Budget Kids Activities – for entertaining your little ones come rain or shine!
Now as a mumma, I know that it can sometimes be difficult to keep the children entertained whilst not spending an absolute fortune.
It’s so tempting to pick something really expensive because it’s easy, but there are so many free or very cheap activities that they can do, and love.
I’m always brainstorming ideas of things that I can do with my four year daughter who is like a tornado full of energy! Summer holidays can seem to drag on forever and as parents, we are determined to fill the time with the most fun activities for the kids.
The list below should help with ideas, and feel free to add any of your own in the comments below!
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If you haven’t heard of geocaching before, it’s the worlds largest treasure hunt!
You sign up for an account and then using the app on your phone, just choose the geocache that you want to find, and then navigate to its location. It is usually a small container which has a logbook in it.
Sign the logbook and pop it back exactly where you found it for the next person. There can also be larger caches which have items in that you can trade. This is the link to the Geocaching site. It’s free!
What child doesn’t love a picnic?! Or adult for that matter. Put together a cheap picnic and set out to find a great spot. The great thing about picnics is that you can have them anywhere – including indoors if it’s a rainy day.
My daughter genuinely asks to have a picnic every day – we usually have sandwiches, a LOT of fruit (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries), cheese, yoghurts – but you can choose whatever you like.
This doesn’t just need to be done in the summer months either – during winter just wrap up really warm and take some soup, crusty bread and hot chocolates in flasks.
Go for a nice family walk together – you could borrow someone’s dog to walk if you don’t have your own if you wanted! Even if you just go to your local area, I bet you find some cool places that you haven’t seen before.
When we’ve been on walks we’ve found some great parks which are hidden away so we wouldn’t have spotted them otherwise.
Wash the Car
Fill up some buckets with soapy water, get the sponges out and dress the kids in appropriate clothes and let them loose on the car.
Plus side for you is to get a free car wash! You could also give them some pocket money for doing this – if you wanted!
Play a game of football with the kids. Get all of the neighbours out and have a massive game. I have fond memories of doing this as a child, and we also used to play a huge game of rounders with all of the kids and their parents in the summer.
Take a trip down to your local library to stock up on some books to read together. During the holidays (and in general) they can run some fun free activities for children.
Let them be little chefs for the day and get some yummy treats out of it too. There’s no end to what they could bake – some great ideas are pizza because it’s simple and they can decorate it however they want, and sweet treats like jam tarts, cake.
A lot of cinemas offer very cheap kids tickets if you go at certain times. Check out my cinema post for more details on various cinema deals.
Cinema at Home
Who said you have to go out to have a cinema experience?! Get a DVD (doesn’t have to be a brand new one – check charity shops and places like Home Bargains have great ones), some popcorn and drinks, all of the cushions and pillows that you have, draw the curtains and have your own mini cinema day.
You could also get the kids to make cinema tickets too.
Did you know that a lot of museums are free entry? Have a look online at your local museums and check. This can be a great educational experience for the little ones, and good for you too. They are very accommodating of children too.
When we went on a trip to see family in Belfast, their local museum does a ‘Night in the Museum’ like the film – where they have a giant sleepover in the museum! Best idea ever.
Family Bike Ride
Get your bikes out of the garage, helmets on, and set off for a nice family bike ride. You could take a picnic with you too and pick a nice place to ride to.
Such a fun activity. Kids love finding blackberries – take a container with you to keep all of the blackberries in and bring home to make something like apple and blackberry crumble!
Not just reserved for those that live in the countryside, there are a lot of city farms around, and most of them are free admission.
My daughter loves going to our local farm to see all of the animals, and they have a great play area too. We went there at Easter for a free Easter egg hunt which she adored – always worth checking the free events that they put in too throughout the year.
Something you can do in your back garden, or indoors if it’s not great weather. Hide some cheap little treats around the place, and write down some clues that they will be able to guess.
Get them to dress up as pirates, and you could put the clues onto paper and stain with a cold teabag to look like an old treasure map.
Shop bought playdoh can really add up in price, but the kids do love it. A great cheap alternative to this is making your own. They do this in my daughter’s nursery all the time, and they scent it as well. You can do it any colour, and add glitter, scents, anything you wish! I love this one that I found.
You could also make homemade moon sand – just plain flour and baby oil.
