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10 Free - or Nearly Free - Things To Do With Your Little Ones

Have your own playgroup with www.MyBabyRadio.com!

MyBabyRadio.com have a morning playgroup show with children's nursery rhymes and singalong songs followed by favourite chidlren's theme tunes.  Tune in on-line every week day 10 to 11am.

Why not invite some friend's and their babies and toddlers over for an informal music group?  You could even buy some simple instruments so everyone can play along!

Cookery
Children of all ages can help with make simple cakes and biscuits.  Very simple sponge cake recipes can be found in cook books or on the Internet.
 
You can then make icing just using icing sugar and water - add some food colour for even more fun!
 
You can buy quite cheap decorations such as "sprinkles", jelly tots or rice paper characters.
 
Or you can miss out all of the above a buy a cake making kit for just a couple of pounds.
 
Very little ones will love stirring the mixture and feeling the texture with their hands.  Older children can help put the mixture in the baking tin or paper cases.  And they all love decorating - once the cakes have cooled of course!
 
Savoury things to try include mini pizzas on half a muffin, cheese straws and also marmite pinwheels made from pastry spread with marmite, rolled up and cut into small "pin wheel" sections.
Simple craft

Arts and craft can be very simply but will keep children amused for ages!  Post Box

It doesn't have to be too messy either.  Why not help them cut out pictures in a magazine and stick them on paper?  Or raid the cupboard to make pasta pictures?  Save some toilet rolls and draw faces on them to make puppets? 

Why not make a card and post it back home to see if it comes back the next day!
 
Visit the library

Libraries are amazing places for all ages and have much more that books on offer.

But just going to choose some books and seating in the children's area to read them can be so much fun!
 
Slightly older children will love the fact they can choose books to take home.  Explain to them about borrowing them and what the date means in the front of the book.
 
Mobile libraries visit villages so if you live outside a main town find out when your library bus will be coming!  There can't be much more exciting than sitting on a special bus to read a book!
Your local library is an amazing place and will often have special events on for children in the school holidays.
Go on a bus or train
Bus
 
For the price of a ticket you can take your local bus or train to another town and back.  You don't even need to be going anywhere!  

Babies and children will love seeing new things out the window and you can have games to spot the animals, lorries and cars.
Bubbly water

If the weather is bright then fill a large bowl with warm water and washing up liquid then find a few small plastic pots, spoons and anything else that can be used to run water through or put water in - et voila and "in bowl" entertainment system!
 
It's best to have this outside for obvious reasons and do keep an eye the children under 3 don't drink the water!
 
For a twist on this idea you can fill the bowl with rice, lentils or pasta and children will love running their hands through the grains and tipping them from one pot to the other.  Again, best outside unless you want to be vacuuming up rice until Christmas and this is not recommended for young children that will eat the dried grains.
Patio Painting
Don't panic, we're not suggesting sacrifice your patio for playtime!
 
Just a pot or bowl of water and a paintbrush will mean your child can spend ages making patterns on the patio, path or wall!  This is also excellent for slightly older children to build up their shoulder muscles, crucial for learning to write once they start school!  Encourage them to do anti-clockwise shapes with the paint brush!
Feeding the birds
 
Duck
If you're lucky enough to have a local pond or lake nearby you can take some left over bread to feed the birds!  Watch out though as the ducks can be a bit agressive sometimes and if you can go late in the day they may also be full of bread already! 
 
Alternatives to this are feeding the birds in your garden, you can buy a birdfeeder to fill with nuts or make your own fat pot from a yoghurt pot filled with a mixture of melted lard and nuts!  Make a hole in one end of the pot, attach a piece of string and fill with the warm mixture.  Allow to cool and then help your children to hang this in the garden.  The children will love all stages of this including seeing the birds enjoy the food!
 
And don't forget a visit to a pet shop or local fish centre as all children will love seeing the animals!
Indoor and outdoor gardening
Indoor gardening is as simple as putting some wet kitchen paper in a plastic pot and sprinkling cress seeds on it!  Place in a warm, bright window , keep moist and within days cress will have grown.  Older children can help cut this and have it in their egg sandwiches for lunch!
 
Sunflowers are a great starting plant for young children as they are pretty foolproof!  You just need some small plastic flower pots,a small bag of compost and sunflower seeds.  Even babies can help with the compost and they will love the texture - just don't let them eat it and clean them well afterwards! 
 
SunflowerPut the compost in the pots and push down fairly firmly, make a hole with your finger and put in a sunflower seed, fill the hole up and water well.  These can be placed on a window sill and will grow in a couple of weeks.  Once several leaves have formed they can be moved to a larger pot outside in a sunny position.  Encourage your children to water them and measure how tall they are getting!  The stem may need to be supported by a stick or cane as it grows.
 
You can then save the sunflower seeds for the birds in the Winter (see above!)
Have a tea party
Invite all the dolls and bears and sit inside or outside on a rug!  A teaset can be filled with water and the guests can enjoy the cakes you made earlier in the holidays (see above!).
 
Even babies will enjoy this one and it's a lovely way to introduce social skills!  "Mr Bear, would you like a cup of tea?"
 
Involve the children at all stages in laying out the blanket, filling the teapot and in the tidying up too!