Free and fun, frugal and fabulous!

We all love for our children to have different experiences. We also love when they are low cost or free. Here are some of our favourites…

Mel’s picks…

♥ In Tasmania, there is a fabulous program run through primary schools called Launching into Learning. It is an initiative set up by the State Government to help develop early literacy and school readiness in children from birth to 4 years. There are a number of schools across the state running these programs. They run one morning (or several) a week with different activities such as art and craft, music, kindergym, storytime and general play. Most of them are free, and most request that you bring a piece of fruit along which is made into a big fruit salad for morning tea. Its a fabulous program, as it allows both you and your child to get to know your local school, and develop skills that will help them learn, not to mention getting social interaction with a whole range of other children. Check out Launching into Learning in Tasmania, and see if your local school participates.

♥ Free and educational activities for your child are as simple as visiting your local library. We love books, we got Miss E her library card before she turned 1, and went along to our local library for their weekly Rock & Rhyme sessions from 6 weeks of age. She loved it, and still does now! They also do storytime sessions for ages 2 and up.

♥ Join a Toy Library. These are all across Australia, its just a matter of finding your local one. There are even ones that travel around in a bus or van to access the more regional areas (kind of like a bookmobile set-up). Ours is through Playgroup Tasmania, you pay a $15 annual joining fee and then up to $6 to hire a toy for a fortnight – that covers bigger items such as toy kitchens, plastic slides etc. Smaller items and games can be as little as a few dollars. Ours also lends out books, cd’s and DVD’s for free. I think the Toy Library rocks! Its great if you are thinking of buying an expensive toy or play item for your child but aren’t sure whether its worthwhile, you can hire it and see how much they play with it. Its just great for a bit of variety too. We all know how often kids play with toys when they are new but then many get cast aside and forgotten. Perfect solution! We’ve hired out bigger toys to use at our birthday parties – thinks like the bike coasters and crazy coupes are fab for parties.

♥ Another good option especially for cold, rainy Winter days is your local museum. There is normally a particlar exhibit or room that kids love. For Miss E at the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, its the Islands to Ice  Antarctic exhibit. Its quite interactive for kids, so many different types of visual media. they also have a childrens discovery area which has different displays throughout the year.

♥ And I guess it goes without saying, the local park, beach, duckpond and bike tracks are all wonderful ways of outdoor amusement and exercise.

Danni’s picks…

♥ We also head off to Story-time at the Library each week and Miss N collects a stack of things to take home. Its great to see her improving and picking more challenging books. She now regularly picks up what she calls a “chapter book” (Simple stories aimed at slighter older children) which is for us to read to her a chapter per night, and she gets age-appropriate storybooks to read herself. She also loves the DVD section, and does not limit herself to children’s stuff either. A month or so ago she handed me the Hairy Bikers DVD and said she wanted to borrow that! (If you have never seen those bike-loving bearded fellows on the TV, check them out here.) Our Library also had great holiday programes with different things like craft days, pizza and DVD nights and story-telling with children’s authors. Some are free, some charge a small fee per session.

♥ Playgroup is also a great social time for the little ones. D & Miss N have been members of playgroup for the last year and have found it fabulous. An annual fee of about $40 to the Playgroup Assn. and then $2 per session to your local playgroup is all it costs and its been great for not only Miss N, but mum also to make some new friends. We take a piece of fruit each week to share and also help with parents and/or children’s morning tea, craft activities, a storybook and opening/closing the doors once every few weeks. Check out NSW Playgroups here. You will be able to find links to Playgroup Associations in your state.

♥ NSW Public Transport also has a great offer available every week called Family Funday Sunday. It’s a ticket on all Sydney Buses, Ferries and Trains for $2.50pp. That enables you to go anywhere from Wollongong to Newcastle!! We have used this before and its sensational. It cheaper than the petrol & the parking would cost you and a fun experience for the little ones too.

♥ Local markets are another great day out. Whether it be your local farmers’ Market, or an artisian or bric-a-brac market, they can be great fun to check out and see what’s on offer. You may end up spending a little cash on a yummy snack, lunch, ice cream or face painting or you may find that long lost treasure for youself! Check out the Sydney Market Guide for Sydney’s Top Picks, and The Market Guide for a few Tassie markets.

www.kidspot.com.au also has a great listing of free and cheap activities for kids. Check them out and see what may be on offer near you.

Do you have some other low-cost activities with kids to share, let us know – share the love!

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