Kids thrive when they are out, amongst friends, and playing ’til their hearts are content. However, there are times when they have to stay at home due to bad weather conditions, health issues, or a global pandemic like we’ve recently seen. So what can parents and guardians do to keep children engaged? We’ve uncovered the very best activities for kids at home!
We’ve got indoor activities, options for the yard, and even some educational experiences. These ideas will work with younger kids and children who are a bit older. They’re great for social distancing or when you have some little visitors. Best of all, every item on our list is budget-friendly and mom-approved!
Enjoy Unique and Exciting Family Adventures
If you’re looking for something a little different—something the whole family will enjoy—look no further than Adventures from Scratch: Family Edition. This book is chock-full of ideas, all from the minds of expert explorers who know what kids like to do! It’s been touted as a boredom buster and has tons of activities for kids at home or out and about. Each adventure is hidden under a coating that you can scratch away whenever the mood strikes. There’s also a key that offers helpful hints, so you’ll at least be able to decipher some info about each activity and won’t be stuck outdoors in the rain or trying to rush a long activity if you’ve only got a short time available. It’s the perfect companion for days stuck at home or when everyone wants to get out of the house and explore. Don’t hesitate! Grab your copy today.
1. Create an obstacle course.
Use furniture, painter’s tape, or just about anything to create a course. Set up obstacles that make getting from “point A” to “point B” more difficult. Set up a pillow section to hop through. Use string or tape across chairs and have the kids go under it.
For an outdoor course, use sidewalk chalk (like you’d use for hopscotch), pool toys, inner tubes, and anything found in the garage or shed. Incorporate natural items if you can. Anything that requires a diversion can be a great obstacle!
2. Go backyard (or indoor) camping.
Children usually love camping as they can be outdoors, explore nature, and just have quality time. Gather your camping gear from the garage and pitch a tent in the yard. It’s not the great outdoors, but you can still appreciate the change of pace.
If you don’t have a yard, why not try porch camping or set up camp right in the bedroom or living room! Set up a small tent or use blankets and furniture to create the same effect. It’s all about the experience.
Tell stories around a small campfire (if you can in your neighborhood) or make a faux fire with a stack of flashlights or some candles. You could even toast marshmallows and make a timeless camping treat using an inexpensive s’mores kit!
3. Cook or bake together.
Kids tend to love activities that make them feel like they are contributing to the home. A huge part of running a household is to make meals for everyone in the family. Instead of taking all the burden on yourself, involve the children.
Start with a simple recipe and watch them find their way around the kitchen. Of course, you can help with the oven bits. Make a simple meal or have them whip up a cake or a batch of cookies. Decorating with icing tends to be a children’s specialty. If they enjoy themselves, this can become a weekly hobby!
4. Make homemade playdough and create sculptural masterpieces.
Making this easy recipe can be a fun bonding time for parents and kids as well. It’s quite simple and doesn’t use tough-to-find ingredients or take much time.
- cooking oil
- lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- Kool-Aid(optional for scent and coloring) or essential oils for fragrance
- Food Coloring (optional)
Cooking Supplies Needed:
- large mixing bowl
- glass, heatproof, microwavable 2-cup measuring cup
- measuring cups and spoons
- aluminum foil, parchment paper, or wax paper
- wooden paddle for stirring
- Measure the water and lemon juice into a heatproof, microwavable 2-cup measuring cup. Heat in the microwave until the liquid is just boiling, which will take about three minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt.
- If using Kool-Aid for the fragrance, slowly pour the kool-aid packets into the HOT water and lemon juice mixture and add additional food coloring to intensify the color if desired.
- Slowly pour the liquid into the flour and salt mixture, and stir with a wooden paddle until it just barely begins to form a dough.
- Drizzle the tablespoon of cooking oil over the dough and stir again until it forms a ball. At this point, you may want to knead the dough with your hands.
- When you are done, the dough may feel sticky. But, do not add more flour as it will ruin the consistency. As the playdough cools, it will harden up. Allow the dough to cool a bit on a sheet of aluminum foil, parchment, or wax paper. By the time you finish the next batch of play dough, the first will be cool enough to store.
5. Have a picnic.
Another awesome activity you can do with the kids at home is to organize a picnic. Prepare some favorite snacks—this would offer a great opportunity for kids to pitch in. Pack it all up, whether you’re picnicking indoors or out, and get ready for a good time.
