Trying to entertain bored children can be a challenge. Boredom can strike during hours outside of school so often that constantly taking them out for entertainment can significantly drain your budget. All parents would love for their kids to find activities to do that are free or affordable and keep the kids happy.
Prepare for the next time you hear the words ‘I’m bored’ by checking out this list of activities that are free or low-cost. Many are at home and can help keep the kids entertained for hours.
Things to Do When You’re Bored
This list covers all seasons, so regardless of the weather, the kids can do fun activities indoors and outdoors to keep busy.
1. Online Games
Of course, many kids can’t get enough of video games. But if they are going to be on screens anyway, why not get them to play games with a learning component? Many online games are free and don’t require people to sign up or download anything. If you need help determining which websites are suitable for the kids to play on, these sites are excellent for math games, online art projects, and typing games. The kids can learn new skills and practice while having fun, so their time online will be well-spent.
2. Paper and Pen Games
Yes, kids can kill boredom with even just a pen and paper! There are a lot of different paper games that kids can play. Many of us are already familiar with such games as tic-tac-toe and hangman. Kids can also make cryptograms, cootie catchers, play squares and much more.
3. Go on a Bingo Walk
Bingo walks are a great way to make regular family strolls around the neighborhood much more fun with the kids. You can easily make your own bingo cards (or download a free template). Some examples of things you can try to spot on your bingo walks are:
- A driveway with 3 cars
- A house with a brown roof
- A house with a flag
- A particular bird flying by
Some things are more challenging to find. If they weren’t, we would walk down the street once and be done with the game! So try to be creative, enjoy the fresh air and exercise and have fun finding the things on your card.
4. Buy a Kit or Subscription Box
Many kids love getting things in the mail. Signing up for regular subscription boxes with new activities like crafts and science experiments that will keep the kids busy for hours is often well worth the price and less expensive than taking them out somewhere to pass the time.
Some of the children’s subscription boxes we have enjoyed include Green Kids Craft which is full of STEM activities, and Universal Yums, which contains activities and treats from different countries each month.
I also purchased an inexpensive balloon twisting kit, shaping balloons to make animals and objects from them as clowns do at birthday parties and events. Most kits contain many specialty balloons for twisting and a pump. Some include access to an app or other instructional material. There are also some good tutorials on YouTube.
Immersing yourself in a good book is a great way to pass the time. There are many children’s chapter books that are full of adventure and suspense that kids love. You can even set up a time for the whole family to read together.
6. Make a Scrapbook
Starting a scrapbook with the kids can be fun. It allows them to display their artistic side, relive old memories, and hear stories about themselves as you go through their baby pictures. You can purchase a scrapbooking kit, buy an album, go to a craft or dollar store, and purchase your own supplies like jewels, stickers, special colored pens, etc.
Scrapbooking can also be a relaxing activity and is great for family bonding.
7. Build with Legos and Other Materials
Legos are the OG of building materials. But there are many new materials like even simple wooden planks that can make some amazing creations. Building is a great way to show your creativity and engineering skills. Challenge each other to build the strongest or tallest structure to make it more fun.
8. Cook or Bake Together
It’s never too early to involve kids in the kitchen to help with cooking or baking. Read these tips on how to give kids age-appropriate chores in the kitchen. Kids love measuring and mixing ingredients. They are also more likely to eat more of whatever they helped make! So get them washing some veggies that you want them to try!
9. Play Board Games
Board games are fun and can teach children some essential skills like teamwork and language skills. Look for games suitable for their age group so everybody can play. Check out our recommendations for a fun family game night.
10. Science Experiments
Kids love hands-on experimenting. There are simple science experiments that kids can do at home with basic supplies you may already have. There are many they can even do on their own. Having some control helps build confidence while learning something new and exciting.
11. Listen to Podcasts and Audio Books
Podcasts and audiobooks are great when kids need non-screen time activities when they don’t feel like reading a book or are on a long car ride. There are many podcasts for children now that are fun and engaging. They also contain interesting facts to help the kids learn about different topics like animals and science. Check out some of our reviews and put one on when the kids need something to keep them busy or want some downtime.
Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunt game in which people from all over the world participate. The game’s purpose is to try to find treasures hidden by other players using your GPS device while exploring interesting locations. You can learn more about how to participate in geocaching here. It’s an exciting activity, with fresh air and exercise, so it’s a fun family activity.
When we were initially homebound with the pandemic, we knew we had to come up with different things to do to bust boredom. So we decided to start regular family workouts. We went for walks and bike rides outdoors but also needed to find something to do indoors when the weather wasn’t agreeable. So we found a fitness program to follow and started a family fitness routine. The kids loved it and burned some energy too.
14. Design T-Shirts
Customizing a t-shirt is a fun and creative activity your kids will enjoy. Involve them in every step of the process, from brainstorming ideas of what picture or design they would like on their shirt to hands-on designing. They will love walking around displaying their art on their shirts.
15. Work on a Puzzle
Puzzles are great for rainy days or when you want some downtime. Kids can put together smaller puzzles, or the whole family can work on a large one together. Bigger, complicated puzzles (think of how many plain blue pieces you would have for the sky in landscape puzzles!) require patience, perseverance, problem-solving, and teamwork! The fact that you are working on a project together will make it more fun.
16. Watch Shows or Have a Movie Night
Kids also need downtime, and unwinding with a movie or a few funny tv shows is a great way to do it. Sometimes as a family, it’s hard to find shows and movies that cater to all the different age groups. Check out this list of shows on Disney that even parents will enjoy. Dim the lights, grab some snacks, get cozy on the couch and enjoy your show or movie together.
