Ivory Reading The Prudent Homemaker 

In between trips to the library and the swimming pool, and all of the other fun things you have planned for your children’s summer, there is a lot of time at home. 

Whether your children have summer off school, school through the summer (like mine) and have afternoons off, or it’s winter where you live right now, here are some fun things that you can do without leaving the house.

Here are some indoor ideas for when you need a change from the books, board games, Legos, blocks, cars, baby dolls, and dress up clothes:


Paper Fun:

1. Hidden Pictures from Highlights.  These can be done online or printed. You can choose to have word clues or picture clues when searching, and print whichever ones you prefer. A few new ones are available each month.

2. Coloring pictures from all of your children’s favorite characters. I love this site, but it has too many pop-ups, so you may want to do the printing yourself from this site for your children.

3. Online drawing instructions.

Pillpat’s photostream on Flicker has several books of art instruction; just click the arrows.

Drawing Lessons for The Young Artist has more complicated pictures for an older age

4. Hot Air Balloons We did these and they were a lot of fun!

5. Dot to Dot Leveled pictures up to 120 dots. 

6. My Art Project Board on Pinterest has several more ideas for drawing, origami, and painting.


Something to Watch:  (Note: Not all of these may be available outside North America).

1. Peep and The Big Wide World This is a science-themed cartoon.

2. Curious George on Pbskids.org. Another science-based cartoon.

3. Little Einsteins on Disney Junior. Classical music and famous artwork. There are two episodes posted each week.

4. Jas. Townsend and Son on You Tube. You’ll want to watch these short videos, too! These historical videos are only a few minutes each, and they cover 18th century cooking and other time-period appropriate topics, like tomahawks, sealing wax, and making clay ovens.

5. Khan Academy. Learn something new, work on struggling skills, or prepare for tests. 


peach pie popsicles in pan The Prudent Homemaker



Teach your children some cooking skills this summer! Here are a few suggestions:

1. Black Bean Burgers and steak sauce to top them

2. Peach Pie Popsicles

3. Fruit Crumble

4. White Bean Dip

5. Balsamic Orange Vinaigrette  Whether you are picking lettuce from your garden, or you have cucumbers and tomatoes right now, this delicious salad dressing is simple to make and tastes amazing! 


What fun, frugal things do you like to do at home during the summer? Please share in the comments below. (If you have a television show to link, please note the country of origin, as not all shows work for free online in all countries). 


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  1. We are fortunate to have a pool, so we invite friends to swim and ask everyone to bring a snack to share. I will pop popcorn or make freeze pops and the kids amuse themselves. We also take bikes to the park. Our state MA has Free Fun Fridays, where each Friday during July and part of August a museum or living history museum etc., is free. Also, our theatre has a Wednesday free movie if you bring in a book report. We also do crafts if the heat is unbearable outside, polymer clay, scrapbook, water colours. Thanks for some more ideas Brandy!

  2. We make it a point to save all year round to allow our children experiences outside the home. We place aside for mini trips while still packing lunch and snacks. We are getting ready for our second trip to Disney. I believe it’s these family bonding experiences that our children will remember rather than a color page “busy work” from a free internet site.

  3. Disney is not a possibility for every family. Children remember love that can be shown in different ways, like coloring at the kitchen table with siblings or as their parents prepare dinner.

  4. Hilary, I disagree. I am 49 years old and my most fondest memories growing up was our family nights at home. Nights where we played games together, made crafts and just had our parents total attention. We also had picnics in the living room some nights and we loved it. You don’t have to go to Disney World to make sure your children have bonding experiences. Just my opinion. Cindy Norred

  5. Hilary, it’s wonderful that you can take vacations with your family. I agree that those trips are what children remember.

    Most people don’t spend every day of their children’s summer vacations on a trip somewhere. This post is for the every day fun that you can have when you’re at home.

    Also, please remember that this site is not written for the family who can afford to take lavish Disney vacations. This site is geared specifically towards those who are struggling financially to make ends meet. For those families, even a mini trip might be more than they can afford, because the gas is too much. They might also live far from anything close.

    Where I live, there are not a lot of “mini trip” options. Las Vegas is hours from most places. There is the city and then there is just desert for hours and hours in every direction. A trip for us is costly because of the gas involved.

    Last year was the first year my family was able to take any kind of vacation. If you look back on my blog posts, you can see that our two little trips (one to see my brother get married) were very inexpensive–and they were quite a stretch for my family.

    This week, the possibility of doing that type of trip again just disappeared when I had to replace the camera that I use to take pictures for this site. The money that could have gone for a small trip went towards a camera instead.

    Please don’t put others down because they don’t have as much money as you have. This site is for building others up and helping them make the most of what they have.

    I specifically stuck to free choices at home on purpose. For some of my readers, who don’t have a printer, even the coloring page option is too expensive.

  6. I’m not intending this as argumentative, I’m just sharing my experience. I’ve went to Disneyland twice when I was young, and travelled as a teen with my parents to NYC and Europe. We went camping and did mini trips and I barely remember anything of them, aside from the fact we went, and a few odd snapshot memories of random things like all the zucchini served everywhere we ate because it was in season in CA. My fondest summer memories are of playing at home with my friends. We would use the papers we got from the teacher’s year end clean-out to play school. Our father set up a ginormous long heavy plastic sheet and a hose for us to ‘waterslide’ on. Our neighbour had a pool and playground set. Water fights and building forts in the nearby bush and walking or riding the 2 miles to the public swim / park with our friends. Going for a day at the beach with my grandparents. Snacking on the fresh garden produce.

  7. I recall many years ago a local newscaster was talking about her recent trip to Disney World with her daughter. She talked about how they did everything you could imagine including all of the extras. When they returned home the girl’s grandparents asked her what was the best part of her vacation and she said ‘the pillow fight mom and I had in our hotel room’.

  8. I’ve been lurking here for quite some time (enjoying the camaraderie and inventive ideas and positive attitudes). Disney is loads of fun (I finally went as an adult), and I’m glad families who have the means can do fun things like that. Some of us can go to Disney…and some of us get to drive for days through the cornfields of Nebraska in the back of a 1976 station wagon with no air conditioning and “pleather” seats that your legs stick to (do I sound bitter?!!)….and some of us stay home and simply play in the neighborhood all summer, because that’s what the family finances dictate. I think any mom who goes to the trouble of saving all year for a special trip is as great as the mom who goes to the trouble of creating an agenda of all kinds of fun, free things to do during the summer. Not all ideas on this site may work for everyone — Like, I’m never, ever, ever moving to Las Vegas — but it sure is exciting to test things out and see what sticks. Thanks, Brandy for such an interesting, informative and uplifting site (and Hilary, have a great vacation!).

  9. I don’t normally publish anonymous posts, but your comment was wonderful.

    Hilary, we’re happy for you. I hope your family has a wonderful time.

    I do think mini trips are great, if you live where there are close by things to see. A friend of mine takes neat trips every other weekend because there is a lot to see where she lives, and the weather is beautiful (not 114º, like it was here just a couple of weeks ago). If I lived somewhere else, I would love to do that!

    Now, let’s all move on to sharing our ideas for fun at home!

  10. My kids love playing board or card games at night since they get to stay up later than usual. They just had two cousins from out of state come and visit for a few weeks. They really enjoyed having new playmates! Making sno-cones at home or ice cream are fun treats as well.

  11. We have a park nearby that offers free lunch for any child in the school district! Even though my children are 3 and 1, we live within the school district and are able to participate. All children under 18 are welcome. It’s only a block away so we walk and I pack a lunch for myself and spend an hour or so at the park enjoying lunch and the playground. It’s been great!
    Also, our library has free kids movies at the library on Friday afternoons. They supply popcorn. We haven’t been yet, but it sounds fun!
    I’ve been researching displaced or primitive camping, My husband and I love camping but campsite fees can get pricey. Living in the west, there is tons of free land that you can camp on, without facilities, but also without campground neighbors! We are in the process of moving three states away this weekend and are playing with the idea of camping on public land instead of finding a hotel.

  12. We’ve had more than our share of financial hits this summer. I can’t believe how much fun can be had with an old tarp, a plastic bottle and the garden hose. My oldest was looking around online and found a “DIY sprinkler” made from an old water bottle. The kids spent a couple days experimenting with spray patterns, best tape to attach it with and had HOURS of fun doing it. We saw some older posts from Money Saving Mom and tried out blowing bubbles with socks stretched over bottles (So much fun!) and made Ivory soap clouds (Dial soap doesn’t make clouds and it STINKS up the kitchen… fyi!). The kids made a huge blanket fort with different rooms, hallways and a “kitchen”. Then after making sure blankets were secured they “camped” in their fort overnight. We have learned how to make 2 new kinds of bread, cinnamon rolls and had an epic flop trying to make bagels. Its been a pretty good summer so far. I wanted to print out some of the highlights pages for my middle boys but we’re out of ink in the printer… maybe during the winter months when its too cold to go out to play we’ll work on those!

  13. Brandy, I just made your peach popsicle recipe the other night, using GA grown peaches I purchased on sale. Do you have a tip for removing popsicles from the plastic molds? I ran warm water over the plastic covering, yet only a portion of the popsicle came out…leaving about 1/3 in the mold. They were delcious, though!

    Thank you for posting the link to Jas. Townsend and Son. Those vidoes are going to come in handy when we study American History again, more in depth.

    The weather here in GA has been very hot since June; mid 90s every day. My son and I wilt in the heat, so we choose to home educate yaer-round, with heavier amounts of schooling during the heat of the summer. We take our breaks and enjoy the outdoors in the spring and fall, when the weather is more pleasant. We also take time off from school for the holidays in November and December.

    As a family (there are three of us), we go for our walks in the evening, when the temperature outside is a little bit cooler. This is a great way to get some “free” exercise. We also enjoy listening the frogs and insects, seeing fireflies, petting the neighbor’s cat who comes out to greet us, seeing the ducks at our local pond, and talking with one another.

