Are you looking for some free ways to entertain the kids? We take the hard work out of planning your free family time with 101 Free Things To Do with Kids that will Cost Nothing but Time (and perhaps just a few store cupboard items!).
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If you need some inspiration for amusing the kids, we are here to help! We have put together this list of fun ideas, all free and easy to do with your child.
101 Free Things To Do With Kids That Will Cost Nothing But Time
#1. Go for a walk
Head out to your local woods, beach or park for a walk. Make your walk more fun with our free nature scavenger hunt list turning a walk into an adventure!
#2. Create an Obstacle Course
Create a fun obstacle course, indoors or outdoors, and test your skills in a friendly family competition.
The course possibilities are endless and you can change it around each round, becoming more challenging as the players improve their skills.
#3. Learn Magic
Wow your friends and family, and learn some magic tricks – here are 10 Easy Magic Tricks for Kids to Master.
#4. Create a Time Capsule
Create a time capsule together. Put things in it that are happening right now and then open it in 12 months and see how things have changed.
This is a great activity for birthdays. You could create a sheet of questions that you answer annually and see how your ideas change as you grow. They could be favourite bands, foods you like, friends, goals etc.
#5. Enjoy Gardening Fun
Gardening with kids is great fun – they love to get mucky and see the results of their work. If you have room, why not assign them their own flower bed and help them plan out their planting? Here’s how to make your garden a fun place for kids.
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.
#6. Play Water Balloon Dodgeball
Fill water balloons or buckets, and place them equally on opposite ends of the garden.
- 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.
#7. Host a Teddy Bear Picnic
Get out the blankets and cushions, make and deliver the invitations and decide on whether your picnic will be indoors or outdoors.
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.
#8. 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. Here are 20 Popular Tongue Twisters for Kids to Recite.
#9. Make a Camp/Den
Let your kids make a camp/den using old blankets/duvets, cushions and chairs for props. Or gather some sturdy sticks from the wood and use some old tarpaulin as a roof.
#10. Play Card Games
A fun and inexpensive way to pass an afternoon, so grab a deck of cards and gather around a table to begin.
#11. Make a Home Cinema
#12. Create a Hairdressing Studio
Create your very own hairdressing studio and take turns doing each other’s hair. No scissors needed for this one!
#13. Go For A Cycle
Strap on the helmets, grab the bikes, and go for a cycle. Sustrans has some good family cycling safety tips.
#14. Scavenger Hunt
How about something a bit different to do outdoors? Enjoy a Scavenger Hunt, we’ve got lots of scavenger hunt ideas you can download and print.
#15. Be Mad Scientists!
Homemade science experiments can get messy, so if weather permits, move the “lab” outside. Here are some ideas:
- 5 fun science experiments for kids
- 18 easy science experiments for preschoolers
- How to have fun with kitchen chemistry
- How to make playdough
- How to make honeycomb
- How to make slime
#16. Have a Big Bug hunt
Love them or hate them, bugs are fascinating to kids! Download our free Big Bug Scavenger Hunt List to search for critters in the park, woods or closer to home.
#17. Sand Play
Kids love to mess around in the sand, particularly at home in the 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!
Lots more ideas in our 23 Sand Play Ideas Kids will Love.
#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. Why not try our easy recipes for homemade sausages, homemade lemonade and yummy chocolate chip cookies?
#19. 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.
#20. Build Something
Design and build a Lego or plastic brick structure. It could be a castle, a house, a fire station, or maybe a small town. Or have building competitions, where have to make structures using only one colour brick. Or try our 30 Day Lego Challenge!
#21. Splash in Puddles
#22. Play Outdoor Games
Speaking of outdoors, why not get your kids playing outdoor games – they might need a little bit of instruction to get started, so have a look at our 20 Great Childhood Games for inspiration.
#23. Feed The Ducks
Take a trip to your local park, river or lake, and feed the ducks or swans. But please don’t take bread, as this isn’t good for birds, so other options that are better for them include grapes cut in half, cracked corn/barley/oats/birdseed, frozen peas or corn kernels (defrosted but no need to cook) or duck feed pellets available from pet shops.
#24. Fly a Kite
Wait for a windy day, and head to an open space, to fly a kite. You could even try your hand at making the kites.
#25. Have Mini Fun Sports Day
Round up a gang of kids, and host a mini 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!
