Need ideas on FREE activities to do with kids while on a budget?
Entertaining children can be hard work and expensive.
Especially if you are on a tight budget, you may be wondering “What can you do with kids with no money?” or “How can I entertain my kids for free?”
Do you know…
“Parents are spending an average £975 entertaining their kids over the summer holidays”. [Source: Manchester News]
But I have good news for you…
Entertaining children doesn’t have to be expensive.
In fact, there are many activities that you can do for FREE with kids.
Remember, a lot of times, children don’t need us to throw money at them.
Instead, they need US.
Our time and undivided attention with them.
So if you can commit yourself to put your mobile away, and be fully present while spending time with them, I promise you all will have a ball.
Now that we got the hard part out of the way, are you ready for some ideas?
Here are 110 FREE activities with kids to have fun all year round.
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1. Go for a walk
Whether it’s a long walk to the park or a short walk around the neighbourhood, this is a great way to get them out about and breathing some fresh air.
2. Visit the library during storytime
Many libraries do story time for younger children. It’s a great way to spend a couple of hours listening to a story and make friends.
3. Free live music
Check out your local venues for free live music. We love the outdoor live music our local pub does on Sunday afternoons during the summer. A light hearted way to end the weekend.
4. Visit free museums
Visiting a museum is one of the popular FREE activities with children. Many of them are free entry and are very children friendly too. It’s a great way to spend a few educational hours with children.
5. Visit free galleries
Similar to museums, you can visit many galleries for FREE too. While our education system focuses so much on English and Math these days, it is just as important to teach our children about arts.
Well, this is a great opportunity.
6. Grow plants
Growing plants can be fun and educational. You don’t even have to spend a penny or dime. My daughter sowed the seeds from the pepper that she was eating for lunch and now we have pepper plants!
7. Visit a fire station
If your children are obsessed with Fireman Sam (or just Fire trucks in general), taking them to see a Fire Station can be a treat. While the Fire Station is generally welcoming public visitors, be sure to call the fire station ahead of time to arrange a visit.
8. At home movie night
This is a great lazy one perfect for a rainy day. Get some pop-corn, and make a cozy movie night with your children.
9. Go to the beach or lake
If you live near a beach or a lake, why not spend the day playing on the beach, building sand castles and having a paddle in the water?
For a short version, check out the web story:
10. Play date with friends
I love playdates. When my children were younger, I enjoyed the social aspect of hanging out with the parents while our children play. But now they are older, inviting one of the friends over, can be a great way to free me up while they keep each other entertained.
11. Video chat with friends
Video chats are a saviour for my children during the lockdown. Thanks to the technology, while they can’t play with their friends physically, video chats are what’s keep them connected. My 5 year old particularly enjoys iMessenger as it has lots of funny faces and games they can play.
12. Make your own video
My kids watch enough KidsTube to be inspired to make their own video. They even made their own series of yoga videos.
13. Treasure hunt
Simply hide stuff and make a fun treasure map for the kids to follow.
14. Family bike rides
This is one of our favourite activities during the lockdown. In just a few weeks, my 7-year-old daughter has grown to be a confident bike rider. As for my 5-year-old, we got her a WeeRide tag along, which means we can go for much longer rides without her complaining =)
I know this is meant to be FREE activities with kids, but trust me, the investment is WELL worth it, especially when you do it often. Plus, people are selling the 2nd hand ones for nearly the same price as new (if not more!), which technically counts as FREE.
15. Chalk drawing (Either on a driveway or chalk wall)
Got a driveway or a chalk wall? Why not come up with a theme and have everyone make a drawing from it. Then you can do a show-and-tell afterwards.
16. Board games
Brain box (they come in varies subjects depend on the age), Shopping list, Operation and Bananagrams are a few of our favourites.
17. Go to the playground
I know exercising isn’t always fun for children (nor the adults sometimes), but taking them to a playground can be a great alternative to let them get some energy out.
18. Make your own word search
This is a great way to practice spellings. Pick a list of words and each family member can make their own word search game for others to solve.
