Skip To Content

    25 Tips And Toys To Keep Your Kids Entertained Without Shelling Out $$$

    School's out — try these boredom busters that won't break the bank.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Some may have been sent as samples, but all opinions and reviews are our own. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    1. Create your own marbled paper with JUST shaving cream and food coloring. What kid doesn’t love foamy, swirly, colorful (and messy!) fun?

    2. Keep your toddler engaged for hours (which is nothing short of a miracle, TBH) with a value pack of 500+ puffy stickers that are easy for little ones to peel, stick...and restick all by themselves.

    20 sheets of stickers

    3. Try this hack to make an instant sprinkler: attach an old empty container to the hose and voilà — let the water play begin!

    Blogger's photo of a nail polish container upcyled into a yard sprinkler

    4. OR snag this budget-friendly 3-in-1 sprinkler, splash pad, and wading pool that'll not only have your munchkin learning their letters and numbers but will also make you say, "dang, my toddler's living their best life."

    reviewer's photo of the splash pad with the water spraying out

    5. Don't throw away those paper towel rolls. Add rice or beans to turn them into seriously wonderful rain sticks that your little one will be shaking all day long, to hear the pitter-patter of "rain." 🌧️

    Blogger's photo of a DIY rainstick

    6. Exercise your child's brain without any screen time with a clever wooden puzzle equivalent to playing Tetris but in tactile form.

    7. Fulfill your child's dream of running an ice cream shop with a Kinetic Sand playset that'll let them make pretend treats for the whole fam. The best part? The sand doesn't dry out (unlike Play-Doh) and smells like real ice cream.

    8. Create these soaktastic splash balls with just three dollar store items — sponges, zip ties, and scissors. Then fill an inflatable pool with water and watch the kids run around the yard tossing 'em at each other.

    Blogger's photo of the DIY splash balls

    9. And, because kids never tire of hurling things, hand them some Crayola Globbles. Don't panic, parents, reviewers say these sticky globs don't leave a residue on the wall or ceiling.

    10. Spend the afternoon doing an amazingly simple science experiment with your kids: Fill a vase or water bottle with water, food coloring, and oil and then break an Alka Selter tablet into several pieces and drop them inside. Your kids are guaranteed to be fascinated with this fizzy lava lamp.

    Blogger's photo of the DIY lava lamp

    11. Make a bubble toy lawn mower your BFF this summer to keep them occupied without lifting a finger. It requires no batteries and will have your toddler enchanted as they "mow" the lawn and watch it transform into a bubble wonderland.

    12. Your kids will think you're the ~coolest~ parent around with this ice block *excavation* activity (that you can literally pull off with stuff you already have at home). Just fill a plastic cup with water and tiny treasures aka dino toys, plastic coins, and more, and stick in the freezer. Then give them a kid-safe hammer or a water gun with warm water and let them have at it.

    Blogger's photo of their child playing with ice blocks with toys inside

    13. Speaking of dinos, try a reasonably priced Lego set that'll win you fave status with any dino-lovin' kid, because they can create three different dinosaurs with majorly realistic teeth and claws.

    14. Transform pool noodles with this ~jawsome~ shark craft that'll keep your toddler busy *and* have them excitedly singing Baby shark, doo, doo, doo....🎶

    Blogger's photo of the pool noodle sharks

    15. And, for another way to keeping little hands occupied when you're cooped up, grab a Melissa & Doug activity book with a pair of safe scissors that'll put their fine motor skills to the test.

    16. Take summer backyard fun to the next level with water balloons tied to a stick aka water balloon pinatas! Not only will they entertain a large group of kids on a budget, but also help them cool off when temps soar.

    Blogger's photo of a water balloon pinata game

    17. BTW, stock up on Bunch O Balloons so you can fill up 100 water balloons at once and take all the hassle out of preparing for a water balloon fight.

    reviewer's photo of water balloons in a bucket

    18. Are your kids hankering to build something that isn't Lego? Grab some toothpicks, gumdrop candies, and marshmallows from your pantry to start fostering their engineering skills.

    Blogger's photo of various gumdrop structures

    19. Set up a game of hide and seek with minimal effort with the Silly Poopy's Hide & Seek game that'll do all the heavy lifting, while you take all the credit. It involves hiding a fake rainbow-colored poo that says "yoo-hoo" and gives other hysterical clues about its hiding place. Kids who delight in toilet humor will get a total kick out of this.

    20. Take inspiration from this blogger who used a milk jug and sponges to create a car wash perfect for when your kiddo wants to wash their Hot Wheels collection like a pro!

    Blogger's photo of the DIY toy car wash

    21. Why not introduce your little artists to a satisfying activity from your own childhood? A scratch paper art set will keep them doodling feverishly on the surface to reveal the rainbow colors underneath.

    22. What's cheap yet oh-so-fun? Homemade play dough! Help your kids whip up a batch and then sneak away while they indulge in some squishy play.

    Blogger's photo of red, yellow, and pink Play Dough

    23. For moments when your rambunctious kids are bouncing of the walls, you'll be grateful for a pack of parachute toys ingeniously designed not to tangle despite being tossed excitedly from the top of the stairs or a balcony over and over.

    24. Take bath time to a whole other level of fun by tossing in a few glow sticks to create the kiddie equivalent of a rave. Trust me, they'll literally refuse to get out.

    A photo of the glow sticks in the bath tub

    25. Finally, keep this set of games for the road in your back pocket during your next road trip. It's guaranteed to prevent nonstop cries of "Are we there yet?"

    the car game

    The reviews for this post have been edited for length and clarity.