summer at home: playtime bargains

June 19, 2019 by Amy Clark


Sometimes, the same old toys lose their luster, but even spending money at the dollar store adds up. And I like to show my kids that we can have fun without resorting to a shopping trip for a new toy.

Playtime treats can be inexpensive! I’ve got tried-and-true recipes for playtime fun that you can make with common household ingredients. Try a couple of these recipes the next time you hear, “Mom, I’m bored…”

Fun Sidewalk Paint

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 6 – 8 drops food coloring

Mix cornstarch and cold water together in a small bowl. Add food coloring and stir. Repeat the process to create different colors of paint. This paint can easily be washed away with water. Use it to make hopscotch grids, cakewalks, even make believe roads and highways for toy cars.

Fruity Play Dough

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 package Kool-Aid (any flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
(add more if needed)

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl; add oil, then pour in boiling water and mix thoroughly. Wrap in cellophane or airtight container and store in refrigerator. The play dough should last a few months.

Invisible Ink

  • 2 Tbs. pure lemon juice
  • Cotton swab

Pour lemon juice into a small glass or plastic dish. Soak one end of the cotton swab, then use it to write a secret message or draw a picture on a sheet of paper. When you’re ready to view your secret message, have an adult hold the paper near a light bulb. The heat will slowly turn the lemon juice dark brown and reveal a hidden message.

Tornado in a Bottle

  • 1- 16 oz clear plastic soda bottle with a cap (the rounder the bottom, the better the tornado)
  • 2 drops clear liquid dish detergent
  • 1 tsp. glitter

Fill bottle with cold water. Add detergent and glitter. Screw cap on tightly. Holding the bottle by the neck, turn it upside down. Quickly rotate your wrist several times in a clockwise motion. When you stop rotating, a min-tornado will form inside the bottle. Using permanent markers, you can draw a picture of a city or landscape around the bottom of the plastic bottle. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to the bottle to create a sky effect.

What have you cooked up at home for your kids? Share with us!

Kenmore recommends…

If playtime fun adds too many items to your wash basket, consider a new laundry pair that makes doing laundry more effective and efficient. We’ll help you choose so you can find the product that’s right for your family.

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.