    My son made up a fun and easy summer treat this year: ice cream “s’mores”! I purchased graham crackers when they were on sale (Buy One, Get One Free) at Publix. In Georgia, we can purchase just one item from a Publix BOGO sale, and get it for 1/2 price. We also purchased some Publix frozen yogurt when it was on sale. Just break a graham cracker in half, and place a scoop of frozen yogurt between the two halves. A very cool dessert!

    We like to work on 100 piece puzzles from the $1 store, and have quite a collection. We often pull out ones that are “themed” with whatever we are studying. For example, when we studied World History, I collected puzzles that depicted animals from various countries. As we studies a certain country, we worked on the puzzles with pictures of animals from that country.

    My son is a great sleuth for finding family-friendly online games. He is allowed to use the computer after he finishes his school work. We do have a Minecraft account. He plays online with my friend’s daughter who is his same age. Since she goes to public school and is now home for her summer vacation, I am more lenient with the computer/school work times, as they have to play when it is her “turn” to use the computer (she shares it with her two brothers). We are not TV viewers or movie watchers, so the computer (which is on the breakfast bar in our kitchen) is my son’s main electronic usage, other than my inexpensive camera for….

    stop motion photography, using Legos. My son has a very large Lego collection, and is constantly making new creations. He will establish scenes and film them in frames, then put them into Windows Movie Maker on my ancient eMachine computer. We enjoy watching his videos.

    We still read together before bedtime. I have collected a lot of books from thrifts stores, and have many more from my teaching days. We are currently reading the Puppy Place series by Ellen Miles. I try to purchase them through Scholastic, when they are on sale. I can also use points to order free books, since I have an account. Another great venue for finding books is Paperbackswap. I list books that need a new home, and as people request them, I ship them, and earn “swaps”. In turn, I can select books I want, and people send them to me.

    Our outings during the summer consist of trips to the grocery and thrift stores. I look at grocery sale flyers online for summer produce. Blueberries and peaches have been on sale at Kroger, so I have been purchasing and prepping them for the freezer. My son likes to look for Legos and Nerf accessories. Last week’s thrift store find was a blaster part that would have cost several dollars new, but was only $.99. My husband and son enjoy using their Nerf blasters in the house. They bought me a purple one for Christmas, so sometimes I get in on the action, but not often. My husband found a very nice long sleeved shirt to wear this coming winter. Some of the thrift stores mark down winter clothing during the summer…which happend in our case, and we got the shirt for a great price.

    My son and I enjoy playing board games together. Our favorites are Battleship, Trouble, and Stay Alive….which are some of the same ones I played with my brother during our childhood.

    Our neighbor, who has a green thumb, recently gave us a few “extra” plants from her garden, due to crowding: squash, zucchini, and green beans. We planted them in a caged area that my husband and son built last year for pumpkins. We harvested a medium squash, a small squash, two green beans, and a large zucchini. My son checked on the squash today, and identified squash lady beetles on the plant.

    My son has never really been into coloring, but he does enjoy doing some impromtu stick-figure drawing, with dialogue. His strength area is writing, and he creates fabulous stories with great detail. Yesterday, he was engrossed in the realistic fiction story he was writing, then eagerly read it to my husband and me in the evening.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share some of our frugal summer activities!

  14. Lisa,

    I’ve never had that popsicle problem. My only guess is that you didn’t have it in the freezer long enough. I generally tend to keep them in overnight. Also make sure to keep them in the inside section of the freezer; the door isn’t as cold.

    Your son may enjoy some of the online drawing tutorials. My children have really liked them. The one’s that Pillpat has are not much more complicated than stick figure drawing but look amazing!

  15. I forgot to include that I have also been purchasing squash, zucchini, and green beans on sale. I shred the zucchini into 2 cup portions and freeze them in ziptop bags, to be used later in pancakes and brownies. I chunk and freeze portions of squash and zucchini for soup. I came across a delicious and easy recipe for refrigerator pickled green beans. The brine is heated to a boil before pouring them over the jarred green beans, which allows them to be “cooked” while still having a snappy crunch.

  16. Thank you for the tips, Brandy! I truly appreciate you. I visit your website whenever I need a little pick-me-up and some inspiration! 🙂 I hope you are able to replace your camera soon, as your beautiful photos reveal the gift G-d has blessed you with.

  17. My boys are grown but when they were younger they loved to get new tubs of soft playdough. Especially when my mom came to visit and would sit and make wonderful creations with them. We are also fortunate to live near Lake Erie. We would spend afternoons and evenings at the lake with a little cook out. They loved to fish and rollerblade which was free. On rainy days they would pile up blankets and pillows and build forts and have rolled up sock battles. I have friends with young children and it is so fun to have the them over for the day to give mom a break. One family does not have good internet connection so it is a mini vacation to get to come and play games on PBS kids. We also have Net Flix so this is a treat too for them. Every Sunday evening my mom would make candied popcorn and fudge and we would sit and just enjoy each other.

  18. Hello Readers – Brandy I discovered your website earlier this year, and just LOVE it. I think I am addicted to your website. I check it daily for more blogs. Thank you so much. You are more of a Blessing than you will ever know………anyhow I just wanted to comment on an earlier comment made about Disneyland. I have two children aged 6 and 10. Earlier this year we were able to go to Disneyland in Japan. When talking to our children about their holiday, and what was the best part, I was dumbfounded when the youngest remarked “spending time with my family” was the best part of the holiday. By this she meant, being in Motel rooms, making fun, and having their parents full attention, unlike our normal routines which are flat out when parents work etc. No mention was made of going to Disneyland etc. It just goes to show………

  19. I am off with the kids during summer. We are lucky to live in a city that offer a lot of Free or almost free. Everything is 2-20 minutes drive. One of my coworkers and friend babysit kids during the summer. So we do tons of activities with then. We always bring a picnic basket with us.

    *Beaches are 15-20 minutes drive
    *Splash park and play park are all Free.
    *Librairies have free activities everyday.
    *Free outdoors concerts from local artists 4 days a week. Some in the evening and some at lunch time.
    *Community Free BBQ

    When we are home, my kids would.basically play outside from 9am til 8pm ).. They come in to eat haha. They love to play board games and watch movies, and just play together.
    They also love to help me cook and bake.

    For the first time since the girls were born we are doing a mini trip. They dont know yet.They are going to be so excited .

  20. We love to do things like make a fort under the table or eat in a funny place. We have made homemade playdough and flubber. One of our favorite games is Chinese checkers, it’s so much fun to spread a blanket outside and play. We have had a lot of rain this summer, so we have spent lots of time indoors finding creative things to do. The most fun we have had this summer is sitting on our back porch and talking as we watched a storm move in.

  21. As my youngest is now 16 and holds a job at the local grocery store, finding things to keep him busy in the summer isn’t an issue this year, however, when my children were younger, finding things to do at home was a challenge for us sometimes. How I wish this site were available then! We always had a park day, a library day, and a sprinkler day under the water hose. We would save our change throughout the week and then on Friday we would walk to the snow cone stand near our house and buy the 1.00 snow cones. We read A LOT.

  22. Well said, Brandy. I am much older than most of you, but still cannot afford to take my grandsons to nice places. But when they come here, it is nice to have some of these fun things to do at home. I hope, when I’m gone, my grandsons will remember the fun times we had cooking together, taking nature walks around the neighborhood, sitting in the back yard counting and recording in our bird sighting book, and not the fact that I could take them on expensive vacations and trips.

  23. So you are saying, only by spending large amounts of money to take them to amusement parks is the only way to bond? I disagree 110%, i believe its those little moments that bond you, like taking full interest in something they are doing, its laying on the floor and coloring, playing a video game with them, going outside and catching rolly polies with them, those are the things they will truly remember, imho.

  24. The picture of your daughter all dressed up made my day, Brandy. I thought at first glance that it was a picture of a doll with really messed up hair, then suddenly realized it was a child in a wig…LOL! Thank you for sharing it.

    As for fun frugal ideas, my childhood has a mixed bag of memories that included things I did at home with my friends as well as the many fun adventures we did on our camping vacations. Every summer, my parents took two weeks vacation and we went somewhere with our trailer. Often we went with my grandparents, who also had a trailer, and they brought along one or two of my cousins (I have 5 cousins) with them. My cousins didn’t have a lot of money as my aunt was divorced, so it was a huge treat to go along on vacation with my grandparents. We all had so much fun riding our bikes, going swimming and finding all sorts of adventures to go on together.

    So here are some ideas that I remember doing or have tried with my child that might be of interest:
    *Invest in a crochet set or other outdoor lawn game. We have been pulling out crochet recently in the afternoon if it is quiet in the pioneer village I work at (which is period appropriate) and have had so much fun playing together! You can even make it educational by tie this in with the story “Alice in Wonderland”.
    *Get a bunch of people together and have a fun impromptu game of baseball, soccer, volleyball or your favourite team sport that includes all age groups.
    *Try making your own mini golf course. Or Frisbee golf course, if you don’t have golf clubs!
    *One of our favourite games we played while camping was hide and go seek in the dark. It’s a lot harder to find people in the dark, which adds a whole new element of fun. We actually played it that you had to touch the person, not just run to one spot and say the person’s name you found, to make it more challenging.
    *Pitch a tent in the back yard and camp out in it overnight. Who says you have to go to a campground to experience camping (and the bathroom is just a few steps away). Older children could do this as a sleepover with a friend or two. This is one of the most memorable things I remember doing with my friends as a child.
    *Too hot outside to play? Buy an inexpensive package of balloons and create some indoor games using a balloon as the ball.
    *Want to try some fun cooking? Why not try making caramel apples with your kids. We did this at one of my daughters birthday parties once and it was really easy to do. You can find instructions on-line. The kids can help unwrap the caramels. I believe you can buy cheap packages of these at the dollar store, or watch for them on sale around Halloween.
    *Set up a doll clothes laundry day outside with a bucket of soapy water. Or for the boys, do a toy car washing station. Either way, a tub of soapy water outside is hours of entertainment for your little ones.
    *Have your children create a play and record them acting it out. Great fun and a memory you can keep to show them when they are older.
    *Teach your children to knit, crochet or embroider. Not sure how? Find YouTube videos and learn together.
    *Give your kids a hammer, some finishing nails, maybe a saw and some scrap pieces of wood and let them create something from it. Let them decide what to make, or give them a challenge, such as make a boat or bird house. Don’t have scrap wood? Try collecting some branches from the back yard or a nearby park.
    *Lay out in your backyard and do some cloud watching with your kids. What pictures do you see?
    *Find some stones and pull out those paints to create some pretty painted rocks to decorate the garden. Want a challenge? Try painting the rocks to look like animals. There are lots of ideas on-line but here is a pinterest link to start you out: https://www.pinterest.com/cthomasrocks/painted-rocks-critters-animals/

    I’m sure I could think up some more ideas, but I have to get to work. It was a lot of fun remembering all the things I did as a child. Hope you find these inspirational!