Play a game of dominoes or for something even more creative, set up a huge long line of dominoes and then have fun knocking them down!
#27. 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’s some tips on Setting up a Kid’s Treasure Hunt.
#28. Make Mudpies!
All you need is some sand, water and a desire to get mucky!
#29. 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 the tent in the back garden, and enjoy sleeping outdoors.
#30. Measure a Tree
Head out the nearby park or woods, with a ruler and tape-measure, and measure a tree. See who can find the tallest tree.
#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!
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. Watch Clouds
Watching clouds is a very relaxing way to spend time, for all ages. Get the kids to lie on a blanket in the garden or at the park. Clouds all look the same but yet can be so different as they morph into different shapes and objects.
#35. 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.
#36. 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.
You Might Also Enjoy 10 Ways for Kids to Earn Money in their Free Time
#37. Make a Garden Waterfall
Let the kids make a temporary waterfall in the garden, using large stones, hose, plastic tubing, and any other props they might require.
They could also make a marble-run but use water instead of marbles.
#38. Make Bird Feeders
Provide some treats for our feathered friends and help the kids make some bird feeders.
Skipping can be done individually, or if there are a few friends around, get a large rope, and get the kids doing some skipping games.
Jump Elastics are also great fun. Do you remember them from childhood? Inside, Outside on the rails? All you need is a long piece of elastic, stitched together at the ends.
#40. Plant Flowers
- 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 is some old clothes, hat, canes, straw or old newspapers for stuffing, needle and thread, and plastic bag. Here’s how to make a simple scarecrow.
Kids love painting. How about moving it outdoors if the weather is good?
Use lots of outdoor interesting shapes for painting, like grass blades, or sticks, or unusual plant leaves. Get them to gather some leaves and do leaf patterns. Here are 22 Easy Painting Ideas for Kids. If weather a bit windy, might need some heavy stones to pegs to keep the pages on the table.
#44. Make Sandcastles
A great beach activity, enjoyed by kids, time after time. As well as using the bucket and shovel, why not use some flat knives and spoons to help carve out their structures. Collect shells and stones to decorate your amazing castles!
#45. 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 using washing-up liquid, sugar and water. Here’s How to Make Bubble Mixture at Home.
#46. 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 large plastic sheet, washing-up liquid, and a hose. Guaranteed hours of fun!
#47. Hunt for Animal Tracks
Look around your garden or if you are out for a walk, and see if you can spot any animal tracks. Borrow a book from the library to help you identify the different animal/bird tracks.
#48. 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!
#49. Play Tag in the Dark
Great fun for older kids. Head outside with torches to play chase or tip the can in the dark – amazing how the whole game can change when played in the dark.
#50. Cardboard Box Fun
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. Here are 17 Cute Cardboard Box Ideas for Kids to get you started.
#51. Make Sun Shadows
You will need
- Nature items e.g. leaves, twigs, flowers
- Construction paper – darker colours work better
What to do
- Find a sunny spot outside late morning. Arrange the 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.
#52. Make Homemade Ice-Pops
Blend your favourite fruit and pour mixture into your ice-pop moulds. Freeze as usual and enjoy later. Here are 8 Healthy Ice Pop Recipes that Kids will Lick Clean for some inspiration.
#53. 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!
#54. Create Pretty Vases
Upcycle old jam jars by painting them to use as pretty vases on your window sills.
#55. Make Pizzas
Chop up some vegetables and other toppings, 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.
#56. 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 (more tips here).
#57. Hold Toy Races
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 of our birthday cakes.
#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.
#60. Head to the Beach
A trip to the beach is always a fun day out, no matter what the season! If it’s a nice sunny day, you might want to check out our Summer Beach checklist, to make sure you don’t forget to pack an essential item!
Why not collect some stones and shells, and paint them when you return home to make some garden decorations? Here are 8 Great Beach Craft Ideas for Kids and 50 Fun Things to do at The Beach with Kids.
#61. 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) and form a band – check out our tips here.
#62. Play Board Games
Play some board games together. Here are the 10 best board games recommended by Mykidstime Parents. Or enjoy more old fashioned games such as Consequences.
#63. Make 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. 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.
#65. Write a Story or a Play
Have a story writing competition or write a play for puppets or for you all to perform. Help younger ones who may be unable to write but can still make up their own story. Let them illustrate their story with pictures.
