How to Entertain the Kids at Home on a Budget

When the holidays are over, when the toys are old and tossed aside, when the wind and snow are howling outside, and the kids are wailing “ I’m bored” what can you do to entertain and educate them?

Here are five – no or low cost examples of things to do that actively involve you and your child in learning and bonding experiences.

1.  Make your own play dough (puzzle, website, puppets)

Play Dough

My kids used to love helping me make play dough.  I used a recipe similar to this one on  Make sure they use the play dough on a surface that won’t absorb the food coloring!


Take an old magazine picture or calender picture and glue it to a piece of cardboard.  Turn the picture over and trace cutout patterns on the cardboard, then cut out the pieces.  Alternately, go online and find sites (such as Discovery Education) that let you create other kinds of puzzles (crosswords, math puzzles, cryptograms and etc).


If you have a computer and internet access, you can find a family friendly website creation product and sit with your child while they create a site.  Here are a few:

Come Home (; My Family (; Family Lobby (; Family Website (; FamDazzle (; Adorable (; Your Family Site ( or Your Family Website (

If your child is a bit older, let them try Blogger ( or WordPress (


Use old socks and a marker; glue paper cutout figures to a saved up popscycle stick; use brown paper lunch bags and cut holes for eyes and mouths, glue on yarn for hair; use an old pair of gloves to make a bunny puppet (2 fingers for ears, rest of fingers folded in to make the face); use those old round clothespins and paint a face on the nubbin on top – creativity wins.  Challenge your kids to find material and make up characters – then let them put on a puppet show for you!

2.  Learn to crochet (knit, sew, build a birdhouse, build a model, play chess)

What do you know how to do?  Is your child old enough?  Is your child interested?  Sharing a hobby with a child can be very rewarding.

My leftie Grandma taught me (a rightie) to crochet when I was about 10.  I learned how to play chess to teach my own 8 year old son.  If you don’t know how to craft, build or play, YouTube videos await to enlighten you!

3.  Sell something together

If you have a digital camera and a computer with internet access you can set up an eBay or Etsy account. Then you and your child can work together to get a good picture, write up a description, research an asking price and get the item listed.  If you list for multiple days, you can watch the bidding together.  Once it sells, you can assist your child in getting the item packaged and in the mail.

4.  Produce a play

Possibilities are endless for involvement – from writing the script to designing the set to making the costumes, programs and etc and finally to acting in the production.  Maybe you could even sell tickets to the neighbor kid’s Moms (face it, they are also looking for ways to entertain their kids).

5.  Make butter (soap, candles)

Show your kids how the pioneers (or maybe just your grandparents) did things.  Work together to find out how to make things we now buy – like butter, soap or candles.

My own grandma was a farmer’s wife and always churned her own butter from fresh cow milk.  While most of us today don’t have access to fresh cow milk or a butter churn, you can still make butter.  Yahoo has one recipe but if you google “Make butter without a churn” you will get other answers as well.

My kids and I made soap when they were in first or second grade.  I made mine from saved up meat fat, but there are numerous recipe’s you can follow!


Any of the above activities will cause the winter hours to fly by; teach you and your child new ways to interact and help you teach your child how to do things.

What resources do you use to find ways to occupy your children when they are bored?

This post was written by Marie.


How to Entertain the Kids at Home on a Budget — 32 Comments

  1. It is funny how often kids are entertained by items and activities that cost little to no money. One thing that kids crave is attention. Depending on the age, an empty box could supply just as much fun as a new toy. Doing that play, as you suggest, sounds like a wonderful way to get those creative juices flowing.

  2. My daughter loves to read and tell stories, so we’ll take construction paper and write books. We’ll use her crayons, markers, etc and do crafts or illustrate the books. She loves the movie feature on my iPhone so now that she’s older, we’ll probably let her take her own movies.

    We’ll also put on exercise TV and do some kids yoga or dance to my iPod or cook or bake something together. My daughter is usually quite content to play with her toys or board games and it takes a lot of her to get bored. We’re very lucky.

    • I love the idea of making books.
      My oldest boy and I did that when he was in Kindergarten. He knew all the names of the common types of dinasaurs at that time. He made drawings of each one and copied the names onto the page. We copied the pages, made up books and handed them out to his class. It was a real ego trip for him and a fun activity for us.

  3. We play boardgames…lots and lots of boardgames. The family time around a shared activity is fun. I love the other tips here. Hope you have a great New Year!

  4. I don’t have children yet, but I have a puppy so I will use what I learned lol. Anything interactive that requires them to do more than 1 thing at a time. Your idea about making soap, candles and sewing are definitely great ideas. Heck, I think a family puzzle would be even better.

  5. Great post, makes you realize that Kids don’t need fancy toys and expensive toys to be entertained. Oftentimes kids are more interested in the box that wrapped the present instead of the present itself!

  6. I love the idea of producing a play. Before I had my family I was doing a lot of plays. Now that the family clan is here I can continue doing some acting but on a budget with the kids. And, they won’t write up a bad review if my acting isn’t up to par.

    Happy New Year

  7. Great list. I may need to use some when the little one gets older. What about playing basketball with the trashcan or throwing clothes into the hamper? Help clean the place while kind of playing a sport? Happy New Year!

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