19. Litter picking walk
I know this is not one of those conventional FREE activities to do with children but it is for a great cause. Grab a bin bag and some gloves, take the family for a walk in the park or along the beach for some litter picking. We can all contribute on saving the environment.
20. Make jam jar music
Save some empty jam jars for another FREE activity with your kids.
Pour some water in each jam jar, and tap them with a wooden spoons to make different tunes. Change the tunes by adjusting the water level.
21. Make cards for family and friends
Got family or friends birthdays coming? Helping children to make their own cards for them is much more meaningful than buying them, not to mention it’s a good hour spent being crafty.
22. Learn how to Type
Your children can learn how to type for FREE! Then they can practice by sending emails to their friends and family, which leads to the next Free activity with kids…
23. Send an email to a family or a friend
This is another fun and educational activity to do with kids (for FREE). Why not each them how email works? Help them to type a short email and send to a family member or a friend.
Volunteering as a family is one of the most rewarding (and FREE) activities to do with kids. Visiting a nursing home or retirement community, participating in a community clean up day, or holding a bake sale for a good cause are just to give you some ideas.
25. Have a water balloon fight
26. Family clean up
Make a clean up day a family affair. To make it fun, crank up some dance music, then divide and concur.
27. Baking a cake or some cookies
Baking with children is always an easy and FREE activity on a rainy day. The best part? you get to eat them afterwards =)
28. Make your own lollipops or popsicles
Making homemade lollipops or popsicles can be fun. It can be as simple as just using milk, or you can go fancy by adding some fruit.
29. Paper origami
You can find loads of tutorials on Pinterest and Youtube on how to fold jumping frogs, and sail boats etc.
30. Learn a magic trick
Children are fascinated with magicians. Why not learn one or two magic tricks? There are plenty of kids-friendly tricks to learn.
31. Fly your paper airplane
Go beyond the basic ‘dart’ you know how to make and look up some new ideas and see who can fly furthest.
32. Go on a “mini beast” hunt
Grab your magnifying glass and start lifting rocks and moving wood to see what you can find.
33. Make your own dollhouse or doll wardrobe using shoe boxes
Make use of empty shoe boxes, and help them to make doll houses or wardrobe.
34. Paddling pool and slip’n slide
During the warm weather days, turn your garden into a water park.
35. Backgarden camping
You don’t need to go far to camp. How about setting up your tent in your back garden? Many of our friends did this during the lock down and said their children absolutely loved it. I shall keep the parents experience to myself for this post =)
36. Scrap booking
Scrapbooking is an inexpensive craft activity to help children treasure the past experience. Use stickers, coloured pens and washi tape to spice things up.
37. Local “things to do” for free
Check out FREE event schedules in your local paper. Facebook is another place to look for things going on locally where you live.
38. Garden Olympic games
Everyone chooses a sport and then let the games begin!
39. Picnic at the park
Take a picnic to the park and enjoy it while being in the nature. Occasionally, we like to crank things up a notch by brining a bottle of fizz.
40. Park run
41. Visit garden centres
Visiting Garden centres is a real toddler friendly activity. My children particularly enjoy looking at all kinds of fish in the aquarium area.
42. Make S’mores (Deluxe marshmallow toasting)
Light a camp fire in the garden and make S’mores. For a quick and easy ‘S’more’ sandwich the toasted marshmallow in a couple of chocolate digestives.
43. Build a den in the living room
To build a den in the living room, all you need are some cushions, blankets and some imagination.
44. Day spa
You can make some great face packs with ingredients in your kitchen such as oats, honey and olive oil.
45. Car wash
This can be a fun activity for children especially in the hot summer day, and hopefully you will end up with a clean car too =)
46. Lego building
Work together as a family and build something with lego.
47. Do a Puzzle together
Another downtime FREE activity to do with kids at any age.
48. Have a tea party
Set up a tea party either indoor or outdoor. Get your children to start from planning the event, creating the menu, all the way to clearing up.
