You know that “My kids couldn’t wait for summer and now that it is here they won’t stop complaining about how bored they are but my wallet can’t afford to take them to Disneyland every day feeling?” Yep. It’s a standard case of summer boredom. Luckily, with these nifty kid activities and a little creativity on your part, your kids will not die from said boredom and your bank account will have plenty of $$$ left for next years school clothes (don’t panic at the sound of school shopping…it’s only July!). And if this list isn’t inspirational enough, you can also check out our earlier posted 50 family and kid activities!
50 (More!) Free (or Cheap) Kid Activities…
1. Send a message in a bottle
Write fun notes and seal them in a bottle. Then send them down a river or out into the ocean!
2. Fashion photo shoot
Have kids pick out 5 – 10 outfits from their closet and try them on for a photo shoot. You’ll look back and love the pictures!
3. Plant a window garden
Sometimes outdoor gardens can be overwhelming. With your little ones, buy a couple little pots and some seeds and plant a mini garden to keep in your window!
4. Bird watch
Take the family outside and play a little I Spy bird watch! Beforehand you can look up some types of birds indigenous to your area and keep an eye out for them.
5. Throw a confetti party!
Home-made confetti is super easy. Just cut out or hole-punch tiny bits for colorful paper from your paper scrap pile and have a confetti fight in your yard!
6. Have cardboard-box car races
This simple tutorial is one way you can recycle unused boxes into cars for tots and race them around the house!
7. Create a time capsule
Fill up a shoebox with notes, pictures, and objects your kids want to remember later. Have them “bury” or hide it somewhere in the house to be “dug up” a year later.
8. Do a toy donation party
Have kids go through old toys and pick out “presents” they want to donate to other little children.
9. Write letters to soldiers
Have kids write letters and draw pictures for soldiers. You can find out how and where to send them at Letters To Soldiers.
10. Balloon volleyball
Blow up some leftover or dollar-store balloons and have kids play indoor volleyball. The rule: don’t let the balloons touch the floor!
11. Bake cookies
And really let the kids do as much as they can. Let them add ingredients and stir up the dough.
12. Play in free outdoor water fountains
Hot days call for some water play. But sometimes trips to the pool or water parks get expensive. Many cities now have kid-friendly fountains where your tots can run and play for free!
13. Disposable camera photography day
Buy a cheap disposable camera for each of your kids and do a photography day where you explore and take pictures. Then get them developed and enjoy their art.
14. Wild flower floral arrangements
In the spring and summer go pick wild flowers with you kids and have them create floral arrangements in old jars.
15. Have a story time
Make a bed or pillow fort on the ground and read whatever books your kids want to read. You may want to start a kids chapter book and read from it every day.
16. Adventure hike
Plan and go on an outdoor hike. You can look up great hikes in your area online.
17. Silhouette art
Trace each of your children’s silhouettes and have them color in their face, hair, and clothes. Then hang them on the wall!
18. Plant scavenger hunt
Print off images of several plants indigenous to your area and go on a scavenger hunt to find the real plants.
19. Make clay vases and boxes
At the craft store you can buy cheap clay that air-dries. Have your children make vases, boxes, or figurines with clay and paint them once they dry.
20. Giant bubble making
There are lots of recipes online for homemade bubbles. Fill a kiddie pool with bubble mix and experiment with different items to make giant bubbles.
21. Have a fort picnic
Sometimes it’s too hot or too cold to throw an outdoor picnic. Switch it up and build a fort inside for an indoor picnic!
22. Sponge water fight
Fill up a bucket of water for each person, arm them with a couple of sponges, and have a water fight! This eliminates filling up tons of water balloons and you can reuse the sponges for the next water fight!
23. 3-legged race obstacle course
An oldie, but a goodie. Use a tie or rope to tie two kids’ inside legs together for an obstacle course race! Have them go down slides and zig-zag through cones!
24. Marshmallow toothpick tower contest
Using Marshmallows as the glue, build mini towers out of toothpicks and see who can build the biggest, tallest, most creative, or neatest towers.
25. Dyed noodle necklaces
Dye noodles using food coloring and water in cups. Then have kids sting the noodles for necklaces or garland.
