25 Ways to Entertain Your Child for Free or Cheap
Parenting is hard work. Keeping little ones (with little attention spans) occupied is often half the battle. It doesn't take long before children run to their parents looking for things to do.
If you aren't careful, keeping kids busy can put a major dent in the pocket book. Having a go-to list of frugal ideas to keep your kids entertained is key. Otherwise, you'll be unprepared for those two little words — "I'm bored."
Check out this list of 25 ways to entertain your child for free. (See also: Entertain Your Kids Without Breaking the Bank, via Parenting Squad)
1. Play Make-Believe Games
Kids love sailing seas, conquering kingdoms, and rescuing princesses from the dragon's lair. Have fun with your kids in an imaginary world!
2. Go to the Library
Libraries are chock full of wonder for kids. Books, activities, and story times are all part of your local library's calendar.
3. Play With Animals
My kids love heading to the local pet store and playing with the puppies.
4. Go to a Local Park
The park is a great place to let kids run around and rid themselves of pent up energy.
5. Make Sidewalk Art
Grab the chalk and allow your imagination to run wild. The other day my four-year-old daughter said, "Draw me and you together, Daddy." I was glad to try!
6. Make Kites and Fly Them
Take a look around your house to see what materials you have available to make a kite. Then go outside, and let your kids fly them!
7. Head to the Beach
If you can put up with getting sand in your car, head to the beach. Kids love playing in the sand and water!
8. Put a Puzzle Together
Puzzles are a great way to keep kids occupied. Sit down with them, and do it together.
9. Find a Spot to Watch the Sunset
We have a lake by our house that offers some great views of the sunset. Find a place in your area to take your kids to watch the magic of a sunset.
10. Have a Bonfire or Campfire in Your Backyard
There's something about sitting by the fire that kids love, and you can make s'mores.
11. Play Soccer or Some Other Sport Together
Head to the park, or play in your own backyard. You can kick the soccer ball around, or grab another ball and play some catch.
12. Make a Picnic Lunch
Throw a picnic lunch together, grab a blanket to sit on, and head off to a park for a little picnic lunch.
13. Go Fishing
There's something about fishing that kids love. Grab poles, find a pond, and cast those lines! If you don't have fishing poles, learn to make your own kid's fishing rod.
14. Plant a Garden
You can make a garden box or even an herb garden if you don't have much room. Your kids will really enjoy watching the veggies sprout up, knowing they played a part in making the food.
15. Play Board Games
Kids love to play old favorites like Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land. Check out this list of classic kids' board games to play, or you could even make up your own games to teach your kids about things like personal finance.
16. Rent a Movie From the Library
Libraries have a host of free movies that your kids will love. Take a trip and let your children pick out a great movie. Here's a list of the 50 best movies for kids!
17. Go Hiking
Put on those hiking boots, and find a trail at a local forest preserve! Your kids will love going on a nature walk.
18. Go Swimming
Got a friend with a pool? Head on over to their house and have a swimming party. Or take a journey to your local community center for a dip.
19. Have a Dance Party
My kids love it when we crank up the music and have a little dance party. Need to fill a kid-friendly playlist for a dance party? Check out this list of top kids dance songs.
20. Volunteer at a Non-Profit Organization
You get to impact others' lives and teach your kids some valuable lessons at the same time. You will need to check with your local organization to see if they have any rules about bringing your kids, or check out this site for volunteer opportunities near you.
21. Draw and Color Pictures
What kid doesn't love to draw and color? All kids are budding artists, so grab crayons, markers, and paper and let them doodle until their hearts are content! If you're looking to teach your kids how to draw, check out this great site to help learn how to draw step-by-step.
22. Make Finger Paint
I don't know why, but my kids love to finger paint — I guess because it's one of the few times we encourage them to get their hands dirty! You can try your hand at some homemade finger paint, and let your kids get a little messy.
23. Play with Play-doh
Play-doh is always a favorite among children. The smell of a freshly opened container of Play-doh is nostalgic for many of us. Sit down with your kids, crack open a thing of Play-doh, and have some fun! Here's a site for some creative Play-doh ideas, or a video about making things with Play-doh.
If you're thinking about making your own, try this recipe for making Play-doh.
24. Ride Bikes
Hop on those bikes, and take a ride around your neighborhood. Don't forget the importance of bike safety!
25. Go "Exploring" on a Night Walk
Occasionally we'll take our kids on a night walk. We let them have some flashlights and pretend we are "exploring." Any time kids use their imaginations, they're content.
What other frugal ideas do you have to entertain children?