  25. While it’s not exactly frugal, I did some extra work and used the money to purchase an 16 foot family pool. The kids are usually in it 1-2 times per day. They love it. We go to story time at our library once a week and the kids did the summer reading program and earned coupons for free Happy Meals, bread sticks, cookies, ice cream cones, sandwiches, etc. from local businesses. They have enjoyed cashing those in. We went to the museum for free with coupons and went to a free animal preserve. That did cost gas money, but we packed picnics so gas was the only cost. We have a walking path next to the river that is only about 5 minutes from us by car. We enjoy walking the path and having picnics there. I have a small swing set with a slide in our back yard, but the kids love a trip to our rec center. They have a big playground and a pond with a trail that we can walk around. My two older boys went to Jr Deputy Camp. It was $10 per child for the week. They had a lot of fun. We also color, play board games, read stories, pop popcorn and do movie nights.

  26. Hi Brandy,

    First time commentator, long time reader.

    I read your blog because it is so full of positive energy and grace. Everyone is always cheering each other on and wishing each other well.

    Thanks for writing this blog.

  27. I totally remember the teachers putting out piles of worksheets to take home..and we all were so thrilled…i was an only child miles away form others (no playdates back them) and i’d play school with my stuffed animals…i just now remembered this from your comment..and the joy i felt then at 7 flooded over me…..thanks..

  28. It is beautiful that one agitated stir of the pot – brought a polite boil of sweet memories and ideas. Way to go everyone!

    Brandy, Thank you so much for these ideas. My nephews have been there and done that and when I or grandmom watches them all they want to do is stay put and do a craft project or as a group write a silly story and illustrate it. They are only 10 for a little bit yet but have brought up numerous memories of drawings we did or stories we wrote when they were 5, and so on. Looking forward to doing he hot air balloons and Pillpats drawings. They are so going to love this!

  29. We are living in a new city this summer about ten hours from my parents and five from hubby’s family. My parents wanted my eight year old son to come and stay the summer with them and he will have visited at their home for five weeks when all is said and done! He has had a great time and they have done some fun things with him, but he had also helped them with some things too. They live on a farm and he has watered in the garden, fed chickens, helped prepare craft projects for Bible school and helped my dad with projects at church. They have taken him swimming multiple times and camping in their vintage trailer and many other lovely things. Summer can be fun but a little work sprinkled in makes the fun seems even more a reward. It’s also a great time to learn a skill when life may not be as hectic. My son has learned to ride his bike with no training wheels and on strengthening his math skills before starting third grade. 🙂

  30. Teresa, I first read hastily ‘…like coloring the kitchen table with siblings as their parents prepare dinner’ and I had to smile – what a lovely childhood memory, it would be told in every family reunion! 🙂

  31. i had a graph paper notebook and gave my son a ruler and he’s been doing his own minecraft drawings….all blocky..lol…(he’s 12)

  32. I had an above ground pool when my children were growing up and I have never regretted it. They also learned to swim. They, and their friends, spend many a hot southern day playing in the pool! I also enjoyed the pool ‘. .. Wonderful memories for me and I am sure you will have wonderful memories also!!! Enjoy!!!

  33. paper dolls and such (such a selection now online) are new and fun…
    craft bins …my daughter has been having a blast (at 14) doing crafts with the 4 yr old

    working w dd14 in the kitchen….has been fun
    painting her nails and mine has been interesting…

    watching shows together…(i know…tv is uck for some…) but we enjoy watchign a series commercial free on netflix..dh is working on dr who with dd, and i’m watching white collar with her..and we do the same with ds…its great int he heat of the day..

    never underestimate, rainy, pj all day, snuggle under blanket movie days

  34. Thank you for all the great suggestions. We will have our two grandsons ages 2 and 3 for two weeks. I think running through the hose will be fun for them they live in the high desert and have limited water. We live in Wyoming and are on a well. Plus we will be watering our lawn. I will also take them to the botanical gardens and free reading hour at the library.
    We try to take the boys for two weeks every six months this helps their dad out with daycare. He is a single dad only source of income for the boys. They were only 4 months and the other was not quite 2 when our son became single. So things are getting easier for them. When we have the boys he works all the overtime he can get and any side jobs.
    He will change oil in cars and other light mechanic work in the evening when the boys go to sleep. Sometimes he works until 11 pm then up again at 4 am to get to work. He leaves the garage door open to be able to hear the boys if they need anything.
    He is doing amazing and we are so proud of him and glad we can help. He has learned the true meaning of stretching your pennies. lol

  35. Brandy, I know you don’t personally have a smart phone. Is your family friends with someone that has one and children around yours age? If so, check out Geocaching. If you and the kids enjoy it, you can be on the lookout for a handheld GPS at a yard sale or amazon/eBay. Physical activity, using your brain all rolled into one. I live in a fairly small town and there are probably 50 within a 5 mile radius of me. (I prefer doing this when it’s not 100+ degrees though)

  36. Yay, you got a new camera. I’m not sure I could handle not seeing your lovely pictures and what you and the children are up to.

  37. Thank you for some fun ideas! I’m always looking for some free/affordable things to do with my children at home or close by. We are never able to go on vacations so I try and do things that will still give them some happy Summer memories. This year we were given a HUGE blessing from family of a vacation at a Christian family resort on the Oregon coast. This will be a first for my children and they are so excited. They will enjoy some of your ideas here while they’re waiting.

  38. Grammy, my girls grew up just a few houses down from their grandparents so they spent a lot of time with them. They didn’t take fancy trips but they did take many trips mostly to see family. When they passed last year (they were both 95) my daughter said her fondest memories were going to church on Sundays and the times she spent on the porch swing just talking with her grandmother. Your grandsons will have wonderful memories!

  39. The things I always looked at as fun my husband calls work. Can’t tell you the educations you receive in oral family history around a wash tub scrubbing carrots with dad or hauling/stacking stove wood or Picking rows of potatoes or green beans. We didn’t often water the lawn but you can count on 4 kids in a sprinkler when we did. My grandkids love the park. Water bottles and a snack from home. They are happy playing with their uncles old toys outside or raiding the garden and raspberry patch. It’s vegetables and fruit. I won’t complain about eating either. I don’t have a big enough garden to can. I usually give baths/shampoo before sending them home. They will spend a half hour in the tub just playing because I have different tub toys. I get the bathroom cleaned while they are playing. i will set up the little tent in the shade for them too. Or blanket/sheet tents in the house.
    I love to travel. My savings /frugal nature/ occasional overtime allows me to spend a bit to do that.
    == Been to Disney – saw the mouse. Mostly enjoyed it. Killed myself working overtime to get there ~ 48 – 72 hours a week as a nurse for 5 months. (Wants have to be paid for in advance in my house,) Wish i would have invested it in upgrading the kitchen instead. I think the kids enjoyed the condo amenity’s more than the park.

  40. Many years ago when my children were young we went through a job change were finances were cut drastically. Now mind you, were never were “well off” but we were able to take a vacation during their summer break. I felt terrible that I was in a position that I could not afford to give them a “vacation”. Many years later, during a discussion about when they were younger they both talked about how much fun they had doing various things and to my surprise it was the “things” we did when money was the tightest (free or maybe a $5 day). While I will admit money certainly “helps” make many thing “easier” but it does not necessarily make you happier. For me the SIMPLEST things make me the HAPPIEST!

  41. What fun memories these posts have inspired! Growing up, I remember having only one “real vacation”–we just didn’t have the money–but that didn’t stop me from having fun in the summer (even in hot, hot Phoenix). My mom, much like Brandy, was an expert at creatively turning “nothing” into something special.

    Some fun things I remember doing:

    Playing “dress-up.” Mom kept an old suitcase filled with odds and ends (old lace curtains made great bridal veils), and my friends and I would have a ball. Don’t think this is just for girls, either. My son has such fun dressing up in super-hero costumes of his own creation, and he and some friends are now making their own movies complete with props and costumes. Store-bought things aren’t necessary, but sometimes you can get some good deals on wigs, etc., during the after-Halloween sales. Yard sales and thrift stores would be good sources too.

    Reading/going to the library. I was a true bookworm–plus, the library had air conditioning! We still do this, as both my husband and son are bookworms as well.

    Stamp collecting. I loved seeing stamps from around the world. The books were a small investment, I imagine. They were a Christmas gift one year. I could order small bags of stamps for just a few cents 40 years ago. I’ve seen ads more recently, and they still seem fairly reasonable (about $2). This could be combined with books from the library about different countries.

    Painting with paint-by-number sets. (Do they still make these?) I have no idea if they would still be reasonably priced, but they sure were fun.

