Wichita on the Cheap

Live the Good Life for Less & Never Miss a Deal

Activities for kids & families at home (fun, free, and cheap)

The ideas we originally compiled for spring break don’t necessarily fit in a time like this! For example, an indoor play place is probably the least appealing option for a rainy day right now. And the zoo is closed so that won’t help you on a sunny day. 

Bear with us as we try to come up with free and cheap ideas for a fun spring break in the midst of all this. I can say this with certainty: kids can have fun practically anywhere.

Some of my favorite times as a child was when the electricity would go out during a storm. Our whole family would be in the basement together keeping each other entertained. My parents probably thought it was a big hassle, but all of us kids loved it. My brother would get out his guitar and sing, we’d all tell jokes or just talk about silly stuff. There was literally nothing else to do. And those were the best times!

Making our own fun is something of a lost art these days, so it’s time to bring it back in style – but with a little help from the internet, because if you need family-friendly jokes or the lyrics to a song, you can look them up. Or not. Maybe it would be more fun to make up your own jokes or your own words to a song!

Spring Break Activities for Kids when lots of places are closed

family playing together - parents carrying kids piggyback playing game
Make your own play dough – There probably hasn’t been a run on Cream of Tartar (my affiliate link), so you should still be able to find this in the spice aisle at the grocery store. All the other ingredients are pretty ordinary, and you probably already have them at home. This is a fun activity! 

Read free ebooks from the library – this is one of my personal favorite things to do during any vacation. If you have a library card (which you can now get over the phone!), you can download and read ebooks for free from the Wichita Public Library. And they’ve even got free audiobooks now! If you have a Kansas Library Card, you’ve got access to other online library resources as well!

kids summer reading programs at the library

Buy and fly a kite – As soon as you catch a few rays of sunlight peeking out, grab your kites and go to a city park. If you already have the kite, this is free. If you need to buy a kite, I have friends who sell them! 

Catch a workout online – Wichita YMCAs have opened up a YouTube channel with FREE online classes. 

Cook together – If stores are out of bread, try making your own bread (if you can find yeast, which hopefully you can). Or let the kids help with some other cooking or baking project. Since it isn’t hot yet in Wichita, this is the perfect time to have the oven on. If you prefer stovetop, I have a recipe for Chicken Jalapeno Pita Pockets that’s super easy and very tasty. 

Make paper airplanes – You don’t even really have to buy paper for this one. It’s even more fun trying aeronautical designs with different size paper from old catalogs or junk mail. (And even during a pandemic, you still get junk mail!) Make up your own designs or cheat and use the internet. Let kids be involved in the research, then try them and maybe even log your results in a notebook. 

Start a family band – You don’t have to be the next Jonas Brothers but hey – you never know, right? The baby can be on drums (Tupperware). Toddlers can play the t.p. tube. (Oh right, I wasn’t going to mention t.p.) Older kids can play an actual instrument OR be the lead singer. Every big kid wants to be the lead singer!

Put on a play – Pick a favorite story book and act out the story. Let the kids perform it for the parents. (If you don’t have enough actors, parents may actually be in the play. Or the kids can all take more than one role.) When I was a kid we didn’t have a stage, and we didn’t bother with costumes. The production value was pretty bad! But according to our parents, our acting held up the show. 

Play a game of cards – If you have a deck of cards, you have an endless variety of games you can play. A few ideas for kid-friendly card games: Concentration, Go Fish, and 52 Card Pick Up. Ha ha! 

Build a card house – When you’re tired of playing cards, you can play with the cards. This is fun and challenging, but better for older kids. (Unless your little kid is an engineering genius, in which case it’s good to know that now so you can start saving for a good college.)

Play yard games – Remember those? They require no equipment whatsoever, and almost any number of kids can play. Hide-n-Seek or Simon Says could actually be played inside, but Red Light, Green Light and Mother May I need a little more space. 

kids playing yard games

Draw pictures of pets or of each other – Pull out a pack of paper, pass out the pencils, and let everyone try their hands at portraiture. It’s a really good brain exercise, even if you’re not any good. But keep it positive. If you have a competitive bunch, then make a game of seeing how many positive things they can say about their brother or sister’s artwork. Which reminds me of the next idea…

Free resource: Amy Latta is the author of several books on hand-lettering, including Express Yourself: A Hand Lettering Workbook for Kids. She has a free resource available on her website called 10 At-Home Art Lessons for Kids.

Compliment game – There are two variations of this. One, you challenge someone to say 10 nice things about their sibling. If they can do it, they are the winner! The variation is to challenge the person to say 10 nice things about themselves. I will tell you from experience, most people seem to start floundering around number 6. It’s quite enlightening! And it’s really, really fun. Honest. 

Have a dance-off – I don’t know if there are rules to this game. Put on music and see who can dance the longest. Make it good music.

Go on a photo walk – This is something that is so fun to do, and nearly every family has at least one camera. Go anywhere – it could even be around the house if necessary – and take pictures of things you think are interesting. Here’s what keeps it interesting: look for different angles or different ways of seeing something ordinary. Try getting really close up to focus on a detail, or shoot from below, or from above.

Teach kids how to do chores – We don’t have to entertain our kids 24/7. But the cool thing is that when chores are new, kids usually like learning how to do them.

Little boy much too young ironing
Kidding! Itty bitty kids shouldn’t be ironing, but they can do age-appropriate chores. 🙂

Obviously, you want to give them age-appropriate chores so they can do them well and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Toddlers can pick up toys and non-breakable items and bring them to the correct room. Younger elementary school age kids can dry dishes or help unload the dishwasher. Older elementary kids can even learn how to do laundry, if the machine isn’t too tall or too complicated. (Or at the very least they can learn how to sort lights from darks and fold laundry.) These are skills they can be so proud of, and you’re really setting them up for success later in life!

Note: Teenagers can do anything you can do, no matter what they tell you, lol!

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