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INSIDE: Roam the Gnome’s Guide to Awesome Unique fun things to do at home for free when you aren’t traveling. 

Couped up at home while you save for your next road or plane trip?

I’m running out of local places to spend time in nature, and the fuel budget is running low.

We’ve had our fill of wide open space playgrounds and parks, card games, board games, scavenger hunt in the living room, and local bike ride fun.

I’m over the boy’s constant requests for food and snacks, and their regular quarrels, and the non-stop netflix & youtube buzz is wearing off. 

We also now have more ‘time’ than ability to spend money on frivolous things, and need to stay home.

So I made a bucket list of 20 fun things to do at home for free. We’ve put on our thinking caps to come up with creative things to do that don’t involve screens too. 

Take a look below at the big list of fun things to do at home when bored! 

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These things are keeping the boys happy, engaged and entertained at home, but they are also good activities for a lull day on the road,  without having to rely too heavily on the TV or the (dreaded) ipad or social media. 

You’ll need to kick start a few of these for the kids as they need a bit of adult help, but be sure to step back and leave the kids to their own thoughts and creativity, so you don’t end up playing the role of  ‘Entertainment Director’. 

But join in as much as you like. Playing with your kids can be lots of fun.

Stop the boredom AND the non-stop sibling rivalry spats with these 20 fun things to do at home for free. 

These things will save your personal finance situation too!

These ideas can also be used for:

  • fun things to do at home when bored
  • fun things to do with friends at home
  • things for couples to do at home when bored 

knitting by aine

Image credit: Aine by Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0


No.1: Make your own pair of knitting needles

For this, each child will need two wooden craft sticks or pieces of dowel (at least 25cm long) to make a pair of knitting needles.

Show the children how to gently sand one end of both sticks or dowel into a fairly sharp point, using medium grade sandpaper or by scratching the sticks against a piece of old outdoor concrete.

Glue on a funky bead, a gumnut, or a cute trinket onto the flat end for personalised decoration, then show the kids how to cast on for knitting adventures.

A10 cm  square of knitting can be sewn up into a little handbag, a pencil case, or be used for the body of a simple tube doll instead of felt.

Older children can sew simple patterns.

There’s plenty of knitting ideas in this original book, The Children’s Year, and also in this one, A First Book of Knitting for Children.

Both of these books are faves on our bookshelf, and very tatty these days. 

Or head to the local library to find more options, or ask a family member for help.  

childrens art gallery wall by peter van broekhoven

Image credit: Peter Van Broekhoven Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.2: Host your OWN art gallery, just like the ones they see when travelling.

Invite the children to make glorious pieces of art on A4 sheets of paper or cardboard, using whatever you have on hand:

  • pencils
  • markers
  • paint
  • collage materials.

If you want to go all professional, make a frame. 

Cut a piece of cardboard that will fit over the piece, adding a border of at least 3 – 4 cm.

Use a stanley knife to carefully cut out the centre rectangle of the cardboard to leave an art window for the child’s work.

Tape their art piece to the underside of the frame.

Hang prepared artworks across a blank wall by suspending a length of fishing line from a hook or thumbtacks and pegging them on with mini wooden pegs.

Invite guests for a gala gallery opening one afternoon, providing peppermint tea, and sweet nibblies for all.

FUN THINGS TO DO AT HOME FOR FREE! - teddy bears picnic by virginia state parks

Image credit: Virginia State Parks via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.3: On a fine sunny day, take the beloved teddies outside for a Teddy Bear’s Picnic.

Spread out a comfy rug, and help your teddy and doll guests to feel comfortable by propping them up with cushions and pillows.

You might like to share a snack.


  • honey and banana muffins
  • sweet iced tea
  • ‘beary’-good sandwiches or wraps, and
  • fruit skewers and honey-yoghurt dipping pots.

Endow awards (gold cardboard stars on finger-knitted ropes ) to the:

  • Best Dressed Bear
  • Most Unusual Named Bear
  • No. 1 Adventurer Bear, and
  • Bear with the Biggest Heart.

Sing bear-inspired songs:

  • ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’
  • ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around’ or
  • my favourite, ‘If you go down to the woods today’ (The Teddy Bears Picnic song).

Why not make a Photo Booth and provide props (wigs, moustaches, groovy glasses…) for the children and bears to wear for fun snaps?

Hot Tip: This is why we always carry a small ball of coloured 100% wool knitting wool, and a small pair of scissors with us. You just never know when you’ll need to make a finger knitted rope when you are out and about!

fun things to do at home for free - rainbow resin necklace by ritzee rebel

Image credit: Ritzee Rebel via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.4: Host a fun afternoon of recycling old fashion jewellery.

Gather unwanted supplies from your favourite grandma, aunty or friend (those with a cupboard overflowing with fashion faux pas especially!) and set up a bunch of empty bowls on a big table.

Use scissors or pliers to snap old strings and chains and save the beads, the ornamental pieces, the jewels, and the buttons, sorting them into the bowls as you go.

