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Free ways to entertain kids during Coronavirus

Finding free or affordable ways to entertain the kids at home during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic can have even the most creative of parents scratching their heads. The fact is it is challenging in the best of times, but with many parents losing their jobs, being furloughed, or filing for unemployment, it is harder than ever to keep children occupied in a positive way.

With the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, more low income as well as financially struggling parents are having to keep their children quarantined at home. Finding free activities to keep children occupied and happy can be a challenge. As a parent, you don’t want your children just vegetating in front of screens all day, but you may also be juggling working from home or trying to find a job. Parents also can’t afford to spend money on a bunch of non-essential activities right now, especially with millions of Americans losing their job due to COVID-19.

Parents will need to give their children free or very inexpensive challenges to do that will engage their brains and bodies, and that will also give you time to work in peace for a while. They also need to honor the health quarantines and social distancing guidelines. Or to look for a job or take some career training for one the Coronavirus Pandemic ends. The following suggestions can be used in many ways, so you’ll find inventive yet cheap or free ways to educate and occupy your children that you can adapt to your situation.

Keep kids entertained for free during Coronavirus isolation

Whether its art and crafts or make-believe and messy-time, there is something listed below to engage every child. The activities can help single moms, the unemployed, and anyone who is looking to save money during the COVID-19 outbreak. These activities are great for low income families with children. Many of the free activities for kids are also mentally stimulating or use creativity, which is also so important with millions of kids out of school during the Coronavirus pandemic. There are even websites that parents can get free stuff for these activities.

Building Block Daily Challenge

Give your children a different challenge with building blocks each day in which they are at home during Coronavirus. Go beyond the usual build the biggest tower and try to give your children a challenge that they wouldn’t have thought of or tried before. Build a circus tent or show platform (and then get dolls or characters to put on a show), build a space rocket, an alien landscape, a skate park or ramps for toy car stunts, a doll’s house with furniture, a robotic dog (or any animal), a fire engine, or create a miniature African safari. The list is endless. If you need more inspiration, Lego has released a free 30-day challenge on their website.

Make Moon Sand

A favorite with children all around the world, making moon sand is cheap and easy to make. Whether you are low income, have a job or not, it is very cheap to do/ Add one cup of baby oil to eight cups of flour, and there you have it, moon sand ready to go. An additional perk of this activity is that it’s almost effortless to clear up after hours of playtime.

Have a Fun Yet Free Karaoke Competition

Music can turn sad or stressful times into times of fun. Arrange a free karaoke competition that involves all of the family. No need for expensive technology or a lot of money, simply go old school and grab the hairbrush as a mic. With thousands of free to watch karaoke videos available on YouTube and the internet, there are limitless options on performances that the unemployed as well as stressed out parents can use. Take it the extra mile by going the whole hog. Costumes, make-up and dance routines. Perfect for some family time while quarantined at home during COVID-19.

Exercise Daily Challenge

Even if you are stuck indoors and in a limited space due to social distancing, finding ways to exercise will continue to keep you and your kids healthy. It is free to do and healthy for kids too. Obviously, if you have access to some outdoor space, such as a yard, it’s a bit easier as you can play with a ball, run around, or climb on outdoor equipment. However, even inside you can make daily physical activity a fun and interesting activity. Try building a free obstacle course around your house by scrambling under the table, zig zagging around chairs and toys and climbing over beds. Challenge each other to get the best time.

Another day, you might have a challenge of choreographing a new dance to a favourite song and practicing it until you can perform it. You could even tape it and share it with friends online (using a social network) and challenge them to do the same. Hold a star jump, push up, or sit up challenge and give a reward to the person who does the most in the family or to the one who improves from another day. Yoga and many other traditional exercise activities can be easily done at home too. Put on music to help make exercising fun.

Balloon Tennis

Staying at home all day during Coronavirus social distancing can leave the little ones with a lot of pent up energy ready to burn. Channel this into a positive activity that allows this energy to disperse naturally by playing balloon tennis. Hunt out some balloons that are sure to be leftover from some celebration or other and use hands as bats. Just be sure to move breakables out the way before the games commence.