26. Soft baseball
Using a balloon as a ball and pool noodles as bats, kids can play soft baseball indoors or outdoors!
27. Sand box treasure hunt
If you have a sand box you can bury little “treasures” and have kids dig them up. It may be fun to create a treasure map that takes them around the yard and ends at the “X” in the sandbox.
28. Make ice cream sandwiches
Let you kids pick out some cookies and ice cream at the store. Then mix it up and make sandwiches with ice cream crammed between two cookies. Yum!
29. Fruit kabobs
Sometimes eating fruit the normal way can be boring. Make lunch an activity for the kids and have them help you skewer pineapple, apples, grapes, or whatever fruits they like for fruit kabobs!
30. Doorbell-ditch a gift
Help you kids make a little care package (maybe with some colored pictures and the cookies you made earlier) to anonymously drop off at a neighbor’s house. Put the package on the porch, ring the doorbell, and run!
31. Play movie theater at home
Going out to a movie can be very very veeeery expensive. Instead, buy some cheap treats at the gas station and pop popcorn at home for a homemade movie theater!
32. Backyard campout
This activity takes a lot of the hassle out of camping. Set up a tent in the back yard for a fun night under the stars (but near indoor plumbing!).
33. Dress-up relay
This game is a blast (and free)! Divide kids up into two teams with suitcases full of adult-sized clothes at the other end of the yard. Have each team member run individually to the suitcase, put on all the clothes, run back and tag a team members hand, then run back and take off all the clothes, and then tag the next teammates hand to do it all over again! First team to have all members dress up and dress down wins!
34. Party hats
Making party hats is a simple as rolling a piece of paper into a cone and taping it. Have kids decorate party hats with markers, beads, or whatever crafts supplies you have lying around.
35. Indoor smores
If you have a range (open flame) stove top, indoor Marshmallow roasting for smores is a cheap and delicious treat.
36. Homemade bird feeders
There are hundreds of ways to make homemade bird feeders. This blog post will give some ideas!
37. Fly kites
Every Easter my family bought $1.00 kites at the dollar store and we flew them at the park for a day of affordable fun.
38. Scribble art
Do a scribble on a piece of paper. Then have your kids find pictures in your scribble and color them in!
39. Picnic for lunch
Sometimes the difference between bored and fun is just taking lunch outside.
40. Indoor scuba diving.
Have kids put on swimsuits and goggles for some bath tub scuba diving adventures. Depending on kids ages, it may be fun to have them “dive” for pennies.
41. Paper bag pinatas
Have kids decorate paper lunch sacks with paper, markers, colored noodles, pipe cleaners, or whatever you have. Then fill them with treats, seal them off with string, and hang them up for a fun game of pinata whacking!
42. Caramel apple creations
Set up a buffet of candy toppings. Some fun choices may be M&Ms, crushed Oreo, or gummy worms. Then cover apples in caramel and have kids dip them in the candies.
43. Play-Doh filled balloons
For less mess, fill balloons with a handful of Play-Doh for a fun sensory activity. This one is perfect for younger kids.
44. Indoor sandbox
Use an old Tupperware container filled with sand for an afternoon of indoor digging.
45. Whip cream art
Sometimes kids just need to play with their food. Put down a cookie sheet and dollop some whip cream on it. Have kids create images in the cream (and eat it too, of course).
46. Popsicle stick puppets
Have kids draw little faces and clothes on Popsicle sticks with markers.
47. Bathtub painting
Mix shaving cream with food coloring for bathtub paints!
48. Magazine collage
All those old magazines can come in handy. Have older kids clip out letters and images from magazines to create a collage. Stick the clippings to paper with a glue stick.
49. Water paint sidewalks
For this one you don’t even need paint. Just water in a cup and a paint brush. Kids can dip the brush in water and “paint” the sidewalk. Then when it dries up they can paint a new creation!
50. Veggie stamps
Using this tutorial you can cut shapes out of veggies and have kids dip them in paint for stamping.
What are your favorite ways to keep kids entertained on the cheap?
This post is by Alix Adams. Alix is a glitter user and ice cream enthusiast. She blogs at A Ruffled Life when she’s not kissing her baby’s fat rolls or covering antlers in glitter.