Cheap – 20 Fun and Exciting Play Ideas for Kids

Here’s our top 20 fun and exciting play ideas to keep kids busy for hours!

play ideas for kids
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As parents, we want to give our kids a great childhood, much like we perhaps had growing up ourselves. I can remember spending my free time riding bikes, playing hide and seek, shooting pellet guns, swimming at the beach and even playing in woods pretending I was a soldier. Over the years, my wife and I have tried to focus on keeping our two boys busy. 

Kids need to decompress and anything that will stimulate their brain. With our boys, we allow them to have some “screen” time and this provides them with instant fun. It also gives mom and dad some time to relax after a long work week and to plan the weekend with or kids. One of the biggest struggles for families is how to provide the most fun for a significant amount of time without breaking the bank.

Below are some great kid play ideas that families can do with little to no money:

Fun List of Outdoor Activities

  • Hit the Beach or Local Swimming Hole: What better way to get the kids out of the house and give them fun for the whole day. Pack a cooler, some snacks, toys, chairs and leave the wallet at home since the activity is typically free.
beach play ideas
  • Check Out A Museum: Museums are a great way to get your kids to learn about history, science, art, and so much more. Most are free or you may pay a nominal fee. Even if there is a charge, you can typically find yourself staying at the museum for several hours. I recommend that you find a museum that your kids will enjoy to prevent a short visit.
  • Go Hiking: Hiking is a great way to go on an adventure, especially if you have young kids. If you really want to challenge yourself and give your kids a game to play, try looking at the different geocaching systems or apps you can put on your phone. Geocaching is a hide and seek game in which items are hidden in different locations and you have to find them.
  • Camping activities for kids: Sleeping outside, building a campfire and enjoying mother nature can be a great way to expose your kids to other environments. Camping can be challenging, but if you plan ahead and make a checklist, you can have a significant time.  If you’re not up for traveling to a local campsite, you can set the tent up in the backyard.
camping play ideas
  • Family bike ride: Find some local trails or parks to take your kids on a bike ride trip. To get the kids engaged, it will help to give them a change of scenery that sometimes your neighborhood is lacking.
  • Go Fishing: Fishing can provide all day entertainment for the kids. You have to buy some bait, but this won’t break the bank unless you need fishing equipment.
  • Archery and BB Guns: Setup a target in a “SAFE” location and proper adult supervision. These activities have dangers and may not be an activity for all families. If you decide to get your kids involved, teach them safe practices.
  • Visit a playground. What better way to get your kids’ energy out instead of bouncing off the walls in your house. The price is always right, and the parents can relax while watching the kids play.
  • Backyard Obstacle Course can be a fun play idea for kids to burn some energy. Help your kids set up their Ninja Warrior course in the backyard. Use everything you have around the house to gets your kids climbing, rolling, crawling and running as they try to finish the course. Make it interesting by timing them and get the water hose out for some extra fun.
outdoor play ideas
  • Ghost Crabbing: If you live near the beach and you need something to do at night, then grab your flashlight and nets. Kids love to chase and capture these little crabs before they make it back to the water.

Indoor Family Play Ideas

  • Build A Fort: This classic play idea will keep your kids entertained. Get the sheets out and start moving furniture and let your kids stretch their imagination to create their own world. 
indoor play ideas
  • Make up a game. My youngest likes to get creative and create games on his own. One of his favorites is called “The Floor Is Lava.” After counting to 10, you have to get off the floor before it turns into lava.
playing games
  • Home Projects: Most dads could always use some help with our “honey do” list. Let your kids get some experience using basic tools like screwdrivers, drills and wrenches.  Look into building something like a bookcase, tool box, planters, etc.
  • Family workout session. This is a great way to help get some of that energy out of your kids and fit at the same time. There are tons of workout videos on YouTube and other platforms for kids, or you can have fun creating your own workout. You might get lucky and catch a nap afterwards if your kids get a good workout and need a nap as well.
  • STEM activities for kids: Take your kids’ love of Lego’s and set up a Lego challenge. Use index cards and list unique ideas and have your kids create their version of what is on these cards. You can list specific objects or give your kids a theme. Check out our blog post for 35 Lego Stem Activities For Kids.
lego activity
  • Mail order kid’s activities! Kids will love getting these super fun subscription boxes in the mail every month! Our favorites are KiwiCo, CrateJoy and Green Kid Crafts.
  • Rock painting is the perfect indoor activity for kids of all ages. It’s a cheap craft activity that kids will love to do! Check out Rock Painting Guide to learn how to paint rocks and painted rock ideas.
  • Baking and decorating cookies any time of the year will offer sweet fun for your family. Get creative and make it a learning activity by teaching them how to follow directions and measurements.
  • Be creative with minute to win game play ideas. If you’re stuck indoors, make the most of this time with some fun and creative minute to win activity. It’s perfect for all ages and easy to create fun activities with things you already have around the home.  Check out these 200+ minute to win it games for kids and adults by Play Party Plan blog.
  • Step-by-step painting activity is a great way to foster creativity within the family. Search on YouTube for step-by-step painting tutorials to get started today. One of our favorite art resources is These are fun painting activities for kids and parents.
painting play ideas

Whether it’s an outdoor or indoor activity, these fun and cheap play ideas will keep your kids busy and happy. One of the biggest struggles for families is how to provide the most fun for the longest period of time without breaking the bank.

We hope this blog post provides you with fun, creative family play ideas.

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play ideas for kids

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