Arts and crafts activities are great for children to partake in. Not just because it's fun, but because it improves their coordination as they often have to use both hands. It also helps them solve problems, practice patience, tolerance and persistence. Most importantly, it helps them release their creativity and express themselves. Allowing them to get creative can get pricey when you need to buy paintbrushes, clay, glue, glitter, tape, pencils, crayons, ribbons and everything else. And kids are notorious for giving up their old hobbies and replacing them with something new in a blink of an eye. So, affordable arts and crafts are something every parent needs. These crafts will give them all the benefits of arts and crafts without the massive price tag.

Paper Mâché

Paper mâché is the art of mixing together some gloopy stuff, dipping strips of newspaper in it and using the soggy paper to build something interesting. When dry, the final product can be quite pliable. If you want the result to be more rigid, simply add a tablespoon or two of wood glue to the gloopy mix. Remember that paper mâché needs a long time to dry, so start your project a few days before you need it completed.

What you need: 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons wood glue (optional), a base and strips of newspaper.

Method: Mix the water and flour, add glue if using. Mix until it is mostly lump free. Make a base shape. Dip the newspaper strips in the gloopy mix and attach to the base. Continue until you are happy with the project. Allow to dry. Decorate as desired.

Check out this page for some paper mâché ideas to try out.

paper mache

Origami

Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into various shapes, objects and forms. This can be used to make anything from extravagant animals to simple book marks. Younger kids and beginners can start with the easier projects while older kids and adults can do something a little more complex.

What you need: Sheets of multi-coloured paper

Easy, Peasy and Fun has some great origami templates.

Origami

Clay

Clay is a fun way for kids (and adults) to have a lot of squishy fun. They can spend hours building whatever they want and if they are not happy with it they can just tear is apart and start again. Clay can get quite expensive, so we have found this home-made recipe that can be made in all the colours of the rainbow. This clay will also dry hard so you can keep your children's works of art for years to come.

What you need: 1 cup corn flour, 2 cups bicarbonate of soda, 1 1/4 cups water, food colouring

Method: Mix a few drops of food colouring with the water. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a cloth. Allow the mixture to cool. Knead and use.

Recipe sourced from Education.com

Clay

Yarn

This colourful string is an easy way to keep your kids busy for hours and to teach them patience and resilience. Trust us, there is nothing that can be quite as frustrating as a wild ball of yarn that won't behave. But once this string as been tamed, it can create beautiful crafted pieces.

What you need: yarn, wool or string, glue, other; depending on project.

Find some fun yarn projects here.

yarn

Decoupage

Decoupage is similar to paper mâché as it also involves a glue-like substance and paper to make a project. However, decoupage glues paper onto objects for decoration. This is a lovely way for kids to personalise some of their belongings or to make extra special gifts and cards for others. The kids will be busy for hours, combing through newspapers and magazines looking for pictures for their decoupaging.

What you need: 1 cup white craft glue and 1 cup water for the glue as well as pictures; cut out from magazines or newspapers, stickers, photos etc.

Method: Mix the water and glue. Brush this mixture on the back of the pictures. Stick the pictures onto your surface of choice. Seal the front of the photo and object with more of the glue mixture. Allow to dry.

Look at Crafts By Amanda for some cute decoupage ideas.

Decoupage

Mom, I'm Bored! 

Schools are expected to reopen in phases from 01 June 2020. But this does not mean that your child will be returning to their normal routine any time soon. As kiddies may not fully understand the implications of the outbreak, it is imperative that parents speak to their children about the virus, its symptoms and how to prevent infection through good hygiene and social distancing before school begins. However, for the time being your little ones may become restless, feeling cooped up and lonely without their friends.

