This winter, I snapped a picture every time the kids discovered an activity that they enjoyed. Turns out, most of them were DIY and totally free. Today, I’ve assembled my top ten activities and listed them here.
Some of these DIY ideas came from the kids themselves, some came from my journeys onto Pinterest, and some came from me in a moment of boredom-fighting inspiration (I like to think of this as a stay-at-home mom’s super power, but we usually stay on the down low about it).
May these findings help you enjoy some free fun with your kids as you chase down your next financial goal of paying off debt, saving for a trip, or trimming back expenses.
10 Free DIY Activities for Kids
1. Drop Bucket
I originally heard about this idea on Pinterest. For this project, you simply need an empty oatmeal container and something to drop inside. I chose coins because my good friend, Andria, gave us a bag full of wooden coins to use when I was teaching my daughter to count. You could use real coins, buttons, blocks, or whatever small shapes you have handy. Cut the necessary shape out of the lid on the oatmeal container and let your kids take over from there. I like this toy because it is a built-in storage unit.
2. Build a Round About
Raise your hand if there is a round about in your city or town? Three just popped up on one of the routes home from our church, so my daughter begs me to take her down that road every Sunday. I decided to turn our furniture into a round about and turned the kids loose with their push toys and cars. Definitely a good bedtime energy burner, and a guaranteed way to get my children to lay across our ottoman and yell, “Help” until the other comes over and “rescues” the sibling in distress. This usually happens by them pushing the other off the ottoman and them both laughing about it and repeating.
3. Photo Ops
Some days just call for memory-making silliness. OK, so that’s every day. Be sure to send a copy of said silliness to daddy at work or an out-of-town relative or make a note to print it off sometime. I’m in such a bad habit of not printing off pictures!
4. Bake something for the neighbors.
I wish I were more neighborly, so don’t think I’m expecting you to do this kind of thing every week, but a small act can brighten someone’s day. One day, my daughter and I baked cookies together. Instead of freezing one batch for later, we assembled it onto a little serving tray, wrote a little note, and my daughter hand delivered the fresh cookies to our neighbor. When the door opened and I explained what we’d brought, our neighbor looked down at my daughter, her face breaking into a big grin, and she gave her a big hug. I was proud of my little girl.
5. Let them join the workout.
I’ve enjoyed Pilates since my teen years. A funny thing happens whenever I roll out my mat and plug in my workout DVD. By the time I turn back around, I’ve got two little workout buddies taking up my mat space and grinning. So, instead of seeing this as a setback, I just laid out a blanket and we all got moving.
6. Tea Time
When my daughter dropped her nap right before her third birthday, we had to think of some quiet things to do while her brother slept. This was before she got the hang of “quiet time” and it became a fun tradition. She loved reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit and especially enjoyed the end when Peter’s mother makes him some chamomile tea before bed. So she and I sit together and have tea with the set my mother gave to me on my wedding day.
And don’t think you can only do this with your daughter. Read about this mom of three boys who developed a tea time ritual with her sons and to create a closer bond, to help them develop good manners, and to pour into God’s word together.
7. Reading Time + Audio Books
Head to your local library and check out picture books that come with CDs. Choose a set place for your children to sit and listen. I have some little lawn chairs I found at a garage sale for $0.50, but you could let them choose a pillow or blanket to sit on, or use painter’s tape and let them choose where they want you to “mark their reading spot.” This will help them to sit still and focus on the story – which will help them learn to sit still and focus in other areas in life, too.
8. Paint and mail DIY cards to grandparents.
You may not have watercolors on hand, in which case you can just use some printer paper, pencils, crayons, construction paper, or what have you. The point is that it’s a gift they can create and give to someone special in their life. This project pictured above became some spontaneous Valentine’s Day cards, made and delivered by my kids.
9. Turn the kitchen into band class.
My little man loves banging on pots and pans. He even broke one of my wooden serving spatulas on fortissimo day.
10. Mommy’s Helpers
When in doubt, you could always put your kid to work. That’s a free activity and can even be fun. My 19-month-old son loves to sweep and mop my kitchen floor. It basically involves him pushing the broom or mop back and forth in a straight line with a really focused look on his face. My daughter takes her work very seriously, too. They challenge me to be a better mom. Every day.
What’s your favorite DIY activity with your kids? Tell us in the comments below.
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