It’s a tricky balance trying to spend as much quality time with your family as possible while spending as little money as possible. Here are ideas for 100 Free Activities for Kids to help amuse for nothing!
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From outdoor adventures and science fun to arts and crafts or just being silly, these ideas for free activities for kids should keep you going for a while!
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100 Fantastic and Completely Free Activities for Kids
#1. Go For a Cycle
Strap on the helmets, grab the bikes, and go for a cycle. You can head out in your local area if you have cycling nearby or pile the bikes in the car and head to a forest or park where it’s safe to cycle. Don’t forget your helmets!
#2. Play Water Balloon Dodgeball
Fill water balloons with water, divide the amount of balloons up and place them on opposite ends of the garden. Next split up into teams and stand facing each other. When the signal is given, begin throwing water balloons at the other team.
When a player is hit, the other team scores a point. Play until all the balloons are gone, the members of one team have all been hit, or a certain number of points have been reached.
#3. Learn to Juggle
Juggling is a fun activity, albeit a challenge to learn. Juggling helps your hand/eye coordination, encourages brain growth and is also a great way to de-stress. Bean bags are a better choice to start with for beginners as otherwise you will tire yourself out running around after tennis balls or other bouncy balls.
#4. Create an Obstacle Course
Involve the whole family in gathering items, setting up the obstacle course, and testing your skills in a friendly family competition. Here are some ideas:
- Walk the “tight rope” using a skipping ropes
- Create a balance beam using a plank on the ground.
- Crawl through or around items
- Hop across hula hoops.
- March on the spot for 30 seconds
- Do 10 jumping jacks.
- Throw balls into a basket.
The possibilities are endless and the course can change every time becoming more challenging as your kids improve their skills.
#5. Have a Teddy Bear Picnic
The picnic venue can vary depending on the weather so it can be in your kitchen or back garden or even at the park. Send invitations to all who are invited. Place a blanket on the ground with some cushions in a row.
You could hang some balloons nearby depending on where you holding the event. You could also cut out some teddy bear footprints from pieces of paper and put these on the floor leading to the picnic area.
Footprints could also lead to other activities if you are having them. You could include a teddy bear themed pass the parcel game or even dance with your teddy bear.
#6. Get Gardening
Gardening with kids is great fun – they love to get mucky and see the result of their work. If you have room, why not assign them their own flower bed and help them plan out their planting?
Or give them their own pot/planter. Herbs and salad leaves are quick to grow, and most kids enjoy eating what they have grown! Here’s a how to grow your own pizza garden.
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#7. Tongue Twisters
Take turns saying tongue twisters and see who can say them the best. Tongue twisters like “If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?” will surely leave you in fits of giggles.
#8. Time Capsule
Make a time capsule as a family. Put things in it that are happening right now and then open it next summer and see how things have changed.
#9. Make a camp/den
Let your kids make a camp/den outdoors, using old blankets/duvets, cushions and the garden chairs for props. Or use poles and some tarpaulin as a roof.
#10. Play Cards
A fun and inexpensive way to pass an afternoon, so grab a deck of cards and gather around a table to begin. We have compiled a list of 15 Fun Card Games for Kids to get you started.
#11. Make a Home Cinema
Set up a home cinema and settle down to watch some fun family movies together
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#12. Climb a Tree
The world looks a whole lot different when viewed from the heights of a sturdy tree.
#13. Go for a Walk
Head out to your local woods, beach or park for a walk. From finding something fluffy to finding something edible check out our free nature scavenger hunt list to occupy the kids while walking.
#14. Scavenger Hunt
#15. Have a Big Bug Hunt
Love them or hate them, bugs are fascinating to kids! Here’s our free Big Bug Scavenger Hunt List to download and enjoy while you are out in the garden or on a family walk in the woods.
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#16. Be Mad Scientists!
Homemade science experiments can get messy, so why not move the “lab” outside? Here are some fun science experiments for kids to try. Have you ever “made a volcano” with breadsoda and vinegar? Mow’s your chance!
#17. Sand Play
Kids love to mess around in the sand, particularly if in your back garden. Even if you don’t have a sand table, it’s easy to make your own, with a large shallow plastic container, and some play sand. Just remember to cover when finished, to keep the cats away!
#18. Go for a Picnic
We all love to dine alfresco, and kids especially love a picnic. Pack a basket of homemade goodies, a flask with tea for yourself, and a waterproof blanket. Here are some practical picnic tips.
