8 Fun Ways to Keep Kids Busy for Free

A mother holding two children, both in white polo shirts

We all know those days that drag on forever, causing you to lose count of how many times your kids whine, “We’re booooooored!” It’d be easy to take everyone out to the movies or the zoo, but you’re trying to save money, not spend it. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to keep your kids busy without spending a single cent (or sticking them in front of a screen).

1. Volunteer Together

You don’t need money to help others! Not only will volunteer work keep your kids occupied, it will teach them valuable lessons and help them appreciate what they do have. Check out local community service organizations and churches for volunteering opportunities like these:

  • Man a lemonade stand/baked goods table
  • Contribute to Meals on Wheels by making placemats or helping assemble the meals
  • Walk the dogs at a local animal shelter
  • Pick up trash at parks and playgrounds

2. Enjoy the Great Outdoors

If the walls of your house seem to be closing in, get outside! Go on a bike ride, play with sidewalk chalk, fly a kite, gaze at the stars, or just take a stroll around the neighborhood. Any change of scenery helps alleviate boredom, but the options are endless if you really connect with nature. Encourage your children to draw the insects, plants, and animals they find or create a “secret map” of the area.

3. Get Crafty (Literally)

If it’s too rainy, hot, or chilly to get outside, use crafts to save the day. It only takes a few clicks on Google to find hundreds of age-appropriate crafts, but here are some tools to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Homemade play dough
  • Popsicle stick houses
  • A cardboard box fort
  • Paint
  • Paper and scissors (for Pre-K and Kindergarten kids)
  • A treasure hunt

4. Check Out the Local Library

It’s easy to forget about this completely free institution that just about every community possesses. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, the library has something for everyone! Books, movies, computer programs, and plenty of events organized by age group. Check out your library’s website to visit for book readings, game nights, or simply to browse for some new books.

5. Explore Nearby Parks

You probably have more playgrounds and parks in your area than you realize! You can either bring your children to let them run free, or enjoy a structured activity like a hike or picnic. Either way, you’ll pass a few enjoyable hours in fresh air.

6. Try Home-Made Science Experiments

Children love to experiment, especially when they get to take control. Research a few age-appropriate ideas and supply the tools and ingredients. Whether you’re the ringleader or the silent chaperone, your children will have a blast.

7. Dig Out Old Toys

Sometimes the best solution is the easiest: take old, dusty toys off the shelf, like that box of Legos or fake kitchen food. They’ll feel new to your kids and keep them busy while you get a few things done around the house.

8. Throw a Dance Party

When all else fails, throw on some fun music and just dance. Let your kids pick their favorite songs, pretend to be a DJ, make up dance moves, and take requests. No prep or organization needed! As an added bonus, all that dancing might tire your children out and lead the way to an hour of quiet time.

You really don’t need extra cash to keep your children busy, engaged, and happy. Add to this list of ideas over time with your own tricks, and you’ll find those dreaded “I’m booooored” whines just fade away.

Don’t wait to get out of debt! Read this: A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide to Get Out of Debt.