    Coloring (coloring books were cheap when I was a kid, or like Brandy suggested coloring pages work as well). Sometimes Mom would even color with me! 🙂

    Going through my mom’s cedar chest to look at my and my older brothers’ baby clothes, baby books, etc. We would also look at old family photo albums, and Mom would tell stories of times past. It was such fun to hear about the childhoods of my mom and dad (both of whom grew up during the Great Depression), my grandparents, and even my older brothers (who were 11 and 13 when I was born, so pretty much out of the house during my grade school years).

    Playing “store” with boxes and bottles Mom saved from our own groceries.

    Playing with paper dolls (both hand-me-downs from older cousins and homemade ones).

    Climbing trees and picking mulberries. (And taking my dolls and books up into the trees as well–Swiss Family Robinson style!)

    Making mud pies (complete with lantana flower decorations).

    Swimming at the homes of friends. We never had a pool, but friends did. Running through the sprinkler sufficed at home. (Sadly, I now live in So. Cal. so this year all sprinkler fun is out of the picture for my son due to the drought. Fortunately, he gets to swim at the local high school.)

    Also, while this is not truly “at home,” I always loved going to Girl Scout and church summer camps (there were scholarships available), and Vacation Bible School at our church and the churches of several neighbors.

    Thanks again for prompting such happy memories. It’s amazing what imagination and a little creativity can bring.

  42. My girls made a list of things they wanted to do this week. The weather has not cooperated to have the normal outside activities that we normally do. It rained non stop for weeks and now it is dangerously hot. They have been reading, playing video games, helping with extra housework while I’m gone for a few hours working, painting, drawing, playing with their dog, playing games with me, writing and talking to friends on the phone. I will take them to the local museum down the road that’s owned by the University of Mo. It’s free! I also take them with me to work so they can see all the cool thing’s scientists do. They go around and chat with everyone there. They have been going since they were very young. My fellow scientists love to see how they have grown up! Our downtown is very vibrant with many cool stores. Just window shopping is great. There is a spray park there as well for free. I just hope it cools down so we can get out and enjoy.

  43. Hello! Long time reader and first time commenter. I love your blog, thank you for all your uplifting posts. I just wanted to chime in with a suggested show you can find on YouTube, it’s Beautrix Potter’s stories as cartoons and they are wonderful, biased off her drawings and books, and with beautiful music. We love them! I’m in Hou, Tx where not only is it stinking hot and humid but the mosquitoes are horrendous so we stay in doors until it cools in the fall. Summer is our winter and with two boys aged 1 and 3 this is a timely post. We enjoy watching thunderstorms in the big windows our house has, coloring, baking in the morning, and reading lots and lots of books. I want to start art journaling with them so if we find a stink bug, we draw it or see a robin eating a beetle out the window we draw it and talk a lot about it. We live without a back yard (long story) and off a busy road though we visit my parents garden often and intend to play a lot outdoors when the weather provides us to do so and drives away the mosquitoes. Thanks for the inspiration to find more things to do! 🙂

  44. We used to go camping every summer as a kid. The year my little sister (I was 11 and the youngest)was born we couldn’t go. We were all very upset. My dad got the camping gear out and set it up in the back yard. I slept out there 3 nights in a row. It was great. Every year after we would ask him to set the tent up in the yard to do backyard camping. We still went real camping too. I’ve done it with my kids and they love it.

  45. I am/was a fan of Disney and have been several times to the Disney in Florida. BUT ….WOW the costs have went thru the roof. The hotel we stayed at several years ago is now over $400 per night WITHOUT park passes or meals. My thought is this is a bit excessive and Disney is less family oriented now a days….

  46. My grandchildren come to spend one-on-one time with Grandma & Grandpa each summer. Depending on their ages, they stay for 3 days to a week. Playing in the sprinkler is a biggie for the little ones, as is walking down to the elementary school to play on the climbing structures. I have a set of razor scooters the grandkids ride around our cul-de-sac. Picking fruit from Grandma’s berry bushes & trees is something they enjoy, & the older ones like to make jam & jelly with me. We stock up on ice cream bars, frozen yogurt popsicles in Ice Tups, & Creamies before they come & more often than not, the homemade popsicles are the ones they like best. What each of them has commented on, as their “favorite” thing, is that there are 2 adults, Grandma & Grandpa, paying attention to only them. The 9 year old is visiting right now.

    Yesterday he deconstructed a white lattice that had seen better days into small enough pieces to go in the garbage can, using only leather gloves & a claw hammer. He used a small ladder & climbed up on the roof of the shed to use my loppers to trim branches off a weed tree. He doesn’t usually get to use loppers, since he is the youngest at his house, & using them while on the roof of a shed seemed downright adventurous! We trimmed the leaves from the branches & cut them into 6″ lengths to fit in the camping /emergency stove as fuel when they are dry. I pulled out the camping box to let him see the camping/emergency stove, fit it together & see how the little pieces of wood would work as fuel. We took in the recycling, since he brought a large bag of soda cans & vegetable cans with him. I had a full “punch card” that I had saved for either he or his sister to redeem, & so he was allowed to spin the wheel. It came up on “t-shirt”, but they were out. Instead he was allowed to pick from the other available items, which included a 12 pack of Sprite, a 12 pack of Root Beer, & a 12 pack of A&W Cream Soda. The cream soda is his favorite so he chose that, & received a frozen Otter Pop as well. The recycling we took in paid $2 for he & his sister to split. He helped me make BBQ pork ribs in the crockpot & covered the frozen pork pieces with the BBQ sauce. He had never cooked in the crockpot before, so to him it was something new & fun. He loves potato salad, so we had that with the pork ribs for dinner. He helped me do the watering. Since they don’t have a grass lawn where he lives, this was new, as was Grandma mowing. We noticed the birds had pecked holes in two of the Red Haven peaches that were just starting to get ripe, so we picked all 8 peaches on the little tree, & put them in one of the glass ripening bowls.

    Today we watered again, then cut up a branch we pruned off one of the apple trees, & salvaged the wood as camping/emergency fuel. We are repairing the broken latch on the door of the same shed. He helped me trace off a pattern, then worked with me to remove the old screws that did not want to come out. He has painted the new base for the latch, with both white & black enamel paint, in multiple coats. In between coats, while the paint dried, we headed over to the Emergency Essentials store, where we picked up one of the orange emergency/camping stoves for him to use in Scouts. This evening we will use my hand drill to pre-drill the holes, then screw the support piece in place & attach the latch.

    Everyone’s experience is different. Some of my neighbors are aghast that I have never been to Disneyland, & that we never took our children. My parents knew a family who went to Disneyland, & while they were there, the 3 year old daughter was kidnapped. They never saw her again, & she was never found, & my mother was adamant we would never go. The experience took the “shine” off the mouse for our family. I have neighbors now who go to Disneyland every year, but it is not something we ever plan to do with our grandchildren. We prefer fun at home.

  47. Grammy Sue, I think it is wonderful that you are investing time into your grandchilds life. My mother is constantly wanting to take my children on expensive vacations and I wish that she would just spend time with them. When I was pregnant with my first child I was visiting with my husbands grandma and she told me something I will never forget, “Children need very little material things but they can never have too much love.” That has always stuck with me, especially since she was extremely poor as a child and was the most caring person and always made you feel so good just talking to her.

  48. Like yours, my library also has free movies during the summer. They have a one family/children’s movie each week and one that’s geared more toward adults. They also provide snacks. I expect many libraries provide this service.

    In addition to movies, my town has a free “Concert in the Park” one evening each week. The music varies but includes things like brass bands, solo singing artists and cover bands. The movies and concerts are done on different nights so it’s possible to go to both each week.
    It’s worth checking with your local community center to see what they offer.

  49. I am in my 60’s, and an expensive trip of any kind was out of the question for our family of 8. Nevertheless, I had a magical childhood. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was a lot different for a child than it is today. Summers were a lot of fun in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin because we children could get anywhere on our own! We were in walking distance of city parks, beaches, the library, shopping etc. We could also ride our bikes to our destinations or take the city bus. (A dime in those days, which included a transfer if needed!) Plus, the neighborhood was full of kids, and we all played outside all day.

    With my own four children, they had wonderful childhood memories and experiences that did not include a trip to Disneyland. Hillary, you are being very shortsighted if you think that spending money is what makes a happy childhood! Now, I have three granddaughters, and history repeats itself. I find they want undivided attention from my husband and me, their grandparents, more than anything!

  50. One of our favorite summer traditions is when we have Kids Day! We get all of the cousins together and my sisters, my mom and I plan a day of fun games and activities for the kids. This year we’re going to do a dinner and a night swim party so the kids can play with glow sticks in the pool. The two oldest cousins are leaving for church missions in the fall so it will be the last time they are all together.

  51. Hello all!

    My theme this summer was to have just plain old fun! We have done all the freebies-library activities, concerts, museums, movies, fitness activities, 5K walks, vacation Bible school, church camps (ours offers them free to families of limited means). We also have quiet time either in the afternoon or late afternoon. Then we may go swimming or for a walk near the river. We also do crafts together 2-3 times a week. My girls are school age to college age and we all do things together.

    When I was more financially able I took my children on trips in fact all over the country including Hawaii and Alaska. Most of them don’t remember the trips but Hawaii does stay in their memory. We went to Disneyland and Disney World but they still only have vague memories. The trips stopped because my daughter has a tumor in her head and her medical care and condition created challenges for us. My plan was to take them on a week long trip simple vacation in August but medical bills got in the way again. Instead, we are going to “go away” for a vacation and visit family and see the “free” sites in those cities.

    Either way having a home vacation or out of town trip to a special place is great! For me getting away this summer is just to have “a retreat” and reflect.

    Take care,


  52. I was just about to say that I couldn’t believe that nobody had mentioned that incredibly adorable picture of Ivory. Just too cute!

