Malls are a great place to get out of the house during the long winter months, but trips to the mall often end up costing a lot of money. Here are some ideas for fun at the mall that DON’T involve money.
Malls are almost always fun places for kids, but they’re often stressful for parents because the kids are constantly asking, “Can I get this? Will you buy me that?” The mall is a cornucopia of marketing savvy, but a well planned trip to the mall can make your kids better consumers, but also to have some fun at the mall. Here are three ways to have fun at the mall without spending money.
1. The Mall Scavenger Hunt
This is a game kids can play by themselves (with parents of course) or with others. Make a list of products or objects throughout the mall that the kids can find. Try to spread the stores the objects are in throughout the mall. The older the kids, the more obscure the items can be. If you have children in a couple different age ranges, you can give them lists of varying difficulty. After the kids get their list, they figure where they’re most likely to find the objects on the list. Hopefully, they’ll turn to a mall directory. They must then navigate the mall to find the stores in question. This game is best played in a non-crowded mall; off peak times are the best.
2. Comparison Shopping for Fun.
With my daughters, there’s no dilemma as challenging as having money in their pockets and trying to decide what to spend it on. Choose three generic objects that the kids would want or need to buy – I’ve used shoes, a DVD and a toy – and a certain amount of play money or money in an imaginary account. The kids mission is to buy three of the objects for the lowest prices possible. This shows them the value of comparison-shopping, and tests their addition and subtraction skills. Walking all over the mall is also good exercise.
3. I Spy: People-watching with a purpose.
For many people, the most fun about going to a mall is people watching. Find a place to sit comfortably with the kids where they can look out over a lot of different people. The person who’s “it” says “I spy with my little eye, someone with _______________.” This is also a great game to play at the food court if you’re waiting for a slow eater, or want to give the kids some time to digest their food before heading back into the throngs.