world.

LauraC said...

WOO HOO!!!!!! This is awesome awesome news. Congratulations!

I haven't read all the comments yet but here are some of our free/cheap ideas:

* Visit a pet store.
* RedBox movies or check out movies from the library
* Library/bookstore story times
* Edible playdough (made from cake mix)
* Make forts from sheets right out of the laundry

Tricia L. said...

As a single mother of twin teenage boys, I have spent most of their lives hunting for inexpensive things to do. :)

Some of our favorites:
Road trip (with no DVD player)

Sand art (Instead of buying colored sand, I would buy multicolored chalk and put sugar on paper plates and color it).

Pet store or dog park

Being tourists in our hometown

Picnic in the backyard

Making up card games

Making puppets with old socks

Making grocery shopping an adventure (ie asking them to help me find certain things on sale - quite an interactive experience!)

If I think of more, I'll let you know. Good luck and congrats!!

Amy said...

Lots of libraries have free passes to area museums; we used to go to the Aquarium, Children's Museum and Science Museum with those passes.

Have a backwards day; wear your clothes backwards, have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner.

Make ice cream using rock salt, a coffee can and a container that fits in the coffee can. Put in ice cream ingredients and roll the coffee can (packed with rock salt and the ingredients container) back and forth until it is ice cream.

Ice houses and other places sell dry ice for cheap, a little dry ice goes a long way in terms of watching it melt and seeing the fog spread...

Put up a lemonade stand and sell lemonade!

Sandy said...

So exciting! I'll definitely buy it (several probably!). I'll try to think of some ideas for you!

BrooklynGirl said...

Woo hoo! Many, many congrats.

astrophyschyk said...


This is a little specific, but my idea is visiting a planetarium. The big ones at museums and science centers are rarely free, but there are many smaller planetaria at high schools and colleges that may offer free shows, often put on by students (and not widely advertised). I've given shows to kids as young as three or four.

Of course, star-gazing at night is always free (weather permitting), but it might interfere with bed time! The internet has many resources for constellations, planets, interesting conjunctions (i.e. the Moon and Venus), or sighting the International Space Station.

alice said...


-Teach a Magic Trick
-Try simple science experiments(lots of science books for kids in the library)
-Making homemade play doh
-Making a healthy sald together in which kids can help with tearing, sprinling, grating
-Writing and illustrating a simple book together
-Making home made cards
-Making care packages for homeless shelters (Clean socks, toothpaste, soap)
-Volunteering at a shelter with the kids

Good luck...Alice

alice said...

-Going to Garage and Estate Sales in neighborhoods with kids
-Go to a thrift store...

See what treasures $5.00 will buy.

-making flowers out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners.

Anonymous said...

Free crafts workshops on the first Saturday of every month at Home Depot.

tree town gal said...

very exciting news, snick. this may have already been posted and is well, a bit regional and seasonal, but painting / coloring snow can be big fun around here... spray bottles or little shampoo bottles work great.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I would definately buy this book...not sure if already mentioned as I didnt read all your comments..

We love the library...you can get free or discounted passess to lots of museums from them...we also use lots of libraries, not just our towns to mix it up!

We do the same with parks, I like to find all different local parks and try them out.

We also love IKEA, not so much for shopping, but the kids love to eat lunch there its inexpensive, relatively healthy and lots of activites, then they love to go to the free playland while I just take a break, shopping or resting :)

GOod LUck!

Billie said...

I didn't read all the comments, so these may be repeats. We love to sleep on our screen porch. Also the nigth we put up the Christmas tree, to leave the lights on a sleep under it.

We also have two love seats that we push together to form a "nest" and we hang out in there, watch movies, read.

Corn starch and water in a tub--hours of fun with that one.

When it's rainy day, I'll pull out my old Fisher Price little people toys (from 70s) and we'll all play--these are not part of their normal toy stash--only for special occasions.

Making treasure maps, burying time capsules in the yard.

We turn our kitchen into the "Mc(last name)" restaurant, decorate brown bags, staple paper into little french fry packets, buy a cheap little toy, and make our own "Happy Meals" (violating trademark, I'm sure).

Organize a block or neighborhood kid garage sale or toy swap.

Obstacle courses in the house--I time the kids to see if they can beat their old time.


Michelle said...

We like to make fairy houses outside under our favorite tree from stuff laying around the yard.

Best of luck on the book!

Mijk said...

One my kids love and is the easiest ever. The drive through car wash. It is not free but hey the car is clean aswell ;)

skibum said...