#19. Build Some Lego Creations
Design and build a Lego structure. It could be a castle, a house, a fire station, or maybe a small town. Or have lego-building competitions, where have to make structures usings only one colour. The possibilities are endless with Lego.
#20. Go to the Playground
Going to the playground is a great way to get the kids active outdoors. Most towns have a local playground, but for a change, why not try a different playground in a nearby town? Pack a picnic and make a day out of it.
#21. Splash in Puddles
Even if it’s raining, kids love to run and jump in puddles. Dress in their wet gear and head out for some rainy fun! Here are our Top Ten Things to do Outside in the Rain.
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#22. Enjoy Outdoor Games
Get your kids playing outdoor games. Remember Tip the Can and Red Rover? Remind yourself of the games you used to play in our 20 Great Childhood Games.
#23. Feed the Ducks
Take a trip to your local park, river or lake, and feed the ducks.
#24. Have a Mini Olympics or Sports Day
Host your own mini Olympics or a fun sports day, with obstacle courses, long-jump, and novelty races like 3-legged, sack, and egg and spoon. Hours of fun and exhausted kids guaranteed!
#25. Fly a Kite
Wait for your next windy day, and head to an open space, to fly a kite. You could even try your hand at making a kite!
Line up dominoes in a big snakey shape and then have fun knocking the first one down to see the whole lot fall!
#27. Go Camping
A night out in a tent is definitely a must for all kids – I still remember my first night out camping, and having to run back inside when the worst ever thunderstorm erupted! Even if you don’t get away, you can set up your tent in the back garden, and enjoy sleeping in the great outdoors.
#28. Have a Treasure Hunt
A much loved activity in my house, treasure hunts are great fun! All you need are some pens, paper and of course, treasures! Here are some tips for Setting up a Kids Treasure Hunt.
#29. Measure a Tree
Head out into the garden, your nearby park or woods, with a ruler and tape-measure, and measure a tree! See who can find the tallest tree.
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#30. Make Mudpies
All you need is some sand, water and a desire to get mucky!
#31. Go Fishing
Fishing is a great outdoor activity, but remember, it requires lots of patience on your part. Gear the day/expedition to their level, and assume they will want to get wet, and look for everything else but fish!
However, it can be a great way to spend time with your child, and you might even bring home dinner!
Or alternatively, fishing nets on the beach are ideal for catching crabs in rock pools, and a lot easier too.
#32. Try Star Gazing
On a clear night, bring the kids outside for some star gazing. If you have a telescope all the better, but is not necessary. See if you can recognise any of the well-known constellations – see our tips on Fun Astronomy for Kids.
#33. Get Arty with Pavement Chalk!
Let the kids loose on your pavement or driveway, with some pavement chalk, and stand back and watch their creations unfold!
#34. Cloud Watching
Watching clouds is a very relaxing way to spend some time outdoors, for all ages. Get the kids to lie on a blanket in the garden or at the park. Clouds can start off looking the same but yet can be so different as they morph into different shapes and objects.
#35. Wash the Car
Washing the car = fun for kids! They most likely will get wet, have a chance at using the hose, and might even earn some pocket money! They could even do a neighbourhood car wash.
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#36. Run a Lemonade Stall
A lovely summer’s activity and a great way for your kids to learn about money. All they need is a table/box, sign, paper cups, jug, and lemonade. You could help them make homemade lemonade instead of buying lemonade.
#37. Make a Waterfall in the Garden
Let the kids make a temporary waterfall in the garden, using large stones, hose, plastic tubing, and any other props they might require.
#38. Make Your Own Bird Feeders
Provide some treats for the birds, here’s how to make a homemade bird feeder. Then once you have your feeder in place, watch and see how many different garden birds appear.
This can be done individually, or if have your child has friends around, get a large rope, and get the kids doing some skipping games.
#40. Plant Flowers in Wellies!
Gather any old welly boots your children have outgrown. Poke a few drainage holes in the bottom of them and then fill them with some compost.
Choose which flower seeds you would like to plant. Sunflowers are a favourite among kids as they grow very quickly and are very easy to grow. Place them along your path or outside your front door. Your kids will love to see their old wellies blooming!
#41. Crazy Golf
Get the kids to let their imaginations run wild, and set up a crazy golf course in the garden, using buckets, plastic cups/glasses, ramps, car tracks, boxes etc. Anything will work, to make the hole as crazy as possible!
Aim for 3 or 4 holes minimum in their course, and then have a competition, counting lowest number of shots to reach hole as a win.
