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 Child's Play Home | Provider's Corner | Parent Parlor | Helpful Ideas

Budget & Time Saving Ideas
for Parents & Providers
That will make your day, and your budget a whole lot easier!!

For more budget & time saving ideas visit my "Frugal House Website" or the "Frugal House Forum"
Homemade Baby Wipes Preservation of Outdoor Equipment
Daycare Diaper Reminder Need inexpensive Props?  Costumes?
Homemade Sticker Books Cost Cutters/Time Savers for Providers
Homemade Calendar Picture Books "Puzzle" Perfect Wall Hangings
"Gum-In-Hair"??   Problem Solved!! Homemade Flannel Board
Homemade Flannel Board Characters Homemade Flannel Board Match Games
Instant Tarnish Remover Keeping Tabs on Electrical Cords
Waste Less Detergent Easy Small Pet Finder
Sensory Boxes Make your own Sensory Table for water & sand play!

puppy line

Homemade Baby Wipes (printable page)
These wipes are gentle, moist and will not leave a sticky residue.  They are easy to make..and smell good, too!  You will need:

1   paper towel roll (a quality towel like Bounty works best)
  {can be regular sized (cut roll in half) or select-a-size type}
1 heaping tblsp. baby bath
1 heaping tblsp. baby lotion
2 cups hot water

Mix together hot water, baby bath and lotion.

For regular sized paper towel, place a half roll on end inside an airtight container (save your  old "dispenser" type containers) and pour mixture over one end, especially soaking the middle.  Remove the cardboard core (if thoroughly saturated, it will come out easily). Seal container. If you do not have a "dispenser" type container, then tear off each paper section and place in another container (folding as necessary).

If you are using the select-a-size towels, tear off each section and place flat (folding as necessary) in your airtight container (save your old containers with the lids from Huggies wipes, etc) until container is full, leaving about half an inch at top.  Pour mixture over and seal container.

After awhile, check the containers and make sure that all wipes are completely saturated through...if not, mix up a quarter or half recipe of the liquid and re-soak.  You will find that different brands of towels will require more or less of the liquid -- adjust as required.

Preservation of Outdoor Equipment
To avoid sun faded outdoor toys, rub your equipment with car wax. The toys will resist dirt and the colors will stay bright and new!

Are the kids peeling off the decals or the edges of the decals collecting dirt?  To keep the equipment looking new and clean ~~ opt not to put the decals on in the first place!  To clean up or remove old decals ~~ apply a compound like "goo gone" (these products are dangerous around the children ~~ so do this when they are not around!) and let sit until decal is easily removed.

No time to wash the outdoor equipment? Give the kids some rags, a bucket of soapy water and the garden hose.....let them have fun!

Daycare Diaper Reminder
Do you have a hard time remembering to remind parents when their child is almost out of diapers?  Or the parents forget to bring them even though reminded?   On the last diaper change of the day, write directly on the child's diaper, "More diapers, please!"  with a colorful marker.   Parents will have a cute reminder to grab that extra bag of diapers and set by the door for morning ~~ if they forget, simply repeat the next day!

Looking for inexpensive props & costumes?
During the Halloween season, check your local department stores and novelty shops for props and costumes for dramatic play at a reasonable price (and well within the budget of most family child care providers or parents!). If used only to supplement themes or for special occasions, they will last quite awhile.

Homemade Sticker Books
Fold a piece of construction paper (8.5 X 11) in half for the book cover. (Children can decorate the front cover, and you could apply clear contact paper to preserve the cover,  if you wish!)   Cut several microwaveable waxed paper sheets the same size as the construction paper, fold in half, and sandwich between the halves of the cover and staple. Stickers can be applied to waxed paper sheets and easily removed for trading or repositioning!

Cost Cutters and Time Savers for Daycare Providers
Homemade Picture Books from Calendars
Finally, an idea to use up all those old calendars...RECYCLE THEM INTO PICTURE BOOKS!

When you purchase your new calendars for the upcoming new year...look for ones that have interesting pictures on them.  Save all your calendars from this year and ask your family and friends to donate their old calendars, too!