Nevertheless, during this time of urgency, we suggest that you find fun ways to keep the kids entertained at home rather than risk infection by visiting parks or attending play-dates. Besides, there is some benefit to isolation - bonding with the family! Put the electronic devices to rest, detach from the constant influx of media information and reconnect with the people you love most. Here are a few suggestions for having a whole bunch of fun while in lockdown:

Build A Fort

When COVID-19 first broke out in Wuhan, China in late 2019, its citizens were quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus. South Africans living in Wuhan took to social media to find connections and comfort from their fellow countrymen. To keep themselves entertained at home, many of these expats attempted to build blanket forts in their apartments. Since then, a number of fun isolation challenges have emerged, as people seek to find the brighter side of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Get the kids involved in a fun challenge by transforming your living room into a wonder-filled world of imagination! Stack up blankets, sheets and pillows against the furniture and let the kids create their own secret nooks and crannies on the inside of your make-shift indoor tent. Or, build up a space big enough for yourself to crawl into and have a much-needed rest. Gather up a few good story books and huddle up inside together for a day of reading. Don't forget to bring along a couple of tasty snacks!

have fun with the kids

Play A Board Game Or Build A Puzzle 

Give the video consoles and computer games a break for a day. Bring out great old-fashioned board games! Playing games as a family can be a wonderful bonding experience and may become a household tradition. We recommend the classic Cluedo, which is available in a junior edition online at takealot.com. The snooker-inspired fingerboard game, Shoot, is also tons of fun for all. However, if you and your little one prefer a more relaxed style of gaming, why not build a puzzle together? Puzzles are proven to be a great fine-motor skill development tool, and they are loads of fun for adults, too.

Picnic In The Backyard

A good dose of sunshine has been proven to boost your immune system. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, get the kiddies outside during this time for some much-needed fresh air and vitamin D. Joburg autumn weather is ideal for an outdoor garden picnic with the kids. Rope them in to whipping up a selection of finger sandwiches, or spend a little extra time baking with them. Lay out a blanket and tea set in the yard to make this activity a special treat. Invite your children to bring along their favourite toys to add to the whimsy of the afternoon. Remember to wash your hands before and after eating! 

have fun with the kids

Arts And Crafts

Get your arts and craft materials out these holidays and be as creative as you can. Drawing, painting, sculpting and origami are proven to decrease stress levels. In these trying times, activities such as these can calm both you and the kids. For artsy inspiration, check out these nifty Pinterest boards.

Dress-Up Party 

Dig through your cupboards to find old and interesting items of clothing worthy of a fancy dress party. Invite the kids to join in on the fun. You can dress up too (if that's your kind of thing). Try out different accents or character skits for a good laugh, or even go as far as organising a family play. Remember to take loads of photographs along the way - they'll bring huge smiles to your faces in years to come.

Stay-In Movie Day 

Kids love movies and can undoubtedly be entertained by a television for hours on end. Take advantage of this by giving yourself and the kids a day off, to binge and bond over your most beloved movies. If you've had it up to your ears with Frozen and Peppa Pig, check out these awesome alternative animated movies for kids. Create the in-house movie theatre atmosphere by drawing the curtains and making a bucket load of popcorn (give everyone a separate bowl to avoid the germies!) You can add to the fun by making it a compulsory pajama and slipper day.

If you have any suggestions on how to have fun with the kids while at home, please share them with us in the comments section below.

Somewhere between Fairlands and Weltevredenpark there is a shopping complex called Hillfox Value Centre. Here, you will find everything from the last Look & Listen in the country to fashion and footwear, DIY, specialist hobby stores and home services. On Sundays, there's a massive flea market in the underground parking area.

But we're not here to talk about the above-ground stuff. If you head to the right of the parking lot, past the Food Lover's Market and big orange and black building that used to be a Trade Centre, you will find China World. In this building, with its fascia board divided shops, the number of stores head well into the hundreds. The majority of shop owners are from mainland China and they brought with them all the cheap stuff we like so much. There are quite a few stores selling phone and tablet accessories such as cables, chargers and covers. Most of them do basic repairs — such as cracked screens, etc. Moving on, there are tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of toy stores. Pretty much all of them sell fairly dangerous weapons, such as knives and crossbows — interesting and quite scary all at once! Further down the line, there are shops that sell weird and wonderful stuff. Here you can buy everything from new rims for your VW Golf to uh, uhm, stuff for the bedroom.

There are quite a few shops that sell handbags, clothing and makeup. A word of warning: it may be cheap and pretty but one shouldn't expect quality. When you buy imitation products for 90% off the original's price, don't expect it to last. And returning goods for a refund is not going to work - none of the stores here care much about the Consumer Protection Act.

