Kids Activities: 10 ways to keep little boys busy (for cheap/free)

Keeping little ones busy can be a full time job, but these easy ideas can be a great distraction for moms while you get stuff done (like cleaning, laundry or the 1 million other things you have to do each day.)

10 ways to keep little boys busy

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10 cheap/free ways to keep little ones busy

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She's usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She's addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.


  1. my kids LOVE playing with masking tape! they make spider webs with it. empty card board boxes are another favorite of theirs. they start by coloring them and then i give them a butter knife and they start cutting it. im not sure how old he his but my kiddos also love playing with our left over wood, nails, screw and washers. we give them small hammers and screwdrivers to use. they spend hours playing with it. my little guy is even better with a screw driver then i am:) when he was 4 he took the barn door off the hinges…it was hysterical! bless you and good luck keep him busy!

  2. At the same time I have experienced the same yet slightly different situation here at my home. My step-daughter and her daughter have come to live with us. As you raised only girls, I raised only boys, four boys in fact. My step-daughter was raised by her mother and seldom visited. It has been such a blessing having our granddaughter here and her mother whom I have enjoyed finally getting to know better. As you say it is sometimes a challenge trying to keep her occupied. Its funny how strange it is to have a child in the house again after all of your children have grown. I love having them here and I cherish every moment we have.

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  4. Great ideas!

    Have a great weekend


  5. Great job in taking on your grandson. I was in a situation a couple of years ago where I had to leave my son with my mom for about a year and a half and I am so grateful to her everyday for the great care she provided my son. Also, they are so close now. They have an amazing bond. Your keep busy ideas are great!

  6. It takes me back to when mine were young. My son used to love cardboard blocks. We had these for years. Got them in a catalog and had to fold them to put them together. He used to build zoo’s as we had a big collection of zoo animals. Then he would build a house for his twin sister and her dolls! Great ideas. Sounds like you are having fun!

  7. Wonderful ideas to entertain little ones, Gina.

    I had no idea how many grandparents were raising their grandchildren until my own daughter started school (gulp, my girl will be turning #20 this Sunday) and Back To School Parent’s Night was a bit of a shocker for me. Maybe easily 30% of the parent there were actually Grandparents, raising the kids.

    Good for you and what you are doing- I’ve always been a fan of your blog, but even MORE so now, Gina.

    Smiles, Suz in NW Illinois @maytagnmom

  8. Thank You and Thank you…Your Keeping toddler Boys Busy can be challenging but Having so much fun with my Grandson … I have him Once a Month for a week….We do a few of what you have posted but The Painters Tape is Genius….Will be 2 in a few months and Although I get exhausted lol I love cooking for him…Reading books Dancing around and Watching him Discover All That is New to Him…Everything …. I feel Blessed And feel all who have posted Carry That Blessing everyday… And Blocks and Pretend Camping are our Best Friends….

  9. I have three boys under four and keeping them occupied is a challenge. We play a lot of trains and cars. Playdoh is a must. I make homemade playdoh using a recipe I found at counting coconuts. It is cheaper and lasts longer than store-bought. We play blocks all the time. Sidewalk chalk is a good investment as are bubbles. During the winter we play bubbles in the bathtub. Another activity my two oldest love is drawing. I cover my kitchen table with butcher paper, tape it down, and set out crayons. Sometimes I even leave it on during dinner to occupy the fast eaters. We also dance and jump a lot to music. It sounds like you are doing a great job. Boys are so much fun.

  10. I have a three year old and a two year old, so this is all really useful information.

    I have found the dollar store is a great resource. Colouring books, craft supplies, the list goes on for what you can find there without breaking the bank.

  11. Music is awesome for all children but boys can reallly burn up energy dancing. Use music to “play” the instruments you hear, do different kinds of dancing, at different speeds, teaching them to follow the rhythm is a great pre-reading skill. Music is great for brain developement. Play the can you do this game follow me, and clap different rhythems.
    Other things to do in rice bin…hide dollar store erasers, pennies, craft foamies….use toast tongs to pick things up-because the rice is “poisonous”! Home Depot sells great bins for mixing concrete, they work really well for all kinds of contents,

  12. You’re doing a great job, Gina! My son is 5 and he still loves alot of these things! One thing I never thought of was the painters tape roads. We are totally going to have to try that one! When my son was turning 3, I went to Lowe’s and got him a big utility bucket and filled it with all sorts of inexpensive hardware pieces (all kid friendly) Short pieces of PVC pipe that screwed together, chunky hinges, little gardening gloves he pretended to be “work gloves”, etc. He had a ball pretending to build or be a plumber. I even got him a section of vacuum cleaner hose and stuck a cheap garden hose sprayer on the end for when he played fireman. He would pull it around the house pretending to put out fires with his “fire hose”. Anyway, just some ideas. It sounds like you have a great line-up :)
    Bless you for caring for that little guy!


  13. A big tub of PVC pipes and connectors was the best present our boys ever received (at age 3) … At age 9 now they STILL play with them !!!! All sorts of things have flowed through them (cars, rocks, water, milk, juice, string…), they’ve been created into all sorts of machines…. They love it!

    Boys need to use their hands ! :)


  14. There are some good playtime ideas here and I think it’s wonderful that you are looking after your grandson. However this blog entry make me feel so sad. Why are these ideas for boys specifically? There are wonderful ideas for all children and my toddler girl would love so many of them – she never stays still either. It’s just such a shame in our society that we unconsciously promote these self limiting beliefs to our children.

    • Hi Tracy,
      Sorry, I never meant to seem like I was leaving out girls, it was more of a way to share my story with my readers about Brady. You are spot on that most girls would like all of these, too.

      Thanks for your comment!

  15. Fill the bathroom or kitchen sink halfway with water and provide a couple cups, spoon, and cars or animals. Potential for a mess but my 3yo does pretty good at keeping the water off the floor!

  16. Laurie jacob says:

    Hi. Don’t know where you live but I’d give the kids small buckets of water that they could carry and give them.a big cheap paint brush and they painted everything outside picnic table side of house goes on wet and they can see it dry too. Scotch tape. And some wrapping paper and let them wrap stuff up. Old maid uno cards matching guess. Take a tray gather items around the house put them on the try let them look at it so long and then cover it up and good they can. Remember what was on the tray things they use like a spoon. Pencil. A small toy a key a coin book just wrap things fun for remembering so many things you can do that don’t cost anything. Read to the kids sing silly songs. Drop clothes pins in a bucket have fun your kids will grow up. Way too fasturqqqq

  17. Terry MacGregor says:

    I am a grandmother and raised two boys and one girl. Our house always was full of kids from the block, and always open for anyone to come and play. I did my housework at night when they were in bed. I see a total change in todays raising of kids, kids go to each others house rarely, most mothers are working or the neighbourhood is empty until 6 because everyone else is at a daycare somewhere. I know its a financial concern, but do we really need that second car or that big house

    Another thing that breaks my heart, the use of cell phones, look around anywhere, put it down and take the time to talk to your kids. I am sure I ll get a lot of comments, but if it hits home for just one parent, its worth it

  18. creative ideas! my only problem is that i think this post should be renamed to “10 ways to keep your children busy”. All of the activities that you have mentioned would be perfect for a little girl as well, not just boys!

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