Simply cut off the pictures from the calendar.    Put two pics back to back - and continue until you have 6 double sided pages.  Make sure that both pictures are the right side up when you "turn" them to read!  Sandwich each set of pages between two sheets of clear contact paper.  Cut around the edge leaving about a quarter of an inch of clear contact paper intact.  Make sure that all pages are the same can vary the shape of each book to make it more interesting to a child!  Be careful when you are shape cutting that you do not cut away too much of the picture!   Make your own front and back "covers" from stiff cardboard (I use card stock that I purchase at a local dept. store) cut to fit the shape of the book.  Assemble the book, and punch holes down the left hand side with a 3 hole punch.  "Tie" book together with colored ribbons.  (you could also staple the pages together, but I find the staples scratch the little ones - so I avoid using on these books)

You could add words to the pages before applying contact paper or write a short story to go with  it!  Choose a title for your new book....and print on the front cover!

Some of the books I have created are:  Antique Cars; Teddy Bears; Unicorns;  Baby Animals; Kittens;  Puppies;  Flowers;  Polar Bears; Penguins......and from my 1999 calendars I will make:  Famous Gardens Around the World; Anne Geddes babies; More Antique Cars; plus whatever is donated from parents and my family members!

Puzzle Perfect Wall Hangings
Another recycling project!  For an inexpensive way to decorate a child's room...the rec room...a daycare play area...or wherever your little puzzled heart desires!

Do you have old puzzles, or perhaps a friend, relative, or even flea markets, yard sales.....round them up and put them to good use.  If edge pieces are missing - just make a rough edged puzzle without the edge pieces!  If pieces are missing from the middle - then recycle them into your craft supply cupboard for making crafts with (there are a couple of craft ideas for this in CRAFTS).  Assemble puzzle and apply a puzzle glue to the puzzle with a brush. (found in most department stores - near the puzzles)  Allow to dry completely (sometimes you need two coats).  You may want to apply a piece of the heavy cardboard to the back once the glue is dry - for more stability.  I have one on my wall in the hallway leading to the daycare room....and I did it over 10 years ago..and it is still all together!

Sensory Boxes
Purchase (or make your own) cardboard boxes with removable lids - approximately 12" square and as deep as you can find.  I found mine in a Dollar Store -  They need to be the real heavy cardboard at least 1/8 of an inch thick.  They are available in all shapes (hearts, circle, square, rectangle...) and colors!  You will need 5 boxes of the same size and shape.  Label each box:   SIGHT      SOUND     TASTE      SMELL       TOUCH

Fill each box with up to 5-6 items that match the sensory label on the box.  These boxes are a permanent fixture in our daycare...I change the items once every couple of weeks - so the kids get different experiences.  As you read the lists below, you will see that a lot of the items can be placed in more than one category.  That is something that could also be discussed with the kids.

SIGHT:   magnifying glass, binoculars, colored cellophane, swimming goggles, sunglasses,
               kaleidoscope, and a multiple of things for them to look at with these tools!

SOUND:  whistle, horn, story tape with tape recorder/walkman, handmade moraccas,
              rain sticks, any musical instrument, add materials that the kids could use to make
              their own musical instruments!

TASTE:  Cut up food samples with the following tastes:  sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, bland,
             salty,  and anymore that you can think of!  Use some of these in a recipe for a
             special snack or lunch!

SMELL:  sandpaper rubbings (rub with spices before placing in box - cut into shapes of your
             choice and glue shapes to a larger piece of cardboard - labeling each spice),
             orange, lemon, piece of leather, fresh flowers, dirt, peanut butter,

TOUCH:  Along with manipulatives like sieves, measuring cups, spoons, dull knives, water
            & sand toys, etc., offer some of the following items:  feathers, sandpaper,
            cornmeal, sawdust, water, sand, dirt, cooked noodles,  uncooked noodles, hot
            (warm) and cold, flour, peanut butter, molasses, lettuce, paper (thick, thin, tissue,
            toweling...., egg, applesauce,  ice-cream (if you have an ice-cream maker, include it!
            My kids love to help make ice-cream - this would work in conjunction with taste),
            eggshells, crayon shavings, sugar and icing sugar, mashed bananas, cooked and
            uncooked rice, grapes, carrot skins, Jell-O, pudding, dough, popcorn.....just to name
            a few!

