Keeping children, whether yours or someone else’s, entertained is a year-round activity that sometimes feels like a rather daunting one. If money is tight, or you are just looking to cut back, it can be especially hard to come up with creative ways to pass the time. If you’re searching for some of the best free activities for kids, try one of these simple & fun ideas.
Whether you’re searching for ways to entertain your kids over summer break or need to keep your kids occupied on a LONG snowy day, finding fun things for your kids to do is a big part of parenthood. Though paying for constant activities for kids adds up fast, and can get expensive quickly!
Luckily, there are tons and tons of great free, or cheap, activities for kids if you know where to look.
Here are my favorite ideas for keeping your kids entertained without spending a dime…or as few dimes as possible.
The Best Free Activities for Kids
Keeping your kids entertained is a year-round activity. That means you’re going to need a few tried-and-true activities you know your kids will love no matter what time of year it is. Here are several ideas that can be penciled into your schedule no matter what the season.
Make a craft. Crafting has got to be one of the best ways to get your kids to flex their creative muscles. Most of the time you can make a variety of amazing kid’s crafts for free using supplies you already have at home…plus, if you are short on supplies, a good place to get cheap craft supplies is Dollar Tree, as well as ordering things online from orientaltrading.com.
Visit the library to check out free books, rent some free movies, and take part in free family-friendly activities year-round. There are the typical options of story time and the occasional free craft, but did you know that many libraries even offer free activities to the public like a Lego club or free movie nights? Obviously it’s different everywhere, but it’s totally worth looking at their calendar to see what other fun and free activities are coming up.
Read a book and/or a series. Whether you sit down and read a book together as a family, or just relax together with your own books, grabbing a book is one of the best free activities for kids… this is one of those fun things to do that often gets overlooked because of technology, but it’s important to teach our children to love the written word from a very young age.
Make something at Home Depot through their free building workshops, which are typically offered once a month throughout the year.
Visit your city’s Fire or Police Station. Though before heading there, contact them to see if they will conduct a tour for your kids. This is a great way to not only teach children something new and exciting, but it can open their eyes to future career ideas, instill an appreciation of local hero’s, and they will know of a “safe place” that they can go if there is ever an emergency.
Check out a National Park. While many parks require an entrance fee, the fee is waived on several days throughout the year…usually including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, National Park Week in April, the National Park Service Anniversary in August, National Public Lands Day in September, and Veterans Day. Take a quick peek at the website for whichever Park you want to visit and plan that trip accordingly.
Host a movie marathon. Grab your favorite Blu-Ray or find a free movie online(or at the library), then cuddle together on the couch as a family and snack on some popcorn.
Play a board game. Have a little family-friendly competition to see who can win the most rounds of your family’s favorite board game. Not only does this encourage bonding, but it can teach children to think strategically.
Play hide and seek. If the weather is nice, head outside for a game of hide and seek in the back yard. Or play the game indoors to pass the time during a rainy or snowy day. When I was a kid, as a family we frequently played hide and seek in the dark and it is one of my fondest memories.
Put together a puzzle. Spread out the pieces on the dining room table and let everyone help put the puzzle together. Just make sure that it’s age appropriate so that everyone feels included and it is not overwhelming…meaning, make sure to set yourselves up for success.
Visit a nursing home. Residents at your local nursing home would love to have young visitors to talk to for the afternoon. This is another one that should require you to call ahead.
Free Summer Activities for Kids
Your kids are out of school and you’re in need of some entertainment. I’ve been there, summer can feel like it lasts an eternity! These free summer activities for kids are a great way to cure your kids’ boredom.
Visit the farmer’s market. While you’ll have the opportunity to buy delicious local veggies and artisan crafts, browsing the farmer’s market is free. Many local markets also have family-friendly activities your kids can enjoy without spending any money.
Play at the park. Let your kids burn off some energy at your local park during summer break.
Head to a nearby splash park and beat the heat under some free fountains. Check out your local parks department to see if your town (or a nearby community) has a free splash park available to local youth.
Watch fireworks. This classic summer tradition is a great way to entertain your family for free during summer break. Do a quick Google search to find the best free fireworks shows near you.
Find a free music festival. The summer months are great for enjoying outdoor music. Chances are, you can find a free concert in your area if you do a quick Google search.
Go bowling. Visit KidsBowlFree.com to register your kids for free games of bowling at your local bowling alley all summer long.
