20 Activities Under $10

I am excited to share this guest post from Christie – the very creative and clever Aussie mum and writer of Childhood 101:

As part of the Nuffnang Coles Myer Group challenge, I set myself the task of spending my $10 giftcard at a Coles Supermarket to find a minimum of 10 fun activities that Mums can easily do at home with their children. Can it be done? Of course it can!

So what did we buy?


Some flour, salt, rice, 2 bottles of food colouring, shaving cream, 2 lemons, a potato and an onion (and we also acquired a couple of lovely Coles catalogues that are free and very useful for all sorts of activities!) I spent a total of $9.91 and by adding a few basics from the recycling box I created not 10 but 20 easy activity ideas!

Activity #1: Food colouring can be used as a great tool for beginning painters.


It is non toxic and washes up easily and has a nice vivid colour. As it is thin and drippy, I put the colouring into a butter tub on a sheet of paper towel. That way Immy could dip her brush in and out, saying “Dip, dip” as she did so, without flicking it all over the room.

Activity #2: If you don’t have a small paintbrush, cotton buds work well when painting with food colouring.

Activity #3: For older children: (with more hand strength and co-ordination) dilute food colouring with water into spray bottles for painting outdoors. Hang large sheets of paper (or fabric) on a fence and squirt the paint on. It’s great fun.

Activity #4: Combine a little water with food colouring and make ice cubes to do some ice painting, its lots of fun especially on a warm day.

Activity #5: Add food colouring to your water play and use clear jars and containers. This adds an extra dimension to the water play as your toddler is more easily able to see it as they pour from container to container.

Activity #6: Regular readers will remember that I am a fan of rice play as a wet weather alternative to the sandpit.


I coloured the rice with the food colouring by adding a few drops at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon until I had the desired depth of colour. I then spread the rice onto a baking tray for a little while to let it dry out.

I put down a large tablecloth on the ground to help define a play space. It also makes clean up much easier as you just collect up the edges of the cloth to gather any spilt rice into one spot. Immy played with the rice together with some plastic containers and kitchen utensils; spooning and stirring, transferring rice from container to container.

Recycling tip: Scoops from infant formula and from washing powder are great for rice play.

Activity #7: As an alternative, hide small toys or household items under the rice for your child to find. Give them a strainer to sift the rice and find the goodies.

Activity #8: Treasure hunt in a bottle


I have seen versions of this activity on a number of blogs and decided to give it a go. I am glad I did as Immy has been revisiting the treasure hunt bottle over and over again for days now.

Hide small toys or household items in a clear plastic water bottle and fill with rice (I filled ours about 3/4 full). As Immy does not yet have many tiny toys (due to the choking hazard of her still mouthing small items), I had to think creatively about what to put inside. Our bottle contains a peg, a key, some coloured shapes cut out of craft foam, a coin, a button and a little chicken.

This would be a great ‘in the car’ activity as you could make a number of small bottles with different objects.

Activity #9: For older children, make the treasure hunt trickier by using small items of one colour and the same coloured rice.

Activity #10: Fruit and vegie printing


An oldie but a goodie, fruit and vegie printing is easy for even the youngest child and is lots of fun. I cut the onion and each lemon in half and cut our quite long potato into thirds. To make shapes on the potato I used metal cookie cutters, pressing them in and then cutting around the outside with a small knife.

Again we used the food colouring as our paint. Pour a little of the food colouring onto a kitchen sponge or some paper towel in a plastic container for the pieces to be pressed onto and then print away.

Activity #11: Collage with flour and water glue and pictures from the Coles catalogues.


I mixed a little flour with some water into a thick paste to use as glue. Flour and water glue is perfectly adequate for sticking together lightweight papers.

I wasn’t sure if Immy was ready for collage as we had never tried gluing before but she loved it. She first spread the glue over her paper and after I showed her how to push a picture onto the glue she had it down pat.

Activity #12: For us, the collage experience was just about Immy getting the idea of spreading glue and then sticking things down. You could however add an additional element to the learning potential of this activity by asking your child to find certain items from the collection of pictures. For example, “Can you find an apple?” or “Can you find something yellow?”

Activity #13: Add a little food colouring to your glue to help your child see where they have spread it.