  53. I have never commented but have read for the past few years. My son has a disability and has had to have surgery this summer. Which involves lots of physiotherapy. So I’m off work and we are down to one income. So this summer has been a summer of basically free things. We have taken advantage of our children’s hospitals’ beautiful wheelchair accessible garden. We planted veg and fruit plants in our garden. He has been helping me tend to the garden. We spend time reading and playing. Normally I put him in a day care program in the summer which I work but this the first year that I have taken off with him. He has been so happy. He sees the commercials for Disneyland and when I tell him I have to go back to work to pay for that he changes his mind and asks to go to the park. We hope after his therapy that he will have a couple of weeks of nothing booked daily. He wants to just play with his toys with his friends. It brings me back to my summers. I’m from a very small town and we just played from sun up to sun down. There was a big field across the street from me and we played softball in the summer and skated there in the winter. I usually over plan summer but this summer has taught me that bubbles and a park and attention is all my child wants.

  54. I guess a struck a sensitive cord with you, Ms. Prudence. If you can’t afford to give life experiences to your children, who’s problem is that? Obviously yours. Struggling financially should not be a part of a child’s DNA. Can you image? This is the land of the free where you have multiple opportunities to make and increase your income.
    Stick up the ass is how I would best describe you, Ms. Prudence. Too bad your children will only know 40 cents worth of soup and how to collect water from their showers and air conditioners. Great job.

  55. Your comment about the hammer and the scrap wood brought back wonderful childhood memories. I have two sisters (so, three girls in the family) and one year we all got hammers for Christmas. My dad had a bunch of scrap wood that we were allowed to build things with in the back yard. We had a blast. And I still have my hammer to this day. 🙂

  56. Angela,
    Are those the British-produced Beatrix Potter videos that begin w/ an actress playing the part of Potter as she greets animals and then sits down to write one of her stories? If so, those are THE BEST! They are so well done. My boys, ages 17 and almost 13, still love to watch them, though we tend to watch when it’s colder out. The Tailor of Gloucester (nicknamed “No More Twist”) is probably the family favorite and gets requested on particularly blustery days. I think I originally found the DVDs at the library.

  57. Brandy, I have never posted before … but just wanted to say Bless you for the way you continuously lift others up. The world needs more kind souls such as you 🙂

  58. We don’t have water restrictions here, my children love to play with the hose. Whatta mess. They pretend the back steps are a fire truck. They like to eat the berries growing in the yard and play in the sand box. It is still very difficult for me to do involved crafts and planned experiments because the baby is into EVERYTHING. Sooo I know next summer will be more fun. I am really looking forward to moving so that they can have a better yard. Personally, I do not want to take ours to Disney. I think it is very overstimulating and encourages consumerism. We are taking them to a baseball game later in the summer and the beach, we took them to the aquarium last week. But that’ll be it for day trips.

  59. We raised our boys on a small farm where they had chickens, pigs, beef cattle, and cats for “friends”. They worked hard helping with the animals and in our huge garden but there was always time everyday for all of us to play. It’s so fun now listening to them reminisce about some of the goofy activities we did for fun. We did take a few trips over the years but they don’t talk about them like they do the free things we did at home. To them throwing overgrown yellow cucumbers to the chickens and watching them scramble for the seeds was fun. Riding the pigs was always a hit with them and their friends.

  60. I am a Nana to six beautiful grandchildren! I live out in the country and when the kids come here they want to take a walk down the dirt road down the road from my house. It fascinates them, they pick up rocks and leaves and wildflowers and even look at the different colors of dirt in the ditches on the side of the road. They also all want to play on top of our concrete storm cellar and when we finally get in the house they love cutting out sugar cookies and decorating them. I hope that they will remember all the fun they had at Nana and Papa’s house even though there was not alot of money involved. Taking nice vacations when you can is a good thing, but generally it’s the little things those kids remember!

  61. My own favorite summer memory was getting my first library card and being stunned to find out I could take 4 books out each week for FREE! My mother took me into town every week on her errands and we stopped at the library and I got to pick out my own books. It still makes me happy just thinking about it.

  62. Hilary,

    I have readers who are living on their food storage. They are struggling. I asked you to be sensitive to them.

    I did not put you down. I even agreed with you. I think it’s great that you can take your children to Disneyland. I’m sure your family will have a lot of fun and it will be a great memory for your family.

    I asked you not to put others down because they do not make as much money as you do. If you’ve read the comments that others wrote, you will see that many of them do not take vacations of any kind, because it’s not in their budgets. Many are struggling with medical bills, other bills, and unemployment.

    As far as saving water–I live in the driest state in the nation. We are in a 15-year drought. If Lake Mead falls much further, people in three states have to go on water rationing. California already has water rationing (24-32%, depending on the city) , and Southern California gets their water from here. There is nothing wrong with saving water, and if it saves me money, that’s a bonus! I have no problem with my children learning to conserve water in a drought; it makes them responsible citizens.

    My children do lots of wonderful things. My son just returned from a week at Scout camp. They do lots of great things in their lives, and they are happy and healthy children. Life experiences are not only trips to Disneyland, as my readers have shown in their responses to you.

    As far as struggling financially–we’re not. We’re doing just fine this year. If you noticed, we tripled our grocery budget. We’ve had hard years in the past, but this year is a good one. I continue to write to those who are struggling, because that is why I write. I want a place where people can feel that they can make the best with what they have, no matter what their income is.

    For that reason, I don’t normally publish comments like the ones you have written, but for now, I’ll let yours stand.

  63. Hilary, you might want to invest in a spell checker. Successfully pulling off a rude, superior tone falls flat when the post has multiple spelling & grammatical errors.

  64. First I would like to applaud everyone for being positive and showing grace. Brandy I believe you were “trolled”, but I guess that just shows how popular your blog and website are…small, under the radar blogs don’t get trolls..lol

    When things heat up here in Louisiana the natives get restless, the adults are forced out of their sweet tea dreams and creative fun has to show up in spades. We have taken a mini break, over night stay this summer with my boys and nephews to a couple of historical sites(as a reward for summer enrichment), but other than that trip we have enjoyed kids bowl free, skating, dollar movies, homemade slip and slides, crazy building projects involving free bamboo, all night xbox and movie marathons. They have learned the NATO alphabet(Alpha, Bravo, Charlie,etc), how to make skateboard ramps, paper ninja stars( thanks YouTube), and camped out either under the dining room table or under the stars. For vacation, even though my family is not struggling financially and we could pay to go to Disneyland and World.. We instead are going camping in the mountains with friends and family in tents, although we have a camper. Why? Cause family, after The Lord comes first. Memories must be made, stories told, foolishness and giggles treasured.

    Hope everyone is having And continues to have a safe and fun summer.

  65. Hilary, I am a 58 year old with a daughter I raised as a single Mom(widowed when she was 3) that daughter is 800 miles away in graduate school. i was telling her about someone’s trip to Disney and that I was sorry we never went. She asked me what I remembered about my summers as a kid.What I remember and hold in my heart? My Mom standing at the kitchen sink, cleaning produce, with the windows open until noon. Walking up behind her and getting a hug. Watching her refill a backyard pool over and over, making a 1000 sandwiches for every kid in the neighborhood. Helping her can fruit and vegetables. That was 50 yrs ago and I can still remember those mornings like yesterday.

  66. I thought she looked awfully small. But so glad you were able to find one to work with your lenses.

  67. I remember my older brother and I spending hours in the garage making “boats” with some scrap pieces of wood and some finishing nails we found out there. They looked nothing like boats, but we had fun hammering…such good memories! And yes, we did hit our thumbs, but we learned that it hurt and to try not to do it again. That’s why I included this idea.

  68. Hilary, it saddens me that you seem to be missing the everyday enjoyment of life! It’s not about how many things you can afford to do or how well off you are, it’s about love, spending time with your children and enjoying every moment. It is very obvious from your comments that you are missing a few of those things. I will be praying for you! I also wonder why you look on this site in the first place. It’s unfortunate that Brandy has to deal with such hate when she is doing such a great job and has shown nothing but love and kindness.

  69. Hello readers,

    My kids and I also do volunteer work in the summer. While not thought as a “fun” activity it actually can be. Some of the volunteer activities have included opportunities for the kids to go to the zoo, camps, skating, or swimming at the local surf recreational spot. Volunteering also instills the humanity element I want my children to learn.

    I thought I made a comment but I don’t see it. Guess it got lost in “posting land” 😉


  70. I am frankly shocked at the rude and condescending tone of the post above. I was hoping for a more respectful dialogue. The truth is that our trials and adversities are what make us great people. As a historian, I can point to the fact that the Great Depression produced some of the greatest people ever – people that fought in WWII and won. They knew the power of sacrifice and putting others before self.

    I’ve been to Disneyland and Disneyworld and frankly that wasn’t all that. I stood in long lines in the hot sun for a few moments of adventure and excitement. My fondest memories are of eating hamburgers down at the pond with my family – no standing in line for that. I can have a lot more fun for a lot less money.

    What you said about this being the land of the free is true. We do have the opportunities to increase our income and Brandy’s frugality is doing just that. Benjamin Franklin said that a penny saved is a penny earned. I can’t take my kids to Disney (and have no desire to really) because I would rather spend the money on school. I just started working full-time so that I can pay for school myself rather than relying on the government. I am going to use my degree to get a great job so that I can help pay for my children’s education and missions. That’s where my priorities are. For some people here, survival is a priority. Every penny that we can save is worth it. I love Brandy’s post somewhere on here about how if she hadn’t done the things she’s been doing that she would have lost her house. Quite frankly, having a house is more important than Disney. And I’m quite sure that children would rather remember having a house in which to make fond memories more than a short trip. For some people, it is possible to have both. For others, it isn’t. It’s completely illogical to judge other people’s life circumstances by your own.

    I have no doubt that Brandy’s children will grow up having great memories of things they did with their family. And they will have the tools they need to get through any financial adversity. They won’t be the ones seeking help from others. They will be the ones helping others. I applaud you, Brandy, for your efforts. You have been a rich source of blessings for me and my family. Thanks so much!

