Whenever I share articles about keeping kids occupied with fun activities, I also like to add a bit of a disclaimer.
It’s ok for kids to be bored. In fact, it’s an important part of child development.
But, there is nothing wrong (especially if you have younger children) to suggest fun activities from time to time.
So, here is a list of 19 games and activities for kids that are completely free or only have a nominal cost for supplies if you don’t happen to have everything lying around the house.
While many of these activities may seem simple, they are packed with natural learning opportunities!
And they are perfect for rainy or snowy days as they can all be done indoors!
19 FREE GAMES TO PLAY WITH KIDS
Click on any of the underlined headings for more information.
Cards are inexpensive and can keep children occupied for quite some time.
There are many simple games you can play that are great for children ages 3 and up.
For example, Memory, Go Fish, War, Old Maid, etc.
Simple card games for kids are perfect for teaching children about rules and being a gracious winner.
This is also a good time to work on how not to be a sore loser!
If your little one is bored of the puzzles you have around the house, why not make your own!
It’s a craft and activity in one.
Make sure you get your toddler involved in painting the paper plates.
Once your plate is decorated and ready to go, cut it out into various shapes, just like a puzzle!
Talk about the colors you are going to use!
Games like Simon Says are great for younger children, while Monsteropoly will be a hit with the older ones!
There are so many simple cookies you can make with your children.
A favorite in our house are 5 ingredient flourless peanut butter cookies!
This is a great way to use up broken crayons and re-purpose them!
Accident Free Balance Beam
This activity is so simple but lots of fun!
All you need is some masking tape or duct tape and a carpeted floor (it’s softer and your floor won’t be left with tape residue).
Decide how wide and long you want the balance beam and then tape the outline on the floor.
Your little one can practice walking on it without stepping off.
Or if he/she is a budding gymnast this is a safe way of practicing cartwheels and summer salts on a balance beam.
If you have a small indoor trampoline you can add that to the end of the floor beam for some extra gymnastics fun!
The Freeze Dance
This was one of my favorite games as a child and my kids seem to enjoy it just as much. It’s very simple.
All you need is some music and someone who can start and stop the music.
Every time the music stops each participant must freeze in whatever position they were in when the music stopped. If you move, you are out of the game. The last one standing is the winner.
This is a great little game to play before bedtime when the kids have some extra energy to burn off.
This is always so much fun and it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside.
An indoor treasure hunt can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.
The simpler you keep it for younger children the longer they will stay engaged.
If the game becomes too complicated you will lose their interest.
I love treasure hunts because they are great for practicing following and giving directions, reading and logical/critical thinking skills.
My kids love this one, with or without the racket.
But making a racket out of a paper plate is a fun craft as well. Each child can decorate their plate before the game begins.
Practice skills such as hand eye coordination, catching, throwing and being a good sport.
And don’t be concerned about playing this indoors – the ball is a balloon!
My kids love creating with cardboard and so does almost every other child!
So what could be more fun than making your own skis to use around the house?
All you need is an old cardboard box that can be cut up and 2 empty soda bottles.
When we made our skis we didn’t have any soda bottles so we improvised and used duct tape.
There are so many different ways you and your child can make your own marble run.
My kids love building their’s out of Lego.
We have also tried a carboard box and toilet paper roll version.
It was fun to make but didn’t last long.
I think making it was better than playing with it!
Set Up A Cozy Book Nook
Gather a bunch of pillows and blankets. Place them in a corner of your house. Now find some favorite books, get comfy and read!
3d Marshmallow Figures
You will need mini marshmallows and toothpicks.
Or if you want to make larger creations use regular sized marshmallows and pretzel sticks.
Try to see what kind buildings or figures you can come up with.
Don’t forget to have fun eating the creations when they are all done!
My kids loved this game when they were about 5 and 7 years old.
The basic premise is that when someone says “ghost town” everyone has to be quiet.
The first one to speak is out of the game.
Try this with your kids when you need a bit of quite in the house!
Fill the bathtub with water and toys.
Give your child a pair of goggles and let them look under the water.
You can throw in a party in the tub light and turn off the main lights for some extra fun!
You can build just about anything! My kids are into building cities and mines right now. Or anything star wars.
This is another current favorite at our house. The kids have so much fun creating silly stories!
I love mad libs because children get to work on grammar (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and plurals) while playing a game.
We love everything science at our house!
Kids learn so much by conducting simple experiments such as adding vinegar to baking soda and water!
For even more science experiments, check out this amazing list from Go Science Girls! Some of these experiments can be done with children preschool/kindergarten age while others are more beneficial for older children.
Which Game or Activity Will Your Kids Love To Play?
This should be a good list to get you started.
But if you want even more activities (including some outdoor ones) make sure to check out 111 Awesome Ideas For What To Do When The Kids Are Bored!
Have your kids tried any of these? Which are their favorites?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.