“Have you ever noticed that it is often the small comforts, the simple pleasures, that soothe us the most and make us feel that all is right in the world?”
It may seem that the only way to entertain kids these days is with some new electronic gadget, but there are still plenty of simple pleasures children enjoy.
I was thinking about this because last weekend, my husband and I went to the Mountain Men Encampment at Sternwheeler Days in Cascade Locks, where we saw an extremely happy toddler playing in a mud puddle.
I’ll bet you’ve seen equally happy children playing with a cardboard box or “chasing” tadpoles in a creek.
50 ideas for simple pleasures to enjoy with kids.
All are either free or very inexpensive.
- Play card and board games.
- Go for a nature walk in a nearby park. Sometimes local organizations host free guided hikes, too.
- Take turns telling stories or in telling different parts of the same story.
- Make sculptures and collages from found objects and old magazines.
- Have a picnic.
- Read to each other.
- Bake cookies.
- Play in a fountain or creek.
- Make paper boats and planes.
- Have a scavenger hunt.
- Build forts from boxes and blankets.
- Draw mazes for each other.
- Start a garden or, if you already have one, set aside a section for the kids.
- Make musical instruments out of stuff like tissue boxes and coffee cans.
- Go for a walk to pick up trash.
- Write letters to friends and relatives. Older kids may want to sign up for a pen pal in another country or write a soldier.
- Perform a play. Our kids used to do this all time, rigging up curtains from sheets and sometimes recruiting the dogs to act in the play too.
- Camp in the living room or backyard.
- Take a free project class at a store like Michael’s or Lowe’s.
- Have a water balloon or pillow fight.
- Play hide-and-seek.
- Go for a bike ride.
- Make s’mores on the grill.
- Catch bugs, identify them and learn a little about their habitats and lifestyles before releasing them back into the wild.
- Make your own playdough.
- Fly kites.
- Have a fancy tea party.
- Hunt for four-leaf clovers.
- Visit the fire station. My son and I used to deliver a plate of home-baked goodies, and if the firefighters weren’t busy, they’d give him a full tour of the station and even let him hold the ax and wear the boots.
- Conduct science experiments (look online or check out a book from the library).
- Lie in the grass and look at clouds or stars.
- Start a family journal.
- Play charades.
- Cut out snowflakes (or other designs).
- Have a cookie or cupcake decorating party. You can provide the cupcakes and ask each guest to bring a different topping.
- Have a spa day – paint each other’s nails, braid or curl each other’s hair and do facials.
- Make your own popsicles.
- Make shadow puppets.
- Visit a you-pick fruit farm. It’s a fun outing and you save money on the fruit.
- Play Frisbee.
- Create an obstacle course for trikes and bikes.
- Go bowling – your kids may be able to bowl for free.
- Watch the planes take off and land at the airport.
- Make meals from various areas of the world.
- Volunteer together.
- Start a collection of found objects, like rocks or leaves.
- Check out your local community activities. Often there are free concerts, festivals and cultural activities.
- Visit the library for books and videos. Your library may also have activities such as storytime, reading to dogs and science presentations.
- Make bird feeders with pine cones or cookie cutters, then learn to identify the birds.
- Let your kids get bored and find something to do on their own.
What simple pleasures do your children or grandchildren enjoy?