#42. Make a Scarecrow
This is a lovely project for the kids to do, particularly if they have helped you with the gardening. And even if the scarecrow is never used in the garden, it’s a fun project to do. All you need are some old clothes, hat, canes, straw or old newspapers for stuffing, needle and thread, and plastic bag. See how to make this simple scarecrow.
#43. Painting Outdoors
It’s always good to move the “messy” crafts outside, so if the weather is good, set up a paint table in the back garden. Use lots of outdoor interesting shapes for painting, like grass blades, or sticks, or unusual plant leaves. You could also make leaf rubbings with different leaf shapes.
#44. Make Sandcastles
One of life’s great beach activities, enjoyed by kids, time after time. As well as a bucket and shovel, why not use bring some old knives and spoons that the kids can use to carve out and decorate their structures?
#45. Make a Slip ‘n’ Slide
Why spend money on a slip ‘n’ slide, when you can easily make your own, with strong refuse bags or a large plastic sheet, washing-up liquid, and a hose. Guaranteed hours of fun!
#46. Hunt for Animal Tracks
Look around your garden or if you are out for a walk, and see if you can spot and animal tracks. Borrow a book from the library to help you identify the different animal/bird tracks.
#47. Car Racing
Most houses have a toy box full of cars. Bring it outside and let the kids have car races down the driveway, seeing which car goes furthest. They could even award “cups” to the winners!
#48. Blow Bubbles
Blowing bubbles should lead to giggles! Use different blowers for a range of bubbly fun. When all the bubbles are used up, why not try making your own bubble mix? Try giant bubbles and glow in the dark bubbles!
#49. Play Tag in the Dark
Great fun for older kids on a summer’s evening. Send them outside with torches/flashlights to play Tag, Chase or Tip the Can in the dark. It’s amazing how the whole game can change when played in the dark.
#50. Make Sun Shadows
You Will Need
- A selection of nature items e.g. leaves, twigs, flowers
- Construction paper – darker colours work better
What To Do
- Find a sunny spot outside late morning. Arrange your items on a sheet of paper.
- You might need a stone for each corner to keep it from blowing away if it’s breezy.
- Leave the paper for several hours in direct sunlight.
- The sun will fade the construction paper, it will create silhouettes where your items are located.
#51. Have Fun with Boxes
You know the saying- give a child a toy and they will have more fun playing with the box. Make a play house or bus or car out of a cardboard box. Or use a cereal box to make a jack in the box using a doll or teddy for inside. Decorate and embellish as you like.
#52. Play Dress Up
Let the kids and the adults swap roles and clothes for the day – or at least an hour or two. It will be lots of fun choosing what to wear as well as trying to find children’s clothes to fit the adults!
#53. Make Homemade Ice-Pops
Making ice pops is so easy! Just blend your favourite fruit and pour mixture into your ice-pop moulds. Freeze as usual and enjoy later.
#54. Make Pizza Pie!
With some simple ingredients, the kids can enjoy helping make homemade pizza and putting their own toppings on. You can of course use shop bought dough or bases.
Chop up some veggies and let each person arrange on their own pizzas. Make some funny or scary faces out of your pizzas. Pop in the oven and serve for dinner.
#55. Design Your Own Clothes
Cut up old jeans to make shorts or an old T-shirt to make a sleeveless top. Then design as you like. Adorn them with sequins, add buttons, or tie-dye them.
#56. Create Pretty Vases
Upcycle old jam jars by painting them to use as pretty vases on your window sills. Fill them with flowers from the garden.
#57. Hold a Race
Root out any toy at home that works using a remote control. This could be a car, a dog, dinosaur or anything at all. Let your children choose which toy will be theirs for the race and line them up at a chalked out start line.
Then let the race begin as each toy must compete to cross the finish line first. The toys can be swapped around for each race.
#58. Bake a Cake
Kids love to bake and nothing beats the smell of home cooking. Enjoy some quality time baking a cake, be it for a birthday, a special occasion or just for fun. Try this delicious Vanilla Cake, or this No-Bake Refrigerator Cake or some delicious Lemon Buns.
#59. Pasta Bead Jewellery
My children love to design their own jewellery using penne pasta. This is a great way to pass a few hours on a rainy day.
First the children paint the pasta. Once dry, thread some string through various coloured pasta to make bracelets and necklaces.
Then the children can parade about modelling their new jewellery.
#60. Make Music
Perhaps there’s an old tin whistle or piano lying around at home. You could download some instructions and simple songs to learn too. You could also make some cheap instruments, using kitchen utensils. Most popular in our house are pots, wooden spoons, tins, spatula. Then form a family band – check out our tips here.
