Keeping a six-year-old busy for an evening – for $8

Anyone finding themselves in Western New York this weekend knows that the weather turned badly today; or, rather, that the weather suddenly became what it normally is this time of year, which is cold, windy and snowy. With it being too inclement for outdoor fun, the lad and I resorted to keeping busy indoors, but we also wanted to do something new – and something on a budget, since I only had about $10 in my wallet.

At $5, this SpongeBob edition of Monopoly was a tycoon-level deal.

We decided to patronize area thrift and consignment shops, to see what toys or games were available. Since games tend to get beaten up pretty badly when used by first graders, new games end up looking just as badly as used ones in about a week or so. When I told the lad that, in light of that fact, we could probably get more games for the same money by hitting the thrift shops, he enthusiastically agreed.

It’s important to note that not every such outing results in success. In those cases, you’ve at least had the opportunity to spend some time together doing something a little different, and then figure out some other low-budget way to keep busy.

Today’s effort, though, was certainly frutiful. We found two board games: A SpongeBob Squarepants edition of Monopoly, and an old Parker Brothers wargame called Lionheart. Both are used games in good condition, and we only spent $8 between them.

Not sure yet if the lad will have the wherewithal to play this one just yet, but at $3, this copy of Lionheart was worth the risk.

We ended up spenidng about an hour just taking inventory of the pieces in the boxes, and performing the follow-up task of making our own substitutes for whatever was missing. We were blessed to find that pretty much everything was included in the SpongeBob game; the war game was missing a handful of figures (which could easily be replaced with figures from my miniature wargaming collection), and two were damaged, although they could be repaired with super glue or plastic modeling cement.

The next part was easy – actually playing the games, an activity that lasted a bit past bedtime, but was well worth it, especially since it didn’t involve video games or watching movies, which I feel are second-class entertainments when real people are around to interact with.

If the weather doesn’t break, we’ll be gaming again tomorrow.

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