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5 Ideas To Entertain The Children At Home On A Budget

Updated: Jun 4

By Marina Rahamim, 04 June 2024

We always want to make sure that our little ones have fun at home and are also properly stimulated at the same time. If you are anything like me, you don’t want Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol or Bluey to be the answer, but at the same time you don’t want to keep spending money on expensive toys (hello cost of living crisis!) to keep them entertained, particularly as our little ones have the remarkable ability of getting bored with a new toy 5 minutes after opening the box. The good news is that there are so many wonderful ways you can entertain your kids at home on a budget, and I wanted to share five ideas with you in this blog.

1.Let’s start with the sofa! You don’t always need the latest toys – often the furniture you have works the best. Many sofas allow you to move the cushions from it for cleaning. This is a great way to create your own soft play at home, you can create different formations and its particularly helpful on a rainy afternoon when you can’t be bothered to leave the house or get sick at the local soft play ☺. We often like to turn our sofa into an obstacle course using whatever toys or furniture you have. This is also an opportunity to encourage siblings to work as a team to complete a challenge or you can introduce a ‘beat the timer’ element to give an older child (4+) more incentive and keep it going longer with focus (and stop it descending into chaos).

2.Making Dens: Put a cloth over the kitchen dining table and turn your chairs sideways on the floor either underneath it if they fit or to the side. It’s a great way to make little tunnels for them to play and reinventing the same space on those long afternoons at home on a rainy weekend. Snack time and puppet shows are fun ways to use this space (and can encourage those with fussy eaters to get excited about food – especially if you get in with them!)

3.Creative Play and Story-Telling: Looking for imaginative play ideas but not feeling very imaginative? Use the sofa again (this time intact) to become a boat or a magical island and see where that takes them (if you need inspiration, why not use flashcards you have at home or flick through pages of their favourite books to see where you land and let your children guide you with their storytelling!) This activity works best if you do it with them and they really appreciate it afterwards (plus it makes them forget about TV for 5 minutes and has the added bonus of beefing up language skills and vocabulary!) If you have some old kitchen rolls, keep them, they make excellent telescope props. If you have some old fabric it can also be fun to lay it on the floor to bring the ‘sea’ to life and use the cushions to step across to avoiding sharks, or, of course, as a way of staying alive when the floor inevitably turns into lava. 

4.Hiding and Finding Games: Treasure hunts are not just for Easter, they are a great way to entertain children throughout the year. If, like me, you find those 20 minutes while you make dinner the hardest time of the day – they (we?!) are tired, grumpy, usually overtired (and extra bouncy) and that’s usually the time when they need watching the most – If you don’t want to use screens (which only makes them more wired and tired and exacerbates negative behaviour) then why not try hiding some of their favourite wooden puzzle pieces or whatever you have at hand (colourful children’s cutlery or post-it notes) and let them keep busy on their hunt while you finish off the cooking. Giving ‘warmer’ and ‘colder’ clues the closer and further they get.

5.Bingo and Memory Games from Age 3:These types of games are such a big part of our playing experience at home these days – Games such as Little Bug Bingo, Shopping List Game, The Lunchbox Game and other memory games where you need to find pairs are brilliant for this age and are fun turn-taking games for all the family. Once you have exhausted these, my suggestion is to find another game that matches their age and stage but also to your child’s interests. For example, my son is really into flags so I found a flag bingo game on amazon (it cost £5 and continues to entertain us) which he loves and I think is key to develop their interests further in a fun way. You can find so many things out there once you start looking so whether it is cars, princesses or space there are games to suit your child.

I would love to hear what other great ideas you all have to entertain your kids at home on a budget – let me know in the comments section below and I’ll give a shout out to my favourite suggestion in the next blog.


Marina Rahamim is a qualified child therapist. Over her career, she has worked with children who have experienced different challenges from bullying and low self-esteem to divorce and domestic violence and abuse. Furthermore, she has supported a Local Authority Children’s Centre, leveraging her understanding of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) developed through her NCFE Cache Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Workforce (Early Years Educator). However it was Marina’s work at a leading charity, Norwood, that sparked her true passion for working with children and learning about child development, where she organised and ran activities for young people aged between 5 and 25 years old who had special educational needs over a 5 year period. Now a mother to 3 young children and a fellow parent at La Petite Nursery, Marina has used her extensive training and work in the field of childcare and psychology to follow her own passions and hobbies, including coming up with enjoyable strategies to help manage behaviour and being an enthusiastic baby signer. Marina graduated with a Master’s in Play Therapy from the University of Roehampton in 2017 (accredited under BAPT).


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Jun 05

Thank you very much Marina for the inspiration!! Such a good read, I often struggle with ideas for home play activities so I can’t wait to try these with my kids and they sound very fun too!


Amy Paskow
Amy Paskow
Jun 04

It’s so nice to read something like this. Thank you Marina! It’s a great reminder, refreshes us with some new ideas , and helps me beat that TV! I know to use it sparingly, but sometimes I can’t think of something to do as alternative because my brain is a Bluey blur. Getting the kids to tell their own stories, prompting them with books is a great push for independent creativity. I’ll be using that one!

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