#61. Play Board Games
Play some board games together. Here are the board games recommended by Mykidstime Parents.
#62. Head to the Beach
A trip to the beach is always a fun day out, no matter what the season! Here are interesting things to do at the beach with kids.
#63. Make Your Own Shakers
Use old bottles that have a screw top, such as a water bottle. Remove any labels from the bottle. Paint the outside of the botte using some fun coloured paints.
When dry, fill the bottle with rice or lentils or beans. Each item you use to fill inside will make a different sound.
Close the lid and add some stickers to the outside and your shaker is ready to use.
#64. Story Writing
Have a story writing competition. Help younger ones who may be unable to write but can still make up their own story. Let them illustrate their story with pictures.
#65. Make Daisy Chains
The art of daisy chain making is one that should be passed down to your children. Put a small slit in the stem of a daisy, with your nail, and thread a stem of another daisy through it, and repeat to extend length. “Fashion” into necklaces and bracelets, or challenge the kids to see who can make the longest.
This is a great activity for older kids – set a challenge to see how many books/chapters can be read during the day. During summer, your child could also take part in a Summer Reading Challenge.
#67. Learn Some Clapping Games
Remember playing Miss Mary Mack? Or A Sailor Went to Sea? Play these and make up some of your own ones too.
#68. Make a Wind Chime
Wind chimes are easy to make and look charming in every environment. They can be made from just about anything- old cutlery, shells, or old keys.
I like the idea of using shells as it reminds us of a great day out at the beach.
- Collect your shells and wash them.
- Drill a little hole in the top of each, being careful not to break the shell. It is a good idea to collect some extra shells just in case some to break.
- Thread string through the shells and tie a knot after each shell. Vary the strings with the amount of shells you pace on each.
- You will then need to tie all strings together by attaching them to a stick.
This stick can also be decorated with any left over shells. Display your fabulous windchime in the garden or inside where it can tinkle and delight.
#69. Visit a Museum
Many local museums are free to visit, they can be inspirational places and provide a learning experience. Often they have kids activities such as treasure hunts or activity sheets. Or join a tour to find out more about some of the objects in the museum.
#70. Make a Flippy Book/moving story
This is an ideal craft for an older kid – all you need is a drawing pad, and pencil. Explain how the book works, that you draw an image in the same corner of the book on each page, and that each image changes only slightly. Stickman are a good starting point, in different poses. Then you flip through the pages and watch their character “start to move”
#71. Create a Handprint Family Tree
You will need some paints and 2 large sheets of cardboard (or use A4 paper) and willing hands.
- Working from the biggest to smallest hands, have each person dip her hands in her chosen paint and print them on the page, overlapping the handprints slightly as the group moves up the tree.
- Use a paintbrush to add a tree trunk and then let all the paint dry.
- Identify each set of handprints with a permanent marker.
- Cut out the tree and glue it to the page. You could then date and frame this family handprint tree.
#72. Play Shop
Set up a little grocery/mini supermarket with tins and packets. If you have a play till set up a checkout table and they can take it in turns to be the checkout person or the shopper. The ironing board made a great checkout in my youth! Have some bags ready to put the purchases in.
#73. Skim Some Stones
Apparently skimming stones is a skill! But if you can find a small rounded, flat stone you should manage to skim it enough to impress your little ones.
#74. Make a Photo Album
Browse through your digital camera or your pictures on the computer and print off your favourite family photos. Then let the kids arrange them in a photo album
#75. Balloon Ping-Pong
All you need is some balloons, and either table-tennis bats, or make your own bats using paper plates and sticks for handles. Clear some space in the hall and off they go.
#76. Life Sized Drawings
Get a large roll of paper, have your child lie down on the paper and then draw their outline on the paper. They can then colour themselves in, adding features, clothes etc. This is also a great winner at parties.
#77. Laser Grid
All you need for this ingenious activity is some string or wool (preferably red), sticky tape, and a hallway. You need to create a grid using the string/wool that the kids will then attempt to pass through without touching the string or “laser”. Anyone who does touch the laser has to return to the start line again.
You can begin with an easy grid and increase the level of difficulty with age and ability. It will occupy them for hours! And you may want to have a go yourself!
#78. Make a Cardboard Town
If you have a giant cardboard box, why not draw a town on the bottom of the box, with roads, tracks, bridges, parks, car-parks, etc. Add some wooden building blocks, cars,trains and some wooden/plastic animals. Then let your child’s imagination run wild. Older kids could help with decorating/creating the scene.
