50+ Activities for Kids That Are Free or Really Cheap

50+ Activities for Kids That Are Free or Really Cheap

Does anyone else feel like they are spinning in circles in place this summer?

Mamas, you feel me? This season is bringing out the grit and grace in me more than ever. As a mom of a 5-year-old boy, we have done coloring, LEGOs, and screen time. We’ve read books, run in literal circles, and I’ve found myself needing more ideas. So, I set out on a mission to search the inter-web, rack my brain, and ask friends for some assistance. To save you all this research, below are 50-plus ideas to keep the kiddos entertained (they might also learn a thing or two!).

Good for most any age (very little assembly required!):

1. Make photo books online and look out for the delivery
2. Build a fort (blankets, pillows, chip clips or clothes pins to hold it together, and boxes—you can even color the boxes)
3. Listen to podcasts (this can be done from inside the fort you build)
4. Have a dance party (for added fun, you can turn it into a game of Freeze Dance)
5. Bowling with plastic cups as the pins
6. Play hide & seek
7. Play board games (revisit some of the classics like Charades, Uno, Sorry, Cards, Twister)
8. Play Would You Rather(make up your own questions or grab some lists from Google)
9. Simple scavenger hunt (find something green, find something with buttons, find something round, etc.)
10. Indoor or backyard picnic
11. Plant/Garden (kids can even help with the weeding)
12. Paper airplane races
13. Wash the dog
14. Wash the car (wash the kids while you’re at it)
15. Stargazing from sleeping bags in the backyard
16. Make postcards, letters, and cards to send to family and friends
17. Hula hoops, jump ropes
18. Puzzles
19. Practice tongue twisters (she sells seashells by the seashore—well not anymore)
20. Disney arts and crafts (watch the movie with some popcorn and then follow it with a craft!)
21. Science experiments using household stuff

Stir crazy? We’ve got 50-plus ideas to keep the kiddos entertained (they might also learn a thing or two!).

22. Easter egg hunt in the house or backyard (even when it’s not Easter)
23. Try a new recipe
24. Family cooking competitions (this is one of many competitions your family might love)
25. Learn a new language (try sign language!)
26. Play hot potato
27. Play barbershop or beauty salon (do each others’ hair, crazy up-dos, try different styles)
28. Play “I Spy”
29. Staring contest (don’t laugh!)
30. Try Origami

For the little ones

31. “Trash” art (egg cartons can become caterpillars and toilet paper rolls can become butterflies … hey—what else are you going to do with all that over-purchasing of toilet paper rolls?)
32. Make a necklace out of pasta

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33. Sidewalk chalk (you can also turn this into a game: hopscotch, tic-tac-toe)
34. Play restaurant (since you can’t go to one)
35. Flashlight shadow puppets
36. Get a ruler or measuring tape and measure anything and everything and record the results
37. Toy washing bin
38. Blow and pop bubbles
39. Play-doh (get out your cookie cutters for added fun)
40. Make your own play dough
41. Build a block tower
42. DIY racetrack with painters tape on the floor
43. Collect rocks to paint
44. Play “Simon Says”
45. Print off new coloring pages
46. Shaving cream art in the bathtub
47. Use a cupcake tin as a toy sorter for blocks or small action figures
48. Paper cup stacking (another activity you can turn into a competition)
49. Blow up a few balloons and play keep off the floor
50. Have a stuffed animal tea party

Links for additional activity ideas for preschoolers and kindergarteners:

For Preschoolers: Busy Toddler

For Kindergarteners: Days with Grey

For teenagers:

Check out Meaghan Dawson’s awesome article: 5 Ways to Get Your Teenagers Off of Screens Now

Find more balance!

Websites with free online activities for kids:

seussville.com (read, play games, and hang out with Dr. Seuss and his friends)

storylineonline.net (movie stars read some of your favorite stories)

funbrain.com (Pre-K to 8th grade: educational games, videos, and books)

kids.nationalgeographic.com (learn about geography and animals)

abcya.com (Pre-K to 6th grade: practice math and reading skills while playing fun games)

highlightskids.com (read, play games, and conduct cool science experiments)

Education.com (Pre-K to 5th grade: free worksheets/booklets that can be printed!)

A few additional tips/tricks:
  • SCHEDULE: As a whole, you could try to keep the day’s structure similar to what they would experience at school, such as reading time, recess time, lunch, etc.
  • REWARD: For younger kids, track good behavior and accomplishments with a reward sticker chart. For the older kids, offer an allowance for new chores.
  • CLEAN-UP: When all the fun is done and it’s time to clean-up, try setting a timer on your phone or the microwave for say 10 minutes and clean as much as you can as fast as you can as a family, I find this method to be very effective.

If you tried any of the above, please share with us how it went in the comments! Don’t forget to savor these moments!

For more like this, start here:

5 Ways Blended Families Can Be Happy and Healthy
Want to Get Your Child Interested in Books? Try This.
7 Helpful Tips to Relieve Your Middle Schooler’s Anxiety
When a Staycation is the Perfect Family Choice
50 Weird Things That Make All Women Happy

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