When this work is done, invite children to scavenge through the loose parts to make brand new necklaces and bracelets of their own, threading them onto thin elastic strands or linen thread using blunt tapestry needles.

Or fill chocolate moulds with your favourite bits and pieces, top them up with resin and leave them to set.

(The making and pouring resin bit is an adult’s job.)

At afternoon’s end, or when the resin has set, host a fashion parade and view all the exotic creations.

backyard posies by kelly taylor flickr

Image credit: Kelly Taylor via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.5: Pick a posy.

Take a walk through the local neighbourhood with your children to find pockets of blooming glory.

Pick a bunch of your favourite blossoms and arrange them in a sweet display.

(Be sure to ask before you remove flowers from private gardens.)

Wrap the stems together with string twine and place in a see-through vase, cup or whatever you vessel you have on hand.

natural dye by vicky katrin kuhlmann

Image credit: Vicky Katrin Kuhlmann via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.6: Play with Natural Dyeing 

Put on your Wizard’s hat and brew up a concoction of natural finds to dye fabric and wool!

I love that you can do this anywhere you go!

 All you need is to forage through the forest or bushland for some fallen leaves, seedpods, flowers, or bark; and have access to a bottle of vinegar and a stove top.

To begin, you need to prepare a piece of cotton or silk fabric (an old white cotton tshirt will also suffice) or a plain un-dyed 100% knitting wool ball or skein with a ‘fixative’ that will help the  to hold the colour.

For plant dyes:

  • Place 4 parts cold water to 1 part vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Add material and simmer for an hour
  • Then rinse fabric or wool gently in cold water.
  • Chop up 2 cups of your chosen material into tiny pieces and cover with 4 cups of water.
  • Bring to boil and allow it to simmer for an hour.
  • Strain the dye, then add your wet fabric or wool skein.
  • Leave for 2 hours, or for a more intense colour, overnight.
  • Rinse gently in clean water and hang out to dry.  

Here’s a list of some of the natural seedpods and treasures you can use:

  • onion skins
  • eucalyptus leaves
  • pomegranate peel
  • madder root
  • roses
  • lavender
  • beetroot
  • tumeric
  • dried hibiscus leaves
  • spinach leaves

There is alchemy in this process and once you have a go, everyone will be on the hunt to see what other colour combinations you can create with natural finds from your backyard or nature walks.

fun things to do at home for free - flower mandala by heather

Image credit: Heather via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.7: Make a leaf or flower mandala.

Give each child a basket and invite them to collect a stash of green or dried material on a nature walk, including seedpods, flower heads, four leaf clovers, leaves, sticks, Y sticks, pine cones etc. 

Upon your return home, demonstrate how they can artistically organise their nature finds into ‘mandala’-like repetitive patterns.

For inspiration, type ‘flower (or ‘leaf’) mandalas’ into google images.

Just imagine what you can do with your nature materials too!

Nature provides us with lots of fun things to do at home for free. 

chalk art by franklin park library

Image credit: Franklin park library via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.8: Give children a bucket of coloured chalk

No matter where you go, you can just about always find a cheap tub of coloured chalk in a discount variety store or as we call them around here, a ‘cheap shop’.

Then it’s just a matter of inviting the kids to ‘make art’ on your concrete driveway or road, or a pathway.

Draw ‘picture frames’ or shape outlines they can fill.

Or draw a ‘hopscotch’ pattern and show them how to play using a few small rocks as your tokens.

Or, try this awesome idea I saw on Facebook.

Use washi tape or narrow masking tape to outline a huge rectangle shape on your wooden fence

Inside the rectangle, break up the open space into lots of smaller shapes using tape laid out in straight lines.

It’s similar to a tesselate but instead of one shape repeating over and over, these shapes will be random triangles, rectangles, oblongs and all sorts.  

Then have the children color in the spaces with chalk. One color per space. When you are done, peel off the tape to see this magical creation! 

If you are lucky enough to have access to white chalk rocks or white ‘mud’ in your local neighbourhood, pre-empt your chalk adventures with a “nature forest kindergarten” bush walk to explore and make stuff, including homemade chalk sticks, with the white mud clay.  

We did this as kids growing up, wiling away hours on the bush-covered empty building blocks in our cul-de-sac making chalk-mud tea-sets and painting chalk-art figures on the enormous boulders.

I still remember how much I loved it!

fun things to do at home for free - use colored pavement chalk by steve johnson

Image credit: Steve Johnson via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.9: Scoot the race track!

While you have the chalk handy, draw some ‘race track’ pathways on the ground and invite the kids to ‘race’ their bikes, scooters, or trikes around the course.

Give them a stopwatch, so they can time their efforts and try hard to beat their own personal best!

sandwich by cyclone bill

Image credit: Cyclone Bill via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.10: Host a ‘sandwich style-off’ in a similar vein to a “Bake-off”.

Challenge children to come up with the most inventive, yet edible, fillings for lunchtime sandwiches.

Go beyond the boring ‘vegemite and cheese’ or ‘cheese and pickle’ or ‘salad’ and see what extraordinary layered concoctions you can create.

