Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Pirate / Knight Gear

1 12 2012

While the week rolls on and the rain continues to fall, I look to my stash of cardboard from a recent trip to Costco for inspiration to keep the kids busy.  Since my kiddos are boys, it seems very natural for them to like pirates, battling  and knights.  Trying to keep them busy within the house this weekend, my husband and I went to work making them  swords, shields, hats, and armor to prepare them for their next battle.

What you will need:




Duct Tape

Pipe Cleaner



Draw out the desired sword design on a piece of cardboard and cut out.

Use that as a stencil and make a duplicate of the original.

The sword needs to be double up in order to make it more durable.

Tape the two swords together along the entire outside border.  Fill in Duct Tape through out the sword.

If needed, add some popsicle sticks between the cardboard pieces in the handle for extra durability.

Allow the kids to color the handle



Cut our three circles the exact same size.

Pick one circle and cut two slits in the cardboard.


Place another, thin (bendable), piece of cardboard through the slits.

Poke a pipe cleaner through the cardboard as well.

The slits will host the arm holder and the pipe cleaner will act as a handle.


Tape the excess of the thin cardboard and the pipe cleaner so they lay flat and stay secure.


Tape this circle to the other two cutouts, making sure to cover the entire outside border.

Create a pattern on the front piece of cardboard to add strength and design.

See example of the arm/hand holds:



Get a full size Newspaper


Fold paper in half (top to bottom)

Cut approximately 6 inches off the sides.


Fold each top corner toward the middle,

creating a triangle appearance with a few inches left at the bottom.


Fold the extra pieces over to create a flared appearance.



Using a paper bag from a grocery store, cute out a large hole on the bottom and two hole on each side.

Slip over the child’s head.

Let the battles begin!


What are fun things you like to create with cardboard? Leave some fun suggestions in the comment section!


Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- 3 Ways to Spark the Spirit

25 11 2012

With the Thanksgiving weekend behind us, many new magical adventures are popping up everywhere.  On November 23, 2012 Carson City opened it’s annual Skating Rink in Down Town Carson City.

This family friendly outing is sure to keep the family busy on a budget and is another way to create those lasting family memories. They offer family nights, heated tents to get warm, and a fun magical atmosphere.

More information for the Carson City Ice Rink.

This weekend was also the weekend my family and I participated in the only hunt The Chalmers’ Family is ever apart of… The Christmas Tree Hunt. It was a great day to get out and about with some amazing family and take our pick from the trees within the Mount Rose Hunting grounds.  We hike far and wide to find the perfect little tree and two brave little boys took it down.

There is still a lot of time to get your tree permits!!

More information for Christmas Tree Permits.

Hop on board the Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City.  The train will be running on December 1 &2 and only costs $3.00 per rider.  This train adventure is very short but the children are usually excited to see that Santa himself walks through the carts handing out candy canes to all the passengers   A great rider for little ones who have a hard time sitting still for too long.  For more information call 775-687-6953.

Remember, this is your children’s childhood and you can help mold their memories however you wish.

Make this a great holiday season full of adventure, excitement  and wonder.

Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Advent Calendars

18 11 2012

In addition to making Homemade Christmas Ornaments every year, my family also participates in a Christmas tradition dating back to the 19th century.  This tradition, making and using Advent Calendars, is  a method of counting down or celebrating the days leading up to Christmas day.  This is a fun activity that is not only fun to create, but will also be functional for the month of December

This year I decided to have the boys make one that included many skills including, coloring, cutting, gluing, and counting.

What you will need:

Santa Face– Printed on Card Stock

Red Marker


Cotton Balls

24 – 1 inch strips of paper


String or Pipe Cleaner

Print out the Santa Face and color

Depending on the Child,  have them cut out the Santa Face

Apply cotton balls to Santa’s beard

Attach the 24 strips of paper under the beard using The Paper Chain Method 

Use a hole punch and attach a string or pipe cleaner

Wait for December 1, then allow the children to remove 1 link each night.

By Christmas Eve there should be no remaining links, representing the arrival of Santa Clause.

Just another fun, cheap, magical Christmas Tradition to keep the spirit alive.


Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Christmas Ornaments

17 11 2012

While searching through a few blogs the other day I came across an article written by Busy Bee Kids Crafts.  In her blog I found a recipe for “Salt Dough“, a multifunctional,  extremely cheap, homemade dough, that can be used for a variety of projects and crafts.  Since I normally have my children make a few Christmas ornaments each year, I thought this would be the perfect dough for making Homemade Christmas Ornaments.


1 cup salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup luke warm water

Mix all ingredients together and kneed dough for 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough until about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut shapes with cookie cutters.

Use a straw to make a hole for the ribbon to hang the ornament.

Place in oven at 200 degree for 2 hours.

Ornaments may need more or less time depending on how thick they are.

Paint away!  We used Acrylic Paint from Michael’s.

If you print out their 40% off coupon before going, it makes the purchase very cheap.

Attach a ribbon.

Ornaments are not only a great way to keep kids busy on a rainy day,

but also make great gifts for loved ones.

This is a fun way to allow the kiddos make gifts for Christmas without breaking the bank.

Make sure to write the child’s name and date of the back, so you can reminisce each year.

What are some cheap, adorable gifts, you have your kiddos create?

Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Creating Family Traditions

16 11 2012

In the last post I talked about creating a Christmas budget and sticking to in.  In this post I am going to step away from the spending part and just focus on giving and creating family traditions.

