With kids spending more time at home than ever, you might really be scraping the bottom of the fun activities barrel at this point. For a fun AND FREE (or at least frugal) change of pace, check out this variety of indoor, outdoor, online and unplugged child centered activity ideas!

Unplug

Ready to toss your device out the window? Try these activities on for fit!

Get a Library Card

Many local libraries are open and following strict COVID health and safety guidelines. From curb-side book and craft pick-up, virtual story times, and online audiobooks, there are tons of free options for families. Visit the LaneKids list of Lane County libraries for websites and contact info.

Make a Fort

See your bedding and furniture in a whole new light!

Recycled Art

Take a dive into your recycling bin and get creative! My two favorites: Grab some toilet paper rolls to make binoculars and play I Spy! Snag some cardboard boxes to make a gorgeous new dollhouse.

Not feeling inspired? Try doing an Internet search for “up cycled art projects for kids” or “recycled art projects for kids”.

Recycled Games

Missing those fun family outings? Try bowling with toilet paper rolls or cans as pins.

Want more ideas? Try an Internet Search for “games using recycled materials”.

Pick a Bouquet

Brighten up your home together, but watch out for poison oak!

Nature Art

There is a whole lot of art that can be created from things found in nature. One of my personal favorites is to grab a crayon, paper and leaf for some leaf rubbings.

Cook Together

Making a sandwich with a child is SO much more fun than making a sandwich alone!

Start a Rock Collection

The best (and most convenient) rock collections are: kept outside or contained in a special box and are added to over time by going on rock hunts!

Craigslist’s Free Items

Ok, so this one requires you to plug in for just a second! But, there are often toys and neat recyclables for art activities on Craigslist’s free page.

Play Catch

Don’t have a ball? Toss around something from your recycling, I promise it is just as fun!

Pillow fight!

Need I say more?

Themed Days

Remember spirit week in school? Try one for home: Wacky Hair Day, Crazy Hat Day, Wild Sock Day.

Play Dress Up

This does not require expensive dress up clothes. Dressing up in available adult clothes is a ball!

Hide and Seek

A tried and true classic.

Play Restaurant or Grocery Store

You can use items from your own kitchen or home office (calculator, notepad, pen), no need to purchase anything new.

Picture Walk

A literacy building strategy usually used for exploring new books can also be used to take a fresh look at old ones! A picture walk is a shared activity between adult and child where each page’s pictures are looked at and talked about in detail.

Make sure to look for and chat about:

    • what you think is happening and why,
    • what you think might happen next and why,
    • and if the child is already familiar with the story, how they think the visual story is different from and the same as the one they remember reading.

Online

Hoping to use your Internet for something a little more fun than Zoom meetings and Seesaw? Take a look at these ideas!

Work Outs for Kids

My absolute personal favorite is Go Noodle. They have an extensive (and fun) movement library that incorporates music, movement, dancing, stretching and meditation.

Live Animal Cams

Many Zoos have cameras in their enclosures that can be really fun to watch with kids. There are also some live animal cameras placed out in the wild!

Kids Meditation and Yoga

Cosmic Kids YouTube Channel is the perfect mix of classic meditation and yoga with kid-friendly wording and themes!

Storyline Online

Celebrities reading awesome, slightly animated, picture books to your child? Yes Please!

Teachers Pay Teachers

You may not be a teacher, but Teachers Pay Teachers has a fabulous Free section full of coloring sheets, games and activities for all interests, themes and age groups!

PBS Kids

Visit PBS Kids for kid-friendly videos, games and shows.

This article is brought to you by Michelle Hjelm, a seasoned early childhood educator who has successfully brought fun to classrooms on a budget.