We used to spend summers at the lake with no tv or movies at all and one thing I remember was really fun for all of those times it rained for what seemed like weeks on end was creating our own board games.
Also as long as it is not thundering showering in the rain
For little kids, my nephews love filling the sink with bubbles and adding different color food coloring.

Anonymous said...

Rent a movie from Red Box...only costs a buck and can be returned to any Red Box...even cross country when on vacation! Rent the movie in one state, watch it in the car and return it in another state! Couldn't be easier or cheaper.

Kelly said...

I haven't read through all of the comments yet, so this may have already been mentioned. If so, sorry! My dad used to take my brother and I on bird watching expeditions and we loved them. Sometimes they were just in our neighborhood and other times they were a distance away. Good times :-)

Anonymous said...

Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford.........$6 for entrance!

Jenney Grist Mill and Brewster Gardens...Plymouth, MA...FREE!

Fishng/walking the Cape Cod Canal

Hope this helps. Congrats to you :)

vanessa said...

Haven't read comments yet so sorry for repeats, but--
Go fishing--cut paper fish from construction paper and attach a paper clip to each one. Give each kid a stick of some sort (buy dowels from the hardware store or collect some) and attach a string with a magnet on one end to each stick. Then play games--find all the blue fish, all the green, etc. Or put numbers on them and play math games--find 2 fish that add up to 10, etc.

Buy small electric tea candles and when its dark, have the kids hide them in their bedrooms. can also do it with flashlights outside, for older kids.

egg hunts.

have kids make treasure maps.

indoor obstacle courses.

stage a show--have kids write script, make costumes, etc. videotape and play back if possible.

giant bubbles using hulu hoops and baby pools and homemade bubble soap.
that's all i got for now, but i am bookmarking this thread so i can refer back to it!

Anonymous said...

From the first Sunday in October until the following Saturday, it's Fire Prevention Week in the US and Canada. Local fire houses often have Open Houses one night during this week. Here (in NJ) the Open Houses vary from small, fire-truck & fire-house tours to larger events with free food, tours, fire safety demonstrations, door prize giveaways and lots of fun fire-safety related activities for kids. Most fire houses also give out free (plastic) fire hats and coloring books to the kids who visit. It's a great, fun, free thing for younger (elementary school age and younger) kids to do with their parents!

Rosemary said...

-going to a local observatory to see the moon, stars, planets through a telescope

-sidewalk chalk

-lemonade stand

-park at an airport and watch the planes take off and land

-write letters to soldiers

-be a pen pal

-read a series of books (like the Chronicles of Narnia) aloud as a family

-go to a new playground in a different neighborhood

Anonymous said...

As I figured, you'll take from others and pocket the money yourself. Typical.

Aimee said...

Go watch a baseball, football (or any other sport) game - Little League or High School or any one of those leagues that are still free to watch! A lot of college girls' teams are also free/cheap to watch and a lot of fun!

Anonymous said...

Visit the local library storytime or when they have special crafts or activities.

Go to a bookstore and just hang out for an hour or two. Lots of bookstores have special children's sections with chairs, tables, play rugs, and just let them have fun and read books for free.

Go on a family hike at a local or state park

mames said...

i am sure these have been covered but our faves ::


the college track and basketball courts. it just feels more grown up and it is open to the public

trails in the area

botanic gardens. just started charging but only a few dollars

nurseries : they love looking at plants

and one thing i want to do as they get a bit older is organize our own rotating 'dinner' night with our friends and their kids. so one night we have the kids make pizza or calzones or rice and easy chicken etc. it sure beats those expensive cook along kid classes that we cannot really afford.

mames said...

oh yeah, raised bed gardens. the boys are two and already love watering and helping me out there. green 'em early, we say round here.

Anonymous said...

When we were small, my family always went to fruit and vegetable picking. In May/June we picked strawberries. In July we picked raspberries. In August we picked blueberries. In October with picked apples and pumpkins. To be honest, the berry picking was more fun. And one berry in the basket ... one in the mouth. It was great.

cindy w said...

Wow, congratulations! That's awesome.

I don't know if any of these will really help, but I have a 2 year-old, and one of the best free ways to entertain her for an hour or so is to take her to a pet store (there's a PetSmart near our house). She loves checking out the birds, fish, and gerbils, and there are usually people who shop their with their dogs, so that's an added bonus. As long as I have the Purell with me, it's fine. It's like a mini-zoo, and free.

We also do lots of little "nature walks" - our neighborhood has a greenway with a bridge over a creek, and she loves to throw rocks & sticks off the bridge into the water.

