Coming up with ideas for fun activities for kids at home can be exhausting. Sometimes parents end up paying tons of money for games and toys they see online, when really there are so many free or cheap things to do that are most time even better.
While summer brings sunshine and the chance to make incredible memories, it also poses the big challenge of keeping everyone occupied and happy – preferably without the use of digital devices.
If you’re in search for some boredom busters, we’ve got you covered with our list of cheap or free list of activities on how to entertain the kids at home without spending a fortune.
With a little something for everyone, you’ll get your children using their imaginations again and hopefully create some great family memories.
Best Ideas for Fun Activities For Kids This Summer
Build a Blanket Fort
Fort building is one of the best all time classic favorite kid activities played all around the globe. Perfect for a rainy day, it’s also one of the many fun indoor activities that never gets old. Just pull out some old, spare sheets and let the kids move the furniture around to create their ideal fort.
It may turn your living room into an eyesore, but remember it is only temporary, easily tidied up and totally worth it to give the kids hours of entertainment.
Go on a Bear Hunt
Take the children on a bear or wild animal hunt. Gather up all the teddies and stuffed animals from their rooms and hide them around the house where the little ones can go hunting and easily find them. They may even wish to dress the part of explorers as they set off on their expedition.
This is one of our favorite games for kids because you can take it outside on sunny days. I often find that once you get the kids outside, other things like bugs or flowers catch their interest and before you know it, they’ve spent the entire afternoon away from their screens!
It’s a great group activity so definitely keep it in mind to mix in your party games list too.
Play with Finger Puppets
Finger puppets are such an excellent learning through play activity for youngsters of all ages. Not only will the paper puppets keep them busy for a short time and encourage creative, imaginative play – but they also provide physical benefits like fine motor skill development too!
We have created a bunch of paper finger puppets you can download and print for free.
Make a Scrapbook
With junk mail flowing into millions of homes every day, now is the time to put those unwanted brochures and sales flyers to good use.
Gather up some scrap paper and pop it in an unused folder to create the scrapbook and then let the kids cut, stick and glue until their hearts are content. For older kids, they may be able to create a narrative of their art or even an idea or mood board.
You could also give themed scrapbooking assignments like make a paper zoo with pictures of animals, or cut out the alphabet and paste together a fun letter to a friend.
You could also take a piece of paper and paste pictures of commonly found things around the house or neighborhood to make an instant scavenger hunt.
Host an America’s Got Talent Show
Being cooped up in the house is not fun for long periods of time, and the kids can quickly become restless. Encourage your children to put on an America’s Got Talent episode in your living room (or in the back yard).
They don’t even need to be able to dance or sing. Perhaps they just have a fun thing they can do that not everyone else can like curling their tongue, or being able to walk like a crab upside down, or they are proud of their drawing skills. Any talent goes!
Make Some Moon Sand
Playing with kinetic sand is one of the most fun sensory activities for kids, however it’s also quite pricey if you try to buy it in stores. Luckily, homemade kinetic sand recipes are easy as pie. There are two ways to make it.
If you happen to have sand, you can make your own homemade version of moon sand that is pretty darn close to the kinetic sand you can buy. You’ll just need corn starch, dish soap, water and this moon sand recipe.
If you don’t have access to sand or want to make something that is taste safe, you can make a super soft moon sand (also known as cloud dough) which is fun for even your youngest to play with.
Just add 8 cups of flour to 1 cup of oil (use baby oil for older kids, but try coconut or vegetable oil for babies and toddlers that may put it in their mouths) and mix together. Add a few drop of food coloring to create colors.
This activity is quickly made and easily cleaned once playtime is over, so it is a win for parents everywhere.
Make a Fairy House or Garden
Have you joined in on the DIY Fairy House bandwagon yet? No!? Well, maybe you should! Kids will love using teeny tiny furniture, garden pieces and toys to create a mystical wonderland that they can visit daily and add on to over time.
Have an Afternoon Tea
If the kids are tired of standard lunches, ignite them with renewed energy by hosting an afternoon tea fit for a queen. Get the kids in the kitchen to help with finger sandwiches and bake some cupcakes or cookies for this royal event. Encourage the kids to dress-up for it to have even more fun.
Make a Car Track
Pull out some colored or masking tape and let the kids design the ultimate race track for their cars. Whether it is from room to room or in a corner, this easily removable track can give hours of entertainment.
Objects can be used to make ramps or obstacle courses to provide them with the daredevil feel and hold their interest for longer.
Encourage Creative Play
Creative play is essential for early childhood development skills, but it can also give hours of fun time. Pull out food items from the cupboards, like cans, jars and boxes of food, and set up a grocery store. Create some fake money with scrap paper if there isn’t any toy money in the house already.