Super cheap but fun idea for the kids, and can be easily washed away too. Chalks are available in most supermarkets and shops, at cheap prices. They can draw hopscotch, pictures, and just make a mess.
Doesn’t need to be expensive with buying books, binoculars etc. Get a book out of the library, print out a bird watching tally or bird book and just go looking with your child. You could look in your garden, near some fields, anywhere!
Who said you can only play party games when it’s your birthday? Have an impromptu party with the kids and play a load of party games, just for fun! There’s pass the parcel, musical statues, musical bumps, Duck Duck Goose, Pin the tail on the donkey and so many more.
Slice the potato in half and you could use a small cookie cutter, push it into the potato and cut around it to make the shape. You could also just cut it out if you don’t have a cookie cutter. Hours of fun for the little ones! Make handprints, footprints paintings too.
Although not much fun for parents (there, I said it! I hate going to the park, ha!) the park is somewhere that kids LOVE. They can play with their friends or make new ones, which is great for their social skills and physical development also. You want them to be active, and happy – the park is the best free place that you can take them that’s so close to your home.
Fly a Kite
You can get some very cheap kites out there (check eBay if you can’t find one) or if you are feeling brave you could make your own kite. The UK is generally pretty windy, especially if you go to the beach, so this can be done pretty much any time.
And you can embarrass your kids by skipping along singing “Let’s go fly a kite!” at the top of your voice à la Mary Poppins.
Another painting activity, gather up some large pebbles (fun to do at the beach) and let them paint them however they wish.
Create a Water Park
Fill up the paddling pool, and if you’re feeling brave, make a water slide! I loved doing this when I was younger. Use plastic sheeting and a hosepipe and you’re good to go. The kids will love it. Stick the hose pipe into a plastic bottle with holes in it for a homemade sprinkler.
Make a Den
Making a den or a fort is another free activity that the kids can do, and have so much fun doing it. I guarantee they will be squealing with excitement!
There are so many different ways that you can do it. Use chairs, the sofa, a load of blankets, pillows, cushions and you will have a great little blanket fort. So cute and you could use it to have your cinema at home day.
Make a Shoebox House
This is something that my daughter LOVES to do. Simply decorate a shoe box to make it into a house. You can cut out the sides so it’s easier to do. Use card, paint, print some little doors, windows off, use stickers – let their imagination run wild. One of my favourite toys ever that I remember as a child was a shoebox house. I remember it so well, and we made little cardboard mice to go in there.
If your children can write – or even if they can’t, they can read out to you what they want to say – get them to put pen to paper and write their family members and friends a lovely letter.
We live in an age now where handwritten letters are so rare, so they are always a lovely way to put a smile on your loved ones face when they see their letter. You can post them in person if they are nearby, or take a little trip to the postbox.
Whichever season you are in, you can collect things from nature to make pictures with. For example, leaves! Stick them onto a large piece of paper and make a lovely leaf collage.
Grab your buckets and spades and head down to the beach to have fun making sandcastles, splashing in the sea and so many other games like rounders, football.
Also a great way to re-use your recycling – use bottles and fill with rice for shakers, make a banjo out of a paper plate and some elastic bands – get creative! Once you’ve made all of your instruments, time to have a production!
You generally just need warm water, washing up liquid, and sugar. You can add to the fun by making bubble wands or even a bubble blower like I found, how amazing does it look?!
There are lots of papier mache ideas out there, we tried out a couple ourselves, we made a rocket and a dinosaur. All that we needed was a balloon, toilet rolls, toilet paper, glue and paint.
There are lots of free events that are always going on, so check your local council information, libraries, local websites, and if you are planning on a bigger trip check voucher sites such as http://www.daysoutwithkids.co.uk.
Does anyone else have any great kids activities that they can share in the comments below?
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What fun ideas! You compiled a really great list here Francesca! I don’t have a kid but I love so many of these as date night ideas! The fort idea is my favorite! I’m totally gonna make the hubby do this with me 🙂
Oh!!! And the geocaching this is real! I didn’t realize it was global though! How cool
Thanks – aw that’s really cute. You’ll have to send me a pic of your fort!
There’s some brilliant ideas here – we love geocaching x x
Thanks Cass! Such a fab activity isn’t it!
