Keeping your children active and fully engaged can be a real hassle. You have to find things that can keep their minds and hands active. The hard part can be trying to find activities to do with your children that cost little to no money and can still keep them happy. Are you looking to do creative things with your kiddos, but on a budget? Well, this post is definitely one for you. Below you’ll find over 50 ways to do creative things with your kiddos on a budget!
50+ Creative Things to do on a Budget (With Kids!)
There’s so much to do on a budget if you plan accordingly. Here’s a look at some creative things to do with your children on a budget:
1. Play Board Games
Get bored easily and need something to keep those little (or big) hands busy? Find some interesting board games to get into. Some of my favorites are Connect Four and Monopoly. I used to love them growing up and still do! So, I get my kids involved and find enjoyment in their fun.
2. Play Hide & Seek
Hide & seek is another common thing in my home (actually, you’ll find that many of these are common in my home, that’s how I came up with the list lol). My little ones love it. We find creative hiding places and search for one another. My youngest isn’t a very good “hider” so to speak, so he plays invisible while we look for him. 🙂
I love building with my boys. You can also have fun with your girls building blocks. I loved it as a little kid and I encourage all parents to use building blocks for their children because it has made a huge difference in my home.
Building blocks can help:
- Motor skill development
- Improve math skills
- Vocabulary development
Building can encourage your child’s physical, social, and cognitive skills. Most of all, it’s fun!
4. Drawing with Chalk
Drawing with chalk can be super fun and surprisingly cheap. I bought them in bulk for my children and we love playing outside drawing on the sidewalk. If you live near local parks or have sidewalks near your living area, I say this should be a must-have at home, especially if you have artsy kids. They’ll have a blast!
5. Take a Hike
A friend of mine believes hikes can be stimulating and fun. I prefer a nice brisk jog or walk with my boys but hiking seems like a great next step. Plus, it has some awesome benefits for both you and your children, like:
- lowering heart disease
- improving balancing
- building strength in your muscles (specifically those in the hips and lower legs)
I suggest starting out slow, but my children are younger which is why that’s our option. However, you can definitely start at whatever pace you and the kiddos choose.
6. Play Kickball
Kickball is a great sport to get the kids moving fast, for free! Keep them active right in the backyard.
Reading marathons can be fun and very engaging for the children. You can let them pick out a few books to read each night and make it fun and imaginative. Do themed reading times. From numbers and colors to dinosaurs and ways of transportation, you’ll be sure to have fun with reading.
8. Ride Bikes
This is definitely one of my favorites. Riding bikes has always been a great escape for me so you can just imagine how happy I’ve been to be able to invite my children on bike rides. This is also a good way to commute and lower your carbon footprint.
9. Camp Out (Indoor or Outdoor)
Whip out the s’mores and an indoor (or outdoor) tent and boom, camp out. Make a whole night of it! You can tell ghost/funny stories, watch movies, and play games. If you decide to do it outside, you can go fishing or hiking and create a whole camping trip. If you don’t want to go far, do it right in your backyard and enjoy your home campsite, free of charge.
Related: 7 Free Activities to Do With Kids
10. Movie Night!
Movie nights can be awesome! Pick a series of 3-4 really great movies, get the popcorn and candies ready, and enjoy a good ol’ fashioned movie night. Themed movie nights (like themed reading) can be fun and exciting for the kiddos. Let them pick the movies and choose different mixes and toppings for the popcorn (M&Ms and cheese popcorn seem to be the favorite in my home!)
11. Go Skating
I’m not a huge skater, but my children have quickly began to enjoy the art of skating. Ever since my oldest got his first pair of skates, I can’t get him to slow down. He’s always on the move with those skates but he enjoys and it’s free for him to go outside and skate. It’s also cheap to take him to the skate rink and let them both have some skate fun, so win-win for everyone.
12. Tell/Write Stories
If you enjoy writing or telling stories, get your children involved. Children enjoy telling and writing their own stories, especially with those active imaginations. So, have story time where they get to be the storytellers. It’s fun, enjoyable, and free.
13. Finger Painting
Another one of the creative things we do in our house is finger-painting. Children tend to light up when they get to play in paint (well, when they get to get dirty doing anything really). When they’re done finger-painting and we’re all cleaned up, we post up the pictures on their walls so they can have their recognition.
Tag! You’re it! Yes, this game costs nothing and is something that most kids really enjoy. It’s stimulating and gets the kids moving and burning energy.
15. Go Swimming
I know it’s winter and most people aren’t thinking about swimming but when it’s pretty out again, it’s most definitely time for a good swim. If you don’t have your own pool, you can always pay for a membership or ask a friend to swim in theirs.
16. Go to the Library
There’s so many fun things to do at the library, FOR FREE! For one, you get to check out books. The world of imagination is wide open for your child. Then, the library has everything from special events to book clubs. Even though it’s meant to be a quiet place, you can have endless fun at the library and still stick to your budget.
17. Enjoy Nature
Who doesn’t love nature? Just take your children outside to enjoy the luscious greenery or that nice fluffy snow. Simply take in all the beauty that nature has to offer. There’s so much for you to do out in nature. You just have to get out there in it.