Create a Cartoon

Children’s minds are full of so many ideas and can provide hours of entertainment for parents to see how their kids think. This is also a great educational activity that will stimulate the child’s mind while they are out of school during the Coronavirus pandemic or home-schooling. Find some paper and some coloring pens or crayons and set them to work making a comic book. An excellent opportunity to engage and find out the story behind their characters.

Have a Coronavirus Spa Day

Self-care is essential for mental health in adults (especially during the COVID-19 economic hardship), and kids are no different. Having a little TLC will revive those little minds and create some bonding experiences. From bubble bath basins for pedicures to braiding wet hair for waves, these are moments that are sure to be remembered for years to come and give an instant pick-me-up.

Create Some Car Tracks

Get some masking tape, colored tape or string and start planning the next Grand Prix. Whether it’s room to room or in a small area of the house, this removable fixture can give kids, especially little boys, hours of fun planning a new race track for their cars. Don’t forget the ramps! Find some cardboard that slopes can be made into for some daredevil stunts.

Create Art

Now is a great time (with many parents out of work) to dust off your creativity and create something beautiful for yourself and your family. Art comes in many forms and has many different price points. Encourage your child to design a big picture that will take several days to complete. You can glue paper together or use a big canvas or create your own canvas by using an old bed sheet or tablecloth. Even pick up these items for cheap or free at a thrift store or food pantry, as some are still open during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

Spending half an hour a day on their artwork is a great outlet for creativity and by only doing it a bit at a time, your child won’t be bored and will see the value of working on something over many days. You don’t have to paint to create artwork. You could create a mosaic using scrap materials or even leaves and twigs from outside.

Make Some Bubbles

Bubbles keep the boredom at bay for both adults and kids. Pour about 50ml of washing liquid in a bowl and slowly stir in up to 300ml of water to create the bubbles. Due not use critical COVID-19 cleaning supplies though. There are several free ways of making wands from pipe cleaners, bending paperclips or even halving plastic bottles, dunking and blowing from the neck of the bottle. Who doesn’t enjoy a little bubble madness?

Do Some Junk Modelling

It is time to raid the recycling bin and scoop up the plastic bottles and toilet paper rolls. Add in some googly eyes and craft items from any craft kit and get junk modelling. Whether its a cyborg or a space ship, not only will children have fun making them, it can provide hours of entertainment playing with them.

Create a Free Treasure Hunt

Hide several things around your home and write clues to find them. If you are low income, then do not put out anything new…just hid some stuff you already own. Let your children have lots of fun in discovering clues as well as hints that lead to the next treasure. Alternatively, your children can create a treasure map and clues for you to find the treasure. You can even make the treasure map look old by dipping a paintbrush into a mix of coffee and water and painting the paper, so it looks aged.

Write a Story a Day Challenge

Give your children a challenge to write a short story a day. Use it as a school assignment too if needed, as many parents are home schooling their kids during COVID-19 pandemic. Even young children can write a few sentences to create a story. Show your child a picture and ask them some leading questions and suddenly every child will be able to use their imagination and find something to write about. It does not cost you a penny to do this (so low income households can do it), and it is great for the kids mind.

Search for daily creative prompts if you can’t think of anything and you’ll be overwhelmed with new creative ideas. You could also make this into writing a poem, a play or a song about the topic if your child doesn’t want to write a story. Or write about the financial hardship caused by the virus. Write each story into a booklet and get your children to illustrate their stories.

Put on a Play

Either write a play together or find a good one that you all like. Assign the parts, give everyone a chance to learn their lines, work out costumes and practice the scenes a few times. You might spend creative time designing a backdrop (paper pictures pinned to a curtain or a blanket hung over a rope can provide a good theater). This free activity can take days to finish, so it is a great time fill.

Once you have practiced your play, perform it. You can film your play and share it with friends and family online to encourage social interaction (while practicing Coronavirus social distancing) with others who will be feeling lonely and isolated at this time too. If you don’t want to put on a play, you could do a talent show with dancing, singing, juggling, and joke telling.

Do a Science Experiment

There are many science experiments you can do at home during the Coronavirus outbreak with everyday items. Depending on the age of your children, you can set up a science experiment that will encourage learning. Very young children are fascinated by what floats and what doesn’t and filling a small tub with water is an easy way to experiment. Though very low income parents or those without a job should be mindful of any additional utility costs from say a tub of water.

