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Keeping the kids from spending all day in front of the computer, TV, or games console might be easy in the summer, when you can send them outside to play. Now we’re entering autumn and they’re cooped up inside more on the evenings and weekends, it can sometimes be a bit harder to keep them entertained.

Whether you’re at home or out and about, your kids don’t have to resort to watching cartoons or surfing online all day just because it’s raining or too cold to play outside. We’ve put together the best ways to entertain your brood indoors, all without putting too much of a strain on your wallet.

At home

Find a new hobby for them – hobbies for your kids don’t always have to be pricey or require lots of new equipment. Photography is a good one, as you most likely already have a basic camera lying around at home. If your kids are more crafty, knitting, sewing, or origami – the Japanese art of paper folding – are relatively inexpensive hobbies and you can print designs off the internet for them to try.

Set up a scavenger hunt – hide a few items around the house – clothes pegs, pens, or little notes – and write down a list of what you’ve hidden. This is best if you’re entertaining several kids, as you can split them into teams to see who can find the most.

Get them cooking – if the kids are getting under your feet while you’re trying to make dinner, get them involved in the cooking. We’ve got a list of meals that children can help to make, meaning you’ll be able to keep the little ones entertained while cooking dinner at the same time.

Download educational apps for your tablets – alright, so this one is in front of a screen. But if the kids are going to play on a tablet, it’s better that they’re doing something educational rather than wasting time on a mindless game. There are plenty of apps to help with kids’ spelling and number skills – just make sure you’ve got a kiddie-friendly case before you let them loose on your tablet!

Help them put on a play or magic show – even shy kids will probably like performing a play or demonstrating magic tricks if it’s in front of just you. Give them a pack of playing cards and a book of simple magic tricks, and they can spend hours trying to perfect their act.

Out and about

Check out indoor play centres – this isn’t a free option, but it’s usually much cheaper than an expensive day out to an attraction or theme park. Prices for kids are usually between £4 and £7, and adults get in free to most indoor play centres.

Take a trip to the library – get your kids reading by taking a trip to the local library. Many libraries offer free membership for children to get the younger generation into reading. It’s a fun trip out and your children might find some new favourite books to love.

Visit free museums and art galleries – you might think that museums or art galleries could be a little dull for kids, but they don’t have to be. There are thousands of museums in the UK, most of which are free and many of which run special exhibits for children. If your kids are interested in a particular historical period or event from learning about it at school, they’ll love finding out about it in more detail.

Take the kids to free DIY classes – if you want your kids to learn valuable skills, you can take them to DIY classes at B&Q. Classes cost £5 but if you sign up to be a member online, you can go for free. They run Saturday and Sunday mornings, and the young attendees get to make a fun project that they can take home once they’re done.

See a TV show being filmed – take the whole family on a free trip out to watch the filming of your kids’ favourite TV show. You can apply online (either at SRO Audiences or Applause Store) for free tickets to be in the audience for a lot of shows, but it can be difficult to get in the audience for a popular programme. It also depends where you live, as most children’s shows are filmed near London or Manchester.

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