Activity #14: Make a salt dough or no cook playdough.


We tried the uncooked playdough recipe and I found that it required a lot more kneading than the cooked version that I have used before. I added the juice of half a lemon to add an additional sensory element to the play.

Activity #15: Mixing Rainbow Salt Crystals


I saw this activity over at Kids Craft Weekly and thought that it would be a fun one to try as Immy loves stirring. Just drop a few drops of food colouring into some salt and then stir the salt until all of the crystals are coloured. We did this one outside to reduce the likelihood of mess if the salt was spilt. Immy really enjoyed stirring and stirring and then pouring the salt from container to container. Kids Craft Weekly shows how you can use the salt crystals to make pictures or store the coloured salt in shakers for use on craft projects.

Activity #16: Shaving cream in the shower


A few months ago Immy started to dislike having showers (she really is a bath girl like her Mum!) So DH would spray some of his shaving cream onto the tiles or shower screen for her to play with. It is a nice sensory experience for toddlers though obviously they need close supervision to make sure they don’t put it in their mouths. Some nights there is even a friendly face already in the shower to greet Immy as she gets in!


Activity #17: Shaving cream colour mixing (the messy version!)
Spread some shaving cream onto a baking tray (not too much as it really does go a long way). Allow your child to spread it out and then add a few drops of food colouring for them to mix in. We started with yellow and then added a little of the red.

Once finished you can take a print onto some paper but it really is only temporary art as the foam flakes off once dry.

Activity #18: Shaving cream colour mixing (the UNmessy version!)


Pop some shaving cream and some drops of food colouring into a ziploc bag (this is a recycled one from a recent delivery), zip it up and then get squeezing and pummelling, both great gross motor skills. Talk to your child about the changes happening as the colours mix. We taped our bag to the window and it looks really cool with the sunlight behind. I can imagine a whole line of them in different colours.

Activity#19: For older children, use your Coles catalogues for some origami. Try Origami for Kids for everthing from drinking cups to hats to animals.

We made a paper plane and Immy had a great time chasing it around the yard.


Activity #20: Let your toddler have fun ripping and tearing your used catalogues. Ripping and tearing develop both fine and gross motor muscles and toddlers love ripping stuff!

This post was originally published on August 31, 2009 at Childhood 101Childhood 101 aims to explore all the things that go into making a memorable, healthy childhood, with lots of ideas, tips and information for families.

Christie is an experienced Early Childhood Teacher and a Mum and has worked with families of children from 0-8 years of age.  She has also trained early childhood staff for preschool and long day care about the Emergent Curriculum approach to early education and using art materials with young children.

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  1. I love this list! Definitely bookmarking it for ideas…especially for this winter when it’s always rainy outside.
    .-= Jill´s last blog ..An early bloomer =-.

  2. What an absolutely fantastic list! I love to see what activities other parents come up with. I always feel so not creative and lucky that I have the internet for fun ideas:)
    .-= Lillian @ Domestic Simplicity´s last blog ..Favorite Breakfasts at Our House =-.

  3. You’ve encouraged me to whip out the old tablecloth, go buy some rice, and dig in! Wonderful ideas, Christie!
    .-= turnitupmom´s last blog ..Believe Nothing =-.

  4. Wow, what an amazing list! I love the outdoor painting idea with the food coloring.

    Thanks for sharing,

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Some Blogging Resolutions =-.

  5. I’m sharing this list with my fellow teachers at the preschool. I especially love the shaving cream in the ziplock idea. They don’t allow the teachers to let the kids play in shaving cream any more (safety hazard, I guess??) but the ziplock could work! And they could hang them all in the windows… I love it!
    .-= Emily @ The Pilot’s Wife´s last blog ..So Behind =-.

  6. Can we come over and play at your house?! Thanks for the post!

  7. Another idea with the shaving cream and food coloring: Don’t completely mix the color into the shaving cream. Place a sheet of paper or an index card gently on top to get marbled paper. Let it dry before using.

  8. Our kids still love to paint and play in the sandbox. I think the sand was only about $3 and we replace it once a year.
    .-= Party Cupcake Ideas´s last blog ..halloween-cupcakes =-.


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