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Fun is the name of the game when it comes to kids, and children are expensive!

being a young family we’ve lacked the funds to go out on day trips and do exciting visits so I came up with a few things that we could do and play together at home that were both cheap and not sitting in front of the TV (I love a duvet day as much as anyone but not all the time).

With a bit of imagination and enthusiasm you can turn things from your cupboards into activities for the kids!

Pirate play

let them go a bit mad, in the bath with shorts/clothes on ! (why not)

You can make hats/t-shirts and be pirates or you can just let them explore with water! Here’s some things to try:Bath colours

  • Different shaped cups/bowls/boxes/tins/sieves
  • Colour the water with food dye or coloured bath bombs if you prefer
  • Add a few things that float (e.g. old corks – excuse to drink more wine – you’re welcome)
  • Add some that don’t (e.g. sponges that fill up will float then sink) – this is great for the younger ones
  • Adapt it to your child – my son loves cars/lego so we put cheap ones in the bath and let him play lego in the water and build underwater cities!


*NOTE: Place old towels on the floor and try to keep everything sealed (you can use duct tape to stick things down if necessary – I just double up on some of the edges) so you don’t get water anywhere it shouldn’t or flood the place.*

*Note: Be careful when using food dye with the material of your bath/sink/towels – some will be discolored by the dye and it might not come out (black is one of these colours!)*

Potato painting

This is an old classic and is great if you have a few potatoes left over that are going to go off

Pour paint into separate dishes and cut out shapes in the vegetables to use as stamps and brushes – this is a great way to introduce vegetable/fruit names

*NOTE: it also works with cucumber, carrots, peppers – any raw hard food really (you can experiment – that’s half the fun to watch them attempt to paint with a floppy leek! :p )*

Pasta murals (Another old classic)

Make pictures POP by sticking pasta to them – you can paint over the top as well to add textures or you can just make pasta. For the older ones you could also try adding lentils or other legumes to change the texture. Why not try doing a 3D pasta house and sticking it together and make it come off the page!! #pastapeople (i’m just saying)

*NOTE: The pasta can get quite heavy for normal paper so use card*

Box decorating

This is one of my favorites because it’s super easy and you can get as into it as you like – all it takes is a box (of any size – big ones are great for the imagination) and whatever you have lying around the house, decide what you want your box to be – rocket, car, garage, play kitchen – then decorate it by sticking leftover fabric, paper (Junk mail is great) paint, pens, toilet paper, newspaper anything. Then leave it overnight to dry and then use it to play 🙂

Baking/cookie making

This is better for the older ones as they have a bit more respect for kitchen safety (sharp knives, hot things etc) but its up to you.

Fairy cakes and basic cookies are great. You can use the cookies as play- doh and make cookie figurines or try making 3d biscuit figures (just don’t make them too thick because they won’t cook all the way through unless you burn them). Mix it up by dying the dough with food colouring.

I was very proud of this cookie 🙂

An easy cookie recipe that I use a lot is from BBCGoodfood

Homemade play doh

This is a super easy no bake recipe, that I use from PBS parents:20150908_113806

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of salt
  • food coloring

I also like to mix it up a little by adding other sensory ingredients such as:

  • Glitter
  • Different colours
  • Essential oils
  • Cinnamon

Plastic bottle rain makers

This i super easy and to be honest usually ends up being maracas rather than rain makers. Just decorate a bottle – the more ribbed the better (bigger bottles work best)– try; sticking, painting etc and then filling with rice/lentils to make the noise. Quinoa makes a great sound too – experiment with fillings for different sounds. a rain maker – this also doubles up as a maraca when they get bored of the rain sound.


Baby bowling – this is so fun it has it’s own post!

This is really easy and a great way to recycle bottles, checkout the tutorial for this project. We had great fun decorating and coming up with characters.

baby bowling pins

For the bigger ones – fill the bottles with water to weigh them down to make them harder to knock over – you can colour the water with food colouring if you don’t want to decorate them .


