Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published September 8th 2019
Free kids activities and games to beat the boredom
Top 21 Free Ways to Entertain the Kids at Home Keeping the children occupied can be a challenge at the best of times and even more so than during holidays. There are many places where children's fun and enjoyment is well catered for like these 50 Ideas for a Kids Day Out, but they come at a cost.
Eliminate the "I'm bored" lament with these 21 suggestions to entertain and occupy the children without having to worry about the family budget. They are all free and what's more, they can all be done at home or in your neighbourhood.
Beat the boredom with these free activities - Image by mfacchinetti from Pixabay
1. Play Simon Says.Simon Says is a game for three or more players. The person nominated as Simon gives instructions, such as "Simon says put your hands on your head," or "Simon says stamp your feet." The trick is some instructions will not be preceded by "Simon Says" such as "Jump Up." If a player does not follow a Simon Says instruction or does follow an instruction that is not preceded by Simon Says, then they are out. The last player to be out is the winner.
This is a game involving mental acuity as the children must distinguish between the true and fake instructions but it need not stop with the kids this game is suitable for any age. There is no limit to the instructions that can be given and children will find some more amusing than others – stick out your tongue, wiggle your bum, snort like a pig, or act like a monkey.
Counting down for hidey - Image by Simone Nandico from Pixabay
2. Play Hide and Seek.Hide and Seek, also referred to as Hidey or Hide and Go Seek, is an age old game thought to have originated in Greece in the second century. In the version of the game I played as a child, one person, the seeker, who is nominated to be "It", faces a wall with their eyes covered and counts off while the others hide. At the end of the count, the seeker calls "Ready or not here I come," and goes looking for the others. If they are seen, their name is called. The first to be found becomes the seeker in the next round and the last found is the winner. If nobody is found, the current seeker remains the seeker.
The duration of the count varies and I suggest it be tailored to suit the age of the players. Expect to find children behind doors, sheds or trees, beneath bushes, in wardrobes, or behind the couch. Some will be masters of concealment but others will give themselves away with giggles and excited squeals.
Hiding (perhaps) - Image by ambermb from Pixabay
3. Play Tag or Chasey. In Tag or Chasey the person nominated as "It" chases after the other players. Once they manage to touch or tag another player calling "You're It," that player becomes "It" and sets about trying to tag someone else. This is a great energy-sapping game as it continues until the children are sick of it and the person who is "It" at the end of the game is the loser.
4. Play Blind Man's Bluff. In Blind Man's Bluff is similar to hide and seek but players hide in plain sight as the seeker, the person nominated as "It" is blindfolded and spun around a couple of times. The object is for "It" to tag the other players. In my day, the players would call "Hot" as "It" got nearer of "Cold" if they moved further away. Once a player is caught they take on the blindfold.
This game is thought to have been around for more than 2,000 years and has given rise to many variants but regardless of which version the children play, it is all about the fun. I recommend this be played in a large open room or in the yard, so the blindfolded player has nothing to fall over.
I spy with my liitle eye - Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
5. Play I Spy with My Little Eye. I Spy with My Little Eye is a game that can be played anywhere. Our family used to play it in the car on a long trip. (Way better than listening to "Are we there yet?") The children can play it in the family room or the backyard or if you want them to expend some energy, why not combine it with a walk around the neighbourhood.
To play the game the starter chooses a secret object, for example, a bucket. They then offer a clue, "I spy with my little eye something beginning with B.". The first person to guess the answer gets to choose the next object. If nobody guesses the first person chooses something else.
6. Origami and Paper Planes. Origami can be as simple or as complex as you like and has probably already been tackled by your children in the form of a paper plane. Many examples use coloured paper but if you don't have any, get your children to colour or decorate the paper themselves. Click here for or instructions for kid's origami bookmarks, paper boats, fish, frogs, flowers, swans, and more.
Keep them busy with origami - Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay
7. Decorate a Jar With Cut Outs from Magazines. Children can make a holder for their pencils from an old jar or can. To decorate it and make it their own, they cut coloured pictures from magazines into small mosaic pieces and paste these on the jar or can overlap each with another. My mother used to decorate used jam jars in this way and make containers for the kitchen. (Recycling is not new.)
So don't throw away that Vegemite or Nutella jar; it can become a craft project and be repurposed on your child's desk.
8. Paper Maché. Children can create so much with paper mache. I remember making heads for puppets when I was young. All you need is newspaper and paste and you can make the paste yourself. Click here for the glue recipe and some paper mache basic instructions or click here to learn how to make paper mache bowls.
9. Write a Story. Encourage your child to explore their imagination and write a story or perhaps draw one if that's their preference. But if you have more than one child, you can foster togetherness and team-building with a collaborative writing exercise, sometimes called snowball writing.
One child begins the story and then each takes turns adding to it. This can be a lot of fun and often gets quite silly leaving the children giggling. It might be prudent to put a limit of one or two sentences on each piece, so all the children have a fair turn.
Nurture your budding author or illustrator - Image by klimkin from Pixabay
10. Dress Ups. Dress ups are popular with younger children. This can be as simple as putting on mum and dad's clothing or it can be enhanced with homemade accessories. You could help make an eye mask or a crown from cardboard. Children might like to make animal masks for themselves; all you need is cardboard, coloured pencils or paints and some string or ribbon to tie it on.
Click here for 12 printable animal mask templates for your child to colour and cut out.
Children love dress ups - Image by Randhir Kumar from Pixabay
11. Put on a Play or a Puppet Show. In this day and age of selfies and the commonality of public profiles give your children something special to record. Invite them to put on a play and record it. They can act out a favourite story. A story they wrote themselves or simply improvise.