These ideas are amazing! Usually my niece and nephew and I just go to the park to play tennis together. It’s free, except for the gas, and super fun. Plus it wears them out so my sister is thankful. 😉
Thanks Sabrina! Aw that’s really cute – I was round my friends house earlier and her daughter had a tennis racquet & it got me thinking about buying one for my daughter too!
Outdoor activities with kids will be so much fun specially the beach trip and fly a kite! My children will have so much fun with all these brilliant ideas. I’ll surely try some of these with them. ?
Thanks Lynn! Have fun 🙂
Great ideas! We are definitely going to be washing the car asap!
Love all your ideas and will be sharing with my daughter who has three children.
Thank you so much Candy, I hope they have fun!
Great ideas!! I remember the library so fondly growing up! I would always check out the maxiumum amount of books and read them before bed! Definitely a fun yet educational (and free!) thing to do with kids!!
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Thanks Christina! Libraries are so great!
These are really great ideas! I’m going to have to do some of these activities with my younger cousins and nephews. I think the first will be a Treasure Hunt! Those can be so fun with DIY printables 🙂
Thank you! Treasure hunts are so exciting for kids 🙂
I love the ideas! And anytime you can have fun and still save money.. It is a win/win
Thanks Taria – and yes, I absolutely agree with that!
I love these ideas!!!!! Fantastic with kids ^.^ Also great date time with the hubby too ^.^
Thanks Brianna! Yes definitely 🙂
These are great ideas! While I’m only a mom to a furbaby, these are still ideas my husband and I can do when we’re feeling bored & cheap! Thanks for sharing 🙂
You are very welcome Lana!
What fantastic ideas?! I’ve done several of these with my family before. We started geocaching a few years ago and it’s SO fun…you never know what you’ll find! Bookmarking this list for the next time we’re looking for a fun, inexpensive weekend activity. 🙂
Thanks Krista! I hope it’s useful to you 🙂
I used to love drawing with chalk on my driveway. All of my siblings and I would spend hours outside drawing and coloring our “masterpieces”. I also recently found out about Geocaching. It’s such an affordable, fun activity!
Aw I was the same Rachel, I have good memories of chalk drawing. My daughter has been writing her name in chalk outside all of our neighbours houses today, haha. Geocaching is fab!
Great list! I can’t wait until we can pick blackberries – they’re still green here but will be ready in the next few weeks.We live by the beach so that is my favourite thing to do for free to tire the kids out!
Snap! I absolutely love picking blackberries, and so does my daughter. Great free snack too!
You share so many wonderful ideas! I have never heard of Geocaching. What an incredibly inventive and interactive idea. Thanks for the great activities.
Thanks Aarika! Yes, geocaching is amazing!
These are great ideas! I’m a camp counselor and these are good activities for when we finish a station early or if we have rainy weather 🙂
Aw thanks Melanie! That sounds like a fun job!
Lovely tips. Cinema att home, picnic and baking is stuff we do 🙂 It really doesn’t have to cost a lot to do fun stuff with your kids.
Take a walk down town and buy ice cream with the kids and sit in a park is something we enjoy doing also which doesn’t cost or visit the kids park 🙂
Thanks Jeanette – that sounds lovely!
Such great ideas! I don’t have kids but some of these are even fun date ideas thanks!
So many awesome ideas here! I don’t have any kids, but I still want to do a bunch of em’, haha. :] I love farms and picking fruit! 😀 (And picnics and movies and parks and baking and bubbles…)
Thank you Farrah! I love your site by the way!
These are some really good ideas! We love geocaching!
Thank you Leah!
Fab ideas. Might just go through your list over the summer-break. This will keep my daughter busy 😉
Thanks so much! Hope it helps 😉
Great idea’s, I spend so much money in the holidays entertaining my children. We go to the beach a lot, my toddler loves collecting shells and rock pooling xx
Thank you! I love the beach, the kids can play all day no bother!
Great list, some really fun ideas! We love picnics, we normally have a couple a week in the summer and then we have indoor picnics in the winter, my daughter loves it 🙂 I’m going to save this post so I don’t forget these ideas
Thank you! We have indoor picnics too 🙂
I need to try out geocaching still. Would be a nice option that we can include our pooch with. I feel like she’s being left out a little recently bless her!
Aw bless. Yes, definitely give it a go!