Oh, and I have a friend who gave her toddler a paintbrush and let her paint her fence using "magic paint" - it's clear in the bucket but makes the wooden fence darker. (Hint: it's a bucket a water.) She got like 2 hours of quiet time out of her kid using that trick.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I thought of one more. Sometimes if we are really feeling rowdy, we drive around strange neighbourhoods looking for new parks to try out. A different play structure! A twisty slide! This one has a teeter totter! The kids get quite a bang out of it, actually.

What A Card said...

Wow, congrats! This is so exciting!

Haven't read all the other comments, but what about bringing in snow in big pans to play with? Too young? Too regional?

You also know I'm a big proponent of cooking with kids. I guess not technically free, but you'd be spending the money anyway to feed your family :)

Emily said...

A fun summer project: You can fold up tshirts into a cube and soak them with water and then freeze them. The next day you can give them to kids and have a competition to see who can get theirs unfrozen the fastest. The first one who can actually put the tshirt on wins. I have seen kids get pretty creative with the ways they unfreeze their tshirts!

Nancy said...

Hmm...I am NOT gonna read all the posts...but here's some thoughts!
1. Have an art contest with sidewalk chalk...and everyone wins a prize...think up different categories (most colorful, most original, most silly...you get it!)

Find a beach. Go ahead of the kids, "bury" some treasure, then have a treasure hunt! Treasure can be anything!

Have a "rainy day picnic" in your home. Spread a tablecloth, play it up big!

Build a tent inside. Make sure YOU get in there with your kids...live in the moment. Can you IMAGINE their delight that you are playing, too?!?!

Put up a tent out in the yard and have a "camp-out"...sing along, toast marshmallows, the whole she-bang!

Have movie night.

Have game night.

Blow bubbles. EVERYONE likes bubbles!!! Have bubble contests...most; biggest; tiniest; lasts the longest; catches and pops the most.

If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, help organize a talent show, charge the parents a nominal fee, and donate the proceeds to a favorite charity. Make sure the kids KNOW where the monies are going, so they can learn to give!

Have a neighborhood pet show, and award prizes: tiniest, hairiest, biggest, sweetest, etc!

Have a neighborhood game day...leap frog, mother may I, etc. Invite the parents AND the kids, have them bring a picnic lunch.

Check out your local library for opportunities. They may have summer programs for kids. Most have winter programs for preschoolers. Also, some offer free passes to local places of interests, like an aquarium, etc.

Okay...I'm running out of thoughts...will post more if I think of any. I know some of this sounds too simplistic, but if you have toddler/preschoolers, they will LOVE it!!!!!


Little Read Hen said...

gardening. we love to plant stuff (inside and outside)and play in the dirt. And cooking, I try to let my daughter "make" dinner once a week. She gets to choose what we are going to eat and she puts it together (Its usually pizza) and is always extremely proud of her meal. We also do movie night once a week (usually an alternating weekend night from her dinner) pop popcorn on the stove and have a treat.

Congratulations! Best wishes on the book.

OTRgirl said...

That's awesome! Congratulations. (and I'm daunted by all your comments! yikes.)

Laser Maze with string taped to the walls of the hall

Stair sledding using blankets to line the stairs (helmet on the kid)

puppet shows (decorate socks for puppets with old buttons and markers)

"Cinderella" Dress the kids in rags and have them clean while singing to the soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

For little ones (1-2yrs) take them to the local Lowes or Homedepot. Let them explore the kitchens(open & close cupboards), talk about rough and smooth in the flooring section (carpet/hardwood), playing with paint chips to learn about colours, garden section to talk about flowers, trees etc. There is alot of stuff for them to explore for free!

Melissia said...

Libraries often have free programs of old movie screenings and book reading programs with popcorn, costumes,and all sorts of interesting trivia games with prizes.
Catching an old classic movie on a wall screen is totally different experience then watching it on tv.
Often these classic movies are shown in the summer months and are tied to a book and an exhibit at the library, so it is great way to introduce children to the joys of reading and a good way to spend an hot afternoon indoors.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I love your blog and normally would be thrilled but another blogger getting a book deal and then asking her readers to basically write the book rubs me the wrong way. Hello Pinoneer Woman? Send me your recipes and then I'll publish them all? No.

Christine said...

Good for you!!!!! I am in awe.

Heidi T said...


Jane said...

To the anonymous (of course) commenters who don't like the fact that Snick is soliciting ideas for her book:

Why don't you get yourself a blog (it's free), write in it regularly and well about your most personal issues and feelings over the course of several years, preferably in the wake of a huge personal tragedy, attract a huge following of people who read your writing regularly without ever paying you a dime for it, come up with an idea for a book, write a proposal, try to get it accepted, negotiate a contract, solicit ideas from your readers, cull through all of those ideas along with your own to determine which ones should go in the book, write them up and compile them, along with the necessary commentary and narrative, go back and forth with your editor on changes, cover design, etc. proofread the galleys, help promote the book, all while working and parenting twin toddlers on your own, knowing that the likelihood of making more than a few thousand dollars on this kind of novelty book is slim to none.

