5 Dollar-Store Buys to Entertain Kids in a Cabin

It’s an easy thing to overlook when planning a cabin stay — what are the kids going to do in a house with no toys?

I’m a minimalistic packer, so I usually don’t think to bring toys along. Kids will enjoy running up and down the stairs screaming for so long. And then, most likely while you’re trying to play a game of euchre, they’ll want to know … “What can we do???”

Here are five things you can find at most dollar stores. My advice? Stock up beforehand, then pull them out one at a time at the cabin. The best part is that they were inexpensive to buy, so you don’t mind if they get all mangled or broken. And you can simply throw them away before leaving.

  1. Parachute Men. My kids’ all-time favorites. You know — the little plastic figurines that come with plastic parachutes attached by string? These are great at cabins because many cabins have a second level with a loft, where kids can watch them fly down to the ground. If the cabin’s right, these can also work outdoors off a balcony. Even without a balcony, my son has spent hours playing with them outdoors when the wind is right. Make sure you buy plenty, though, because they get tangled up fast. Just ask my dear sister-in-law who spent a whole morning untangling them during our last cabin getaway.
  2. Bubbles. It’s a classic, but you can’t go wrong. Send the kids out on the balcony with bubbles. You know, it’ll keep them occupied for at least an hour. Or until they spill…
  3. Rubber Band Airplanes. Have you seen these? My son LOVES them. There are several different versions, but the idea’s basically the same. It’s a little airplane that comes with a stick/rubber band launcher. Again, perfect for a balcony or a staircase. These guys can really fly if you launch them right.
  4. Glow Jewelery. These are fun for several reasons. First, if you’re going to be out doing anything after dark, kids LOVE to wear glowing necklaces and bracelets. But even if you’re not, kids will find an interior room/closet and have a great time with those glowing pieces. My kids love to go to sleep in strange places with these glowing “night lights.”
  5. Bouncing Putty. Have you seen this stuff? It’s a light, plastic-y putty that bounces when thrown on the ground. Kids can find all kinds of stuff to do with it. Be warned, though, it will mash into carpet and clothes if someone, for instance, steps right on it (my daughter totally did this…). Best for hard wood floors.

What are your favorite dollar store buys?

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