  71. Brandy, and her readers, make many environmentally sound suggestions, that also happen to be frugal. Saving water in the desert is a noble pursuit. Likewise, being able to feed families from homegrown vegetables is a noble, healthy pursuit. Personally, I loathe Disney World because it I think it is generally fake, manmade, and expensive, and I prefer State and National parks, which were made by our Father above, but to each his own. Teaching children a foreign language, such as French, is a noble pursuit, and will bode them well as they step out in the world. Benjamin Franklin, who was a brilliant man, had many interesting quotes on thrift and economy. I appreciate the remarks you make about church also Brandy, because I share your religion, and I attend a very small branch and I live very far from other members. I would like to thank you Brandy, and your readers, for your contributions to the column, because you have improved my quality of life. Blessings to all of you. Hilary, please enjoy your trip.

  72. You know, I guess some people live a privileged life. For those of us who don’t, we gain in other areas. A nature walk with my child means more to me ,and my son, than the experience of riding a roller coaster.(It’s more of a learning and bonding experience) It all boils down to self esteem. If you put others down, is that what you are teaching your child? If you don’t teach your children prudence and tolerance for others, what are you teaching him or her? Hillary you are going to be in for a shock when you get older and you are expecting these children to have values that you haven’t instilled.
    You know, I really don’t think Abe Lincoln ever went to Disneyland.


  73. I would like to add that I really admire you Brandy. I couldn’t do all that you do. You have children that are gems. Children learn from a parent’s example. You have and are doing a great job. A person’s character speaks for itself, in how that person lives his daily life.

  74. Brandy, your tip was 100% correct! When my son went to eat a popsicle the next day, it easily slid out of the mold in one piece….indicating that your theory was correct. They just needed to freeze a bit longer. Lisa

  75. Thank you for this timely post, Brandy. Our summer has been one of fits-and-starts for a variety of reasons. Needless to say, my husband is on me practically every day to “get out and do something” with our kids. I’m really not one for big family vacations or even going out of the house much. I suffer from anxiety and unpredictable panic attacks so I’d really rather stay close to home. Living in a climate similar to yours, I understand the necessity of having fun activities to do indoors because this is our “winter” of sorts. Unfortunately, my husband does not agree and thinks there are plenty of things to do and ways to get the kids out of the house. We have the classic games on the shelves, but I still hear the “I’m bored” mantra that every child (including myself, I’m sure) has pulled on their parents at some time or another. That only fuels his argument further, it seems. We have had children over to our home to play as well as visited other families, but for some reason his idea of a “fun” summer does not include those activities. We don’t have a pool or electronic gadgets (except our home computer), but we have been frequenting the local pool at least. I try to rent movies from the library or Redbox when I get a code for a free one, but even that is met with criticism because I try to rent educational ones. I rented “Lemurs” and, if he were an eye-roller, that would have been his most polite response. Maybe I’m being too rigid, but it’s difficult to think out-of-the-box when all those ideas take me out of my comfort zone. The picture of Ivory just had me swooning, too. She’s so precious! It also reminded me of the days when my girls were that little and spent the better part of the day changing in and out of costumes. Thank you for letting me get some of this off my chest and for the wonderful ideas you posted here which I am excited to use with my kids. Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer! God Bless, Andrea

  76. Oh, my. Did you just migrate from GOMI, Hillary?

    Brandy, one super fun thing we did at a family reunion this summer was to make giant bubbles. You can find this on Youtube, but it basically is a long piece of yarn tied between 2 sticks. The yarn is dipped in a pie plate of bubbles and then gently moved back and forth as the child holds the sticks. Voila! Giant bubbles! The children actually kept the adults entertained for 2 hours doing this.

  77. I look forward to this blog every week and being that I have taken on an extra child to support (nephew)… It all adds up. I love the spirit here and it really is something I look forward to.

  78. We cannot provide the trips and outings that our grandchildren’s other grandparents can. My disability and our frugality prevent those kinds of outings. Yet, when grandchildren come here, they can have a PJ day. Our grandchildren, with days heavily scheduled at home, think that is the coolest thing ever. They spend hours constructing anything their imagination leads them to construct out of paper towel tubes, cardboard boxes, and other freebies I’ve gathered since their last visits. A how-to Ed Emberley drawing book I purchased for a pittance and a ream of copy paper purchased with a rebate have meant hours of activities, too. (Brandy, that balloon activity looks great!) The activities and trips that they experience with their other grandparents is just as fun and just as important in creating a breadth of experiences. However, what they get here is lots of my uninterrupted time. We cook. We talk, uninterruptedly, when they’re ready to talk. I learn about a grandson’s interest in creating games via the Unreal Engine and a granddaughter’s excitement over a new pink processor for her cochlear implant. That deaf grandchildren records songs she’s written on my computer. Grandchildren are handed my (prepaid) phone and allowed to take pictures to document what they’re doing during the day. I find those pictures after they’re gone, editing the 100 or so down to the few that best document their visit. They don’t know it, but I deliberately hold back from filling up all their time or jumping in to suggest a new activity. Once they start getting bored, they start creating. Being bored is necessary to discovering what it is you enjoy doing and what you’re talented at doing, I’ve always felt. That’s how I discovered I wanted to write. That’s how one of my daughters discovered the same thing while her sister was discovering an interest in houses and how they’re constructed. Now, I get to watch an older granddaughter teach younger ones beginning gymnastics moves, just as her mother used to teach other children. I am privileged to watch one granddaughter and our grandson show their interest in science and mathematics, warming this former physics major’s heart. Our grandchildren put on productions in our living room. Sometimes they’re wearing play clothes that their mothers wore when they put on plays in their childhood. Like Grammy Sue, I hope they remember that this Grammie gave them my time, gave them so much down time that they became bored, and then gave them my attention again when they created something when bored. I know they will, after they enter and then exit those teen years when we older people are just oh-so-boring and embarrassing. I know they will because those are the cycles I went through with my own grandmother, a woman who taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

  79. Andrea, the Cool Math site has a lot of free, fun games for all different ages. My BFF’s daughter loves the site and would stay on it all day if her mom let her.

  80. When we were little, my sisters and I would cut out the people from magazines and catalogs and different clothes to make paper dolls. We would also cut out dogs and cats and furniture. The sky was the limit! (or at least we were only limited to the magazine pictures!). This was an absolutely free activity since we could get free magazines from the library. Sooooo much fun!

  81. Today was the last day of the Summer Playground Program my son has attended for the last 4 weeks. He’s gone to this wonderful FREE program that’s run by the Principal at our Elementary school since 2010. They play organized games with Teen volunteers and the program director also joins in on the fun. They played Flag Football, SkyBall Baseball, whiffleball. During rainy days, they played kickball indoors. This program also serves breakfast and lunch free to attendees as part of our County’s Feed the Children Summer food program as we are a very low income County in the state of Ohio.

    Today was the final day and it was celebrated by a picnic with food donated from a local caterer and all kids in attendance today got a free t-shirt. My son was lucky enough to win 4 tickets to a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Lake County Captains 🙂

    Football practice starts on Monday!

  82. Plus Brandy’s frugal ways ARE saving our environment! Water is a finite resource as is fossil fuel. Once it’s gone, there’s NO getting it back. :/;)

  83. Our summer plans with kids have changed a lot over the years. I’ve been raising children for around 29 years:) We are working on adopting our 8th. When we ended up with our grand-daughter 2 summers ago, I needed to adjust my thinking because my brain was thinking I was “moving on” from this stage of life! We also had a pretty big challenge with a then-9-year-old child who had suffered more than some of the others (all are adopted from the foster care system, all suffered, hers lasted longer than most:().

    So, in years past, I’ve done many of the ideas listed above and wish I had known of many more! I also worked on a family farm in the past, and just took them all along. You are all so creative. We didn’t do as many “paid” fun activities because we had so many children at home then and simply didn’t have the $. Seasons of life played into the equation, as it will for each of you. Now that I’m a little older and more tired, sometimes I choose to pay for a little more so they still keep busy. But, since I don’t work much during the summer, it’s tighter and we still need to conserve. (I had taken on more work because I though I was almost done child-rearing because I only had 1 teenager left to parent–life has a way of changing. I am cutting back a little, now that she’s staying, but it takes a while for me to fulfill my committments)

    2 summers ago, we did activities several times per week with her, because, due to the unfortunate choices her mother had made, she did not know us at all, and, in fact was scared of us. All of that was to get to know each other. Then, she moved in at the end of that summer. We chose library programs, swimming lessons, VBS, parks, picnics, etc. Because we had to drive quite a distance each time (transportation was all on us), the cost still added up. Still, in the end, it was totally worth it because she felt comfortable when she finally moved in. During the past 2 years, things have progressed to the point of her needing a “forever family” and we are it. We are still going to court every so often, but have filled things out and have been officially approved as her adoptive placement. We are just waiting for a big trial in September to finish things up-hopefully. Then, more paperwork, of course:)

    Last summer, we had all 3 girls in 4H as usual and we spent a lot of time getting projects ready–sewing, cooking, gardening, etc. 4 H is a wonderful way to build life-skills. We have been doing it for ovr 25 years. We also had the girls go to church camp and the youngest got to go to a special camp for foster children–it was amazing.

    This summer, we took a mission trip in June, and then vacationed on our way home. We did Disneyland for 2-1/2 days, then worked our way up California, through the Redwoods, then home to Oregon. We had the 2 youngest and our niece. (One stayed home to work) The mission trip was a great way to spend a week. We were processing peaches and soup mix that will be distributed to hungry people around the world. Helping others is a great way to get everyone’s focus off themselves, we think.