Or create your own stories playing Chinese Whispers. See how different the story is by the time it reaches the end!
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, let your kids take part in a Summer Reading Challenge. Looking for book ideas? Here are some:
- The Best Kids Books By Age
- 25 Books for Teens
- 100 Best Bedtime Stories for Kids
- Best Books for Kids Aged 8-12 yrs
#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. More Nursery Rhyme activities here.
#68. Visit a Museum or Library
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.
A trip to the Library can pass a few hours as they often have colouring sheets and toys for children to play with. They sometimes have storytime too, which is great for younger children.
#69. Make a Flippy Book/Moving Story
All you need is a drawing pad, and pencil. Draw an image in the same corner of the book on each page, and that each image changes only slightly. Stickmen are a good starting point, in different poses. Then you flip through the pages and watch their character start to move.
#70. 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 leftover shells. Display your fabulous windchime in the garden or inside where it can tinkle and delight.
#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. 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.
#74. Life Sized Drawings
Get a large roll of paper, like you use on easels/boards, and draw the outline of your child(ren) on the paper. They can then colour in, adding features, clothes etc. This is also a great winner at parties.
You could do each portraits of each other once the outline is drawn. Or if you don’t have paper, then draw the outline in chalk outside and decorate afterwards.
#75. 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.
Older kids could help with decorating/creating the scene. Or convert an old shoe box into a dolls house or garage.
#76. Skim 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.
#77. 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.
Or use them to create a collage of a special family time.
#78. 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!
#79. Misfit Characters
Give kids old magazines/catalogues and get them to cut out pictures of heads, bodies, legs and shoes. They can then have some fun mixing them up, and gluing on blank sheets of paper.
#80. 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 everyday tasks or you could dress up and bring out the inner actors in you and yours!
There are some great movie maker downloads for tablets and mobile phones, if you don’t have a video camera.
Alternatively, here’s how to make a stop motion movie, which kids will also enjoy.
#81. Have A Toy Exchange
A great way to get rid of unused toys, have your friends or neighbours do a toy clearout and then gather to swap your old toys for something new.
#82. Tell Jokes
Tell some 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 cookies wafting through the house. In my experience, kids love cooking or baking. Set their little hands to work with an easy recipe to follow or join in the fun too – here are Easy Cookie Recipes for Kids.
#84. 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.
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.
#86. 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.
#87. Learn to Whistle
Whistling can seem a bit hard at first, but practice makes perfect. Once that mastered why not try whistling through a blade of grass. Not as easy as it sounds, place the flat grass leaf between your 2 thumbs and blow through, to make a most unusual sound.
#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
Pick some flowers and place them either in a flower press or between 2 sheets of paper in the middle of a big book. Put some more heavy books on top of the book if using and leave for a few days.
#90. Build a Card House
Can you reach 4 or more levels of your card house? Check out this video showing a cool card house technique:
#91. 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.
#92. Decorate Shoes
Glam up your summer shoes by adding sequins, ribbons and buttons to them. Use craft glue and any items you have lying around at home. Or use beads and paint to upcycle your trainers.
#93. Play Football
Hold a family game of football in the garden or ask your neighbours to join in and choose teams. If stuck indoors have a family tournament using a smaller soft ball.
#94. Paint Your Faces
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!
Or have each child ask questions about what they could be and let them guess what you have painted them as.
#95. Play Question Games
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 answer. The others must guess by the 20th question. First one to guess gets to pick the next item to be guessed.
Or write something on a piece of paper and each person sticks it on their head and has to ask questions to help them guess what they are.
#96. 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.
Here are some more Easy Sewing Projects for Kids to Try.
#97. Hold a Blinking Contest
Stare at your opponent while trying not to blink. Whoever closed their eyes first loses.
#98. Exercise as a Family
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? Try their What’s Your Name Exercise Challenge! Or how about some hula hooping, frog jumping or skipping. Cool down afterwards.
#99. Play 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 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 all set to play.
#101 Play Unfortunately / Fortunately
One person kicks off a story saying something like “One day a man was in the jungle. Unfortunately he met a lion”. The next person has to be the Fortunately person, so e.g. “Fortunately the man was a lion tamer”. And so on.
Over to you! Do you have any other suggestions for free things to do with kids? Please let us know in the comments below.