Head to the beach. Whether you’re near the ocean or just have a lake nearby, a day at the beach is a great way to enjoy the summer weather and keep your kids entertained.
Take your kids hiking. This doesn’t have to cost anything if you have sturdy shoes and water bottles. It’s great exercise and teaches children a love of the outdoors.
Free Activities for Kids in the Fall
Even when your kids are in school, you still need to keep them entertained in the evenings and on those long weekends. These boredom-busters are perfect free activities for kids in the fall.
Visit an apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Check out a nearby farm to see seasonal fruits and veggies being grown…plus, if you plan ahead for these items in your grocery budget you’re set to purchase something you need, but also make some great memories out of it.
Play in the leaves. Rake leaves into a big pile and let your kids jump in. Then, search the yard for unique leaves and make a collection. This can provide endless hours of fun.
Take in the beauty of fall drive. This is one of my all-time favorite activities to do…driving up a beautiful canyon to look for flowers, changing leaves/foliage, and wildlife along the way. You can pack a picnic and make a day out of it.
Gather acorns and pine cones from the yard and use them to paint on or craft with. You can even use them to create fun fall decorations.
Free Winter Activities
Whether your family is stuck inside thanks to cold weather, or you just need a way to keep your kids engaged on long winter break, these free winter activities are sure to be a lifesaver.
Go sledding or have a snowball fight. Make the most of winter weather by heading outside and playing in the snow. Sled down a big hill, or have a friendly snowball fight after a big snowfall.
Volunteer as a family. Give back during the holiday season by taking the time to volunteer at a local charity. I only recommend doing this if you have elementary aged kids or older, otherwise it may be more of a hassle than it is worth.
Build a fort. Grab all the pillows and blankets from around the house and try to build the most elaborate fort possible in the living room…if you have the room in your home, you could even make one that is semi-permanent in a play room to become a reading nook or a quiet escape for the children.
Make an indoor snowman. Grab some old socks and stuffing and create your own snowmen without having to head out into the cold.
Have an indoor snowball fight…there are kits you can buy, or just use white socks that are folded into themselves.
Camp out in the living room. If it’s too cold to camp outside, lay out sleeping bags on the floor and have an indoor campout… you could even set up a tent.
Design your own Christmas/Holiday cards. Let your kids draw their own seasonal cards to send to friends and family for the holiday season.
Make an indoor obstacle course. Help your kids burn off some energy without the need to go outside by creating an obstacle course inside.
Fun Spring Activities
If your kids are on spring break, or the weather is just starting to get nice again, they’ll love all these free spring activities for kids.
Take a bike ride. After being cooped up inside all winter, your kids will love to head out and enjoy the spring weather on a bike ride around the neighborhood or on a designated biking trail somewhere.
Plant a garden. Save seeds from your kitchen scraps and plant them in your back yard to start your own veggie garden for free.
Have a scavenger hunt. Create a list of spring items your kids must find in your yard or on a nature walk. The first one to collect everything on the list wins.
Collect rocks. Go on a hike to look for unique rocks to add to your kids’ collection. You can even paint them when you get back home to add to the fun.
Clean up the community. Head out on a walk around the neighborhood to pick up stray trash, or ask an elderly neighbor (or a military wife that has a husband out on deployment) if they have anything in their yard that you can help them with.
Of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands of more things that we could do with our kids…I just hope that I got you thinking maybe a little bit outside of the box so that you can build some lasting memories with your little ones and not put yourself out financially in the process.
I feel like often times, as a parent, we see other parents taking their kids to go do every little fun thing that they possibly could and it’s important not to compare our parenting to other people…especially when it comes to spending money on those activities.
I personally think that a child needs a parent with financial stability more than they need memories of some super expensive fun activity that they did, yet afterwards there may be zero money in savings for emergencies.
This is me telling you that it’s ok not to spend money unnecessarily, it’s ok to not “keep up with the Jones’s”, and it is certainly cool to stretch your budget as far as you can…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, and if they do, they may not have your best financial interest at heart. Remember that!
Lol, hopping off of my soap box to wrap this up, because this is officially the last of what I had to say about free activities for kids.
I hope you liked some of these ideas! If so, please make sure to share this post with all your friends via social media. Thanks!~Sarah
Here are several of my other posts that are super fun activities/crafts to do with your kids:
For those of you that would like another option of a “pinnable” image to share on Pinterest, here you go. Thanks so much for the support.