As COVID-19 continues to shut school doors, many parents are finding themselves with their kids at home and struggling to keep them engaged in meaningful activities. I put together a list of 100+ ideas to help you keep your kids occupied in meaningful ways. While these ideas aren’t necessarily academic, they will learn from them. Real life skills, patience, problem solving, creativity, perseverance, and so much more. I hope these ideas are helpful, as well as enjoyable, for both you and your child(ren)!
Get in the Kitchen!
– Scour Pinterest or sift through old cookbooks & magazines for new recipes. Some of my favorite kid friendly cookbooks are Kid Chef Junior; Kid Chef Junior Bakes; & The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs.
– Create a “bucket list” recipe board on Pinterest or a visual version using poster board & cut outs
– Encourage your kids to create their own recipes & make them
– Host a family bake-off or cooking showdown. Sample each recipe and designate a winner
Organize All the Things
– Purge closets and decide what can be donated/given away
– Go through closets and drawers; sort & organize clothes
– Sort through board games and organize all the pieces to make sure nothing is missing
– Sort through toys & books & decide what can be donated/given away
– Label storage containers
Be a Pilot!
– Practice making different types of paper airplanes and fly them to see which designs fly farthest.
– Fly a paper airplane and measure the flight distance using non-standard units of measurement (kitchen utensils, dice, straws, crayons, etc.)
– Watch paper airplane tutorials on YouTube like this one or use The Ultimate Guide to Paper Airplanes: 35 Amazing Step-By-Step Designs! book for step-by-step help.
Be an Engineer!
– STEM challenges would be great for keeping your kids busy in meaningful learning – problem solving, critical thinking, math, science, etc. There are SO many great STEM activity ideas online!
– Here are 3 Free Weeks of Maker Activities from Teach Outside the Box
– It seems so obvious, but being forced to slow down and stay home gives everyone in your family a chance to soak up a good book!
– Choose a book as a family to enjoy reading together. Take turns reading the book aloud.
– Find a quiet spot in the house to curl up and just read.
– Create your own reading space – pillows, blankets, a fort…whatever helps you to enjoy reading!
– Listen to an audiobook
– Watch astronauts read to you from space
– Watch different celebrities & public figures read aloud books
Channel Your Inner Artist
– Draw using different mediums
– Create virtual drawings using a free Sketchpad like this one
– Print out these drawing challenge cards and encourage your kids to complete the art challenge
– Draw your surroundings – create a self portrait or draw someone in your family; draw your house or different rooms in your house; draw your pet; etc.
Become a Photographer!
– If you have a smart phone & feel comfortable allowing your child to use it, encourage them to take photos using each of the different settings in your phone’s camera
– If you have access to a real camera (point & shoot, DSLR, polaroid, etc.), teach your child how to use it the right way & encourage them to explore with it.
– Capture one photo every hour of the day (maybe start with just one day!) then combine the photos into a chronological collage using an app like Pic Collage or Pic Monkey
– Encourage your child to learn how to edit pictures on your smart phone using the free editing software in your camera or other free apps like Photoshop Express or Lightroom…remember it’s not about the product, it’s about the process!
– Choose one subject or category and encourage your child to take as many pictures as they can of things that fall into that category/subject – Go on a photo scavenger hunt! Use these templates from Shutterfly to take with you.
Be an Actor/Actress
— Now that the whole family is together, take some time to practice being an audience to your child(ren) and watch them…
– Act out a page from their favorite book
– Act out a scene from their favorite movie
– Write different vocabulary words on small strips of paper and have your child randomly select one & encourage them to act out the word.
– Choose a science or social studies concept & encourage your child to act out an idea/skill that falls under that category & guess what it is
– Play Charades or other games similar like Hoopla, Time’s Up, Guesstures, Cranium, or Reverse Charades
Go on a Virtual Field Trip!
All you need is access to the internet to go on a trip of your own without ever leaving the comfort of your house. Here are just a few sites offering virtual field trips…
– The San Diego Zoo
– Yellowstone National Parks
– Explore the surface of Mars
– See the Great Wall of China
– Boston Children’s Museum
– Monterey Bay Aquarium
– Virtual Farm Tours
– Tour the White House
– The Louvre
Send Some Snail Mail!
– Write letters to relatives
– Make & send cards to nursing home and hospitals
– Create ‘thank you’ cards to send to our healthcare providers, law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, or anyone else who provides a service for your community
– Mail a hug to someone you miss
Take Time to Talk!
– Play 20 questions
– Ask your child ‘would you rather’ questions. Our family loves these Would You Rather books —> Would You Rather: Eww Edition; Would You Rather for Kids & Family
– Cut out these conversation cards and place them in a container/jar in a shared space. Each member of the family can take a turn removing a card from the the jar & & use the prompt to spark a family conversation/discussion
– Discuss your favorite book(s); TV show; movie; game; etc.
– Put a puzzle together as a family. The more pieces, the more time it will take. Complete the puzzle over the course of several days.
– Make time for puzzle challenges! Each member of the family gets a different puzzle with the same amount of pieces in each puzzle. Whoever assembles their puzzle first, wins! Looking for a lot of puzzles for low cost?! Check your local Dollar Tree.
