Who else is always on the hunt for activities to entertain the littles? Consider your search over; we've got ten easy things to do with kids coming your way. Spoiler alert: these ideas are cheap and FUN!
We love spending time with our kiddos, but sometimes we feel like we're out of ideas! Keeping the little ones busy is a full-time job some days. And it feels like “I'm bored” is always coming out of someone's mouth. Can you relate?
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Well, say hello to your new favorite blog post. We're about to share ten EASY and cheap things to do with kids. And don't worry; these activities require very little planning! Let's do this, you guys.
EASY THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS & WATER
Kids and water just go together, right? While water by itself is fun, we like to take our water play up a notch. Letting children focus on other things while having fun with water is a total win! Check out these ideas.
ICE AND POURING ACTIVITIES
This easy activity is perfect for warm days when you don’t have the time or energy to pack everyone up for a swimming adventure.
- Mixing bowl to hold ice and water
- Pouring cups, funnels, etc.
Just fill any size bowl with ice and water. Grab some small medicine cups, funnels, measuring spoons, and anything else you can think of that would be fun. Put this activity outside, if you can, for maximum fun and minimum stress!
For an extra challenge, give your kids a second empty bowl and have them separate the ice cubes. That will keep them busy for a while, and they'll love it!
The great thing about this activity is you can suit it to fit your needs! You could also grab some jumbo tweezers for them to pick up the ice with. It's not only tons of fun, but it helps your kids with their fine motor skills!
Pro Tip: Add in an extra fun element by freezing these cute little sea creatures in the ice cubes and “rescuing” them by squirting water on the ice cubes with some eye droppers like these.
TOY WASHING STATIONS
Get all of your toys squeaky clean, and give the kids something to do! There are a few ways that this can go down.
- Toys that like soap and water
- Sponges, silicone brushes, dishwashing brushes, wash rags, etc.
Grab a couple of buckets, one for the toys and one for soapy water. Then put them outside so that the kids can go to town! You don't have to worry about soap and water going everywhere when they're outside, and it's okay if they get soaked while they're doing it.
If the weather's not so great, you can bring this activity inside. Just fill up your sink with soap and water and dump the toys in like the classy mama you are! Or even better, you can put them in the bathtub with their toys! You end up with clean toys AND clean kids; now that's a win-win! Don’t forget to hand over any sponges or brushes they may need and bask in the glow of the (mostly) quiet toy wash.
WATER BEADS ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
If you haven’t seen these little babies yet, you are in for a real treat! Water beads were originally made to fill vases, but some genius along the way realized what a fabulous sensory activity they made for kids. We can attest that this is true! Our kids love these beautiful, water-filled marbles, and, honestly, so do we.
- Water beads* – we love these water beads
- Mixing bowl, water table, kiddie pool, whatever brings you the most joy!
- Fun cups and tools
We have seen other mamas fill water tables with these, which looks like such a good time. We usually just stick to a large mixing bowl and some cups for scooping and pouring. These tools are also really fun to use with the water beads, and they add an extra fine motor skills aspect.
*A quick word of warning: these are not for eating and are a choking hazard. Supervise your kids well, and don’t let your younger kids play with them if you are concerned about the potential risk.
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS AROUND THE HOUSE
If you're looking for some fun things to do with kids that don't involve water, then we've got you covered! Maybe you just don't feel like dealing with the water mess. You don't have to explain yourself. We get it, girl! Check out these fun ideas using free stuff for kids (or, in some cases, FREE).
STICKERS = PRICELESS CHEAP STUFF FOR KIDS
We know some of you successfully potty trained with stickers instead of candy bribery, and that’s so great! But, the others of you (ahem, us) had to bring out the Skittles, gummy worms, and M&M’s and ended up with a WHOLE lot of leftover stickers.
- Any stickers that you have. The more, the merrier!
This is the moment to make them work for you! Gather up any stickers you have – leftover and half-empty sheets are exactly what we are looking for here. Give the stickers and a few sheets of paper to your kids and back away slowly. Just make sure that you don't go too far since supervision is still definitely recommended.
Pro Tip: Put a plastic tablecloth down before letting the free-reign stickering begin so you don't have any stickers accidentally applied to your table.
PAINT IN A BUCKET ACTIVITIES
Anyone else have kids who are obsessed with painting? Anyone else majorly un-obsessed with the necessary prep or, worse yet, the clean-up? We see those hands raised! We are here to solve your woes with this handy little trick we like to call “paint in a bucket.” Yup, it’s basically what it sounds like.
- A bucket or tote that you don't mind getting paint on
- Leftover or dollar store paint
- Unloved hard toys (i.e., dinosaurs, trucks, cars, etc.)
