Top 25 unmissable budget activities for kids

published August 14, 2023
group of children doing activities

Looking for budget-friendly kids' activities this summer? Look no further!

In this guide, you’ll see a range of kids’ activity ideas. All of them will be free or affordable to help you save some cash. From sports, art, STEM or food, plus many more, you won’t be short of ideas.

Read on to see:

  • Indoor activities for kids
  • Sports activities for kids
  • STEM activities for kids
  • Arts and crafts for kids
  • Food activities for kids
  • Cultural activities for kids
  • Problem-solving activities for kids


Indoor activities for kids

  1. Host a board game night with family or friends.

Board games are a great way to keep kids entertained for hours. Forget the usual classics; there’s no ‘Monopoly’ on the wide array of exciting options out there. Look into Board Gamer Anonymous' Top 100 Games of All Time to find a new, favorite game to try.

  1. Set up an indoor scavenger hunt with clues and hidden treasures

If you want an engaging and budget-friendly indoor activity, consider a scavenger hunt. Craft a series of clues that guide the kids from one hiding spot to the next, leading them to a hidden treasure. Be imaginative with your hiding places, tailoring the hunt to their interests. Scavenger hunts are a fantastic way to create a memorable experience on a budget.

  1. Have a DIY craft day using recycled materials to create unique artwork

Unleash your kids’ creativity by turning ordinary items into stunning art pieces. Gather materials like cardboard, bottles, newspapers, and bottle caps. Provide them with glue, scissors, and paint, then let their imaginations soar. Not only is it affordable, but it also promotes sustainability and teaches the value of recycling.

  1. Build an indoor obstacle course using pillows and other household items

Why not turn your living room into an adventure zone with an indoor obstacle course? Use pillows and other household items to create tunnels, challenging balance beams and jumping stations. Just make sure to watch them so they stay safe as they play.


Sports activities for kids

  1. Play a game of backyard soccer or basketball with friends

Enjoy the fresh air and some healthy competition by shooting hoops or kicking around the soccer ball in your backyard. It's a great way to keep your kids active while socializing with neighborhood friends. All you need to do is set up makeshift goals and let the game begin.

  1. Go on a family bike ride or hike in a local park or trail

Explore hidden gems and embrace quality time with your kids while biking or hiking in a nearby park or trail. It’s a great way to entertain kids for free, get some exercise and create lasting family memories. Discover local hidden gems, enjoy the fresh air, and embrace quality time with your kids. You probably know the local spots, but if you don't, a quick Google search can help.

  1. Have a game of frisbee or catch in the park

Head to the park for a fun game of frisbee or catch with your kids. Both activities are simple, enjoyable and completely free. Make it even more exciting by challenging each other to make impressive catches or helping your kids work on their throws for baseball season.


STEM activities for kids

  1. Conduct simple science experiments using staple kitchen ingredients

Encourage your kids to become little scientists with fun and easy experiments using everyday kitchen items. Some simple ideas include creating a volcano with coke and mentos. If you need ideas, Science Spark has a ton of options to choose from. Whatever you choose, they’ll have a lot of fun and learn along the way.

  1. Build structures using toothpicks, marshmallows or popsicle sticks

With toothpicks, marshmallows, or popsicle sticks, the possibilities for constructing impressive designs are endless. Connect toothpicks with marshmallows to create joints, or use popsicle sticks to build a foundation. But there is no right or wrong way to build, only what your child can imagine. The building encourages problem-solving, spatial awareness, and fine motor skills. Set up challenges, like building the tallest structure or testing how much weight each structure can hold.

  1. Explore the night sky by stargazing and finding constellations

Stargazing is a great way to engage kids and help them learn about science. Find a quiet spot away from city lights, bust out a blanket, and gaze up at the twinkling stars. With a star chart or app, see famous constellations like Orion, Ursa Major, or Cassiopeia. You can also learn the stories behind these formations and spark curiosity about the cosmos.


Arts and crafts for kids

  1. Paint rocks or shells found outdoors and turn them into colorful decorations

Turn rocks or shells you find outside into vibrant decorations by painting them. It's a ton of fun and as cheap as any other activity. Collect smooth rocks or shells you find on your daily adventures and use vibrant paints to turn them into something new. Once painted, let your kids show off their work by displaying them or sharing them as gifts.

  1. Create collages using old magazines, newspapers, and glue

Get creative with old magazines and newspapers and create collages with glue. Cut out colorful images and text, then arrange them into captivating artworks. Collages are eco-friendly and allow your kids to express themes, stories, and creativity using recycled materials.

  1. Design and decorate your own t-shirts or tote bags using fabric markers or paints

Combine art and fashion by having your kids design and decorate t-shirts or tote bags with fabric markers or paints. Start with a blank canvas, like white t-shirts or blank tote bags. Then let your kids' creativity shine as they draw and paint personal designs or messages. Your kids will love showing off their masterpieces, which make great gifts for other family members.

