20 Fun Kids Activities for Under $10

I recently set myself the challenge of finding a minimum of 10 fun activities that Mums can easily do at home with their children for under $10 worth of items from the supermarket. Can it be done? Of course it can. We actually found 20!

So what did I buy? For a grand total of $9.91 I got;

  • A bag of plain flour
  • A bag of table salt
  • A bag of rice
  • 2 bottles of food colouring
  • A can of shaving cream
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 potato
  • 1 onion
  • A couple of free Coles catalogues

With a few bits and pieces from around our home, here are the 20 fun activities we tried…

Activity #1: Pseudo Watercolour Painting

for toddlerswith food colouring

Food colouring can make a great first paint for toddlers. It is non toxic, washes off relatively easily and has a nice vivid colour. As it is thin and drippy, I put the colouring into a butter tub with a piece of paper towel in the bottom. As a result Immy could dip her brush in and out, saying “Dip, dip” as she did so, without flicking it all over the room.

Please supervise children using undiluted food colouring, it does wash off but if they go overboard you could end up with stained skin that takes a few days to disappear.

Activity #2: Cotton Bud Painting
As an alternative to a paintbrush, cotton buds work really well when painting with food colouring.

Activity #3: Spray Bottle Painting
For preschoolers and older older children (with more hand strength and co-ordination), dilute food colouring with a little water into spray bottles for painting outdoors. Hang large sheets of paper (or fabric) onto a fence or from the washing line and squirt the paint on. It’s great fun.

Activity #4: Ice Cube Painting
Combine a little water with food colouring and make ice cubes for ice painting, its lots of fun especially on a warm day.

Activity #5: Water Play
Add food colouring to your water play tub and use clear bottles and containers for filling and pouring.

Activity #6: Coloured Rice Play

Coloured rice play

Regular readers may recall that I am a fan of rice play as a wet weather alternative to the sandpit. I coloured the rice with the food colouring by adding a few drops at a time and stirring until it reached the depth of colour I wanted. I then spread the rice onto a baking tray for a little while to let it dry out.

I put down a large tablecloth on the ground to help define a play space. It also makes clean up much easier as you just collect up the edges of the cloth to gather any spilt rice into one spot. Immy played with the rice together with some plastic containers and kitchen utensils; spooning and stirring, transferring rice from container to container.

Activity #7: Rice Play Treasure Hunt
As an alternative, hide small toys or household items in your play rice tub for your child to find. Give them a strainer to sift the rice and find the goodies.

Activity #8: I Spy in a Bottle

Bottle treasure hunt

Hide small toys or household items in a clear plastic water bottle and fill with rice (I filled ours about 3/4 full). Suggestions include a peg, a key, a die, craft foam shapes or letters, a coin, buttons of different colours and tiny toys or figurines. This would be a great activity for long car trips as you could make a number of small bottles with different objects.

Activity #9: Monochrome Treasure Hunt Bottle
For older children, make the treasure hunt trickier by using small items of one colour and the same coloured rice.

Activity #10: Fruit and Vegetable Printing

fruit and vegetable printing

An oldie but a goodie, fruit and vegie printing is easy for even the youngest child and it’s lots of fun. I cut the onion and each lemon in half and cut our quite long potato into thirds. To make shapes on the potato I used metal cookie cutters, pressing them in and then cutting around the outside with a small knife.

Again we used the food colouring as our paint. Pour a little of the food colouring onto a kitchen sponge or some paper towel in a plastic container for the pieces to be pressed onto and then print away.

Activity #11: Flour & Water Glue Collage

picture collage

I mixed a little flour with some water into a thick paste to use as glue. Flour and water glue is perfectly adequate for sticking together lightweight papers.

I wasn’t sure if Immy was ready for collage as we had never tried gluing before but she loved it. She first spread the glue over her paper and after I showed her how to push a picture onto the glue she had it down pat.

Activity #12: Catologue Treasure Hunt
For us, the collage experience was just about Immy getting the idea of spreading glue and then sticking things down. You could however add an additional element to the learning potential of this activity by asking your child to find certain items from the collection of pictures. For example, “Can you find an apple?” or “Can you stick down something yellow?”

Activity #13: Coloured glue
Add a little food colouring to your flour and water glue and allow your child to add some extra colour to their collage experience.

Activity #14: Salt Dough/ No Cook Playdough

Playdough uncooked recipe

This no cook playdough recipe was easy to make and I added the juice of half a lemon to add an additional sensory element to the play.

Activity #15: Mixing Rainbow Salt Crystals

Coloured salt mixing

I saw this activity over at Kids Craft Weekly and thought that it would be a fun one to try as Immy loves stirring. Just add a few drops of food colouring into a small quantity of table salt and then stir until all of the crystals are coloured. We did this one outside to reduce the likelihood of mess if the salt was spilt. Immy really enjoyed stirring and stirring and then pouring the salt from container to container. Kids Craft Weekly shows how you can use the salt crystals to make pictures or store the coloured salt in shakers for use on craft projects.