Please -- do all this, then come back here and tell Snick if you still feel exploited because she asked for your ideas.

Sheila said...

That is great news!

What about local factory tours? Something interesting of course....I live in Northern CA and the Jelly Belly factory is near here. My 4 and 5 year old nephew and niece thought it was the bomb to see how the candy was made. Facory tours are a great way to teach kids how thing are made.

Michelle said...

I was a children's activities director for many years so at first I was going to come here and leave a bunch of suggestions but then I saw that everyone else pretty much covered everything I was going to say.

Then I read those nasty comments and was going to respond to that because God, people can be so mean and I was going to respond to that but I don't think I could say it quite as eloquently as Jane did, so I guess I'll just say Congratulations!

A book deal! How cool!

Michelle said...

Ummmmm.........yeah, just re-read my comment and I kindof rambled on there and was repeating myself a bit. Sorry. I have a migraine. (At least that's the excuse I am using today :)

Pauli said...

Congrats! There are some great ideas here. I haven't read through all of them, so I'm sorry if I duplicate:

1) Some libraries have free movies for mom and baby. I think some movie theaters have specific mom/baby movies, too.

2) Some towns have a Family Network which offers a lot of free activities. I know that Watertown and Natick have them.

3) My daughter was given a sticker mosaic that kept her occupied for hours. It was made by Orb Factory and they are available at Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with some of the others. You got the book deal, now write the book yourself.

Anonymous said...

To the negative commenters out there. Give me the name of one book or article ever written that has not 'taken' anything from other's experiences. Whether it be input on the idea itself or a source. Or just support as you write it. And honestly I do not see snick as one to take credit for all the ideas. I am sure she will give some acknowledgement that there were many contributers of the ideas

Did Betty Crocker really come up with all those recipes???? I am sure at least some were family recipes that were passed down.

And if in some way I can help out a single mom of twins -who has been through what she has - make a little extra cash, GREAT!!!

I think you need to take a look at your own 'charitable heart'. Or maybe it is just that you are jealous she came up with the idea first?

That said, I am not a mom, but an aunt of many. One time when my now 30 and 26 year old nieces were kids we made home made ornaments for the christmas tree. They still hang them on their tree every year!!!

One time I had a sleep over with all my nieces (I think there was 6 at the time) we watched movies, painted our nails, made pizza and laughed a lot!

Missy said...

Gotta second the dance party in the living room - this is a great activity if you have kids of different ages - baby to school age. Plus it's exercise and a great way to burn energy during the winter if you're in a cold climate. My kids like hip hop for this activity. Just make sure you don't get so into it that you fail to listen to the words and realize the song is totally inappropriate for your kids. Darn satellite radio.

Another favorites is splashing in puddles after it rains or during a spring thaw. We put on our rain boots and find a quiet street and look for puddles and follow the streams of water to storm drains. Toddlers love it!

Best of luck with the book!

Heather Marie said...


Painting pottery is alwasy so much fun!

Cheryl Lage said...

With 131 responses, I haven't read to see if someone has already offered this one up, but one of the things my two and I have LOVED since they could be trusted in the fine arts museum outside the confines of a double stroller (4 or 5) is what we call the Gallery Game. We go to a smaller gallery space with a seat (or even big floor space in the middle) and I would say something to the effect of "I see a painting with a tiny red bird." They would need to look closely (without running or touching...in gallery security officers tend to help with that reinforcement!) and whoever finds it first simply stands in front of it. Then that person sits in the middle and the others look for what they "see" in a painting or sculpture.

It's a blast. Now that mine are a bit older and know me a bit better, we'll do emotional versions. "Stand in front of a painting that makes you excited/happy/sad/scared" and then they have to explain why.

Hours of free fun.

Congrats again, Snick. Please let us know when we can go buy it!

Anonymous said...

How about buying/renting some chickens to keep in your backyard- they are quite cheap to keep, inexpensive to buy and supply you with eggs! Its a daily fun thing to throw them some feed and look for eggs. Some companies have a rental scheme so you can rent a pen and a couple of good layers for a month.
Chickens are a really good idea for pets when the future is uncertain because there aren't all the ethical issues if you tire of them in 6 months- Pop them on eBay or Freecycle and someone else can have them (unlike a dog).
My children (5,3 and 1) just love their pets and pick them up.