If they are a bit shy they might be encouraged to find their voice through puppets. No puppets, no problem. Grab an old sock. Mark eyes and a nose on the top near the toe section. We used to sew buttons on for the eyes. The child simply slips the sock over there arm. Pushes the toe section backwards between their fingers and thumb to form a mouth and they are ready to go. You might like to share the finished work with grandparents or on social media. Don't forget how much fun you can have with it at the 21st birthday party.
12. Have a Picnic in the Back Yard. You don't need to leave home to go for a picnic. The novelty of a picnic on the back lawn might be enough to get the children involved. They can help lay out the blanket, take out plates and food and drink. Perhaps the neighbours and their children would like to join in.
If the backyard isn't enough of a novelty, take a trip to the local park. Take the football or cricket gear along if there's space for a game. It could become the beginning of a lovely afternoon out and best of all its free.
Picnic in the backyard - Image by Karl-Heinz Karisch from Pixabay
13. Cook Biscuits with the Children's Help. Turn your kitchen into a mini master chef venue. Get the children to help cook their favourite biscuits. What child doesn't enjoy immersing the hands into biscuit dough or cutting or moulding the biscuit shapes?
Click here for some recipes the kids can help with and enjoy including rainbow cookies, pink flower cookies and honey jumble biscuits.
Reward junior cooks with biscuits they made themselves - Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
14. Visit the Local Playground. Find out where your local playground is and take the children there for an hour or so. If the playground is in a nice park, you could also combine this with a picnic lunch and some of the games – tag, hidey, blind man's bluff. Many playgrounds have seating for the parents to watch on and equipment that appeals to older children as well as toddlers.
15. Have a Bird Spotting Competition. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood or local park and keep the children occupied spotting birds. You could make it a competition to see who spots the most species or just the most birds. You might like to set challenges, like find a black and white bird or find a multicoloured bird.
This will help spark an interest in the outdoors, make the children more aware of what is around them and could be the seed of a lifelong interest in bird watching. There are a number of free phone apps available to help identify birds, such as the Australian Birds Guide which is available for Android from the Google Play Store or for iOS via the Apple Store.
Look up and spot the birds - Image by Pezibear from Pixabay
16. Homemade Bubble Soap. Making soap bubbles is an ageless endeavour and could be made more interesting with some healthy competition. How long will the bubbles last, (probably not very long if you've got a toddler in the family)? How big can they make the bubbles? How high will the bubbles go?
You can keep a supply of bubble soap o the ready with some homemade bubble soap. There are many recipes on the internet for making bubble solutions but click here for a simple one. Once you've got your bubble mixture you'll need a bubble wand; you might want to try one of these suggestions.
Bouncing around with bubbles - Image by BanJo_89 from Pixabay
17. Homemade Paste or Glue. Craft projects are a great way to keep the children occupied but you don't always have a bottle of paste on the ready or what you do have has dried up. No need to fret, it's way easier to make paste than you might think. There are a variety of recipes but this is the one my mother used to use. Mix flour and water together until it is lump free and the consistency of thickened cream, put it in a saucepan on medium heat and stir until it boils, then let it cool. Click here for more recipes and different types of glue.
With a good supply of paste on hand, you can keep the children occupied with a variety of craft projects. Click here for inspiration.
Make play dough and they can get creative - Image by LMoonlight from Pixabay
18. Homemade Play Dough. Children love play dough; in my day we used plasticine. This homemade recipe from Danielle DB of Fun Learning for Kids is quick and easy and can be made up in any quantity or colour you choose. If your dough ends up sticky, sprinkle some flour on the bench and knead the dough, adding flour until the stickiness is gone.
All that's left to do now is present your children with an ample supply of dough and let your children's imagination run free.
In the Back Yard 19. Take a Cutting and Plant It. Nurture the gardener in your child. Show them how to take a cutting from one of your garden plants. Try to choose a plant that will grow easily and quickly. Geraniums, ivy, fuchsias, lavender, rosemary and succulents are good choices. Take some dirt from the garden and a small pot. If you don't have a spare pot, you can make one by cutting down a soft drink bottle or by putting drain holes in the base of a can or just plant the cutting directly in the garden.
To make it a more personal experience, your child can paint their pot. If their plant is in the garden, place a little marker in front with their name. You might even get them to measure the height of their plant and chart its growth to keep them interested.
Plant a cutting - Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
20. Have a Treasure Hunt. Organise a treasure hunt in your yard. Hide objects around the yard. You can make a list for your child to tick off as they find the items. This could be a competition where the winner is the first to find all the items.
Possible hiding places include could include in the low branches of trees, in pots, in the peg basket, in the watering can, in the letterbox, behind a table leg, under an outdoor chair cushion, in the pocket of clothes on the line, on a windowsill, in the cubby house, and in the dog's kennel.
Plan a backyard treasure hunt - Image by M W from Pixabay
21. Make a Hopscotch Grid . Get the children going on a game of hopscotch. You can draw a hopscotch grid on the driveway or path with chalk or on the lawn with paint or flour.
The first play throws a token (a stone, a coin, a bottle top, a button) into the first square. They then hop through the course missing the square with the token. The player hops in single squares and straddles the double squares. Once the home space is reached, the player turns and hops back through the course to the square before the token, they pick up the marker and return to the start. They then cast the token into the second square and repeat the course. This continues until the whole course is completed or the player is out. The player is out if the token lands in the wrong square, they step on a line, they step in the square with the token, they miss a square, they lose their balance, or they put both feet done instead of hopping.
A hopscotch court - Image by Maryline Capdaspe from Pixabay