Invite friends to share in a yummy lunchtime feed.

fruit ice lollies by lablacovegmenu

Image credit: Lablascovegmenu via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.11: Become a master illustrator and cookbook designer

Gather a basketful of seasonal fruit.

Give the kids small knives and show them how to cut the fruit into small pieces, ready for healthy smoothies, flavour-filled juices, and icy block treats.

Write your original recipes into your “family favourites recipe book” and ask the kids to illustrate the pages, like a bullet journal. 

Don’t have a special family recipe book yet?  

Well, then, it’s time to start one!

mud play by bandita

Image credit: Bandita via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

No.12: Find (or make!) MUD and make mud pies.

Dress your children in their oldest clothes, and give them access to water and a pile of dirt somewhere.

Throw in a few unwanted kitchen tools such as:

  • old whisks
  • salad servers
  • bowls
  • rolling pins, and
  • spoons

Then watch them concoct all kinds of experiments.

A long plank perched upon some bricks, branches or river stones can act as a shop front for all their weird and wonderful creations.
dinner table setting by didriks

Image credit: Didriks via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.13:  Host a Homemade Restaurant

Ask the kids to pick their three favourite dinner recipe items:

  • one for a starter
  • one for a main, and
  • one for dessert.

Together, write up a list of ingredients and prices, then go food shopping to gather supplies.

Invite an older sibling, or teenage friend to help the children to follow a recipe and prepare dinner for the family.

Let them set and decorate the table, and prepare the meal presentation, ‘Masterchef’ style.

They can also make some hand-drawn menus for their guests. 

Enjoy a night off, and be sure to celebrate your chefs!

go fishing by virginia state parks

Image credit: Virginia State Parks via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.14: Go fishing off a river bank with the most basic of supplies.

Fishing is a place to daydream together, and share innermost thoughts and feelings.

If you don’t like fishing, go for a foot-only paddle in the shallows.

singing by jim pennucci

Image credit: Jim Pennucci via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.15: Sing to your heart’s delight

Harness the children’s inner divas by setting up a microphone and inviting them to sing along to their favourite tracks.

Remember the wise words of Gabrielle Roth to help you overcome any cringe-worthy moments and let them sing to their hearts content.

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person
complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed,
they would ask one of four questions:

“When did you stop dancing?

When did you stop singing?

When did you stop being enchanted by stories?

When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?”

breakfast in bed by shari's berries

Image credit: Shari’s Berries via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No. 16: Eat breakfast in bed.

Prepare a tray of yummy goodies:

  • vegemite on toast
  • cheese slices
  • a glass of fresh juice
  • a dish of yoghurt with a squashed berry mix and oat crumble
  • homemade crepes or pancakes with magnificent chocolate sauce, or lemon and honey
  • strawberry and blueberry waffles 
  • cut fruit selection
  • a european-inspired selection of savoury delicacies such as ham, salami, feta and ricotta cheese
  • and perhaps a warm mug of peppermint tea.

Bring a selection of books (some of theirs, and at least one of your own) and spend a lazy hour or two, nibbling and reading the time away.

Reading and eating are two very fun things to do at home for free!

dancing by boudewijn berends

Image credit: Boudewijn Berends via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.17: Host a dance concert.

Help children create a ‘mix-tape’ of their favourite tunes.

Invite the children to dance and show off their funky moves.

star gazing by phillip chee

Image credit: Phillip Chee via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.18: Moonlight Gazing

Wake the children at midnight on a clear night.

Lay on your backyard trampoline, or on a rug on the grass for a star-gazing adventure.

Hot tip: If you are in the market for a new trampoline, we highly recommend looking at VULY trampolines

Read our review here too. 

fun things to do at home for free - put up lights by steve jurvetson

Image credit: Steve Jurvetson via  Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.19: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Pull the Christmas twinkle lights back out from your Christmas storage, and repurpose them for a front-door welcome.

I love twinkle lights as they remind me of magic and travel, and Christmas celebrations, Christmas markets, and all those divine Christmas decoration montages and displays we’ve seen around the world, and I believe they should be in use all year round.

When I’m staying at home for a time, I love to see twinkle lights every single day.

They remind me that soon, we’ll be back on the road for more adventures!

fun things to do at home for free - tree climbing by aaron weber

Image credit: Aaron Weber via Flickr CC BY-2.0

No.20: Climb trees of all shapes and sizes.

Scope your local area and neighbourhood for a procession of climbing trees – a la ‘Sound of Music’.

Dress your kids in long comfortable trousers and tees to ward off ant bites, bee stings and ticks, pack a picnic, and head off for a morning of tree exploration and time in nature.  

Walk there if you can.

Leave the car idle for the day and go by foot to save fuel and the environment where possible. 

We’re lucky enough to have THE climbable tree of our street in our front yard, and it’s always heaving with tiny bodies.  

Tree climbing is one of the most fun things to do at home for free.

vuly trampoline review with roam the gnome

More Fun Things to do at home for free with kids? 

Correct at time of publication on Roam the Gnome

These are my boredom busters tips for fun things to do at home for free. 

Add yours in the comments. 

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