Jennifer said...

I don't think I've seen this in your comments. My kids love making stop motion movies. All it takes is a digital camera, a place to put it, and windows movie maker or similar software (which came free on my computer).

After helping them through it a few times, they do it themselves now, making things with lego, and then making up stories with them.

Anonymous said...

didn't read all comments, so don't know if this is already there, but my Grandkids come each summer for Kuzin's Kamp---one of their favorite things is "toothpicknic".
Everything is either inherently small, like the tiny carrots, or is cut up small and eaten with toothpicks. there is always a theme, and proper t-shirts, and many ideas I have read here. One other---oatmeal made "soupy" enough that you drink it out of a straw. Also, Our scavenger hunts are done with the clues done with some type of encryption (they have to figure out the code before they can read the clues).

Mama Nabi said...

Late to the congrats - I swear I was trying to come up with something original... I haven't read all the comments so could be repeating?

2. Origami with paper from recycle bin, color, make mobiles, or decorate... hourse and hours of fun.
3. Again, with paper, costume making.
4. Manicure or pedicure for each other. (builds dexterity)
5. Making rock candy.
6. Planting old onions that sprouted in the pantry. same with potatos.
7. Build an autobiography book - duplicate photos that never made into the album and paper, hole punch, string.
8. Extremely huge jigsaw puzzles. (Works if you have a puzzle addict)
9. Leaf drying (in the fall, collect pretty leaves, dry them) then on a cold dreary winter's day (haha, in MN there are plenty), tape them on thick construction paper, make greeting cards.
10. Any general greeting cards making craft.
11. Goes with 10, make own wrapping paper.

Yes, there are lots of days we've had to stay indoors and yes, I work where there's tons of paper in the recyle bin, why do you ask...? :-)

Seriously, this is so exciting!!

Anonymous said...

I couple more ideas (I apologize if they're repeats). These are some favorites from my childhood:

Sew buttons onto PJs (when I visited my grandma as a child, my cousin and I would spend hours picking out random buttons we liked from grandma's button collection and sewing them on our jammies, I loved coming home to mom and showing her my modified PJs)

Camping in backyard

Sleeping in forts in the house

Making snow ice cream (big bowl of snow and add sugar cream and vanilla, or add powdered hot chocolate, or be creative and let kiddos decide how to flavor snow ice cream, mix snow and flavoring with mixer--LOVED THIS as a kid, and taught it to my roomies in college--they loved it too)

Roasting marshmallows on a stick on the stove (works on electric stoves and gas stoves)

After dark, put in a yellow bug light and use that as the only light source, then color in a coloring book or draw with crayons, it's hard at first to predict how the colors will look in regular light--and fun to see the change, as kids we eventually figured out how the colors would change and we'd try to color something so that the colors would look normal in daylight--educational and entertaining--and I know what happens when colors mix better than most people--I think this game is why

learn how to make an origami crane that flaps it's wings when you pull it's tail--I learned from a book in a library as a kid--and I still whip that trick out ocassionally (I'm 34 now)

take a marshmallow and pull it apart and put it together over and over and over with your fingers until it becomes "taffy"

make a million paper airplanes and fly them a lot in the house (doesn't sound super fun, but I really loved this one when I was a kid--so did my friends)

use an audio recorder of some kind and have kiddos talk about what they want to be when they grow up, what are favorite things to do, also sing songs and giggle a lot, save the recording--I love the recordings like this that I made as a kid and I had lots of fun doing it

learn a magic trick

spaceranger said...

Oh, one other thing I loved to do was go for a walk where there were lots of rocks (my favorite was near train tracks), find rocks that are shaped like familiar objects, then go home and paint the rock to look like the object, don't know why I liked this but I did

Happiness Is... said...

That is awesome! I have missed your blog posts, but this is exciting news! :)

Anonymous said...

Science with food! eliaday chronicled her experiences with eggs, celery, etc. 'round about Dec/Jan ...

Anonymous said...

I've got little kids, 3.5 and 1 years old.

My 3.5 year old and I love to:
- go to the park
- play-doh
- hide and seek
- tag
- garden outside (she likes to help!)
- colour/paint
- sidewalk chalk
- play eye-spy
- watch a movie (Cars and Toy Story are the favorites around here!)

The one year old? Really, as long as she has something to chew on!

Things we do as a family:
- walks around the neighbourhood
- go to open houses and look at other peoples houses (my 3.5 year old LOVES this)
- splash park/pad
- farmers markets (let the older kid pick a new veggie/fruit each week!)

Congratulations, sounds like an excellent book deal!