50 Thrifty Fun Things To Do: Cheap Coloring Pages

We don’t buy coloring books anymore. It’s not that they are very expensive, it’s that they are wasteful. In our house, anyway. Early on Isobel turned her nose up at coloring books printed on color-dulling brown paper, and the coloring books she did approve of usually only contained a few pages she’d actually want to color. The others she just wasn’t interested in and we’d be left with a whole book of blank pages with just a few completed that she considered “done.” Worst of all, the only pages she would want to color she’d want to color over and over again. But once it’s colored, it’s done. Let’s just say we’ve had our share of coloring book angst in our household.

Until we started finding free coloring pages on the internet.

Initially we despaired of ever finding a squirrel coloring book to match her fervent request, but one “squirrel coloring pages” search later pulled up more results than she could ever color. She picks the ones she wants, we print them out, and there’s no waste. That time she only wanted to color sunflowers? Or Wasp from the Avengers? Or Pikachu? Boom. Boom, boom, boom. We are just a few clicks away from finding coloring pages for whatever crazy thing she can think of, and since she’s choosing the images, they are all Isobel-approved so they will be colored. You really can find anything you want to color.

There are entire websites that exist solely to provide free coloring pages, and you can match up pages to whatever your child is studying in school, or the season or a holiday, or a strange obsession they happened to cultivate. Free coloring pages have never let me down, and my daughter can have quite the random tastes at times. I do still buy coloring books, but these days I buy them for me.


It’s not a completely free exercise, of course, because you have to have access to a computer, the internet, and a printer with ink. We have to have these things for our work, and I try to offset the environmental cost by using blank back sides of papers. But it is convenient, and cheap if you already have these things on hand, and offers less waste if, like us, a coloring book was useless to your child after s/he had gone through about ten pages.

This is also a very useful tip if you don’t have kids yourself but occasionally watch some. You don’t have to worry about them rejecting your Yo Gabba Gabba coloring book because that was so two developmental stages ago. Picking out the images to color is actually really fun for both parties and I like that if we are coloring together, we can each chose something that we’d like to color.

We started doing this about a year and a half a ago, but I wish we had known about this much earlier.

50 Thrifty Fun Things To Do: Isobel’s Dance Party Playlist

Every day Isobel and I (and now Elias)  listen to music together, even if just for a little bit. No matter how busy we are I make sure there’s at least some music playing in the background. As a general rule, my goals as a parent include finding time for music, reading together, playing outside, and imaginative play every day. I noticed as I fired up my playlists each morning that Isobel would request specific songs, and eventually she drove me crazy as I skipped from song to song to song for her. So, I made her a special playlist and named it Isobel’s Dance Party playlist.

It is more of a hit than I possibly could have guessed. We hear it so much that from time to time it makes me insane and I swear if I hear Everything Is Awesome one more time I will spontaneously start bleeding from my ears. On occasion I have had to impose music-free afternoons because I just can’t listen to those songs without falling to my knees and weeping for it to stop. But then I’ll catch her holding her toy microphone up to her face and belting out the theme from Arrietty and I’m so happy my heart could burst.

I used to do the same thing as a kid. I listened to the radio religiously, sang along to the cassette tapes on my Walkman, and recorded my favorite songs off the radio to listen to on repeat later. I come from a musical family and as soon as I was old enough to play an instrument in band, I did. Music is still very important to me. It is so wonderful to see her enjoying it. We listen to a lot of Brazilian jazz and bossa nova and she really likes that, too. Each year we have a sing-a-long during our Christmas party and I remember Melynda sitting down at the piano and asking Isobel what song she’d like to hear, thinking she’d request Jingle Bells or Frosty the Snowman. She requested Running by Eliane Elias.

Isobel’s Dance Party Playlist

My Humps,  by the Black Eyed Peas – She really likes this song. Like, a lot. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that she thinks this song is called “spending money on me,” and loves to sing “My lumpy lumpy lumps.” I’m sorry, Isobel. Your mother’s bad taste has rubbed off on you.

Fuse, by Hudson Mohawk – this song is from the Sleeping Dogs soundtrack and I just really liked it, so one day I downloaded it. There’s an ooh ahh chorus in the background that’s slightly distorted and when Isobel was younger she thought they were singing koala. I don’t know. She still calls it the koala song and that’s what it goes by in my house.

Thrift Shop, by Macklemore. She used to call this “the spooky song.” I have no idea. Her favorite part is to say “Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping,” and then she’ll turn to me and say, “Can we, Mama?”

Gangnam Style, by Psy. Isobel and Kingston were obsessed with this song for the longest time. You should see her sideways pony dance.

Can’t Hold Us, by Macklemore. She calls this the “Hey hey!” song because he says that in the beginning. She loves this song.

Everything Is Awesome, by Tegan and Sara. The Lego Movie was the first movie that Isobel sat all the way through at the theater and this song makes her go insane with joy. She also loves to dance to this song with Kingston.

Nicotine and Gravy, by Beck. Anthony and I love this song, and we went through a phase where we listened to this song every time we got into the car. One day we realized Isobel was singing along.

Summertime, by Bridget Mendler. This song is from the movie The Secret World of Arrietty, one of Isobel’s favorite movies. I’m not really about Disney starlets, but I love this song.


To cope with the maddening repetition I sometimes set a timer and let her listen to the playlist a few times through before we take a break for other music. I’m in the midst of creating a few other playlists for her that feature rock songs, heavy percussion for her love of drumming and music to chill out to.

Sometimes she will request her playlist to listen to in the background while we do chores or make crafts, but sometimes she’ll get her instruments out and play along. She likes to learn the words and sing along, which is exactly what I loved to do as a kid. Sometimes we have living room dance parties. What she really loves is to turn it on and run from one end of the room to the other, ricocheting off furniture and jumping off of furniture. I love it when she does that because not only is it cute, but it helps her burn off some midday energy when it might be too hot to go outside.

Even though there are times when listing to the same songs over and over makes me crazy, I’m still really glad I made this playlist. She loves having “her own” music on a special playlist, and watching her love music more than makes up for occasional ear bleeding.



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