We're guessing you already know what the second step is, but just in case, we'll give you all the deets. We used leftover dollar store paint and brushes to give those darling dinos a major rainbow upgrade. By keeping the objects in a bucket, much less paint ends up everywhere else, which is ALWAYS a win.
Go around the house and find random things you wouldn't mind your kid painting. We had a couple of dinosaurs that our kids have not been totally jazzed about lately, so we figured they might look a bit better with a little paint, anyways. You can use old matchbox cars, leftover paper towel rolls, or anything else you think might be fun to paint and put that in a bucket.
Pro Tip: Move this activity outside for an even easier clean-up, but don’t forget to add a tarp if you’re feeling particularly concerned.
TONG TOY CLEAN UP
Okay, we can sense your skepticism, but trust us on this one! In a desperate moment, when we had a messy house and fussy, bored kids, we handed out kitchen tongs. Then we asked our kids to use those tongs to pick toys. AND THEY DID.
- A messy house
- Organizational toy cabinets, baskets, or buckets
This activity is perfect for Lego clean-up, which we happen to think is even worse more than folding laundry. That's saying something, right?!
Pro Tip: Turn on some dancing music, and watch how quickly your happy little kiddos clean up the house.
ABC OR COLOR MATCHING ACTIVITY
This is a great one for those of you who have preschool-aged children. Most moms of young children own some kind of ABC flashcard set. If not, have no fear; a few pieces of paper cut into four parts with the alphabet written on them will do just fine for this activity. We love handmade!
- ABC Flashcards (handmade or store-bought)
- Alphabet fridge magnets, ABC robots, or anything ABC
In addition to ABC flashcards, you'll need something in the ballpark of ABC fridge magnets or ABC robots like we like to use! But if you don't have anything of the sort, you could even use pipe cleaners to make letters – it's an activity open for creativity! Don't let not having the exact item slow you down here!
Pro Tip: For a simpler version of this activity, do color matching instead. This is great for younger children! Color on quarter-size pieces of paper and help the children (as needed) find items around the house to match each color!
How many of you out there have attempted to make slime from Pinterest on a rainy day and had it go, let’s say, poorly? Hey, it happens. And that's why we're this one with you. The best part? This “recipe” has only two ingredients.
- Optional: Small toys, cups, etc.
Cornstarch and water mixed at the correct ratio (don't worry, it's pretty foolproof!) make a fabulously fun concoction that we lovingly refer to as white slime. It's one of our favorite easy things to make! Begin adding cornstarch to a large mixing bowl. Start with around 1 cup and add water slowly, a few tablespoons at a time. The key here is not to add too much water, or it'll leave you with milky-colored water that is very much not slime. Stir as you go!
Pro Tip: You can also add glitter to make a sparkly kind of slime. *Note* this version does not clean up as easily as the mixture without glitter.
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS TO GET YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house, but you don't necessarily want to spend any money. Here are a few fun things to do with kids that will work their brains without touching the wallet!
NATURE WALK OR BACKYARD HUNT
Sometimes the only thing to do to survive the long afternoon is to get moving and head outside. We love making a list of items we’d like to find while we are out, such as little rocks, small flowers, and leaves of different varieties!
- Optional: Paper and pen(cil) for list-making
- Optional: Small baggies for each child to keep treasures they find along the way
A word of advice: bring along baggies so the kids can collect their items. Otherwise, you'll end up having to hold it all for them. You know what we're talking about! They feel so much pride in creating a collection of items they find beautiful and interesting along the walk.
If you are like us and have a baby napping in the afternoon, you can also do this activity in the backyard to keep an eye on the monitor.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to label the baggies, or you might encounter some sibling squabbling if the bags get mixed up. We may or may not know this from experience!
THINGS TO DO WITH KIDS AT THE LIBRARY
Now, you may have heard of this place with air conditioning and free books… Ha! Our kids are book obsessed, and though we own so, so, SO many, there's nothing quite like the allure of the NEW. So, we head over to our local library quite a bit. Literally, there are so many fun activities at the library!
- Library card
Our favorite books to help the kids find are actually non-fiction rather than storybooks. The more pictures, the better for kids who aren't quite at the reading stage yet. We particularly love books about animals, Legos, and nature.
Pro Tip: Bring individual book bags for each child to carry their own books (assuming they are old enough to handle the weight). We find it helps the older ones put more thought into their selections when they have to carry the books themselves. (#RaisingCapableKids)
Are you ready for fun? If you need more cheap and easy things to do with kids, be sure to “like” our Fun Cheap or Free Facebook page. We're always sharing tips! What are your favorite things to do with kids? We'd love to hear more ideas in the comments, so keep them coming!
Do you need a few more kid-related ideas?
- Find out how Jordan handles extracurricular activities for her kids.
- Check out Jordan's morning survival tips!
- Want to get your baby to sleep through the night without crying it out? Find out what Jordan does!
Have fun with your mini-Freebs!