19 Fun & Free Games To Play With Kids!

Free games to play with kids

I feel the need to always start articles like this (activities to occupy your kids when they are bored) with 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.

Therefore I have come with a list of 19 games 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!

19 FREE GAMES TO PLAY WITH KIDS

***Bonus: These games can all be played indoors, so it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside!

Kid Friendly Card Games

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.  Card games are fun because they teach children about rules.

Homemade Paper Plate Puzzles

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.  Talk about the colors you are going to use!

Interactive Games & Board Games

Games like Simon Says are great for younger children, while Monsteropoly will be a hit with the older ones!

Bake Cookies

There are so many simple cookies you can make with your children.

A favorite in our house are 5 ingredient flourless peanut butter cookies!

Cupcake Crayons

This is a great way to use up broken crayons and re-purpose them!

Accident Free Balance BeamFree games and activities to play with kids. DIY tape 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.

Camping In The House

This is always so much fun and it doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside.

7 DIY Kids Forts for indoor camping activities

Treasure Hunt

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.

Toddler Tennis

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!

Indoor SkiingFree games and activities to play with kids DIY cardboard skiis

My kids love creating with cardboard and so does almost every child!

So what could be more fun than making your own skiis 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 skiis we didn’t have any soda bottles so we improvised and used duct tape.

DIY Marble Runs

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!

Ghost Town

My kids love this one.  I think they may have made it up with their friends.

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!


Go Snorkeling

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!

Build with Blocks/Lego

You can build just about anything!  My kids are into building cities and mines right now.  Or anything star wars.

Play Mad Libs

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.

Science Experiments

We love everything science at our house!  Kids learn so much by conducting simple experiments such as adding vinegar to baking soda and water!

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!

What are some of your favorite free games to play with kids?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

collage of kids activities with text overlay

8 Comments

  1. Ninene

    Excellent ideas to keep your kids busy. We all run out of ideas at some time. They have a lot of excess energy to burn. Especially the balance beam – love it!
    Any ideas for one year olds? They are a bit less advanced if you know what I mean 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Ninene,

      One year old’s love simplicity and repetition. While you might get bored, don’t worry, they aren’t. You could try using a cardboard box and getting him/her to help you tear paper and throw it into the box. Then dump it out and start again. Or grab some tissue paper and crumple it into a ball and throw it into the box. Do this until the box is full. If the box is big enough he/she can sit in it with all the tissue paper balls inside.

      Your question has inspired a new article idea for me! I am going to write about play activities for one year old’s! So check back in the next few weeks to read it! Or sign up for my free e-book and I will send out notifications (no more than once a week) for when a new article is posted.

      Reply
  2. Laurel

    Very good advice and ideas Tanya. Sometimes the games and ideas that have been around for years are the best. They are tried and true and have proven to be fun without a lot of material or expense. Just some time and imagination for loads of fun!!

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks Laurel. It usually is the simplest of activities that provide the most fun for children! Parenting seems to be getting more and more complicated with every new device, gadget and fancy new toy on the market.

      Reply
  3. Chris Towers

    There are some great ideas here for entertaining the kids (and adults alike actually).

    I do not see anything new here but I see a lot of reminders of the games I used to play as a child.

    Long before the days of smartphones and computers which now dominate a lot of children’s lives.. this is a breath of fresh air.

    Thanks so much 🙂

    Chris

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Thanks for your comment Chris. These games and activities are so simple, yet they help a child grow and learn. These kinds of “low tech” activities are wonderful for a child’s development. So much better than sitting in front of a screen.

      Reply
  4. Arif

    This is a great website for someone like me. I have two very young kids and they are always doing something creative and thinking of something to play at home.

    Out of all the games listed, for me personally, the one I would like to try is the balancing on the masking tape game. My youngest would always balance on pavement lines outside, but this would be great. Only i’m thinking of adding some obstacles along the way! I cannot believe I never thought of something like this. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Tanya (Post author)

      Hi Arif,

      It’s great to get kids using their imaginations and playing simple games such as the ones I listed in the article. My daughter loves the balance beam made out of tape on the floor! I love the idea of adding obstacles or making it part of an obstacle course. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Reply

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