Kids' Vacation Survival Guide! 5 Activities Under $5

By Linsey Knerl

Your kids have been anticipating the upcoming spring break holiday with the zeal of a pack of hyenas circling a hen house. But if the economy has you planning a "staycation" for spring break this year rather than the traditional getaway to warmer climes, RedPlum has five activities to keep your little darlings' behavior from descending into "we're bored, what can we destroy now" territory.

Activity 1: Fun With Flowers

If spring hasn't exactly sprung in your area, make some fanciful blossoms of your own to enjoy. These button flowers are inexpensive and easy, plus make perfect from-the-kids presents if you've got any family birthdays coming up. When you're finished they get tucked into the soil of your yet-to-flower blooms.

What You'll Need:

  • 26-gauge green florists' wire
  • An assortment of buttons from your stash at home or the bargain bin of your local fabric store.

Who The Project's For:

  • If they're still at the everything-goes-in-the-mouth stage this isn't the activity for your brood, since buttons are a choking hazard.
  • Florists' wire can be a bit sharp at the ends, so keep a careful eye on the young ones.
  • Hand-eye coordination requirements for this project make it best for kindergarteners and above.

How To:

  • To assemble button flowers thread florists' wire through a stack of colorful buttons and twist the wire below the stack to secure the buttons.
  • Insert the button flower into your plants soil and arrange button flowers to your taste.
  • If you're creating the project as a gift, grab a potted plant on sale at the grocery store and arrange your button flowers inside, then present the plant as part of the present.

Activity 2: Picture Perfect

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a camera is priceless when you incorporate the family fun-saver into spring break frolicking. Has the family digital camera been collecting more dust than memories since Christmas? Tune up your photographer's eye by playing tourist in your own city or town and create a photo essay of your favorite places, activities or daily routine. Compile a list of places, things or activities to photograph and take the morning to shoot with kids in tow. Be creative with perspective!

When you've gotten all of your shots, make a book using a desktop publishing tool such as iPhoto to show-off your creative handiwork in the afternoon. This activity can be adjusted to include younger and older children alike by adding or cutting back on sites for your photo essay.

Activity 3: A Makeshift Summer Day

Depending on where you live, "spring break" may come at a time when you're still months away from enjoying the deliciousness of a lazy day at the outdoor neighborhood pool. But you can celebrate the impending warmer months by planning an outing to your county recreation center and its indoor pool facilities.

Pack sandwiches, fun snacks and a change of clothes and pack the taste of summer into a day at the indoor pool. To make this even more fun for the kids, ask them to pretend that they're heading to the beach in the dead of summer. What would they need to pack? What sorts of games would they want with them? Creating the aura of make-believe around the outing will make it all the more fun for your crew.

Activity 4: Bird's Nests for Beginners

A baking activity that's as easy 1-2-3 can easily fill an afternoon, and help get kids acquainted with the joys of cooking. The sweet treat "Bird's Nests" are easy enough for little fingers to put together and are in keeping with spring themes.

What You'll Need:

  • One 6 oz. package of butterscotch morsels
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 5 cups of corn flakes
  • one bag of jellybeans.

Melt peanut butter and butterscotch morsels together over low heat. Stir in corn flakes and mix until coated. Drop corn flake mixture by rounded tablespoons onto waxed paper and chill in refrigerator. Complete your bird's nests with jellybeans.

Activity 5: Easy Decorative Mugs

Here's the thing about many of the crafts you make with your kids: after a while you've got nowhere to put them! But this craft will have the lot of you cooking up a craft that's useful as well as fun. Painting porcelain mugs is a rewarding activity that makes kids feel like they've created something that's a big deal.

What You'll Need:

  • You'll need a set of ceramic mugs, but these don't need to be store bought. Instead, this should be a cost-free "ingredient" Raid the shelves of your house for mugs you wouldn't mind if your kids (and that would be easy to) paint over.
  • Pebeo Porcelaine 150 glaze sold at craft stores
  • a watercolor brush
  • pencil and paper to brainstorm design ideas

When you're ready, lay the mug on its side and apply glaze with a brush. Let the painted mug air dry for 24 hours. Set the glaze by baking the mug in a preheated 325 degree oven for 35 minutes.

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