Then all that’s left is to decide who is the shopper and who is the shop keeper. A fantastic way to interact with your child and also teach them how to count money.
Make a lighthouse craft
Get artsy and try out our fun lighthouse paper plate craft idea for kids. All you need is an empty roll of toilet paper, a paper plate, some colored craft paper, paint and a bit of glue.
Have a Spa Day at Home
Indulge in a bit of self-care and have a nice spa day at home to help recharge your batteries. Daughters will love feeling grown up and sons get a chance to experience what all the hub-bub is about.
Fill bowls or buckets with warm bubbly water, have everyone wear a face mask (or you can just use warm, moist washcloths!) and just sit and enjoy the relaxation. Set some mood music and use some essential oils to get the full experience.
Play “The Floor is Lava”
The Floor is Lava Game can be a fun way of expelling some pent up energy from the little ones. They can climb and hop onto furniture (or set up things to climb on outside), but they can’t touch the ground! Why not? Well, the floor is lava!
Plant a garden
There’s nothing like planting a seed and then tending to it until it grows into a healthy plant (even better if it’s something you can eat!).
Encourage nurturing and responsibility in your children by helping them start an easy to care for garden. You may even find this activity will get kids interested in learning how to cook too!
Learn Sign Language
Some kids love learning new things, and sign language is a great skill to have. Not only will this enable children to connect and communicate with those who are hard of hearing, but it will also give a high level of self-accomplishment.
You can find free videos on YouTube that teach American Sign Language and are child friendly. We recommend learning along with your children so you can practice with one another.
Make Some Homemade Playdough
Hours of entertainment can come from a homemade playdough recipe. You’ll never buy it from the store again once you know how to make playdough without cream of tartar.
It’s easily made from ingredients you already have right in your kitchen. Just mix 8 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of salt together in one bowl.
Add a couple drops of food coloring (a little goes a long way!), 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and 1/4 cup of warm water in another bowl.
Combine both bowls together, mix well, and there you have it – playdough ready for the kids to play with.
Go on a Treasure Hunt
Encourage kids to be creative by making their own treasure map of the house and/or yard. This is best done with siblings or friends, but parents could get in on the fun by hiding some pirate booty and then giving them clues to go on a hunt for treasure.
This activity can take all afternoon from designing and drawing the map to the expedition itself.
Play Board Games
Clear out the closets and dust off those old board games that have been lying around. We love having family game nights and although you may not think it at the time, these hours spent together in the living room or gathered around the kitchen table will be fondly remembered for a lifetime.
If you have really competitive family members, just be sure to lay down any rules at the beginning to avoid arguments.
Make Your Own Finger Paints
It’s no secret that kids like to touch things and make messes. Big messes. This is probably why they love finger painting so much. It’s like getting permission to misbehave.
With our home made DIY Finger Paints recipe, you can give your kids the chance to get artistically messy!
Do Some Yoga
Yoga is a fantastic way of helping calm the mind and body – even for children. Get the kids involved as part of their bedtime routine to wind down from the day and to help sleep come easier.
With plenty of kid-friendly yoga videos on YouTube, this is a free and worthwhile activity that will help everyone destress.
Make Some Bubbles
Bubbles always bring happiness to anyone who is playing with them, and luckily they are really easy to make too. Just add 50ml of dish washing liquid to a bowl and slowly stir in 300ml of warm water to made homemade bubbles.
Bubble wands can be made from things such as bent paperclips, a coat hanger or even a juice bottle cut in half to dip and blow through.
Paint some kindness rocks
Painting Kindness Rocks is an activity that really picked up popularity during the pandemic. Basically you paint rocks or stones with inspirational pictures, messages, or sayings and then leave in public places (like a park) for others to find.
The purpose is to bring smiles to strangers faces and hopefully inspire others to pay it forward and spread kindness in their own way.
Some people may take the rocks, and that is ok! It means they found it special enough to want to enjoy at home. Some are inspired to paint rocks of their own and add to your collection.
Regardless, it’s a fun activity to do with your kids while also teaching them the value of making others smile.
Have a Sing-a-Long
If your family is known to suddenly burst into song, then a ling room karaoke sing-a-long is the perfect way to pass some time. From Disney favorites to karaoke classics, there are thousands of videos on YouTube that free to watch and even include lyrics.
Just pick up a hairbrush and be the rock star you know are.
Finding ideas for indoor activities for kids and ways to keep the kids entertained over the summer can have parents feel like tearing their hair out. Hopefully, our inexpensive and free ideas above have helped provide some things that everyone in the family will enjoy without breaking the bank.
What are some of your favorite ways to entertain kids on a budget?