    The youngest had never been to the big D. Every other cousin, sibling, etc. had. Many promises had been made to her about getting to go, and none had been kept. So, this was yet another symbol to her that she belonged to our family, was staying, etc. We had to have extra therapy for quite a few weeks for her to be able to overcome the anxiety of leaving home, as in the past leaving meant never returning….We had to make special accomodations for her when she got overwhelmed. I had to negotiate 3 ADHD girls who all got “stuck” on different ideas of what ride we should ride, etc. So, we had to “talk it out” over and over, and take turns. In the end, they all come out of it feeling that they had fun:) It was a lot of work. It’s hard to explain why we would go to so much trouble for something that was so much work for us and her. I wouldn’t change it. We were able to build a little trust, we came home when we were done, we fulfulled a dream she had wished for for a long, long time. We can never give her back her early childhood (she’s 11 now). All we hope to do it give her as many of the experiences as we can that many children experience. That looks different for every family–there’s no “right” or “wrong” as to which experiences she gets, in my opinion, and we know we can’t “fix/solve/change” anything that happened to her. We just want her to be able to look back and have some good memories. I will be excited when she is older to see which things were significant to her. We had saved for a long time to be able to go, and we won’t go again for a long time, but I’m glad we did for so many reasons. The camping, in a tent, was awesome. (I wasn’t sure–we have a RV, but couldn’t take it and in fact, it’s in bad shape right now) Each night, as we camped–once in the Redwoods and once on the Southern Oregon Coast, the girls got more relaxed. They were able to decompress from the extreme excitement, stimulation, etc. We stopped in San Francisco and bought lots of chocolate at Ghiradelli Square. They happily munched their way up the coast:) The 2 oldest are very proud of their ability to put up the tent alone (by the 2nd night). Our niece was all eyes and ears as she had not experienced foil dinners, etc. as they don’t camp.

    Because we “blew our wad” at the beginning of the summer, the rest of the summer has been pre-planned camps, VBS, library, etc. More than that, I’ve just let her play with the new kitten for hours at a time. She follows me to the garden in the evenings when it’s cooler and weeds her little garden area. She’s SO proud of her tomato that is ripening. We have cooked together several times and I am reading the Trixie Belden mysteries to her. We are on #6. The 2 youngest are in a dance class one time per week until mid-August (I prepaid in June so I wouldn’t have to scrape up that money in the summer). We still make countless trips to therapy, doctors, dentists, orthodontists, DHS, caseworkers, CASA workers, etc. One week she had 5 or 6 appointments. So, that takes a lot of time as well. It’s not summer fun, but it does keep us busy:)

    We have 2 more tent camping experiences planned for the end of the summer, since it went so well. We get free camping in any Oregon State Park with our foster/adoptive park pass. It helps a lot with the cost. We only have to pay the $6 fee to reserve the site.

    Brandy, I do want to say thank you for all the work you do on this site. I’m sure there are days when you wonder why you do it. I would like to encourage you to keep your sweet spirit and positive attitude. All the ideas are very helpful. Isn’t it AWESOME to have a good year, financially? I’m very happy for you. We’ve lived through ups and downs ourselves. Frankly, I prefer “ups!” Who doesn’t?

    I don’t think you could possible top the gift you are giving your children by being a good mama to them. If they never took a trip anywhere, never had pizza, never swam in a swimming pool, or any one of the 1000’s of life experiences they have had, they would still be extremely blessed. Ask any one of my kids. Because of the fact that we actually had this grand-daughter briefly as an infant during a rocky time of her mother’s life, she’s expressed more than once how much she wishes she had gotten to just stay with us. So, never, never under-estimate what you do:)

  84. Hi Melanie! I have heard of the Cool Math site although we haven’t used it in some time. Thank you for refreshing my memory of it. Maybe this will be another option for some fun for the kids. I do like to limit their time on our computer, but I don’t think I would be opposed to them using it for 30 minutes or so a day. I think at this point I just need prayers that I make it through…just had another nasty argument with hubby about the summer slipping away and “what am I going to do about it”? :p My littlest one came over to me while I was reading the blog earlier and saw the picture of the felt dollies off to the side. She got so excited and wanted to make them! Such sweet innocence. I’d love for us to make them together! Take care and thanks again for the website suggestion. 🙂

  85. At bedtime my three year old son and I always share what our favourite part of the day was. After one particularly too expensive day filled with outings, a restaurant and a toy store I was brought to tears when he said his favourite part was “when you said I love you and hugged me super tight”. Lesson learned from that night on, skip the credit card bills and say I love you so much more!

  86. Elizabeth – I can’t believe you brought this up! My sister and I would do the same with the Sears Catalogue. My mom would never get a chance to look at any of them we’d scoop them up as soon as they came in the mail and disappear in our room for hours cutting and matching outfits. Loved this!!!!

  87. We have such a temperate climate that we spend a lot of our time wandering outside. We are walking distance from both a beach and provincial park so we through rocks in the lake and make things with sticks and look for bugs – the usual stuff.
    A few little things that I have found worked well for us (he’s 3)
    – play with ice cubes, a big bowl of water and some plastic animals
    – freeze finger paint in old ice cube trays, pop them out when frozen, let them sit for a few minutes and have them paint with the cubes
    – scavenger hunts, sometimes with hand drawn pirate treasure maps, in the newest version I hide all the pieces to a puzzle around the house and he puts it together as he finds it
    – one thing I always loved as a kid and he seems to as well is looking through baby books, old family albums, boxes of my childhood stuff that’s put away and watching home movies

    Wonderful comments everyone, so many beautiful mothers, aunts and grandmothers and very lucky children!

  88. Hillary- too bad no one ever taught you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all!
    As for us, we have been doing plenty of read alouds and trips to the library for their reading program. We also take a family walk every evening. The kids have been gardening and we have lots of zucchini coming in. We are having a fun day tomorrow with our extended family and cousins and the kids can’t wait! Brandy, you are an inspiration to us all, God Bless!

  89. Hahaha. Your comment made me laugh, Celina. (the “all blocky” part) Brilliant. I’m so blessed to read this site with a lot of much smarter people than myself!!! I am off to track down some graph paper in my “office”/craft space. Our 2 boys will be thrilled tomorrow morning to find the paper and their rulers (already have those) and pencils ready for Minecraft fun!! Awesome idea. Thank you, Heidi

  90. Julie, I have done the eating in a funny place in summers past, but I had completely forgotten about it! Thank you for mentioning this. I think for lunch one day next week I’m going to let the boys eat UNDER the table. (I know some of you may not applaud this because of the amount of time sometimes spent teaching children to sit, or keep seated, and comply with acceptable behaviours (sorry, Canadian spelling 😉 ) at the table just to have it imploded in 3 seconds with this idea. I considered this myself 😉 ha. But, I’m going with life being full of exceptions. And our kids are 7 1/2 and 11. So, I’ll also go with moving from concrete/black & white thinking to more abstract/grey notions?? *giggle*) and, if I were to guess they may bring it up at our annual “end of summer” dinner where we like to recap our fave summer memories…:)
    I’m off to jot a list of my fave things to do with my very busy boys…I’ll share tomorrow.

  91. Agreed, Janell. We’ve been able to find several geocache sites, and we don’t have a phone OR a GPS. Weird, I know, but I just googled a few nearby, and off we went. We had a lot of fun! I’m working on getting us a handheld GPS, but in the meantime, we managed a few simple ones 🙂

  92. Why are you even on this site Hilary?!??
    You obviously know what Brandy is about but turn around and attack her for it??

    -when I was a kid, we lived on a military base. We would take a family walk to the MP(military police) station and be allowed to choose one item from the vending machine. 😀
    -I loved taking my girls to Barnes and noble for the free story time.
    -free movies on Weds…children’s movies previously released.
    -every couple yrs…my parents saved up to drive from VA to CA. All change collected over the yrs for gas. We would get to my grandmas house filled w cousins and play hide and seek at night(we did this into our teens!) it’s my favorite memory I have w my extended family.

  93. we were big on dress up box still have one for the grand kids they came into town last week and this little viove on the phone says grammy can you find the scissor box? yep she wants that or dressup or both. the scissor box is the name she gave a craft box it has paper old cards scissors glue sticks trims ink pads and stamps and markers color pencils and stickers i add to it alot. When they were here they were sad that rasp time was over. When our girls were little i went to yrd sales to get things we needed and goodwills do you know they both do that now and when they come home they want to do that. We never had money but we did have lots of love. Our income has gone on a roller coaster type ride for ever when it was up i was busy stocking up for when it was down i am thankful for all the hard times we have gone thru they have prepared me for this time in our life. The kids never shoulder the financial stuff they have fun and never realize the ups and downs….Kind of like our fav story we read at Christmas …..The candle in the forest. We love that story. Our Christmas gift from our oldest this last year was a visit to florida to see them in feb we had a nice time they were very frugal took us to sea world where her husband works and got us tickets took us on a tour thru St. Augustine where we got on this little red train to take the tour we were up front and the fumes were strong so we had our picnic and reboarded this red train sitting in the rear oh my gosh it was scary to me it was like being the end of the whip when roller skating after securing the grand kids between papa and grammy we whipped around…on the way home i asked the kids what was their fav part mine was the peaceful walk on the beach hunting shells they both said together the train so kids have memories and fun from things you would not expect we were busy trying to keep the grand kids from flying out and i was getting a bruise from holding the picnic bag between my feet and yet it was the time of their life amazing a good example the parents are for kids we raised them to help others and that day our daughter and son in law gave money to a homeless person and when we were done with lunch she gave a sandwich to a homeless man who appreciated it that is what our grand kids see. I love the ideas that you shared to the moms i was forever trying to come up with fun thing pre computer i will use some of these ideas next time my wee ones come . I can remember hiding stuffed animals all around and we got into the dress up box dressed for a safari we were to go spot the wild animals halfway thru the bishop called and papa said what i was wearing and doing he said he would have paid real money to see that…..we would throw blankets over the close line and built forts and we tunneled in the snow and in the winter what i do is fill my dishsoap bottles with water to get one washing of what is inside for emergencies well the grandkids came and I put food dye into the bottle ea a different color they ask me to do that every winter we go out to spray the snow write our names just have fun i tell you this last one to help you feel cool it is soooooo hot out.

