Frugal Ideas for Bored Kids




All of these activities would be more beneficial with parental involvement, but for those times where “me” or alone time is needed by either kid or parent, here are some ideas:


Can be done alone:


Read Books – kids can also make up their own books/stories and illustrations.


Marbles – play a game of, match them up, count them, sort them, hide them to find - like Easter Eggs


Hula Hoop


Chalk drawing


Practice or learn to play a musical instrument – make your own if need be


Peg games – can be made or bought cheaply (such as ones in Cracker Barrel)




Rake some leaves & jump in the pile in the fall


Run through the sprinkler in the summer


Build a snow “family” in the winter


Make a garden or plant a few plants in some indoor pots in the spring




Photo Album


Camp outside or in the family room.




Learn a new word from a dictionary or thesaurus


Jump Rope or Chinese Jump rope


Organize & clean – Kids can sort through old clothes and toys to get rid of (sell or donate).  Gather plastic tubs, boxes, baskets, large cans or containers & let the kids decorate them to fit their personality.  Add labels & start organizing!  Get together with other parents and have a toy swap for more fun!  (Use baby wipe containers for recipe cards, craft and office supplies, and drawer organizers. Kids can use them to store small toys and accessories.)


Climb Trees


Play with playdough or clay (homemade is cheap)


Crafts – String Art, Pompom critters, Paper Mache Sculptures, Foam Craft, Felt Craft, Paint by Numbers/Paint, Cloth Doll, Tin Punch,


String games (not Cat’s Cradle, though)


Roller skate/blade


Learn about your family tree and make one




Star Gazing – Grab a blanket or sleeping bag & go outside at night.  Setup on the driveway, in the yard, on the roof (think safety!) or in the bed of your truck.




Make a fort/clubhouse with blankets, cushions, pillows, chairs, mattress, etc or outside structure


Needlecraft – Sew, Knit, Weave, Cross Stitch, Crochet, Plastic Canvas, Spinning, Finger Knitting


Make Thumbprints/Fingerprints and create characters by adding features with a pencil or pen


Learn Braille or Sign Language or Morse Code


Make up a secret code to write secret messages with friends


Make a wish list or a gift list (gifts to give)


Make holiday and birthday cards.  (Can be done well in advance & sent out later.)  Cut off the front of the ones sent to you and send them back out as post cards to someone else. This also saves on postage.


Mazes – can be found on the internet for free or bought cheaply, included in activity books, or get creative & make your own!


Balance beam/Tight rope walk – can be done with a simple rope or string on the ground – quick & easy clean up!


Dress up or Make Believe play – I remember many hours spent playing teacher, or travel agent, playing house, Batman & Robin, etc.


Learn some magic tricks & put on a show


Puzzles – put together a jigsaw puzzle or make your own




Blow Bubbles


Have a Picnic – in the house or in the yard, can be alone or with friends or family


Silly Putty or Slime


Spend time with the family pet or pets.  Care & play with them.


Tie Knots/Learn to tie knots


Make your own doll


Make Paper Airplanes or learn origami


Build with building/construction toys such as Lego or Magnetix


Check out what other countries/time periods kids did when bored – then try the activities out yourself!


Make up an “I’m Bored!” box for the next time the kids can’t find anything to do!



Can be done with two or more:


Rather than buying separate admissions to different educational or fun family destinations, buy one yearly pass to either the zoo or the aquarium or a theme park. Go repeatedly to that one place each time you want a family outing. You'll easily save the cost of the family admission, plus you'll have the benefit of not feeling pressured to see everything in one day. You can always see what you missed the next time you come. Next year buy a pass to somewhere else

Park/nature center outing – Spend the day at a park.  Pack a lunch and some snacks.  Take a camera and take lots of pictures.  Take a football, basketball, baseball, bat and ball mits.  Spend time playing with your kids. You can also load up your bikes and ride your bikes through the park.  Many parks will let you swim and fish in the lake for free.  Take some binoculars and watch the different kind of birds.  In the fall it is nice to see all of the deer in the park.  You can even fly a kite.  There are so many things to do at a park. 


Board games – Play board games with your kids. This is a good way to spend time with them that they will always remember.


Card Games – solitaire, Uno, Old Maid, Go Fish, Rook, Crazy Eights, Hearts, War, etc.


Flour/Potato sack races


Play Tag/Red Rover/Red Light Green Light/Hide N Seek/Mother May I?


Cat’s Cradle string game


Library – Little ones can go for story time, aside from checking out books, try movies & games.


Check for free concerts, plays and other live family entertainment at local parks during the summer months.  Don’t forget to show your child's school ID at museums, zoos, galleries, etc. for student discounts.




Cook or bake


Treasure Hunt – Collect some toys, art supplies, etc when they are on sale or from the dollar store.  Get a box of some kind and put all of these in it.  Then hide the box somewhere outside.  Draw up a map that will lead your kids to the treasure.  Hide some clues for your kids to find on their way to the treasure.  This can be done by the kids themselves, too.


Rent movies (for free) from your local library.  Or check out the discount theaters for some cheap family entertainment.  Sometimes theaters offer free movie showings during the summer months for the school age kids.


Movie night – Rent, borrow or trade a couple of movies.  Have everyone (including mom & dad) get into their pajamas and bring their pillows in blankets into the family room.  Make popcorn, pizza rolls, etc.  Watch the movie in your pj’s while eating a snack.  Since everyone has their bedding in the family room the whole family can camp out together.


Make & play with your own Geo Board



Get your children involved in civic groups or school clubs.  Try 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, Indian Guides, ert.  Girls or Boys Clubs of America and YMCA or YWCA has programs and planned activities.



Here are a couple of links to keep the kids busy: Tons of brain teasers and puzzles Games, coloring pages, crafts, etc. Great site for printable pages & crafts  Bunch of craft ideas More parent friendly, but for kids – all kinds of links for kids stuff Lots of craft ideas Excellent craft ideas for individuals and groups Technically for travel ideas, but will work for homebodies, too Craft ideas from Wrights Great kids’ search engine, also has links to homework help, games, fun facts, etc.


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