18. Play Soccer
Playing soccer is a good pastime. You can play soccer with the kiddos and teach them about different soccer players. They get to learn and play. You get to stay active and save money. (Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?)
19. Build a Fort
Fort days are the best days! Want to build something but don’t have it in the budget to go buy big supplies to build for the kids? Well, no problem. Build a makeshift fort in any room of the house with sheets and blankets. It’s a blast!
20. Race Outside
Racing helps the need for competition and also gets them running around to get rid of some of that pinned up energy. I fully endorse racing. I even race against my children. It’s fun and certainly budget-friendly since it’s free.
Children love to cook, or at least I know many that love to cook. So, take the time out and either get some store-bought dough or make some homemade cookies. Either way, get creative with it and most of all let the kids have fun with it.
22. Treasure Hunt
Another one of the super creative things to get your children into is treasure hunts. Create little riddles or jokes for them to follow to get through the treasure hunt and get the treasure. The treasure can be anything that your children are interested in from candies to toys, you name it. If they’re anything like my children, they will be interested in the treasure but more excited about the process to get to the treasure.
23. Garden/Play in the Dirt
Do your children like playing in the dirt? Well, get them involved in gardening!
They can play in the dirt and learn to plant veggies, fruits, and flowers. New to gardening? That’s fine, learn with your kiddos. There’s nothing more fun than getting to learn something new with your children, especially something they could really enjoy doing.
24. Have a Dance Party
Super random but super fun for your children. My children love dance party time They get active and get to dance their little hearts out. We even try to learn new Tik Tok dances which they love since it means they get to play with their mom’s phone camera.
25. Play Video Games
Got an Xbox or Playstation in the house already? Well, at least an hour or two of game play can keep the children busy. Also if you already own a game station, it’s already factored into the budget.
I limit video games in my home because I like them to be active but when video game play is allowed, it helps them learn and I also sit with them and play. If you’re concerned about what they may get into in the video game, I definitely suggest this. It helps you stay tuned in to what they’re actually doing on the game and you get free quality time with your children.
Homemade pizzas have been a great go-to when the kids really want to cook. You can get some pizza dough, your favorite toppings, and some cheese and VOILA! You’ve got a pizza night going for the kids and they get to enjoy the art of cooking.
27. Have Arts & Crafts Time
Arts & crafts time is the greatest time for you to do creative things with the kids. There’s so much that you can create and teach them. It’s the perfect time to create things through:
- candle making
- paper mache
This is just a few of the things you can do with arts & crafts, but there’s so much more. Just think of things your children may be interested in creating.
28. Go Sightseeing
You can go sightseeing literally anywhere. I love observing things around me and I figured this might be something the kids could get into. So, on a whim, we took a ride one day to simply go sightseeing. They got to see the sights downtown. We found different parks to visit and walk around. It was lovely and they enjoyed it! Some things that you think may not be as fun for them as it is for you could turn out to surprise you.
29. Go to the Museum
The museum is a wonderful place. Also, most of them are free. You get to learn about different backgrounds of history (depending on what museum you choose to frequent) and the kids get to learn something new. It’s interesting for both of you.
30. Go to the Park
Parks are great places to sight-see and get in nature. Most of the parks are free, however, if you’re interested in going to National parks, you’ll still be paying an entrance fee. But most entrance fees are cheap and are charged per vehicle.
31. Have Pillow Fights
I know this may sound crazy, but yes, children (at least my children lol) love pillow fights. They will keep themselves busy all around the house having pillow fights. If you choose to get involved, they can be quite addictive and super fun.
32. Create Obstacle Course
When creating an obstacle course, you can make it anywhere in the house and use anything. We hop over couches, climb over (and under) beds, climb through homemade forts, hop over “lava”, and swim through water. But you can do anything with your obstacle course that will keep them moving and motivated.
33. Imagination Station
Imagination station is a great time to try creative things. It’s any time they choose during the day to enjoy their own mindful creations. Children have some of the most vast imaginations and if given time to explore it, they learn (and so do you) so much. They may even come up with questions that will baffle you but it’s so amazing to watch their little minds at work.
34. Teach Them to Play Chess
My grandfather taught me as a little girl and I used to enjoy it. I got older and eventually stopped playing the game but as I started having my children, I knew I wanted them to learn the game. So, I made it fun for them. The results are still pending so I’ll let you know as we go.
Play school is fun and helpful. It gives the children the time to be the teacher. They can teach you about what they learned and see what it’s like to be the teacher. It’s fun for them as they’ve got the control now.
36. Make Hot Cocoa
Hot cocoa time is one of the best times in my home. Especially with marshmallows! Now, there’s a great hot cocoa bomb that helps you create some fantastic hot cocoa!
The bombs are made of cocoa powder, marshmallows, sprinkles, and any other tasty treats you can place in your hot cocoa. They dissolve in the hot milk or water that you choose and you have this delicious hot cocoa. Fun to play with and even better to eat.
Are you looking for ways to get your children into volunteering while they’re young? Well, there are many volunteer places you can involved in that will cost nothing but you can enjoy your volunteer time with the kiddos. Even though there are many places for you to volunteer, make sure you check the ages since not all ages are able to volunteer everywhere. So, just do your research and get out and volunteer.
