Sometimes it can be tricky to think of fun activities to keep the kids entertained – especially if you’re on a budget. With a few bits and pieces from around the house, they can have loads of fun, learn new skills and keep busy (and out of trouble!). None of these activities involve screen time either.
Here are 14 cheap and cheerful activities which are so simple but great fun for kids (and adults alike).
When the weather is good, get outside and make some bubbles! Find a bit of garden wire (or an old wire hanger), twist it into a loop and you’ll have created your very own giant bubble maker. Then just pour your bubble solution into a large bucket or basin, give it a stir and you’re all set to have some fun.
Try this simple recipe for a solution from Happy Hooligans which guarantees giant bubbles. The longer you leave the mixture, the better the bubbles.
Tic-tac-toe painted rocks
All you need is ten smooth rocks of a similar size and some paint to decorate them. Of course you can stick to the classic ‘O’s and ‘X’s or if you’re feeling really crafty then why not do ladybirds and caterpillars? Suns and moons? There are heaps of great tutorials for DIY tic-tac-toe rocks on Pinterest.
If you don’t want to go out looking for rocks, don’t worry, you can just as easily pick up a bag from your local craft store or garden centre. I think these would make a lovely homemade birthday or Christmas gift too.
This is a really great way to get the little ones practicing matching colours and improving their fine motor skills. Use lollipop sticks and paint each end a different colour or pattern (but be sure to match each end with an end on a different stick). Then spread them all out and take it in turns to match them up.
You can easily pick up lollipop sticks from your local craft store or collect your own.
DIY finger puppets
Finger puppets are so much fun and they’re a great way to get them to use their imaginations. Master your silly voices and make up stories!
I found the tutorial for these cute farm finger puppets here. If you don’t have felt on hand, that’s ok, why not use card or paper? Or how about making sock puppets instead?
Make a memory tray
I guarantee you will have played this game at some point! Grab a tray, fill it with several smallish objects. Cover it over with a cloth, remove one item secretly and hide it away. Get the little ones to try and remember what has been removed. This is a great activity to boost memory power!
DIY paper pinwheel
With just some paper, a split pin and a straw, you can make one of these in no time at all. Plus, they’re great for those not-so-crafty among us! Let them decorate it with patterns or pictures before folding. Then when it’s ready, go outside and watch it spin in the breeze.
You don’t even have to use a straw – how about finding some sticks in the back garden for a more rustic look? These pinwheels aren’t just for children, how about using them as pretty decorations for a baby shower, a brunch or even a wedding!
Try out this easy peasy tutorial from The Spruce Crafts.
Bake something yummy
Why not try your hand at baking? This is a great activity for children of all ages. Even the younger ones can get involved with stirring and licking the bowl!
This recipe from A beautiful mess is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The best part? It only takes 3 ingredients. So if you have chocolate, a tin of condensed milk and vanilla extract readily available then you’re good to go.
Playdough is so much fun and versatile. It’s squishy, you can roll it, stamp it, make shapes with cookie cutters and blend different colours – there’s so much you can do! It’s really easy to make your own with just a few bits from your pantry.
1 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of oil
1-2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 cup of boiling water
Mix together the dry ingredients and the oil, then add the boiling water and stir quickly. Make sure you stir well as the mixture thickens. Knead until the playdough is smooth. Add a little more flour if it’s a bit sticky.
The playdough should last for a few months if you store it in an airtight bag. If you find that it’s drying out a little, add a few drops more oil and knead to soften it up again.
All you need is a pack of jumbo chalks and a bit of pavement.
Now, I know that first thing I would do is draw a giant game of hopscotch! But you really can draw anything you like, what about a giant tic tac toe board? Or just let them doodle away. When they’re done, hose down the patio and voila, your canvas is blank again!
Or how about making some chalk paint? Here’s a simple recipe from Make and Takes.
When life gives you lemons (or wet weather), make lemonade! Why not try making some good ol’ fashioned lemonade with the younger ones? It’s so simple, all you need to do is mix 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 cup of sugar, 6 cups of water, give it a stir, adjust to taste and add a handful of ice. Mmmm…delicious! Get the kids to help with the juicing, stirring and pouring.
DIY Marble run
Toilet roll tubes lying around the house? An old unused pool noodle? Old piping? An old milk carton? You can use absolutely anything at all, just stick all of your bits and bobs together to make your very own marble run. How about adding steps from bits of cut milk carton? Or a see-saw from two plastic spoons glued end to end? Or racing the marbles down two parallel tracks? There are so many different things you can do – let their imaginations run wild.
I like the look of this tutorial from Tinker Lab.
Get out your scratch paper, old newspaper or used wrapping paper and have a go at origami! Pinterest is a great place for finding origami ideas, most of which have step by step instructions. You don’t even have to make anything too complicated – how about paper planes?
In a world that is becoming overwhelmed by digital technology, why not try making and sending homemade postcards? Cut out pieces of card and decorate one side, write a simple message on the other, stick a stamp in the corner and pop it in the postbox. A lovely surprise for relatives to receive in the mail too!
Make potato stamps
Cut potatoes in half, score out shapes, dip in paint and use as a stamp on a large sheet of paper. I loved doing this as a child!
So if you’re stuck for things to do with the kids, whatever the weather, then try out one of these 10 cheap and easy ways to keep them entertained!