The entertainment category of a budget can easily get expensive, especially when you add kids onto the tab. The good news – it doesn’t have to be. Here is a list of fun things to do with kids on a budget, and solve the never-ending, “I’m bored” declarations from your kids!
A quick thanks goes out to Mary Ann Stenquist who very kindly guest posted this list for me.
Mary Ann Stenquist is a mom and blogger with a passion for saving money. She created Money Makeunder in an effort to teach young people how to spend less on daily expenses to make room in the budget for more important things in life.
When is the last time you pulled out some of the games in your closet? It’s time to get those puzzles, board games out that have just been sitting unused. Teach your kids the games from your childhood so they can become their childhood games!
If you haven’t been to your local library in ages, you need to check it out. You might be surprised by all of the things they have to offer! At my local library, they have movies available to rent as well as eBooks, eAudiobooks, and magazines or newspapers that you can download to your device.
I get it isn’t high on the list of fun things to do with kids but I guarantee you it is more fun then you think.
Visit Local Attractions
Have you been to all of the popular destinations in your town? Here in Utah, we have the Hill Air Force Base Museum and The Clark Planetarium that are free admission and great for kids to learn and explore! Bring lunch from home so you can spend the day at the attractions and reduce the need to eat out.
When it comes to fun things to do with kids, finding something in your home town is almost ideal.
Go to a Local Park
The park is one of my daughter’s favourite places to go to. We are lucky to have a park close by that we can walk to from our house. We always pack a lot of water and snacks just in case kids get hungry! Make a playdate out of it where you and your kids can enjoy time with friends and enjoy the weather.
Bring the Outdoors In
Camping doesn’t need to be a long weekend in the mountains. It can be a simple camp in your backyard or even your front room! We did this when our daughter was a year and a half. We set up our tent in the backyard and spent the night camping!
The best part was that instead of not getting any sleep with a toddler that can happen camping, we just put her in her room for the night with a monitor to check on her.
Make it memorable with a movie night in the tent – and don’t forget the s’mores! No bonfire required. Cook the marshmallows over a gas stove or even go mini with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.
Make Your Own Water Park
One year we decided to get a water toy from the store to let our daughter cool off in our backyard. Unfortunately, so did everyone in the valley because all the water toys were sold out.
Instead of giving up on the idea altogether, we decided to use what we had at home. We filled shallow storage bins to create a ‘wading pool’ for our daughter and turned on the sprinklers.
Our daughter could have cared less that the water toys were thrown together last minute and got to enjoy cooling off on a hot summer day.
As you can see fun things to do with kids can be a complete spur of the moment ideas that don’t need to cost any money at all.
Visit a Museum
Whether it’s a natural history museum or an art museum, it is important to introduce kids to new things. They might surprise you with just how much they enjoy it!
With the different types of museums available, you are sure to find one to suit your needs.
Make Phone Calls to Family
Technology these days makes even the longest distances only a phone call away. And with cameras and video, you can help your kids connect with your parents and their grandparents from far away.
Although this doesn’t always top the list of fun things to do with kids they are always going to love chatting to their grandparents.
Growing up, movie nights were a regular occurrence – but with my family, I want to provide my kids with a ‘theatre experience’ once in a while without paying movie theatre pricing.
Allow them to choose a treat and a drink from the Dollar Tree that they can only open in the home theatre, and snag some reusable popcorn buckets to add to the experience! Check out my Dollar Tree post for more Dollar Tree deals.
My husband and I had a staycation before kids came along, but will definitely repeat the event with kids. A staycation is simply going for a vacation at a local destination.
For us, this was Park City. We chose to rent a hotel room for a day and saw the sites in Park City.
We enjoyed the pool and hot tub and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast offered at the hotel. It was an experience to remember and cost us less than $80 since we went during the off-season.
It is one of those fun things to do with kids that can make it seem like a big adventure for them when in reality it cost you as much as a family trip out to eat.
It’s important that kids learn how to serve in their local community. Whether it’s picking up trash at the park or baking goodies for your local police department, you and your kids will learn how good it feels to serve others.
If you aren’t sure what volunteering opportunities are available in your area, search online to find opportunities near you.
Visit an Animal Shelter
Growing up my family would always visit our local animal shelter or pet store to see the animals. Since it was a smaller store, we were allowed to pet, hold, and play with the animals in the centre.
Careful though, you might come home with a new pet after your visit!
When I was little, iron-on bead creations were the ‘cool thing’ to do for crafts. Pull your kids away from their screens to enjoy crafting and creating together.
If you are worried about lacking the storage to store the crafts or future crafts, simply take a picture to create an album of artwork for your kids to enjoy later.
One of the fun things to do with kids is to take them to a craft store and let their imagination run wild as they pick out their own craft items to get started on.
Let kids experience the great outdoors! Go on a hike or teach them how to fish or garden. Whatever it is, they will enjoy spending time together as a family in nature.
Cook in the Kitchen
The best way to get kids involved in cooking is by giving them a chance to play around. Bake a cake, cookies, or maybe even some healthy food options.
If a child was writing about fun things to do with kids then licking the spoon after mixing would be top of the list.
I still remember this slime from when I played with it for the first time in elementary school. It becomes a solid form when moulded in your hands, and a liquid form when left to pool in your hand.
The recipe is easy: corn starch, water, and food colouring that you mix together for the desired consistency. Your kids will love it, and you will love the minimal mess!
Go Out for a Treat Instead of Dinner
Eating out with kids can be expensive. Instead of eating out for the main course, just go out for dessert. If you are on a tight budget, go for $1 cones! Even something as simple as an ice cream cone can become a treasured tradition.
Do a Day Hike
Go for a hike as a family and bring supplies for a small fire and hot dogs to roast over the fire. It will be a break from the normal routine and get you and your family out in nature!
Go for a Bike Ride
Pull out those bikes from the garage and go for a bike ride! If your kids haven’t learned yet, take the opportunity to teach them.
Share Your Hobbies and Interests
My dad had many hobbies, one of them was stargazing. I loved having him teach me about the stars and still look up at the night sky to try and spot Mars and other constellations.
Teach your kids some of your hobbies. Even if they don’t share your interests, they will enjoy spending quality time with you.
Fun things to do with kids can be just as enjoyable for you the parents as well remember.
Grab a coin and hop in the car. Heads means Right, Tails means Left. Let each person flip the coin to see where fate takes you! And there is always the adventure of getting back home, but you can use Google Maps for that.
Have Fun With Chalk
Get some chalk from the store and create sidewalk art as a family! Pick a theme so that your artwork tells a story.
Visit a Farm or Petting Zoo
Kids love animals and love getting the chance to pet them! Give them the opportunity at a local farm or petting zoo.
Have Family Reading Time
When was the last time you or your kids enjoyed a book not related to work or school? Take time for each person to read a book of their choosing, or read the same book out loud. It will create great memories and a fondness for reading.
Visit a Historical Site
Teach your kids the importance of history while they are young. They will learn to treasure their heritage at an early age.
So many of our photos these days are all on our phones. Why not take the opportunity to get them printed and put into a scrapbook! You can even go with a digital scrapbook if you prefer.
Whatever you do, find a place for family memories. It is so fun to look back on these when your kids are older and reminisce on old times.
There are so many fun things to do with kids. Take advantage of these fun and cheap activities while your kids are still young enough to enjoy them! Comment below with your favourite ways to entertain kids on a budget.