  94. My teen boys love a backyard campout. They get a break from the younger kids and that is special to them. I am uninvolved as that’s the way they want it……so that’s perfect for them. There is a lot of time spent baking and popsicle making with my five year old daughter. She loves that. This morning husband is taking the littlest to pick blackberries around the corner at the park. We travel nowhere but we pass the days with what comes up and are just as happy. We also do go free bowling and just pay for shoes, well grandma pays for shoes…have to love grandma. Brandy you have saved my budget many times and I truly thank you for it.

  95. I love that you apologized for spelling something using Canadian spelling…how incredibly Canadian of you! LOL from a fellow Canadian.;)

  96. Becky, I would like to thank you for pointing out that spending money on family trips are not always bad. I remember many of the vacations we went on as a child, like spending my 13th birthday riding up the ski lift on White Face Mountain or the family bus trip we took to Florida when I was 11 years old and all the other people on the bus were “old people”. Those experiences and memories are a part of my childhood. We still talk about them and laugh at the memories just as much as the things we did that were free. I wouldn’t change any of those memories for the world.

    My husbands parents never took him anywhere and now he LOVES to travel because he never did before. Personally, I love seeing all those places that most people only read about or see in movies, and I will gladly pay out the money whenever our budget will allow it. We have taken my daughter to Disney World as well as many other places. There is nothing more amazing then actually experiencing and appreciating something for yourself. But that isn’t every day, and sometimes it isn’t in our budget for years. So, when the money isn’t there, we find other ways to have fun. I don’t think we should bash anyone for enjoying what life has to offer, where it be those small everyday pleasures or the bigger life experiences with the price tag to match. Precious memories come in all forms.

  97. I don’t know how old your children are, but try the website Growing a Jeweled Rose. We live just a few feet from a four lane highway and my son was a runner. We were inside ALL THE TIME.

  98. I have tweens and they simply want the opportunity to spend time with their friends. We have a large room in the basement that is their hang out space. It has bare concrete walls, cheap commercial carpet and a mish mash of old furniture including a double bed and a couple of couches, which makes for a great sleepover spot. Can you say charm free? But the kids and their friends love it. They can run around, crank up the music, scream, giggle, paint, color, toss balls, jump rope, do cartwheels and otherwise have fun without anyone yelling at them. To top if off, I keep them supplied with simple treats. Being happy is a LEARNED behavior. If you are happy with the simple things in life your children will be as well.

  99. Oh, I loved summer playground! Every summer my sister and I and our youngest brother would spend 2 weeks with our paternal grandparents (my other 3 brothers went on their own 2 weeks) . They lived near a grade school and she and I went there every morning for the playground. There were organized games, playground equipment to climb all over (if we had remembered to put on pedal-pushers under our dresses). We sat in the shade and played games of mankala and jacks and we jumped rope endlessly singing nonsense songs or played hand clapping games. There were crafts using popsicle sticks and pipecleaners and scavenger hunts around the school yard. We had so much fun!

  100. I haven’t commented in quite a while but I wanted join in and add a few activities that I haven’t seen posted. 🙂

    Brandy, you and your readers have posted such fantastic ideas! I particularly loved the Beatrix Potter and Jas Townsend and Sons series. Both of which I’m sure to share with my grandchildren when they are visiting during the summer as I also live in the high desert.

    Some of the free or very inexpensive at home activities I remember from my childhood or that of my children (that I haven’t seen mentioned) are:

    *Hopscotch. All you need is a small piece of concrete and a piece of chalk (or dirt and a sharp stick). My sister and I used to play hopscotch for hours when we were children. When my children were young, I taught them. Cheap summer fun.
    *Patty cakes. I don’t think many kids do this anymore. Say Say Oh Playmate! My kids loved that when they were little. Builds great hand eye coordination.
    *Shadow puppets. All you need is a light, a wall and your hand. There are tons of tutorials online!
    *We had a small farm and garden when my children were growing so there were plenty of things to do, and fun to be had! We made a tee pee out of bamboo and wire covered with climbing vegetables in the veggie garden every summer. Great place to play or read!
    *Jacks. Another game that is great for hand eye coordination. I didn’t share this game with my kids until there were no babies around. (choking hazard).
    *Freeze tag. Chinese jump rope (I loved this one!) Jump rope. Hula hoop. Sack races (Save your old pillowcases) I even remember using two old coffee cans, making two holes across form each other at the rims, attaching strings long enough to hold onto, and using them like stilts!

    It’s true, children don’t remember or care how much or little money was spent. It’s the memory of carefree, happy times and being LOVED that they will remember. I hope you all have a summer full of fun, family and friends!

  101. Never underestimate the fun of a box or toliet paper tube! My kids love them!!! Ha ha. They use boxes to construct forts, make garages for their cars, use them as houses for their stuffed animals etc. We use paper towel or toliet paper tubes to make bird feeders, binoculars and for different crafts-pinterest has a ton of ideas.
    For summer fun, our kids attend VBS, go to lots of parks and we live within walking distance to a Splash pad. We do the summer program at the library and also go camping several times. They are outside a ton. Its been 6 weeks since school let out and we have yet to hear “Im bored.”

  102. I live near Lake Erie too! Grew up learning how to swim at Presque Isle State Park in Erie PA. We went there often as children because it was FREE! My mom would drive us and we’d meet our cousins there to play all afternoon! Best memories of burying each other in the sand. I still live near Lake Erie, just the next state over and the Lake is 4 blocks from my house. Sadly we don’t get there enough as my husband and I both work night shift.

  103. Brandy
    Thank you for the hidden pictures link. Stuff like this keeps my grandson so interested on long car rides. Although we don’t expect any more big trips -there still might be rides that last an hour or two and he will be happy for these! I look at the other links now.

  104. Awww, your comment made me chuckle! I have a boy who is very “active” which is probably where some of my husband’s reservations come into play when he finds out we haven’t been out much. I will definitely look into the website suggestions, thank you so much!

  105. My kids are 43 and 36. Proud and I am blessed. They remember the little things and big things about growing up.

  106. This is my first comment to your blog, but I enjoy reading and rush over with each new update. 🙂

    When my two were very little and we were struggling financially, one of our favourite games was playing safari around the house. We made ‘binoculars’ with discarded toilet roll cores that they glued together and decorated with crayons and some old glitter pens that I had rescued from Freecycle. Then we spent another 20 minutes braiding some old yarn to make the neck strap. I really tried to draw out the decorating process to make it an activity of it’s own. :p

    I spent an evening after they went to bed cutting out animal pictures from a stack of old National Geographic magazines that a neighbour was throwing away due to minor water damage, and then taped them all around the house, some hidden and some not. On the back of each animal, I affixed a small label that identified it so that we could later look it up online and learn about it, etc.

    This activity was one that we were able to do over and over, using old gardening catalogues and searching instead for plants and insects. It was great fun, and an activity that cost almost nothing but gave them hours of entertainment.

  107. I have a quote on my blog right now,
    Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.
    ~Elise Boulding~

    Brandy, your children always remember all the things you did to make them feel special, long after the memories of a trip to Disneyland fades. I know that my own children, that are now grown, always reminiscence about staying up late and studying the stars or when I’d read to them under our apple tree. They never once mention the expensive vacation that we took one summer when we had a windfall. It’s a shame that so many people have been bamboozled by advertisers to think that spending money equates to a good quality of life.


  108. One thing we did for our teens was to build a fire pit in our backyard. (Recycled bricks) They would invite friends over and roast marshmallows or make smores. I would watch for chocolate to go on sale and freeze it. If you made Brandy’ s Graham crackers that would make smores even more affordable. I found a horseshoe set for under $10 and some times we would play volleyball before dark , very cheap, but so much fun. There are many construction sites that give away 2×4′ s we never have to pay for wood.

  109. There have been times over the years when my husband and I were fortunate enough to take our children on pricey trips. Ten years later, it is the “free” and inexpensive activities such as fishing, coloring, woodworking, camping, and gardening that my children remember. Thank you Brandy for your activity ideas. Your website has been a tremendous encouragement to me.

  110. Hillary,
    It doesn’t cost anything to raise a kind. compassionate, and empathetic child. All it takes is a kind, compassionate, and empathetic parent. I feel bad for your children. Brandy’s children will do just fine.

  111. Hi Brandy,
    We live in Las Vegas too. We have been loving the dollar movies at the Texas Station! It is a special treat for us to go to the “inside” movie theater! hehe We go to the drive-ins often when the weather isn’t so hot out. We’ve been making our own bread the last couple of weeks and they love helping with the kneading. My girls love to paint… it doesn’t matter what it is. I cut up a large box to make a diaper wreath for my sisters shower (I cut out a large circle), my 4 kiddos colored, painted, climbed on and in that box until it finally fell apart! That was weeks of fun for them. Today was the best though, we took the kiddos fishing at Lorenzi park!

  112. Brandy,
    I stumbled onto you site last night and have been obsessed since. I just LOVE all your creative ideas for saving money. Although my family mostly does well (and I too work on the finance side of real estate) we are in a temporary very tight financial situation for another week. This really made me evaluate what goals I want for my family and how quickly we could get there by utilizing many of your ideas.

    And thank you for having so much compassion for those that are struggling.

  113. We live in Ware, MA, and love Free Fun Fridays! Last weeks we went to Battleship Cove. Where are the movies free with a book report?

  114. Here, here! Of the privileged children I know, and i know the children of many extremely wealthy families, they would much rather have the time and attention of their parents and NOT a costumed character. Showing children that you love them by spending one on one personal time with them has far reaching positive effects. “Stuff” is just that, “stuff”…

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