If you’re indoors, grab a tablecloth or blanket and lay it on the floor. Set yourselves up at a table or the ground if you’re outside. Utilize this quality time to talk about life, school, or anything your hearts desire.
6. Compete in bean bag races
Bean bag races can be a blast! Mark a course with painter’s tape or, if you’re in the yard, use common objects to mark the start and finish line. Grab a few bean bags or make some with some dry beans in small socks—no sewing required.
The object of the game is to get from one point to another while balancing a bean bag on a certain body part—like on top of the head, on the chin, or using only two fingers. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
Each participant must get from the start to the finish line first. You can compete in a series of rounds or on different tracks, or make it a relay race if you have a big family. Add your own rules or challenges if you’d like. To make it more interesting, compete for a special reward or prize.
7. Play Penguin Waddle!
Inflate a few balloons and play penguin waddle. This game is hilarious with preschoolers! For this activity, each competitor must waddle across the room with a balloon tucked between their legs—without letting it drop. To make this game more competitive, make it a race. To increase the difficulty, consider pairing this with an obstacle course. Whichever way you choose to waddle, laughter is sure to ensue!
8. Dance away your blues.
Every adult needs a break from daily activities. Crank up the music and start a little dance party in the house. Get the kids to move to the beat (and not just giggle at you)! This is a great physical activity to loosen up the body and let stress melt away.
9. Get crafty.
One of the best activities for kids stuck at home is crafting. Keep all your art supplies in a cabinet with crayons, a cardboard box, free printable coloring sheets, paint boxes, and anything they might want to use to create when the mood strikes. Crafting is a great way to keep them occupied and indulge in their creative side. To get started, try these fun family crafts!
10. Be creative with cardboard boxes.
Cardboard boxes are the perfect way to involve the kid’s imagination. They can make a sailboat, an alien spaceship, a house – let their imagination take over. Let them take their time to build the boxes the way they want. Kids can even use it to play hide and seek!
11. Play card games.
Search for that deck of cards that have been lying in some forgotten cupboard. Card games are a sure way to keep kids of all ages occupied. Teach them easy games or even games they can play alone. This is can be a great learning activity too!
12. Put on a puppet show.
This is a timeless activity and just perfect for kids stuck at home! Children love to imagine stories surrounding their favorite toys. Make it a little more interesting by having the little ones perform a puppet show in the living room.
DIY puppets can be made the old-fashioned way—with socks and markers. If you want to get a little fancier, use hot glue to add yarn pom poms or other little embellishments. Children can use doll clothes to create a puppet wardrobe.
If sock puppets aren’t possible, kids could use just about anything, from toilet paper roll puppets on popsicle sticks to magazine clippings or printouts glued to cardboard and mounted on sticks. Even stuffed animals will do.
Make a little “stage” using furniture or just have the kiddos set up behind the couch while the audience is set up to face it. There are so many options! Every possibility is sure to give you a show you won’t soon forget.
13. Go bird watching in the yard.
Do your kids like wildlife? Have them create a homemade bird feeder with a cardboard box or milk carton, sticks, straws, and markers. If you don’t have those materials on hand, try the old pinecone method, by spreading peanut butter on a pinecone and topping it with seeds.
If you spot any hummingbirds, get yourselves a hummingbird feeder and fill it with a solution of sweetened water—1 part sugar with 4 parts water. It doesn’t have to be dyed! Store extra in the fridge and refill feeders frequently.
14. Decorate the bedroom.
Put your child’s imagination to work coming up with ideas to change up their room. Let them map out a plan on paper or using design software and help them to move furniture into new spots, paint, and truly make the room their own.
Then, it’s all about the decor. Think about different lighting options, art or posters, bobbles, beads, and other things that will make the room special. Consider a whole theme, if your child is really interested in something like nature, space, sports, or anything themable!
This can even be a homeschool budgeting lesson for older kids—have them work within a specified price range and see what they come up with! It will help them feel accomplished and give them a newfound appreciation for their space.
15. Plant a tree.
Every school teaches about being environmentally friendly and how we are indebted to nature. Start your teachings at home as you involve the kiddos in some gardening. Activities like planting trees, getting hands dirty, and learning more about nature have a significant impact on young children or kids at any age.
16. Go on a treasure hunt.
Another rainy day keeping the kids in? Instead of increasing their screen time, try a treasure hunt! Kids start appreciating treasure hunts at a very young age but continue to love this activity as they get older.
Make a list of items that your child can hunt for around the house—snacks, toys, small rewards, or anything that will motivate them to keep searching. That should keep the kiddos entertained for hours!