49. Do nails
My girls love a home mani and pedi. If you are really brave, you can let them paint yours too.
50. Let your children do your makeup and hair
Here’s another brave activity for you. Regardless of the results, I can promise some good laugher.
51. Look through family photos together
Take a walk though the memory lane by looking through photos together as a family.
52. Make a vision board
Vision boards can be fun to make and a great way to help children set their goals. This is the one my daughter made for her last Summer holiday.
53. Play charades
You can make up your own or use the free app on your phone.
54. Play shops or cafe
A great way to teach them how money works.
55. Situational role play
Come up with a tough situation and act it out with your child. For example, what would you do if you want to join a couple of girls to play in break time and they said no to you?
56. Construct a card tower
57. Reading together
Reading is so important to children’s learning. We set 15min. a day to read with our girls on books of their choices, and it’s so rewarding to see the progress they are making.
58. Paint a famous painting
What about recreating a famous painting like Mona Lisa’s smile or The Starry Night?
Colouring can be relaxing for both children and adults. Do a piece together with your children while listening to some music is a great way to get some head space.
60. Play dress up
Get those Halloween fancy dress costumes out and have them play dress up.
61. Get fit with Joe Wicks
Exercising together is one of my favourite FREE activities with kids. Not only we are spending time together but also keeping all of us active.
Get your daily dose exercise with Joe Wicks.
62. Learn to dance with Oti Mabuse
Not into Joe Wicks? no problem.
63. Yoga with Cosmic kids
The cosmic kids yoga is brilliant. Jaime leads through yoga sessions by telling kids familiar stories. The children can do it by themselves, or you can join in for the fun. Frozen and Trolls are our favourites.
64. Make a spoon catapult
Make a catapult and shoot marshmallows into each others mouth.
This is another get-active FREE resource our children’s school uses. When I asked my older daughter why she likes GoNoodles, her answer was “the dances are just COOL…”
66. Learn from TEDEd
TEDEd is an educational platform that helps children and family to learn on various subjects through animated videos.
67. Meditate with mind Yeti
Teaching your children the power of meditation at an early age is so important. Mind Yeti is a great FREE video resource to guide children through mindfulness sessions.
68. Dance party
You can’t beat a good O’l dance party. Just crank up your favourite tunes and bust out the moves! We like to take turns to pick each person’s music of choice.
69. Do a flower press
This is a very quick and simple way of press and dry flowers in seconds.
70. Learn an instrument
If you have an instrument laying around, why not give your child a go? There are many free lessons available on app or youtube.
71. Spy day
Intrigued? Head here to see how to play spy for the day…
72. Donate old toys
Most kids have toys they no longer play with or need. By having them sort and donate the toys so other kids can enjoy them teaches them a valuable life lesson.
73. Make your own jigsaw
Take a painting or drawing of your own, and cut into small pieces to make a jigsaw for other family members.
74. Wrap the mummy
Here’s another use of toilet paper. Use 1 roll of toilet paper to wrap a person like the mummy. (I did say “the mummy” not “a mummy”)
75. Play hands-free ping pong
Use a table or any flat surface. Tape a line in the middle. Opponents try to blow the ping pong across the centre line to win. Take a break after a couple of minutes, so no one gets hyperventilated.
76. Construct a toy parachute
77. Indoor snowball fight
Use tissue to make the snowballs, and let the fight begin.
78. Make Slime
79. Make a lava lamp
Making to #81 on the list of FREE activities with kids, is learning science through making a lava lamp.
80. Try salt painting
Spice up the normal (watercolour) painting session with a pinch of salt, and enjoy your new creation.
81. Have an outdoor cinema in the garden
If you have a projector, and big white sheet (bed sheet will do the trick), you can set up your own outdoor cinema in the garden.
82. Learn to play string games
An oldie but goodie. Learn how to make fun geometric shapes using your hands, string and a buddy.
We have spent many hours sat on the sea wall with a net, bacon rind, and a bucket.
84. Create a time capsule
Collect or create a few items with your children that captures the present and put them in a box. Open them in a few months.