Activity #16: Shaving Cream Bath Play

Shaving cream shower fun

A few months ago Immy started to dislike having showers (she really is a bath girl like her Mum!) So Dad 101 would spray some of his shaving cream onto the tiles or shower screen for her to play with. It is a nice sensory experience for toddlers though obviously they need close supervision to make sure they don’t put it in their mouths. Some nights there is even a friendly face already in the shower to greet Immy as she gets in!

Activity #17: Shaving Cream Colour Mixing (the messy version!)

Shaving cream painting

Spread some shaving cream onto a baking tray (not too much as it really does go a long way). Allow your child to spread it out and then add a few drops of food colouring for them to mix in. We started with yellow and then added a little of the red.

Once finished you can take a print onto some paper but it really is only temporary art as the foam flakes off once dry.

Activity #18: Shaving Cream Colour Mixing (the UNmessy version!)

Shaving cream play

Pop some shaving cream and a few drops of food colouring into a ziploc bag (this is a recycled one from a recent delivery), zip it up and then get squeezing and pummelling, both great for developing gross motor skills. Talk to your child about the changes they can see as the colours mix. We taped our bag to the window and it looks really cool with the sunlight behind. I can imagine a whole line of them in different colours.

Activity#19: Origami
For older children, use your Coles catalogues for some origami. Try Origami for Kids for everything from drinking cups to hats to animals. Or make paper planes and challenge each other to see how high or how far each person’s plane flies.

paper planes

Activity #20: Ripping & Tearing Fun
Let your toddler have fun ripping and tearing your used catalogues. Ripping and tearing develop both fine and gross motor muscles and toddlers love ripping stuff!

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  1. StΓ©phanie says:

    GReat ideas !!! Thanks !!
    Will try some on my 2 1/2 year old son, Iwan.

  2. SquiggleMum says:

    Wow Christie… that's a cracker of a post! We haven't tried the treasure hunt in a bottle before so think we'll give that one a go πŸ™‚ Cath xx

  3. This was a great post. thanks for the ideas. I tend to run out of ideas for Blaze and this is a help especially that it was done so cheap.

  4. Loved the link to the no cook play dough- very quick and easy… thanks!!

  5. Oh my goodness so many great ideas! I love the treasure hunt in the bottle and the rice colouring and the shaving cream in the shower and…
    Fabulous post. πŸ™‚

  6. OMG!! What a super great ideas!! Thank you!!

  7. Mizzsharon says:

    Good stuff =p
    Good luck yea πŸ˜‰

  8. WOW – so much for so little – all it takes is a little imagination and not worrying about getting messy or sticky. Love the face in the shaving cream – hope that helps with Immy learning to love the shower.

  9. what great ideas – but i have to say i love your glass toped table what a wonderful table for kids crafts

  10. onehookwonder says:

    Great post! I'm still gearing up for the shaving cream over here…yikes.

  11. Christie Burnett says:

    Glad so many of you found new activities to try. Steff, the glass table is great for painting but not so great cleaning up after dinner time and I can NEVER get rid of all the fingerprints!

    Thanks for your comments everyone, have fun!

  12. cool ideas!!

  13. PlanningQueen says:

    Very creative and isn't it the way that it is the simple and inexpensive things that can give kids (and adults) so much joy.

  14. The Book Chook says:

    Love these ideas!

  15. Loved the reminder at the end to let kids rip and tear in catalogs. Having 'junk' catalogs in a basket by our bookshelf saved our books when our oldest was young. She could rip and tear something that *wasn't* a book, but looked like one. And with some gentle reminders from us a few times, it was amazing how fast she could tell the difference between 'tearables' and 'non-tearables.

  16. wow, these ideas are very cool!

  17. Stacey Brockway says:

    Hi, How are you ?? I was sent a link to your site and i absolutely LOVE it!!! Thankyou for sharing all this with everyone!!!
    I have a request if i may … Can you put up some information/ personal experience etc about TOILET TRAINING!! ??? That is the stage i am at with my 2 year old at the moment – Happy as larry to sit on the toilet .. No success as yet however.
    I look forward to reading more and more from you!! Thanks again xxx

  18. Wow! I can't wait to try some of these with my boys.

    Such wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing them.

  19. LOVE LOVE LOVE this. I'm going to try the shaving cream one.

  20. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  21. worksformehomemaking says:

    Brilliant ideas! I especially like the "treasure hunt in a bottle"! I will definitely be trying some of these with my daughter. Enjoying looking around your blog

  22. No more complaining about a lack of money in my house (for a little while anyway) πŸ™‚
    All wonderful, fun and safe activities for children of many ages.

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