"Gum-in-Hair"??  Problem Solved!
I had recently read somewhere that to remove chewing gum from a child's hair to use peanut butter.  I thought to myself "Peanut butter??  Now, why would that work???"  And I just filed the information in the back of my head.....well, today I had to reach for that tidbit of information....a daycare child arrived with gum-in-mouth this morning and I had not noticed.  Well, you all know what happens when a 2 year old has gum in her mouth!!!  She came to me after she had tried to remove herself....there she was with all her bangs and half the long hair on the top of her pretty little head all knotted up in this tiny wad of gum!  I instantly panicked and my little brain went from calling the images of mom having to cut this beautiful a bald little girl.....when all of a sudden that tidbit of information just popped into my head.  "PEANUT BUTTER"!!!!!!  Well, they claimed it worked in the magazine....and now I can tell you that it indeed does!!!!  I worked a small amount of it into her hair and thought "oh, no" it's not working....but I kept massaging and adding more dollops of was working!!  It took about 15 minutes of massaging and separating the hairs...and about 1/4 cup of peanut butter...but her hair was gum free!  A quick shampoo and she was on her way! So, file away this little never know when the gum monster will strike again!!!!!

Homemade Flannel Board
You will need:  sign board
                      large  piece of felt (color or your choice; cut same size as sign board)
                      white glue
                      trim (of your choice; enough to go around the all edges of the board)

Cut the sign board to the size and shape you want for the finished board.  (My board is 24" height X 48" wide).  Also cut a piece of sign board 8" wide x 16" height (stand should be at least 3/4 of the finished height of the board) - this is the stand.   For the stand:  Measure 2" in along the long side of the stand.  Fold along this line.   Apply glue to the 2" fold and apply to the center back of the board - with bottom edges even.  You may wish to also staple or apply rivets for extra security.  Stand the board up....trim the bottom edge of the "stand" on an angle that is pleasing to you to allow the finished board to rest on an angle.  To finish the board, glue the felt to the front of the board.  Add trim around the edges (optional - but it looks nice!).

If you wish, this flannel board could also be attached to a wall with wall mirror fasteners at a perfect height for the kids.

Homemade Flannel Board Characters
Do your kids have a favorite story that they like read over and over?   Make a flannel story to go with it so that they can reenact the story on their own or along with the story as you read!   Decide what characters and scenery you want to include in the flannel story.  Photocopy each one on a color copier.  Enlarge, if necessary.  Cut around each piece leaving about 1/4 inch around the edge.  Apply a piece of clear contact paper to the front of each piece.  Apply a piece of felt to the back.  Trim each piece close to the outline of each character/scenery piece.    It's now ready for your story!    I find it helps to print the name of the story on the back of each piece...just in case the felt stories are accidentally mixed up!  I keep the felt pieces in zip lock bags marked with the name of the book/story, and store in a large tote box. OR IF YOU HAVE A STORY YOU WANT TO TELL DRAW YOUR OWN PICTURES TO GO ALONG WITH IT!!

Flannel Board Match Games
With a black marker draw lines on a flannel board - like a tic-tac-toe design. (if you don't want to permanently mark the board - use ribbon to mark off the squares, wrapping the ribbon to the back and taping to secure.)   Ask the kids to find the items that match in each square.  You can make as many squares as you need!

Draw or cut out pictures and apply with clear contact paper and a felt back as above.  Some ideas to help you get started - just use a little imagination!

Note:  You could make several "felt" covers to attach to your felt board for the match games......for example:  for "People" - glue the item to be matched to a piece of felt in a square.  The kids then match it with the "person".   To store, roll with the felt pieces inside and tie with ribbon.  You could do a different game on each side of the felt!
I hope to get a scanner soon - so you can see examples of my game boards!

Instant Tarnish Remover
To quickly clean several pieces of tarnished silver, line the bottom of a large dish pan with aluminum foil.  Fill it with boiling water and add one or two tablespoons of baking soda.  Immerse silver, making sure it is complete covered.  Let soak for a few minutes then buff dry with a soft cloth.

Keeping Tabs on Electrical Cords
Use the plastic tabs from bread bags to label a group of electrical cords (TV, stereo, lamp, clock, etc.)  Mark the tab with a permanent marker and slip onto the cord at the plug end. You will never unplug the wrong item again!

Easy Small Pet Finder
If you have a small pet, such as a hamster in the house, chances are that he has gone missing a time or two!  To easily find a missing pet, place some pet food in the bottom of a deep bucket and lean a piece of wood against it as a ramp.  Within a day, you will find your pet in the bucket with no way of escaping!

Waste Less Detergent
After using the last bit of liquid laundry or dishwasher soap, fill the container with water and shake it.  Use the contents for your next wash and you will get one more load clean with what you would have thrown away.  This works great for shampoos and conditioners, too!

*Beary* special thanks to
for the wonderful graphics for this page.

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