Older children love the science of creating slime or play dough, or of using chemistry to create life like volcanoes or plastic bottle rockets. There are lots of websites and You-Tube videos showing how to do science experiments at home. Some even cater to free experiments for those households with no job. So you have plenty of resources for inspiration.

Learn Some Yoga Using Free Technology

Another activity designed to calm the mind and release energy, learning some yoga can be a fun way to unwind. It is great for parents, the kids, and the entire family. Great for promoting a positive start to the day or a way to relax before bedtime, it can provide free fantastic mental health benefits for all the family. It helps eliminate the COVID-19 Coronavirus stress and anxiety. Utilize some child-friendly yoga workouts on YouTube if this activity is something your family will enjoy.

Make an Inexpensive Musical Instrument and Create a Family Song

There are plenty of musical instruments you can create at home. From old favorites like playing the spoons or water glasses filled with different levels of water, or a comb covered with greaseproof paper, to building a guitar or creating a xylophone, there are plenty of inventive yet affordable ways to make musical instruments.

Once you have created your instruments, get together to create a family song, one that shares what your family is about. it is great for the mind and to help the family make it through a hardship, with financial, medical, or something else. You could have a verse about each person with a chorus that everyone joins in on. Your family song could become a great memory of this time of isolation.

Make Some Paper Planes

The oldies can sometimes be the best and making paper planes are no different. Grab the paper and make some funky plane designs before folding and preparing to take flight–one for the whole family to see whose plane can travel the furthest. Just make sure you do not fly the plane further than the Coronavirus quarantine guidelines. Warning: this may bring out the competitive nature in some kids (and their parents!).

Make Your Own Jigsaw Puzzles During COVID-19 Pandemic

This is quite a fun activity and can be done in many ways, no matter your family income or employment status. Cut up a photo or a magazine picture or even one of your own drawings or paintings. You can glue a picture onto cardboard first to create a reusable jigsaw if you want to. Draw the squiggly lines to encourage your child to practice their cutting skills or even cut into straight sections. Try cutting a picture into triangles or other shapes for a real challenge in putting it back together.

Have Healthy Afternoon Snacks or Tea

Spend some time in the kitchen with the kids baking and making some finger sandwiches for an afternoon tea or snack. They need to be fed anyway so this is a great way to make an occasion of it that is very affordable as well as healthy. Whether it’s served on pretty trays or everyone dresses up for this event, is entirely up to the family, but be sure to snap some photos.

Build a “Coronavirus” Social Distancing Fort for Free

A favorite activity of kids all over the world – fort building. Relax the rules about the furniture and pull out the spare sheets. Let the kids go wild by building a fort in the family room. Fort building is a great chance to sit down, grab a drink and take a breather as the children are distracted by their engineering skills. And they are given a chance to use their mind.

Make Hand Puppets

Making hand puppets can be a great free way to fill in time and be creative. Many financially struggling parents have the supplies for this already in the home. Old socks make great puppets with a few crafty bits added on for eyes, ears, beards, hair or other features. You can teach your child to knit or hand sew simple puppets too. Making a marionette by tying parts of toys with strings tied to sticks is also easy.

Papier-mâché is a great way to be very creative in making puppets and is an activity that can be done over a few days being quarantined during the Coronavirus to make different puppets and keep children occupied for a longer stretch of time. Once you have a few puppets, which are free or very cheap to make, create a whole puppet show with your puppets. Create a puppet theatre with sheets or blankets overhanging a table or chair and have great fun making your hand puppets do crazy things.

Keep Your Children Active for Free During Coronavirus Quarantine

Keeping your children occupied, learning, mentally stimulated, and interested during long periods of being quarantined to the home from the Coronavirus will not be easy, but hopefully, these free as well as low cost ideas will help you to make the most of the time. As with millions of parents struggling right now to pay the bills due to job loss, furloughs, or worse, finding inexpensive or free activities for your kids is so important. Once the economy gets better, find other free activities to do with kids.

With sadly many parents out of work/unemployed, the only positive from that is parents more time to spend with your kids, but you want to focus on free family activities. You might even find that you become closer as a family by having fun and making memories together during these strange and sad times that are resulting from Coronavirus pandemic.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.