All in all, there's a lot of amazing stuff at China World. Most places only accept cash so be sure to pop by the FNB ATM at the entrance.

Have you been to China World? What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments section below. Planning on a trip to the cheap cheap shops? Then share this on social media. 

Joburg’s Bustling Art Scene

Have you done an art tour of Joburg yet? No? Well, then Now is your chance! Johannesburg is home to some iconic galleries, not to mention a barrage of modern, niche spaces and they all host the most thought-provoking and inspirational local art.

Galleries are spread throughout the city but I suggest doing one of the ‘art routes’, as they are now being called. My favourite is the Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank which boasts a bunch of the best galleries, and they are all within close proximity to each other. Start at Circa on Jellicoe and make your way through Speke, SMAC, Southern Guild and WHATIFTHEWORLD.

The Healthy Option - Join ParkRun South Africa

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Park Runs, they are 5km routes which take place in the most stunning parks and are open to all to enjoy. But you might be wondering how this is different to you just running around the block a few times? Well, the Park Runs are firstly stunning considering they take place in some of Joburg’s best parks (Delta Park, Modderfontein Park, etc) but also make for a lot of fun because the whole community gets involved. Both walkers and runners are welcome! Click here to find out more and to register for free!#

Visit A Market

Markets are great when you’re trying to work to a budget because unlike a restaurant, you don’t have to eat a meal to relax and take in the atmosphere. You can enjoy a day filled with plenty of entertainment for the kids, relaxing seating areas in the shade, some good food and a fantastic vibe. And best of all, some markets have no entrance fee, so you can walk in and suss out everything for FREE. You could wander the market, grab a drink, let the kids mission around and you’d likely spend under R100 for the whole afternoon. Visit the Modderfontein Farmers' Market that takes place every first and last Saturday of the month (27 January 2018 is the next one!), it has plenty of fun for the whole family.

Head To A Park

People think Joburg is all cement and urban jungle but the opposite is actually true. Joburg is home to an abundance of parks. It seems that the Joburg municipality always placed a strong emphasis on keeping the city green and it has paid off in the form of well-kept and luscious parks. There is a park in almost every area so you have no excuse! Take your pick from James and Ethel Gray Park in Melrose, George Lea Park in Sandton, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens (there s an entrance fee here), Modderfontein Reserve (small charge to get into this one), Delta Park in the Blairgowrie area and Gillooly's Farm in Bedfordview. So, pack some picnic goodies, get the friends and family together and head down to your local park for a day of old-fashioned fun on a budget.

Take A Hike!

And while you're out and about in nature, why not take a hike? Not only is it a great way to kickstart burning off those extra kilos gained over the festive season, but it's also not too heavy on your wallet. You can head to Melville Koppies for a day of walking and gently climbing in sectors East and West, or book your spot for a guided hiking tour through the Central sector. It's child-friendly, cheap and safe. You can also go to Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens and hike through a variety of trails and check out the eagles that take up residence near the waterfall.

Explore The City With City Sightseeing Tours

When was the last time you explored the city like a tourist? If you can't remember, then make sure you take a day or two enjoying the sights and points of interest of Johannesburg with City Sightseeing Tours. Sure, it will cost you a little under R200 for the day, but it is totally worth it considering you'll be hopping on and off an open-top red bus to see and explore the city's top 20 attractions. It's a must! A few attractions on the list include the Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and SAB World of Beer, just to name a few.

Jump About At BOUNCE Inc

If there's one thing you need to blow your last hundred-and-something bucks on, it's a fun jumping session at BOUNCE Inc! And trust us, this isn't just fun that for the young ones. Spend a few hours bumping from trampoline to trampoline, slam-dunking, dodgeballing, climbing, flipping and flopping. It's great exercise, an awesome idea if you're looking to hang out with friends who are also on a budget, and loads of fun! Make sure you book your session, you can even do so online at Bounce Inc. General admission is R100* for junior jumper and student sessions and R125* per adult.

Please note: The prices mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please check with venues about prices before booking or visiting. 

Have you been to any of these spots or done any of these activities? Tell us about your experience below!