– Beat the timer! – if playing puzzles alone, set a timer and encourage your child to finish the puzzle before the timer runs out.
Fun with Playing Cards
– Learn new card tricks & test them out on each other. My boys love this Easy-To-Do Card Tricks for Children book. You can also watch YouTube tutorials like this one to teach you card tricks.
– Play classic card games like these
– Build card towers
Loads of Fun with Laundry
– Teach kids how to sort laundry and give them time to practice sorting theirs/yours
– Teach kids how to do laundry (where to put the laundry, how to turn on the washing machine, settings; where to load the detergent & fabric softener, etc.) and give them opportunities to practice
– Teach kids how to fold laundry and then put it all away
– Learn about different types of stain removal methods. Test them and see which work best
– Make your own detergent. Try different detergent recipes and test each of them to see which works best.
– If you have any duct tape lying around, let your kids put it to good use making different duct tape crafts. There are tons of duct tape craft tutorials like these and my boys love this DIY book full of duct tape craft ideas
Direct & Produce
If you own an iPad or iPhone, encourage your child to…
-Create a movie trailer…get creative! This can be so much fun!
– Go through old family photos and create a video collage of different family pictures
-Encourage your child to video their day then upload the video(s) to iMovie, edit, and create their own “A Day in the Life Of…” video.
Be a Builder!
– Build different structures with building blocks or Legos. Here’s an awesome 30 Days of Lego Challenge you can print
– Use recycled materials to build something fun
– Use straws and a paper plate to build a marble maze
– Build a bird feeder
– Build a ramp for your bike or skateboard
Everybody loves BUBBLES!
– Make your own bubbles using these bubble recipes and test them to see which solutions create the best bubbles.
– Blow bubbles just for the fun of it!
– Make your own bubble wands
– Do a different bubble activity each day for 14 days using this bank of bubble activity ideas
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
– Head outside and hunt for different things that can be found outdoors…leaves, sticks, bugs, etc.
– Stay indoors and hunt for different household objects
– Print out these scavenger hunts and do a different one each day for 30 days
– Make mud pies
– Play freeze tag
– Ride bikes
– Take a walk
– Go on a nature hunt
– Collect bugs
– Play catch
– Shoot hoops
– Run sprints
– Play four square
– Draw happy driveway or sidewalk scenes
– Write words you know
– Lay down and have someone outline your body in different positions…create scenes around them
– Write kind messages in a neighbors driveway or on a sidewalk for others to read
It’s a Marshmallow World
– Make oven baked s’mores & tell campfire stories
– Use toothpicks and marshmallows to create 3D structures and/or shapes
– Make Rice Krispie Treats
– Use miniature and jumbo marshmallows to create “mallow stacks”…how many marshmallows can you stack on top of each other before they topple over?
Hide & Go Seek
– Play this classic game indoors OR outdoors
– Hide an object and seek to find it
– Choose a word “hidden” inside the pages of a book & encourage your child(ren) to find it.
– Create your own journal. Use a folder or notebook and decorate it with stickers, drawings, photographs, etc.
– Write your dreams in a dream journal
– Write in your journal about what happens each day
– Create a nature journal
– Write in your journal about what you’re thankful for each day
– Use PlayDoh to create letters, numbers, words, etc.
– Create 3D shapes & structures using PlayDoh & toothpicks
– Just play with it!
– Stack rocks/build cairns
– Start a rock collection
– Create a pet rock. Use poms, feathers, googly eyes, permanent markers, sequins…be creative!!!
– Collect and sort rocks
– Learn about rocks and minerals and how they’re classified. My boys love this Rocks & Minerals book!
– Wash the car
– Wash the dog
– Wash the dishes
– And while you’re at it, WASH YOUR HANDS!
– Create an obstacle course inside or out. Use different materials and objects around the house to make one & test it out. Here are 20 different obstacle course ideas if you need some inspiration!
Build a Fort
– Use different materials to build a fort either in or outside. How big can you make it? What can you put inside to make it cozy? Use the fort for playing/reading/sleeping.
– Make a scrapbook. Use photographs and saved artifacts to include in the scrapbook. Be creative!
– Make your own comic book using art supplies you have on hand at home
– Use a platform like Canva, Pixton, or Storybook That! to create a comic online
– Here’s a 150 page blank comic book for less than $5 that kids can use to create their own
You’re an Author
– Write your own book. Use your own materials from home to create a book OR use a kit like this one to help you write AND publish your own writing.
– Use an online platform like Book Creator to create & publish a book online
– Have a water balloon fight
– Learn how to make balloon animals. This book has a lot of great tutorials for different types of balloon animals, but you can also find free tutorials on YouTube like this one.
– Use a balloon to create an air canon like this one
– Complete a balloon rocket challenge like this one
Be an Entrepreneur
– Brainstorm ideas to start your own business. Is there a need that you can fill? What is it? Create marketing materials for your business (ads, posters, etc).
We’ve Gone Mad!
– Do some Mad Libs activities and share them with your family
– Make your own Mad Libs and have your family fill them out
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