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Turn a closet or bathroom into a time machine. Have the child go in, and when he/she comes out have a whole new "world" set up that's a different place in time. You can use other toys for props. For example, if your child has dinosaurs, you can pretend to go back to the time of the dinosaurs. If your child has a lot of space/alien stuff, you can pretend to go into the future. If your child has cowboy stuff, you can go back to the days of the Wild West. For added fun, you can pretend that the time machine is "broken" and there is no way to get back to "the present." See how your child tries to "fix" the time machine.
As you can see, with a little imagination, there are many games and activities you can play with your child that don't involve expensive toys. Most kids are thrilled to have some time with Mom or Dad anyway, and will find these games to be a pleasant change from the usual video or board game. If you use the toys your child already has for some of these games, they will also see those toys in a new light, and the toys will become interesting again. How elaborate you make these games depends only on how much time you have and how much clean up you want to have afterwards!
Contributed by Jennifer Spieler