85. Build a marble run
Save a few cardboard tubes from clingfilm and toilet paper rolls, and tape different sections to the wall to make a marble run. You can be as creative as you like.
86. Tongue Twisters game
“She sells sea shells on the sea shore”
This is a guaranteed laughter for my girls. Here are a few more ideas…
87. Sand play
If you already have a sand box in the garden – great! Otherwise, venture to a park or head to the beach for some sand playing.
88. Puddle jumping on a raining day
Who says you need to stay indoor in a rainy day? Put on some wellie boots, grab an umbrella, and go puddle jumping.
Thanks to Peppa pig for the inspiration.
89. Feed the ducks
Head to a lake or a park to feed the ducks or swans with the children.
Please be sure you don’t feed them bread, as it’s not good for them, but any grains, cut grapes, frozen peas or corns are good options. Many times the store in the park give special duck feed pellets for free too.
90. Fly a kite
If you already own a kite, take it out on a breezy day. Alternatively you can make your own with some string, some dowels and a garbage bag.
91. Play dominoes
Dominoes are not just for the old men in the pub, it can be a fun family game, making the list of FREE activities with kids.
92. Make a bird feeder
93. Make homemade bubble solution
To make the best homemade bubble solution, all you need is to gently mix 1 part of washing-up liquid with 6 parts of water.
94. Make a pizza
You can cheat by using a pitta bread as the base or go all in and make the base.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS. This is a fun way to teach children how to read coordinates. Head to geocaching.com to download the free app.
96. Pasta bead jewellery
Got a collection of pastas in your cupboards? You can make pasta bead jewellery with kids. Paint the pasta beads to make them more colourful.
97. Paint the rocks
Another idea adding to the FREE activities with kids list is painting the rocks. They make great paper weights. You can also hide them on your walk for others to find
98. Hide and seek
This can be done both out in the gardern or in the house.
99. Laser Grid
Another FREE indoor fun activity for children in these rainy days. Make a laser obstacle course with some yarn and masking tape across the hall way – Mission Impossible style!
100. Paint the portrait for each other
Need painting ideas? What about taking turns painting portraits for each other.
101. Make a photo album
We like to do this after holiday trips. Each daughter will pick out her fav. pictures from the holiday, print them out and stick them to a note book. They can also write a few words for each photo.
102. Face paint
You can find an easy homemade face paint recipe with just 3 ingredients.
103. Sock Puppets
Get those single socks out and make sock puppets. Depending on the age of the children, they can either use felt-tip pens to draw the faces, or sewing with needle and thread.
104. Play word game (our own creation)
This is one of our own creations, suitable for all ages.
To start, one person simply comes up with a word, then the next person says the word that comes to mind immediately after hearing the previous word, the 3rd person follows.
I guarantee you will be laughing out aloud within seconds.
105. Balloon ping-pong
All you need is 2 paper plates, a lollipop stick for each plate as a handle, a balloon.
106. Homemade playdough
You can find all types of recipes on Pinterest to make a homemade playdough.
107. Michaels / Hobby Craft workshop
Check out craft shops like Hobby Craft (UK) or Michael’s (US) for in store for FREE kids craft projects and workshops.
108. Go bowling FREE (US and Canada)
If you live in Canada or US, you are in luck. Register KidsBowlFree to receive 2 FREE games of bowling each day of KBF program all summer.
109. Visit Ikea Småland
If you live near an Ikea, you can take your children in their Småland (Creche) for 1 hour for FREE while you walk around the store.
110. Science experiment Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar
Make some magic potion by mixing bicarbonate of soda (Baking Soda in US) and vinegar and have a messy play.
Final Thoughts on 110 Free Activities with Kids
So here you have it, an immense list of 110 FREE activities to do with your children that will keep you entertained as a family.
Remember, it’s not about spending money on the things to do and places to do. Instead, it’s more about spending the quality time as a family.
With this list of activities, you will never run out of ideas to have fun, learn, and relax all year round as a family without breaking the bank.