#79. Misfit Characters
Give kids old magazines/catalogues and get them to cut out pictures of heads, torso, legs and shoes. They can then have some fun mixing them up, and glueing on blank sheets of paper.
#80. Have a Toy Exchange
This is a great way to get rid of unused toys, have your friends or neighbours do a toy clear out and then gather to swap your old toys for something new and different for your child to enjoy.
#81. Make a Home Movie
The movie will be a delight to watch when your small ones have grown up and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. The movie can be about a typical day in your life or you could dress up and bring out the inner actor in you and yours!
#82. Retell Jokes
Tell some old old jokes you love. The classic “Knock Knock” jokes or perhaps “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road”? Find out who is the wittiest in your house!
#83. Bake Cookies
There’s nothing better than the smell of home cooking to greet you at the front door. Kids love cooking or baking.
Set their little hands to work with an easy recipe to follow or join in the fun too and bake some delicious cookies like these yummy chocolate chip cookies together.
#84. Magic Show
Your child might enjoy learning some magic tricks, here are 10 easy magic tricks to get them started. Once proficient why not have them put on a magic show for your family.
#85. Have a Hula Hoop Contest
With your Hulas at the ready, get those hips moving and try to control your hoop longer than everyone else.
#86. Learn to Whistle
Whistling can seem a bit hard at first, but practice makes perfect. Once you have that mastered why not try whistling through a blade of grass. This is not as easy as it sounds! You need to place a flat grass leaf between your 2 thumbs and blow through, to make a your grass whistle. Keep practising!
Jigsaws are a whole-family activity that can work well between differently-aged siblings. Set each member of the family up with a puzzle to suit their skill level, all helping each other finish, or create teams to work on large puzzle together.
You can even make your own family-photo jigsaws using an enlarged photo printed onto plain paper from your computer, draw squiggly jigsaw shapes and cut them out and get your child to reassemble the picture.
#88. Measure Rainfall
Take a large jar or cut the top off a large plastic water bottle and put outside in the rain. At regular intervals or when the rain has stopped, measure the height of the rain that day or hour and make a chart of the rainfall over time.
#89. Press Flowers
On your next walk out or in the garden, pick some flowers and place them between 2 sheets of paper in the middle of a big book. Put some more heavy books on top of it and leave for a few days.
#90. Watch the Sun Rise
Set your alarm clock and wake your children in time to watch the sun rise. Then get out the paints later and have them paint the sunrise they saw.
#91. Decorate Flip Flops
Glam up your summer flip flops by adding sequins, ribbons and buttons to them. Use craft glue and any items you have lying around at home.
#92. Face Painting
Take turns painting each other’s faces. You can say what you want to be, as in “a tiger” or let your face painter surprise you. Take photos of the handiwork!
#93. Plan a Round The World Trip
Pretend you are going to go on a round the world trip. Which way would you go? Where would you stop along the way? Research each stop destination with your child and then get them to draw the route and itinerary out.
#94. Play 20 Questions
One person thinks of a thing or a person and the others have to guess what it is but are only allowed to ask questions that get a Yes or a No. The others must guess by the 20th question. First one to guess gets to pick the next item to be guessed.
#95. Hold a Blinking Contest
Stare at your opponent while trying not to blink. Whoever closed their eyes first loses.
#96. Play Football
Hold a family game of football in the garden or ask your neighbours to join in and choose teams.
#97. Sock Puppets
Gather up some of your old socks, and some items for eyes, mouths, and noses, to make some sock puppets. If your kids can sew, they can add the decorating with needle and thread, but for younger kids use glue.
You could create a puppet theatre in a cardboard box, and let the kids put on a puppet show for you – be sure to record it though.
#98. Run a Boot Camp
Have the kids participate in your own boot camp. Ease them in to it by having them walk 2 laps of the garden. Next let them jog around. Throw in some jumping jacks, lunges, squats and leg lifts. Are they sweating yet? How about some hula hoop jumping skipping. Cool down afterwards. They might also enjoy our What’s Your Name Exercise Challenge!
#99. Play a Game of Charades
Charades can be played with any type of word or phrase, but with kids you may find that movie titles work best. Most kids are familiar with many simple movie titles such as Sleeping Beauty or The Lion King. And even the youngest can act out Pinocchio!
#100. Make Homemade Skittles
All you need is plastic bottles, filled with rice, and paints and a ball. Fill the bottles with rice, and tightly close/glue the lid back on. Next paint the bottles, with some funny faces and bodies, patterns and numbers etc. Grab a ball and you’re all set to play!
Have your say! Any other ideas for free activities for kids that we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.