Thursday, January 3, 2013

Indoor Kids Activities on a Budget

Looking for fun indoor activities that won't break the family budget but will keep your kids entertained?  Here are 20 cheap, indoor family activities to get you through the darkest of winter days.

From Bruce Guenter's photos on
  1. Put together a puzzle.  We recently started a 1000 piece puzzle.  I hope we have it finished before Spring arrives.
  2. Play card games like Go Fish, Slap Jack, Rummy or Crazy Eights.  A simple google search for the rules and a deck of cards can lead to hours of entertainment.
  3. Indoor balloon volleyball
  4. Stack up plastic cups and knock them down with a remote control car.
  5. Marshmallow Olympics.  This might get a bit sticky so I would suggest holding the Olympics in room with a hard (mop friendly) floor.  Who has the best distance for throwing a marshmallow, kicking a marshmallow and, yes, spitting a marshmallow?
  6. Family talent show.  True story:  several years ago, we took our family to Disney.  One of the most talked about memories from that trip is the family talent show that we did one night after dinner.  The highlights of the show --- one son burped the ABCs and another son hit himself in the head with a pot lid.  Absolutely, 100% pure silliness…but it didn’t cost a thing.
  7. Play speed stack with plastic cups.  Who is the fastest in your family?
  8. Build a small catapult out of craft sticks, rubber bands and a plastic spoon.  Have contests to see who can fling a paper ball or marshmallow the farthest.  Here's a great set of directions from a Cub Scout dad, Devin Collier.
  9. Let the kids plan a menu for dinner and help cook it.
  10. Have a theme dinner.  We had a “stick” dinner that was a lot of fun.  Everything had to be on sticks.  Corn dogs, cheese cubes on toothpicks, pretzel sticks, fruit kabobs and roasted marshmallows for dessert. 
  11. Indoor nerf wars.  We reposition the couch and chairs to make forts.
  12. Board games - Here's a list of 10 board games that can teach about money.
  13. Marshmallow buildings.  Who can make the tallest building using only marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti noodles?  How long does it stand?
  14. Digital scavenger hunt.  Give your kids a list of items and see how long it takes them to find the items and take pictures of them.
  15. Indoor nerf wars.  We reposition the couch and chairs to make forts.
  16. Indoor basketball with a laundry hamper and rolled up socks.  I prefer to use clean socks!
  17. Invite some friends over.  Life is always better with a friend.
  18. Finger paint with pudding.  My kids used to love this.  I would make instant vanilla pudding and food coloring to make four different colors of pudding.  I would give each child a cookie sheet and a spoonful of each color.  They would swirl and paint and lick their fingers!
  19. Older kids and teens can entertain themselves for hours with a camera and a photo editing website. 
  20. Teach the dog a new trick.  Our favorite trick so far is that my kids point their finger at Rascal, say “Bang, you’re dead” and he rolls over. 

What are your secrets for entertaining your kids in the winter?


  1. You forgot to add "living room Olympics/gymnastics"

    1. did I forget that one, Brittany? Although, the frequency of living room gymnastics has decreased considerably since you went to college!