38. Visit the Zoo
The zoo isn’t free but it’s definitely cheap to visit. In some states, they do have free zoo days so make sure you check into that before you go. You might be able to enjoy a free day or two at the zoo.
The farmers market can be quite a great place. You get to meet new people, find different things, and enjoy your time as you go through. We love it.
40. Draw Pictures
Drawing pictures and letting them hang them up around the house can build some great self-esteem for children. They enjoy being able to get creative with their drawings and they love even more to praised for their creation. It can keep them occupied for a couple of hours, and you can stay within your budget.
41. Sing Karaoke
If you have little singers or noise makers in your midst, karaoke is a must! We don’t have a karaoke machine but we certainly throw on music and have our own karaoke nights. They have a blast and you get to introduce all different types of music to them.
42. Bubblebath Time!
The name should speak for itself. Bubbles and bath time. What kid doesn’t love a good bubble bath? Especially after a long dirty day! If they don’t seem too interested in partaking in bath time, you can make it special and fun for them with bathroom toys.
43. Have a Water Balloon Fight
Water balloon fights are a no-brainer anytime. The balloons are cheap and the water is free. So if you’re trying to stay on budget and keep them entertained, water balloons can be a great go-to.
44. Play Basketball
Did I mention I have all different types of balls in my home? Well, this is why. I’ve mentioned all other sports (besides football even though we own that as well) because my children are more outdoor kids. They are also super active so we play basketball in the house with our play rim and rubber basketball.
When I say think of creative things, this is one I definitely had to get creative with since there are so many places to play in the house, but I also have to protect my house. So first I used a makeshift rim and basketballs made of paper. Then we upgraded (and eventually just stuck to the bedroom) but it’s still fun for them and sticks to the budget for mom. So we all win.
45. Bake Cupcakes
Cupcakes. So delicious and so many different creative things to do with them. You can make them cream or jelly filled. Switch up the icing. Add ANY of the most delicious toppings you can think of. Just get creative. My favorite cupcake? Buttercream chocolate drop cupcakes.
I exercise, so my children exercise. They find it fun. On the days that I forget to exercise or I’m just not in the mood, my children get me pumped to exercise because they get so much excitement from doing it.
47. Bubble blowing
Yes, bubble blowing is a thing and it’s lots of fun if you have little ones. They could spend at least an hour or two simply enjoying bubbles (which is probably why my children love bubblebaths so much). I purchased big tubes of bubbles back in September of last year and I still have a supply that we are running through. It has helped me provide the fun they want and keep the budget I need to stick too.
48. Learn a Second Language
Are you interested in learning a second language? Well, get your children involved as you’re learning. If you’re already fluent in another language (or many), get your children involved in learning new languages.
My top languages for my children are:
- Mandarin Chinese
- Russian (the language has intrigued me ever since I was a little kid so I figured why not learn)
There are many apps that can help you build your language skills, and many of them are free. My top favorite is duolingo and we get involved everyday. Just find one that is truly meant for you.
49. Make Milkshakes or Smoothies
I prefer smoothies, my children prefer milkshakes. So we designate certain mornings/days that we will build a delectable concoction. You can use this as a time to try creative things out with the different foods they like. You can try anything from strawberries and bananas to kiwi and chocolate. Just give different things a try.
50. Participate in holiday activities (for free)
Looking to stay within budget during the holidays? Well, here are a few fun activities to do during the holiday season that won’t break the bank and will keep your children engaged in fun activities.
51. Build a Snowman
Cold and snowy outside? That can make for some fun times. Let the kids get out and build! Snowmen are fun to build and you can even dress them how you want. Let their imagination run wild.
I tried this out last year and it was lots of hard work but lots of fun to see the smiles on their little faces as they gutted the pumpkins. I would recommend this task to any parent looking to do something creative around the holidays with their children.
52. Decorate Cards
Decorating can be really fun and interesting, especially if you know they like to draw and paint. This is just a more enhanced step and allows them to get creative and even use emotions. Bonus for you, that budget will stay intact.
53. Build Baskets
Baskets are fun for any holiday. You can do baskets for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. You can even make holiday baskets for those college kids in your life. The baskets can be generic or very intimate, it all depends on the maker.
It’s great when they’re homemade because you control what’s in it and the price being spent. It’s fun for the kids because they simply get to be involved which is mostly what they want, choices. So, give it to them and let them be creative on a budget.
Tons of Things to Do on a Budget! What’s Your Favorite??
Consider the things you may have done as a child.
Think of creative things you may have done in school or with friends.
There’s so much you can do with your children on a budget. Even more that you can do for free. The point of doing things with your children is to cherish those moments and they always say the best things in life are free. They really are because those moments are priceless!
Are there any other things you can think of doing for free with your children?
AUTHOR LaTia Longuemire
My name is LaTia Longuemire. I enjoy writing, singing, and cooking in my spare time. My passion is helping others. At this stage in my lifetime, I'm primarily focused on my children. They are everything that keeps my world spinning.