Off-grid pantry planner

Since I have two extra “big” kids (and a third who is an infant) in my house this summer (I’m providing childcare for a couple families), that’s four big kids total who need lots of stuff to do, I realized a game-plan would be of GREAT use to me!  I have been looking on Pinterest, in thrift stores and the dollar store for ideas and cheap supplies and I’m pleased with my finds. I wanted to share them with you. I’m sharing my affiliate links also.

summer fun for kids

Almost EVERYTHING I’ve bought so far has been from the Dollar Tree in Belden Village here in the Canton area. I say that so the locals reading this post know which store I built my “summer fun arsenal” mainly from. The two hoola-hoops were bought for $1.99 each from Marc’s, maybe,  (though you can find some at the Dollar Tree, maybe smaller) and the big wooden (sturdy!) “Beach Ball” paddles were bought from a thrift store for 50 cents each! In addition to these purchases I already had a big container of bubbles and some sidewalk chalk on hand.

[10  fun indoor family activities.]

First thing I want to share though are the cups. I bought these (4/$1) at Dollar Tree. Four is exactly what I needed. The amount of clean cups we go through has made me realize I need a different plan. I almost bought a bag of styrofoam cups so I could just toss them after each use, however, when I spotted these for the same price, realizing there would be no waste I knew this was the way I wanted to go.

labeling cups with the kids names, Dollar Tree

I do realize I could have use colored rubber bands around the cups I already owned and assigned each kid a color or use tape and write their names on that.

balls, balloons, and water fun


On with the fun! The paddles below cost me  50 cents each at a thrift store- they are sturdy and wooden. We’ve already played paddle-ball with balloons in the house using these.

At the Dollar Tree I bought badminton sets $1 each for a racket/birdie. I bought four of these, one for each kid. They can use these to hit balloons, soggy/water balls, regular balls or the birdies. Those soggy/water balls (pool balls) also make for a refreshing game of dodge-ball as my son and I found out the other day.

In fact, I debated on buying the sponges and making those cute colorful water sponges that you cut into strips and tie. I really wanted to go that route till I realized I couldn’t find a way to make them for much less than $1 each. I priced sponges at Walmart and Dollar Tree. $1 per sponge when I would want a lot of them was just too costly. In place of that we can do the same thing (throw wet balls at each other –Er, the kids can, right?) four balls for $1.

I also bought water balloons, squirters and pool noodles (we don’t have a pool) for the kids to use to attack each other without injury (I hope!).  I already have water guns.

Summer fun games: Glow Stick heaven - found at the Dollar Tree


I have never in my life, that I can think of, seen SO MANY Glow Stick accessories! I bought all of mine at the – Dollar Tree. Yes, most of my fun stuff came from that store. So here’s the plan for what you see in the above picture.

I am using the butterfly “s” hook on a branch of our big oak in the back (it’s hanging there now). Then I’ll hang a hoola hoop OR a hoop made out of glow sticks for the kids to throw balls/balloons through.  (Update: I forget to include the idea of sticking some sticks into the ground to through the Glow stick hoops around. Think, horseshoes.)

See the little Glow Stick swords? My plan is to use the Glow stick bracelets as rings and have the kids try to catch the flying rings with their swords. I also picked up a few of the Glow spinners. I think they’re suppose to fly into the air. We’ll see.

Tickets for reading program rewards / incentives.


Every summer I take advantage of FREE community reading programs. I look for bloggers who collect and share this info like my friend Danielle did in this post. I’m working on an organized plan to have all the big kids reading their hearts out this summer. I’m babysitting a four year old book-LOVER… the other day when we walked into the library I could see we had entered her “happy place”!  She’s ready so I’ll be teaching her to read this summer.

These yellow tickets will help me stay on track and keep the kids motivated, I hope. I’m thinking I’ll use these as a visual so the kids can see how they’re progressing. One ticket per book read. I’ll set up their goals so they are meeting the challenges of the different community reading reward programs I’ll pick for them, then they can earn prizes for multiple programs at the same time!

I’ll probably share more on my method of going about this in a later post as it will relate to our homeschooling in the fall.

Visit the Dollar Tree website here to see all the fun things available.

I’m pretty sure we’ll be visiting some local parks too! Are you working on any summer fun plans of your own? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!