You don't need a lot of bells and whistles to make your kids happy. After days or weeks in the dark due to Hurricane Wilma, some parents walked away with this lesson plan: There are many no-cost and low-cost activities for families, ranging from ''old-school'' classics to high-tech battery-operated gadgets.Art projects with simple crayons and watercolors are also a treat.
One Broward mother, for example, appreciated the sparks of creativity generated by her children during the blackout that recently rolled through South Florida. Simple games of ball and tag provided exercise and entertainment. Other year-round options include board games, puzzles, charades and action figures (my personal favorites).
Classic board games such as Monopoly, Clue and Scrabble are available from a wide range of sources. Thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets often sell popular games for $1 or less. Vendors on eBay also market games at low prices. And major retail chains periodically sell low-tech/no-tech games at steep discounts. I have spotted two-for-one specials and three-for-$10 game promotions at major toy chains.
Don't worry if your existing game pile is disorganized. (Mine is.) Major manufacturers such as Hasbro -- maker of Yatzee, Sorry! Life and Boggle! --
are happy to fill in the blanks.
Using the Internet, it's possible to download missing game instructions by logging onto the "Family Game Night'' section of asbro' website (www.hasbro.com.) The Family Game Night section and other parenting sites also offer great tips for setting up weekly game nights that promote quality time with family and friends.
Hasbro and other manufacturers also maintain an inventory of missing game pieces. Order forms are available online. While shopping at national toy chains, I have also spotted low-cost bags of random game pieces (dices, markers and other common game tokens). Or you can combine second-hand games to create a complete box set.
At affordable prices, Ping-Pong tables, air hockey game sets and indoor basketball courts are sold used at thrift stores or new sets are often sold at a discount at sports and toys stores.
My children also enjoy listening to books on tape. Their favorites include
a recorded story narrated by Rabbi Gedaliah Glatt of Miami Beach, a local storyteller.
My kids (including my oldest son) are enchanted with
Glatt's rendition of The Secret Cave and while the tape recently played, I
found household chores that kept me within earshot of the tale.
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