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zen habits: 100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap

Sunday, February 4, 2007

100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids for Free or Cheap


Yesterday I posted about Family Day, where we try to have fun together as a family, often for free or without spending much money. I thought it would be useful to list some ways to have fun with your kids without spending a lot of money:

  1. Have a reading marathon.
  2. Write stories together.
  3. Play soccer.
  4. Paint or draw together.
  5. Create a fort in your living room out of blankets or cardboard boxes.
  6. Go on a hike.
  7. Have a sunset picnic at a park or beach.
  8. Play board games.
  9. Play kickball.
  10. Get up early, pack breakfast, and have a sunrise breakfast.
  11. Go to a museum.
  12. Go to a playground.
  13. Play hide-and-seek.
  14. Have a pillow fight.
  15. Ride bikes.
  16. Build sandcastles.
  17. Rent a dvd and make popcorn.
  18. Tell stories.
  19. Have a scavenger hunt.
  20. Make mazes or puzzles for each other to solve.
  21. Play card games.
  22. Garden together.
  23. Bake cookies (let the kids help).
  24. Go to the zoo.
  25. Go to the library.
  26. Shop at a thrift shop.
  27. Create a blog together.
  28. Create a scrapbook.
  29. Make a movie using a camcorder and computer.
  30. Learn to play music.
  31. Fingerpaint.
  32. Make play dough from scratch.
  33. Make homemade mini pizzas.
  34. Buy popsicles.
  35. Make hand-painted T-shirts.
  36. Set up a hammock, make lemonade, relax.
  37. Go to a pool.
  38. Go to a public place, people watch, and make up imaginary stories about people.
  39. Visit family.
  40. Write letters to family.
  41. Paint or decorate the kids' room.
  42. Make milkshakes.
  43. Play freeze tag.
  44. Create a treasure hunt for them (leaving clues around the house or yard).
  45. Decorate a pair of jeans.
  46. Do a science experiment.
  47. Play games online.
  48. Teach them to play chess.
  49. Learn magic tricks.
  50. Create a family book, with information and pictures about each family member.
  51. Fly kites.
  52. Go snorkeling.
  53. Barbecue.
  54. Volunteer.
  55. Donate stuff to charity.
  56. Compete in a three-legged or other race.
  57. Create an obstacle course.
  58. Pitch a tent and sleep outside with marshmallows.
  59. Roast marshmallows.
  60. Play loud music and dance crazy.
  61. Write and produce a play (to perform before other family members).
  62. Paint each other's faces.
  63. Have a water balloon fight.
  64. Have a gun-fight with those foam dart guns.
  65. Explore your yard and look for insects.
  66. Go for a walk and explore the neighborhood.
  67. Go jogging.
  68. Take pictures of nature.
  69. Play a trivia game.
  70. Make up trivia questions about each other.
  71. Make hot cocoa.
  72. Play house.
  73. Decorate the house with decorations you make.
  74. Make popsicles.
  75. Play school.
  76. Do shadow puppets.
  77. Make a comic book.
  78. Play in the rain.
  79. Make mud pies.
  80. Blow bubbles.
  81. Take turns saying tongue twisters.
  82. Sing songs.
  83. Tell ghost stories in the dark with a flashlight.
  84. Build stuff with Legos.
  85. Give them a bubble bath.
  86. Play with squirt guns.
  87. Play video games together.
  88. Play wiffleball.
  89. Play nerf football.
  90. Build a rocket from a kit.
  91. Bake a cake and decorate it.
  92. Play dress-up.
  93. Thumb-wrestle, play mercy, or have a tickle fight.
  94. Make a gingerbread house, or decorate gingerbread men.
  95. Learn and tell each other jokes.
  96. Play basketball.
  97. Learn to juggle.
  98. Walk barefoot in the grass and pick flowers.
  99. Build paper airplanes and have a flying contest.
  100. Prank call their grandparents, using disguised, humorous voices.
See also:

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

awesome list. it's a good reminder that to be good parents, sometimes we should be kids again! great job.

Leo said...

Good comment! I've actually never grown up. Some people see it as a character flaw, but I never listen to those people. I just plug my ears with my fingers, squeeze my eyes shut, and yell, "La la la la la la! I don't hear you!"

chuckmeister said...

My kids and I have been doing the same kind of thing over the last year or so, when I have them on the weekends. I think we have more fun doing these kinds of cheap things than the more expensive things.

Pat said...

What a great list! While these may not be brand new ideas to everyone, it seems like my mind goes blank when it's time to come up with something. I'll print this and pull it out when I need some ideas.

Leo said...

Thanks Pat! A lot of these are things I actually do with my kids, and some are ones I wanna do. And these cheap ways to have fun are really the most fun of all.

BTW, I started out intending to do just a list of 20 things, and kinda went crazy once I got into it.

Anonymous said...

i don't mean to criticize, any parenting tip that helps people is ok with me but, what kind of parent couldn't think of of these things in two minutes and given five minutes more come up with the rest parenting is in a sad state today if you need somebody else's list to help you find things to do with your kids

Leo said...

Well, you may be right, but I think it's always useful to have a list of ideas, because people often get stuck in a rut and think of the same ideas over and over again, while a list like this could trigger something they've forgotten about. And the main point is that you don't need to spend a lot to have fun ... and these are just some examples of how to do that. I think everyone could come up with a lot more if they thought about it, which I hope this list inspires!