17. Have a Dance Party
A dance party is another great way to exercise, have fun and burn energy. One of our favorite things to watch is clips of Parent Jam online. It’s so inspiring to see parents doing dance routines with their children. It’s also a great way to pick up some moves! You can also put on a freeze dance and let loose with unchoreographed dancing!
18. Print Activity Pages
Coloring and doing activity sheets like word searches and mazes can be relaxing and enjoyable activities for kids. Print off activity sheets with characters they like or other themes and watch them solve riddles and find words while having fun.
19. Do a DIY Craft
Open-ended play is great because it gives kids a chance to show their creativity and be in control of their own projects. You can stock up on supplies from Dollar Tree, or you can use recyclables already in the house, such as toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, milk cartons, and old containers.
If you would like them to do a more structured art lesson, many sites have tutorials that children can follow. You could also challenge the kids, such as getting them to design their own bird feeders.
20. Go on a Nature Walk
Walking on a trail through the woods can be breathtakingly beautiful, especially in autumn when the trees are full of colorful leaves. It can also be a calming experience, fun, and great exercise.
21. Start a Garden
Gardening together is an excellent and productive family activity and a nice life skill to learn. With so many chemicals sprayed on imported fruits and vegetables, it’s great to grow your own food and learn how to take care of them naturally. Children are also more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables they had a hand growing.
22. Play a Sport
There are many outdoor activities kids can do. Some activities include going for a hike, a bike ride, and rollerblading. You can also play soccer, basketball, football, and ball hockey without needing much equipment.
23. Set up an Obstacle Course
The kids can set up an indoor obstacle course using chairs, cushions, skipping ropes, and anything else they can think of! They can also move it outdoors to your backyard and use sporting equipment, sticks, rocks, and anything else they can find outside! Have fun running around and jumping over things.
24. Paint Rocks
Gather some rocks from outside that have a nice flat surface. Then paint them with pretty pictures, colors, and positive messages! Either make your own collection or place them outside around the parks and neighborhood for people to spot and enjoy.
25. Draw Outside with Sidewalk Chalk
Draw pictures with different colors and play games like tic-tac-toe and hangman. You can even assign the kids a theme. For example, ask them to draw farm animals or a city with cars, trees, and buildings.
26. Do a Scavenger Hunt
You can hide things around the house and place clues in different areas to help lead them to an object. You can also have a checklist of things for them to find that they mark off once they have spotted them. You can also do a nature or neighborhood hunt to find specific things you would see while walking around. Pick a theme and send the kids off to hunt!
27. Virtual Visits
Need rainy day activities or want to stay indoors? Try taking a virtual tour! Many virtual tours have been set up since the pandemic when people were homebound. Museums, zoos, historic landmarks, and famous tourist sites. There are so many options. For example, you can do a virtual tour of the White House, the Louvre museum in France, the Great Wall of China, and the Amazon Rainforest, to name just a few!
28. Visit a Farm
Visiting a farm is a fun and affordable activity. Many have set up activities for children, such as hayrides, corn mazes, and areas to observe the animals closer up. Of course, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables and sometimes even pick them yourself.
29. Visit the Library
The local library can be more than just a place to pick out books to read. They often have extra activities for kids, such as crafts, free board games, and puzzles to play with. Libraries may also have special programs such as activities to celebrate different holidays.
30. Look for Community Events
Communities may put together fairs and other events. Check your local community center for children’s programs, activities, and sporting events.
31. Have a Spa Day
Want something fun and relaxing to do? Why not have a spa or pamper day! Put on some nail polish, make a natural mask, and put on some lovely-smelling lotions! Relax, sit back and read or listen to music while you wait for your nail polish to dry.
Do you have a redecorating project the kids can help with? Have they outgrown their own rooms? They could design something else, like a cozy corner or a play area. Move furniture around, come up with different storage solutions and buy or make artwork to help decorate your new space.
33. Play with Play Dough or Clay
Play-Do is another good open-ended play option. Kids can get creative and mold different things like animals, people, characters, and other things. Throw in some supplies like a rolling pin, googly eyes, and other art supplies, and watch them get creative.
34. Look at Home Videos and Digital Photos
My kids love watching old videos and pictures of themselves as babies and toddlers. They laugh hysterically, and it brings back great memories for us parents. It’s a fun activity to do together.
35. Play Games with No Equipment
It’s hard to believe you can play games without needing anything but your body! Here are a few games you can play without needing any equipment:
- Truth or Dare Questions
- 20 questions
- Would you rather
- Two truths and a lie
36. Learn Something New
Try to learn something you have yet to do. With so many tutorials online, you can learn to draw, knit, paint, play an instrument, crochet, cook, or fix something yourself. The possibilities are endless! You never know, once you learn something, it may become your new hobby.
37. Go Ice-skating
38. Build a Snowman or Snow Sculpture
39. Go Tobogganing
40. Have a Snowball Fight
41. Do an Easter Egg Hunt
42. Observe Different Species of Bugs and Birds
43. Go Fishing
44. Go Camping
45. Go to the Beach
46. Go to Swimming Pools and Splash Pads
47. Visit all the City Parks
48. Make Handprint Turkeys and Write Gratitude Notes for Thanksgiving
49. Make Halloween Crafts and Decorations
50. Go to a Pumpkin Patch
Play these Activities When Kids are Bored
There are plenty of ways to entertain kids when they are bored. Many are free and at home. Take the time to learn your options and when boredom arises you will be prepared to help show kids ways to keep themselves busy and have fun.
Feature image credit: copyright fizkes from Getty Images via Canva
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