18 Budget Friendly Activities For Kids A Home

Wondering how to keep your kids entertained this summer with fun activities that are cheap or free? Here are 18 fun activities for kids at home to do that will cost next to nothing!

list of inexpensive summer kids activities kids can do at home

Trying to keep kids and tweens from getting bored during summer vacation is always challenging, no matter what. But if your family is on a tight budget, it can also be stressful.

I mean, there are only so many walks to take and board games to play. And if there is simply no money for vacations and trips to expensive amusement parks, being able to successfully find inexpensive or better yet, free summer activities to keep kids busy and happy during summer vacation is like finding a left-over chocolate bar from Halloween. (Just saying.)

So what to do when kids start complaining that they are bored?  Which usually happens when the second day of summer vacation rolls around.

Here are 18 cheap summer Diy crafts, projects, and activities for kids they will love and will keep them busy. At least for a little while, so you can catch your breath, countdown the days till school starts again, and you are picking up backpacks off the floor !

Get my  Free Printable Summer Checklists For Kids. There are Two Printables to Choose From  (or Just Print Out Both Checklists!)

kids playing tag on summer night

1. Flashlight Tag

Take advantage of the longer summer nights by grabbing a delicious summer drink, and heading outside to watch the kids play Flashlight Tag. Not only will they have fun, but it will also help burn off some energy before bedtime. Kids can happily run around with safe kid-friendly flashlights as they try to tag each other (remember playing tag when you were little?)

child playing hide and seek

2. Hide N Seek With a Twist (or The Sardine Game)

This version of hide-n-seek has only one person hide, while the other kids all search. When someone finds the child who is hiding, they join him. As more kids find the hiding spot, they get more squished. Just like sardines in a can.

The game continues until the last 'seeker' finds the kids that are hiding.

kids summer at home activity mystery drink challenge

3. Do a Mystery Beverage Challenge

Have kids and their friends guess what drink they are drinking while wearing blindfolds. Just like those soda challenges, we would see on TV a few years ago. But instead of soda, use juices that have been mixed together with other juices, lemonade mixed with juice, flavored waters, chocolate milk mixed with strawberry milk.

Get creative and invent different kinds of fun drink concoctions so kids will have even more fun guessing what drinks they are drinking.

4. Have a Daily Family Skill Challenge

Yep, this is one for parents too. It is always more fun when everyone in the family is involved, right mamas? Pick a new skill for each week, like the hula hoop, juggling, standing on one foot the longest, playing an instrument, or whatever you can think of.

Have everyone takes turns demonstrating how well they are doing with their new skill every day (keep the kiddos busy!)

Then have a family contest at the end of the week to proclaim a champion of the new skill. The new champion can pick the new skill for the next week as well. 

Photo Courtesy of Red Ted Art

5. Make Crafts With Bubble Wrap

When my boys were younger they used to love playing with bubble wrap. They could never get enough of popping those bubbles.

But kids can use bubble wrap to make adorable bubble wrap crafts as well. Yep, bubble wrap is not just for jumping on anymore.

 Get some creative ideas for bubble wrap crafts kids will love making this summer.

6. Toilet Paper Mummies

I know, this uses up the toilet paper.  You could probably recycle some of the toilet paper if the kids don't destroy it all as they play the game. Or maybe get really creative and find other materials to wrap the "mummies" with?

But the good news is that the kids will have fun. And you, busy mama, will get a break.

Wrap toilet paper around them until they are covered, just like mummies. Then listen to them laugh as they try to walk around the house.

Photo: Courtesy of Our Pastimes.com

7. Play a Game of Freeze Tag

Do you remember playing freeze tag? If not, it is a classic game for kids of all ages and can be played indoors or outdoors. Freeze tag has many variations as well, such as dance free tag and team free tag.

Get a quick refresher on how to play Freeze Tag if you have never played or forgot the rules of the game.

Then next time your kids moan about having nothing to do, suggest a game of freeze tag for an instant boredom buster.

Of course, kids have more fun when parents join in (just a thought.)