I would have to say the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year because I love to be surrounded by loving family and friends.  The best part of it all for me, are the weeks heading up to Christmas.  During this time, it is the perfect opportunity to bring the family and friends together to help them learn and feel what this giving season is all about.  I really hope that when my children grow old and have children of their own, they remember the traditions and the giving, not what they received.

  1. Christmas Tree Hunt– Our family usually starts off the holiday season the weekend after Thanksgiving.  During this weekend, we normally gather our family, some extended family, and on occasion good friends, and head to the forest for our annual Christmas tree hunt.  We pack lunches, hot coco, and just spend the day forging through the forest to find the perfect tree.  It is a time not only to get out into the great outdoors, but has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions with the family.  In addition the permit only costs $10.00 so it is a great way to save money.   Permits go on sale November 21 and they are limited in the amount they sale, so get them quick.   Click here for more information on Christmas tree permits.
  2. Elf on the Shelf– In addition, to our annual tree hunt, Thanksgiving weekend allows my husband and I to introduce a little “helper” into our home called “The Elf on the Self”.   This is a little elf, also accompanied by a book, that arrives the day after Thanksgiving.  His purpose is to make sure the children behave themselves.  He leaves every night to fly to the North Pole and reports to Santa if the children have been Naughty or Nice.  He returns every morning, but always in a new location within the home, sometimes in very mischievous places.  Some parents get so involved with the spirit of the elf they have set up websites offering fun suggestions of what you can do with this little elf.  Since this home is full of little ones, the kids have a blast with this annual tradition.  While the initial purchase may be a little pricey, it can not only be used for years, but also passed on through generations.
  3. Christmas Light Viewing– In our town there is an annual Christmas Tree lighting at the Capital Grounds.  It is amazing to see various school choirs singing Christmas carols, Santa make an appearance  and witness the Christmas Tree lighting.  In addition, it usually marks the opening of the small ice rink downtown and the start to the holiday season.  During the days leading up to Christmas, after the Nevada Appeal has published it’s list of houses with awesome Christmas decor, we head out in a caravan of cars and view the various house within out community.  Both of these events are completely free, but still offer the magic of what Christmas should be all about.
  4. Making Homemade Christmas OrnamentsSee Blog Post Here
  5. Making Homemade Advent Calendars- See Blog Post Here
  6. The Spirit of Giving– Since so many Americas are struggling to survive, Christmas time can be very stressful.  There are so many organizations that need the support of others who may need a helping hand throughout the holidays.  If you are thinking that you are not able to help due to limited funds yourself, you may be surprised.  I have included a list of a few charities that are widely known.  Some causes are just asking for everyone to take the time and clean out their food cabinets and coat closets.  In addition, if your kids see that you make an effort to give to others, they will most likely want to give as well.  Anyone can help and every little bit helps out.
  • Toys for Tots– Local toy drive for children in low income households.
  • Food Bank of Northern Nevada– Helps feed children, elderly, ill, and the needy.
  • Salvation Army– Clothing, Shoes, Household Goods, Small and Large Appliances, Furniture
  • Make a Wish– Helping children with terminal illness experience a dream come true.
  • Angel Tree– Local toy drive to help children of parents who are in prison.
  • Burlington Coat Factory– For each gently used coat you bring in you can receive 10% off an item.  They are hoping to collect their 1 millionth coat this winter.
  • Shriner’s Hospital– A hospital dedicated to helping children under 18.

So those are just six traditions that you can have fun with this holiday season and many more to follow.  I would love to create many more traditions for my children to pass on for generations to come that do not include lots of money.

What are some of your favorite traditions?

Supporting Your Local Community- Northern Nevada Children’s Museum

4 11 2012

During the colder months in Carson City I often frequent kid friendly locations.  It helps break up the monotony of the house and still allows the kids a lot of much needed adventure while keeping their little bodies from freezing in the winter weather.

One our favorite places, that is sure to not  disappoint, is the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada.

This little hot spot located on main street in Carson City offers an array of interactive fun for the entire family, keeping those kiddos busy for hours.   They also offer several scheduled events including story time, pottery painting, and special holiday events throughout the year.

I was able to purchase a family pass, also called a reciprocal pass aka “Traveling Pass”, that allows my family access to the Discovery Museum in Reno.  In addition, the “ACM and ASTC reciprocal admission programs which includes free or reduced admission to over 450 children’s museums and science-technology centers around the world.**”  

Click on the ACM and ASTC links above to view participating museums.

What an amazing deal for families trying to stay busy with the kids on a budget.

So when the weather turns bad, check it out, the kids will be happy you did!

Keeping Kids Busy on a Budget- Homemade Ball Maze

3 11 2012

With our recent Costco trips, we have accumulated a ton of random boxes around the house.  Instead of just throwing them away, my husband came up with a fun project for the kids. It took awhile to create, but for the kids it was well worth a  the work.

First, we started with an abundance of boxes, paper towel rolls, and pipe cleaners.

Next, we arranged the boxes and tied them together with pipe cleaners.

Lastly, the paper towel rolls were placed throughout the boxes in a strategic fashion.

Then we let our kids and their friends have at it.

This contraption held their attention for quite some time.


It was definitely a hit!

This just goes to show you that raising kids is not all about the newest and greatest toy on the market.  It is about spending quality time creating and building and nurturing their young minds with what ever you can.

What are some fun things you’ve built for your kids? I love to hear some new ideas!

Teresa Chalmers

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