When the weather’s good, it’s great to get outdoors with the kids. And when it’s wet and miserable, you need ideas more than ever! We’ve come up with a host of outdoor and indoor activities that are free or very inexpensive, making sure you don’t have bored kids on your hands, or an empty bank account.

Free outdoor activities:

1. Tin can bowling

You will need:

  • newspaper
  • 10 empty, clean cans
  • paint
  • paintbrushes
  • any art and craft bits you have
  • coloured paper
  • glue

First thing’s first – have fun decorating! This bit can be done either indoors or outdoors as long as you cover everything in newspaper to stop things getting messy! Get as creative as you can by decorating your cans with paint, coloured paper and crafty bits and pieces you’ve got at home. Wait for everything to dry then take them outside and stack them up! Take it in turns rolling a tennis ball at them – 2 goes each before play moves on, 1 point per can! Just decide how many goes you want everyone to have depending on how long you want the game to last! If you’ve got space, this one can be played indoors too!

2. A good old game of Frisbee

With sun on your side, you can’t beat a game of Frisbee with the family. Or football, tennis, rounders or any other ball game for that matter! Gather the whole family for this, it’s perfect for playing in the back garden.

2. Water balloon throwing

Get hold of some water balloons, fill them up with water and tie them, then hand to the kids and let them throw them around! For added competition, get into pairs, throw the water balloon back and forth to each other – moving further apart with each throw. The trick is to keep the balloon from bursting, and the winner is the person who doesn’t get wet!

3. Potion making

If the kids are fans of Harry Potter and all things magic, or even fancy themselves as the next Nutty Professor, then why not let them create their own ‘magic potions’? This one can get a bit messy, so it’s best done outside.

You will need:

  • lab coat/white shirt – purely for getting into character!
  • goggles or face mask – for dramatic effect!
  • plastic bottles
  • funnel
  • jug
  • food colouring
  • bicarbonate of soda
  • vinegar
  • labels
  • pen
  • glitter
  • stardust confetti

Using the funnel, add water to the plastic bottles. Then pour in some food colouring of your choice. Add a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and then a little splash of vinegar.

Let the fizz and bubbles commence! Why not add stardust and paint for added effect? Put the lid on the bottles and label up the ‘potions’. Just remember to tell the kids they’re not for drinking!

4. Hopscotch

Is there anything better than a classic game of hopscotch? What could be simpler? Grab some chalk, draw out your hopscotch game and get hopping, jumping and skipping. Add numbers into different boxes and total up scores to turn it into a competition! How about getting creative and drawing trails or circles as well as boxes to mix things up a bit with different tasks to enjoy? The options are endless with hopscotch!

5. Create a mud pie

Let the kids get stuck into creating their very own messy mud pie! They can use a spoon for digging up mud, adding in water to make it more usable (and messy!). Work the mud into round balls then add flowers and stones for decoration. They may look like chocolate cakes, but they’re not for eating!

All you’ll need is:

6. Paint outside

No doubt you’re well aware how messy painting can get – especially indoors! So let’s take it outside and let them be as creative as they wish. This one can be done easily with just paper, paint and a paint brush. Take inspiration from around the garden too – how about creating some gold old-fashioned leaf stamps? Just dip the stamps in paint and print onto paper.

7. Make nature crowns

New kings and queens of the garden will be crowned with this fun activity! Get some paper and cut it into long thin strips roughly 2cm wide. Measure the strips of paper around your kids’ heads to act as a headband. Once you have the right shape, glue into place and set aside. Here comes the fun part! Get the kids to forage for interesting leaves and twigs and perhaps some colourful flowers that you can bear to part with! Next, glue on the foraged pieces to create pretty crowns.

Free indoor activities

8. Bottle top fishing

This is a ridiculously simple game you can get the whole family involved with and make up from stuff you’re sure to have lying around your home.

You will need:

  • a large tub filled 1/4 of the way up with water
  • bottle tops – as many as you can get your hands on in all different colours (time to get collecting!)
  • a ladle or large spoon
  • towel
  • bowl
  • permanent marker pen

First off, mark up a few of your bottle tops on the underside with the permanent marker pen – this can be with just stars or perhaps the letters of your kid’s name to make the game even more interesting. Put the bottle tops with the markers face down in the water – then it’s time to get fishing! You make the rules – are you fishing for blank tops or marked tops? Maybe the first to find all the letters in their name wins! There’s so many options to this game, which is why we love it so much. It’s also great for helping little ones learn about colours, numbers and spelling.

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