  1. Experiment with different painting techniques, like watercolors or finger painting

Encourage your kids to try different painting techniques, like watercolor or finger painting. Painting is a budget-friendly way for your kids to explore their creativity. All you need is a blank canvas or a piece of paper, some paint and brushes for watercolors. So, grab your materials or use your fingers and let your kid’s creativity flow.


Food activities for kids

  1. Have a "make-your-own-pizza" night using affordable toppings and pre-made pizza dough

A make-your-own pizza night with affordable toppings and pre-made dough will get any kid excited. Most grocery stores will sell pre-made dough, sauces and whatever toppings you want. Set up a pizza-making station and let everyone create their own pizza. From classic cheese to a loaded veggie or meat lover's dream, your kids will have loads of fun making their pie.

  1. Bake cookies or cupcakes from scratch using basic pantry ingredients

Get baking with pantry staples like flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Or get fancy by adding chocolate chips, nuts or sprinkles to your creations. It can bring the family together and satisfy that sweet tooth. Check out sites like Sally's Baking Addiction for family-friendly recipes.

  1. Have a themed picnic in the backyard with homemade sandwiches and snacks

Hosting a themed picnic in your backyard can be easy and memorable. Choose a fun theme, like a summer beach party or a magical fairy tale. Prepare picnic staples like a portable cheeseboard or dishes based on your theme. Spread out blankets or picnic tables to complete your setup.


Cultural activities for kids

  1. Cook a traditional dish using budget-friendly ingredients

Cooking a dish from another country can teach your kids about the world and help them enjoy something new. Choose a country everyone wants to learn about and find a recipe to fit your budget. For some ideas, A Taste of Home has a great list to start from. Whether it's an Italian pasta, a Mexican stew or a fragrant Thai curry, each country offers something unique.

  1. Learn basic phrases in a foreign language and practice speaking them together

Learning a new language is one of the best skills a child can learn. Choose a language that intrigues you and download an app like Duolingo. Help each other learn with simple greetings and phrases. You could even make a dish from your chosen country to immerse yourself in the culture.

  1. Watch documentaries or online videos about different countries and discuss their customs and traditions

Let your kids learn about the rich tapestry the world offers by watching documentaries. Find a topic that interests you and research documentaries that you think your kids will enjoy. Once finished, share your thoughts to foster meaningful conversations. It's a great activity that promotes understanding and global awareness. So, grab some snacks, sit back, and enjoy learning about the world. 

  1. Participate in local cultural festivals or events that offer free or low-cost activities for families

Cultural festivals or events can let your kids experience new cultures in person on a budget. Local celebrations offer a vibrant glimpse into diverse traditions, art, and music. You’ll see workshops, witness live performances and eat delicious foods while immersing yourselves in the community's spirit. Google is a great place to find them, or you can ask friends or family in the area.


Problem-solving activities for kids

  1. Solve riddles or brain teasers with family or friends

Challenge your minds and have fun with family or friends by solving riddles or brain teasers. Check out Parade for a full list of riddles. Brain teasers are completely free and can be a great activity to help your kids build their problem-solving skills.

  1. Play strategy-based video games that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Video games are an excellent way for your kids to build problem-solving skills. From classics like Civilization to modern favorites like Stellaris, video games offer hours of entertainment and build skills. From planning to predicting their opponents to adapting on the fly, playing video games is a valuable experience.

  1. Create your own escape room game

Design a series of clues and puzzles for your kids that lead them out of a homemade escape room. Tailor the clues to what you want your kids to learn. If you want your kids to improve their reading skills, give them some clues that need careful reading. If you want your kids to develop spatial skills, make some 3D puzzles. Whatever you choose, they'll develop teamwork and critical thinking skills while having a sense of adventure.

  1. Build a card tower

You can entertain kids for hours with just a deck of cards. Building a card tower will engage your kids and help them develop patience and strategy skills. If you want to entertain more than one child, get them to work together or let them compete to see who can build the tallest tower. Encourage them as they build and let them experiment with different techniques.


Let LifePoints help you get your activities for kids going

All of these activities are great for when your budget is tight and won’t break the bank. But you might need to buy materials here and there for some of them. That’s where LifePoints helps. When you take surveys with LifePoints, you get rewarded for your time.

For every survey you complete with LifePoints, you get points, also called LifePoints. When you have enough LifePoints, you can choose something from our list of over a dozen rewards. You can get Amazon gift cards, Target gift cards or a PayPal balance transfer, among others. PayPal is like cash, and gift cards can buy you anything – such as art materials or food items. Whatever activity you plan for your kids, LifePoints has a reward that can help you pay for it.

To find out more, check out the How It Works page.

Sign up today, or download the App, and can get 10 complimentary points to kick-start your earnings.