​​3 Low Cost Activities to Do with Your Preschooler in Vermont


I have Googled variations of “kid-friendly activities near me” countless times and always end up short-handed. The results are invariably the same: too expensive or too old for my preschool-age kid. I then make my way over to Pinterest for ideas and immediately am barraged with titles like “100 Activities to Do with Your Kids RIGHT NOW.”

WHOA. Do parents read lists this long?! By the time I get to #20, my brain is fried. Honestly, I’m not even sure I’m qualified to run many of these 100 activities. I feel like I would need to be an expert crafter or chef to do these things justice. I’m just looking for low cost activities to do with my preschooler.

So, I give up and I’m back at square one. I am also exhausted from imagining how to do 20 of 100 activities and my kiddo is still going strong.Young girls running outside

To avoid this frustrating ritual, I’ve compiled an easy list of ​​3 low cost activities to do with your preschooler in Vermont.

Throw in a bagged lunch from home (usually peanut butter sandwiches) and we’re ready to go. I can turn to these activities multiple times per week without breaking the bank and best of all, he loves them!

Correction: best of all, he loves them AND they tire him out which leads to a successful afternoon nap, which is always a win!

Young boy in front of a dinosaur exhibit at a museum.

Borrow a day pass to a local attraction from the library.

Our library in Milton offers “Attraction Passes” for members. Using them is easy! Call your local library to find out if they offer the same type of thing. When I want to use a pass, I call the library to reserve the pass on the morning I want to use it. They even offer curbside pickup. Passes are due back the same day, and you can drop into the book return outside.

Attraction Passes available at the Milton Library:

      • Shelburne Farms: half off regular admission price for 2 adults and up to 4 accompanying children 17 and under.
      • ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center: $7 per person up to 4 people (savings of $8-$10 per ticket).
      • Vermont State Parks: free entry into day-use areas, for up to eight people in one vehicle.
      • Birds of Vermont Museum: one free admission with one paid admission.
      • Vermont State Historic Sites: free entry into six state historic sites for one family or group up to eight people:
              1. Bennington Battle Monument State Historic Site
              2. Chimney Point State Historic Site
              3. Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site
              4. Mount Independence State Historic Site
              5. President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site
              6. Senator Justin Morrill State Historic Site

Another library perk: free activity bags. This is one of my favorite low cost activities to do with your preschooler. These free activity bags usually contain a few paper crafts and coloring sheets. The best part: I don’t have to organize this project, and he thinks they’re exciting because we never know what each week’s bag will hold. No matter where you live, your public library can be a huge asset.Three young kids in front of a fish exhibit at a museum.Mom with young girl looking at a dinosaur exhibit at a museum.

Go for an adventure walk.

Oh, how my 3-year-old LOVES a good adventure walk. Our walks consist of either finding “treasures” and putting them in a special bag or going for a bike ride around a neighborhood. Mind you, this is not complicated. When it comes to treasures, think pinecones, leaves, rocks, and sticks… so many sticks! He gets to choose a special bag or container from home to put his treasures in. We talk about the colors and shapes of the treasures, build little pretend communities, or line them all up. It almost feels too easy!

As for an adventure bike ride, we mix things up by trying out different communities in our town. I like to find a safe neighborhood that is flat and has nice sidewalks. I walk and he does loops around me on his balance bike. Sometimes we sing songs or play “I Spy” as we mosey along. Just 20 minutes of this can really change our day.  Goodbye “threenager” attitude… at least for a few hours.Young boy riding his bike on a sidewalk. Small collection of pine cones, sticks, and rocks.

Keep this activity low cost by buying gear secondhand. I bought his stroller and bike on Facebook Marketplace. I regularly shop at secondhand stores for high-quality outdoor gear. That way, when it rains and snows (*ahem* Vermont), I know he’ll be comfortable outside. Having dependable gear is the key to getting out of the house.

Let them shop.

Sometimes a trip to the dollar store can feel like a trip to a theme park. Okay… maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but if you’ve ever felt cooped up at home with a little kid on a dreary day, a trip to any store can feel exhilarating.

At this age, my son, Jackson, is enthralled with numbers. So, giving him $3 and telling him that he can choose anything (within reason) that he’d like at the store is beyond exciting for him. And, it’s a lesson in math and helps to foster financial literacy. Also, it costs me $3 and provides him with a long stretch of entertainment.

I’ve used this activity too many times to count. It doesn’t matter if it’s Family Dollar, Hannaford, or Ace Hardware… who cares! The point is that he gets to decide where we’re going, and he has 3 fresh $1 bills in his little hand. The opportunities are endless.

Once again, don’t overthink this. It might not seem like much at first, but it’s great when the weather is terrible and you just need some new low cost activities to do with a toddler. It’s a half-hour out of the house that can be fun and will help to reset both you and your child’s antsy energy. A little effort for a big reward.Young boy pushing a shopping cart in a grocery store.

If you’re looking for low-cost activities to do with your preschooler, don’t overthink it like I used to! It does not have to be expensive to enjoy time together outside of the house. Preschool-age kids do not need complicated schedules; they just need space to explore. An hour spent together at one of the local attractions listed above, on an adventure walk, or shopping with $3 in their pocket can leave your 3-year-old feeling happy and loved.


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