Perfect rainy day alternative to back garden camping!

This is really easy and just involves using imagination and whatever is available to make a tent or a hideaway. I use my dining chairs and lots of blankets and duvets!inside the fort

If you aren’t creative you can drape blankets over the dining table and most of the job is done for you just fill it up with pillows and fun things! you can play cards or board games in there for a real camping feel!

– for something fun and different you can have a dinner picnic in there and have nibbles and dips for dinner (there you go easy dinner too) –

outside the fort

*NOTE: Be warned this usually ends up with them sleeping in it though because it’s very cosy*

Boogie session

This is great for the winter when it seems to be dark all the time!

Turn the music up and the lights down

Frugal Options:

  • You can either buy glow sticks or make your own glow in the dark lights! There is a cute mason jar tutorial that I found on diyready.
  • There are also disco apps for your phone which turn your LED light into a strobe or different colours (some are paid for)
  • Use the iTunes or media player visualizer hooked up to the TV to make funky effects

This is better when there is a few of you so invite some friends over and have a dance party! you can try and create and name new dance moves or try to teach the young ones how its done!!


*NOTE: this can be super embarrassing but hilarious!

If You are looking for activities by age, this cool infographic I found might be able to give you some ideas or inspiration!
14 Fun Activities for Children from Birth to 5 Years Old

Brought to you by KidsToysGo

40 comments on “Fun Frugal Activities For You + Your Kids”

  1. Omg what a great list of activities! I make cookies with my daughter all the time and always have a blast!

  2. My kids loved playing in the tub! I found it to be particularly helpful when they were cranky. Building forts never ever got old either. Great ideas!

  3. Great ideas. Kids play area’s/centres can be so expensive sometimes. Love that they’re all activities that get you to interact with them too. .

  4. These activities all look so fun! I used to love decorating things as a kid, like the potato painting and box making. Great post for those who can’t think what todo with crazy kids haha!

  5. Love these ideas !! Especially the bath one my kids would be in absolutely fun mode !!

  6. This is a great list! I remember using fruits & veggies as stamps with paint when I was a kid. It’s a great idea!

  7. Thank you for so many great ideas. We have made play-doh and they loved doing that. Tents are another thing they absolutely love.

  8. I noticed when my daughter was little that no matter how many expensive toys she had, she always wanted to play with a box. This is why.-

  9. Great ideas here – we definitely did (and still do!) some of these when the kids were younger. We don’t have much living room space but my girls still love building blanket forts. And they also enjoy having “play baths” where we don’t really wash up, just have some relaxing bath play time.

  10. I love that you shared how to make homemade play dough. I’ve been looking for a simple way to make them and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Thank you

  11. We have always been big on homemade play-doh here. I like that there are so many different variations.

  12. A fab post! I love your ideas. I’ve made some sensory bottles, filled with glitter water and some baby oil which are a hit, but I need to try some of these, at 11 months H is a bit young for some, but I can have fun trying! I’ll tag you in any posts of the mess that results 🙂 #coolmumclub

  13. I love this post – the simplest things really are the best aren’t they? We love a camp in our house (esp my hubby which I call ‘making a big mess then walking away’). Haven’t done the rainmakers in a long time (never with baby 2) – thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub, see you again next time we hope x

  14. Fab ideas here. Children don’t need expensive toys to have fun. A box is always a big hit in our house and tents are one of my childrens favourites too.
    Thanks for sharing with #LetKidsbeKids

  15. This is so perfect right now. We’ve been really, really stuck for things to do with our daughter lately. I’m definitely going to try some of these. Thank you so much for sharing them. xx #letkidsbekids

    • Nope – unfortunately not, exactly how long it lasts depends on the mixture – try and keep it in an airtight container and splash some water on it to soften it up again 🙂

      • Splashing water is a great idea and I never thought about that before. Am I right in thinking you can do this with shop bought as well if you leave the lid off?

        Beth x

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