8. Set Up a Kids Car Wash for Bikes and Scooters 

Turn up the water and suds and let the kids soak each other as well as their toys. This can be an especially fun backyard activity on hot days. The kids can cool off and their toys can get cleaned. 

9. Have a Feather Challenge

Give kids a feather, and have a contest to see who can keep their feather in the air the longest by blowing on it.

10. Hunt the Thimble

This old fashioned indoor kids game goes way-way back but countless variations of this game are still played today.

One person will hide the thimble in a room (or any object will do the trick) and the other kids will, of course, try to find it. The winner gets to hide the object in the next round.


11. Let The Kids Make Their Own Summer Checklist of Things to Do

Have the kids write down all the ideas of free things they can do this summer. They can write their ideas on paper, or get creative with Legos as a fun twist to paper, and put them in a large jar.

I have two free Bucketlist Printables with more ideas for stuff kids can do this summer to stay busy. And you can also print out a blank version that kids can fill in themselves. Or print out both!

Brainstorming different fun activities should keep kids busy for a while itself.

Then, whenever you hear "I'm Bored!", get out the jar and let your kids pick an activity.

12. Make a Mini-Golf Course in the Backyard

You may need to let the kids do a little digging (but, hey, that is another awesome free thing that will keep them un-bored.) The point is to make holes that small plastic cups can fit inside.

Those will be the holes kids will try to hit golf balls into. Have fun "designing" your own backyard golf course with as many holes as the kids want to dig (or until you do not want any more holes in your backyard. Whichever comes first.)

Dollar stores usually sell plastic golf clubs for kids, especially during summer, so if you need some, head to your local dollar store.

13. Make DIY Toy Parachutes

Remember those little parachute men toys that seem to be in every birthday party favor bag there for a while?

Check out this tutorial that shows how kids can make their own DIY toy parachute. Kids will have a blast making their own parachutes and then playing with them. Double bonus.

Pretty much all kids need to make their own toy parachute craft are paper napkins and string. Oh, and a little toy figure (maybe a lego person?) to hold on to the parachute of course.

With a little supervision and help on your part, and kids can build their own toy parachutes in no time. And then you get a break while they play.

Photo Courtesy of artful parent.com

14. Make Salt Puffy Paint

Make your own easy homemade puffy paint recipe uses ingredients you probably have at home already: salt, water, flour, and food coloring (or tempera paint works too.)

Then you get to relax while your little Picassos get busy creating amazing masterpieces.

Maybe you can even walk away from all the activity for a minute if your kids are old enough.

(Not too far, of course. Maybe to the kitchen to make an easy delicious alcohol free mocktail).

15. Make DIY Funny Face Flip Books

 This summer activity is perfect for older kids. It is easy to put together this funny face flipbookand everyone in the family is going to love them.

The younger your kids will need help making their flipbooks, but that is okay because these funny face flipbooks will keep kids happily entertained for hours.

Photo Courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe

16. Make The. Best. Ever. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwiches

If this chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream sandwiches recipe doesn't chase away the summer boredom blues, then I don't know what will.

They. Are. Amazing.

Tweens will love (I mean, who wouldn't??) making this recipe. And of course, they will love eating them even more.

Why not make these special treats and celebrate with a tween summer slumber party??

You will get a break from the "I'm Bored" mantra for a while. And a delicious dessert.

Photo Courtesy of Made With Happy

17. DIY Easy Orange Bird Feeder

As far as DIY bird feeders go, this orange bird feeder is pretty darn cool. Even big kids will think it is a cool project (I think, anyway.)

And an additional perk that comes with this easy summer craft for tweens and kids, (besides eating juicy oranges) is that the kids may just become avid bird watchers over the summer.

Okay, maybe avid is a bit much to hope for. But you know, looking out for bird visitors may keep the kids busy here and there.

Photo Courtesy of Little Bins For Little Hands

18. Make Watermelon Volcanoes

Science projects can make awesome boredom busters, especially if they are as cool as this watermelon volcano experiment.

Gather the supplies for this experiment, which you likely have at home in your kitchen already, and watch for the oohs and aahs this summer activity gets from the kids.

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@2023 HappyHealthyFamilies.com. All Rights Reserved.