17. Try out some science experiments.
If you have older kids and tweens, conducting a science experiment at home could be both educational and exciting. For example, you could try the ever-popular volcano experiment.
First, pour water into a plastic cup until it is 2/3 full. Then, add five tablespoons of baking soda, one teaspoon of dish soap, and several drops of washable paint and stir. Put the cup on a covered flat surface, and form a mound of dirt around the cup to just below its rim. When the kids are ready to see the volcano erupt, add one cup of vinegar and watch the lava flow down the side of the volcanic mound!
18. Play charades.
Charades is the perfect way to keep the whole family entertained, especially if you have tweens or older kids at home. You could write down the names of movies, landmarks, book titles, or other things that can be acted out and let each “actor” pick from a hat. The rest of the family can guess what they’re trying to convey.
If you have a very large family, make it a team sport! Break into opposing sides and compete for a prize or bragging rights. Charades is one of our favorite kids’ activities! It’s always a great time, even for the adults!
19. Send them on a shape scavenger hunt.
This is a twist on a classic scavenger hunt. A shape scavenger hunt is an educational activity for little ones. Ask them to find specific types of shapes around the house and, when they find each shape, have them trace it on paper. Label the pages with identifying names and review until they know all of their shapes.
20. Dye white roses
This fun science activity can be perfect for little girls. Things you will need for this experiment are :
- White roses
- Glasses or cups
- Food coloring or floral dye
Fill a cup with a glass of water. Add your preferred colored dye; the more you add, the darker the rose will turn. Next, cut a half-inch from the stem on a diagonal angle so the rose will absorb the colored water. Place the stem in the water for a day or two. The rose should start changing color. When it is your desired color, remove it from the colored water and place it in normal water.
21. Have a game night (or day)!
Pull out those dusty board games or find some virtual games, set out some snacks, and get ready to play! You could even play active games like Simon Says. Make an event of it. You don’t have to wait for a party to enjoy party games. Let older kids lead the young ones. All the kids are sure to have a great time!
If you opt to use an online service, like Virtual Game Nights from Let’s Roam, you could even involve kids from other households. Interact with friends and family from around the world without leaving home. Connect, laugh, and play ’til your heart’s content.
22. Make and decorate ornaments.
Whether Christmas is around the corner or you’re ready to hang a summer wreath, the kids will love creating ornaments. Use simple craft supplies or get a little fancy with salt dough ornaments.
23. Create with paper plates.
Usually, all households with young children have paper plates on hand. Kids at home tend to love this simple activity and it barely requires any prep. Simple supplies like glue, markers, and paints will do—no complex tutorial needed. You could add glitter which, of course, makes anything more spectacular!
If you happen to have a hole puncher and string on hand, string several small plates together to make a seasonal garland. Alternatively, the kids could add some popsicle sticks to the backs to make their puppets for the aforementioned puppet show!
24. Make crowns for the king and or queen of the house.
The rolls leftover from wrapping paper and paper towels make great crafting supplies! You might not have ever thought of it, but your kid can create tiny (but very royal!) crowns with them. Cut them into crown shapes and give the kids paint, markers, glitter, sequins, buttons, and other decorative items to make them pretty.
25. Have a snowball fight in any weather.
You don’t need to wait for winter to have a snowball fight! Give the kids a bag of cotton balls and some glue and let them create snowballs in all shapes and sizes. They can go wild, as they build balls and throw them at each other. The same rules apply—either you’re out if you get hit or you have so many “lives” before you’re done.
Whether it’s coronavirus concerns or something else keeping you inside, the activities we’ve listed should help to keep boredom from setting in. When you set your mind to it, you can find plenty of activities for kids at home. It can also be an excellent time for them to help in household chores to make them responsible adults when they grow up. If you’ve tried any of our recommendations or have suggestions of your own, feel free to let us know in the comments.
If you need more ideas, take a look at these rainy day activities families can enjoy together. For more interactive fun, get yourself a copy of our book: Adventures from Scratch: Family Edition! Inside, you’ll find unique ideas that will provide hours of amusement for you and yours. Each idea is hidden beneath a coating and you can scratch one off any time you’re ready for some entertainment. We’ve even included tear-out adventures you can share with others! It’s a must-have for families and makes a great gift for loved ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many budget-friendly activities for kids that can be done with typical household supplies, including bean bag races, making playdough, indoor or backyard camping, or putting on puppet shows.