Stuck at home with the kids? Yup, me too. I have four kids (aged preschool to teen) and while I don’t want to over-schedule, I also would like to see free time spent for good. Learning, imagination, family bonding and yes, downtime to just play and relax. My fellow bloggers have shared tons of tips and ideas on things to do with kids at home.
Create a Culture of Family Bonding
During this challenging time, it’s important to make sure kids feel safe at home. I know this is personally difficult when adults are stressed and anxious about the unknown. But there are ways to create a calm and peaceful culture at home, despite what’s happening in the world.
- Go through old family photo albums. Share stories of yourself to your children. Take this extra time to create a Shutterfly photo album using all the pictures that have been stored inside your computer for years.
- My friend Susan at Mom on the Map has the tutorial idea on how to create a Bowl of Family Kindness. Once this virus business has passed, you can decide how to celebrate as a family.
- Create an At-Home Vacation for Kids using the ideas from Passports and Parenting, including camping in the living room or making a spa experience.
- Lady and the Blog shares 40 Family Bonding Ideas and ways to bring parents and kids closer during times of crisis.
- Can’t visit the grandparents in person? Try using online methods of contact like Facetime or Facebook group calls to check in.
No school? No problem! These activities with a science-twist will keep them thinking. Forget big messy projects (unless you want a paper mache volcano exploding in your house!).
These science-minded ideas are ideal for kids:
- Science that lets you eat the yummy experiments? Teach kids the basics of bread baking and how yeast works with this easy No-knead Bread Recipe from Thrifty Jinxy. Or try making a Homemade Pizza Dough from Honest and Truly. Each kid can top it the way they like and lunch is served!
- LEGO building not only expands the imagination it also stretches the brain. That Brick Life shares a free printable LEGO Challange: 30 Days of Play Calendar.
- Have a kid that likes to touch and feel? Try out one of these 50+ Sensory Activities from Meraki Mother.
- Looking for more? There are tons of affordable kid’s science experiments at Science Fun.
Even if you have a tiny house or minimal backyard access, there are ways to get the kids moving. Getting fresh air when possible is important, not only for your health but your sanity as well! Toss a baseball. Bounce a basketball. Shimmy a hula-hoop! Now isn’t the time for play dates or playground structures. In fact, your kids should only be playing with children in their own household.
These physical activities are ideal for young and old:
- Play Party Plan has these fun, DIY Outdoor Games that can be adapted for kids of all ages.
- Get physical with some of these Activities for Kids Stuck at Home from Mommy’s Bundle.
- Ready for a nap? Wear out the little ones with these Toddler Activities to Tire Them Out from The High Chair Chronicles.
- Toot’s Mom is Tired has an easy Obstacle Course for Toddlers and Preschoolers, using sidewalk chalk.
- My friend Lisa at Fun Money Mom shares her best Outdoor Games for Kids.
- Take a jog with the kids, even if you’re not a runner, using these tips from Patty at No-Guilt Life on How to Start Running When You’re a Complete Beginner.
- If you have somewhere you can walk outside, take the kids for a nature walk outside. Write up a simple scavenger hunt list that can help kids spot items like a red leaf, yellow flower or odd-shaped rock.
Creating Disney Magic at Home
Disney parks around the world are closed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate all the good clean fun of Disney right at home. The Momma Diaries has a bunch of ways to bring Disney magic to your house including some kid-friendly treats and home decor ideas.
- Use an old box, photos and stickers to create a vacation storage box, like this Disney Memento Box.
Here are some other ideas:
- Prepare a favorite Disney parks recipe like this Disney Banana Bread that can be made in loaves or as regular or jumbo muffins. Or mix up this yummy Winnie the Pooh inspired snack mix from Jill at Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
- Disney crafts are a hit with my little ones and my youngest loved making this Toy Story 4 Forky Craft from Pretty in Baby Food.
- Start saving pennies for your next magical vacation inside one of these Disney DIY Mickey and Minnie Jars from Kim and Carrie.
- Karyn at Sand and Snow has the cutest Minnie Wreath Tutorial to hang on the front door (change out the colors for whatever season you’re celebrating!).
- Plan out your next trip’s DisneyBound looks, like this easy Snow White T-Shirt Tutorial.
Books and Reading Activities
My two youngest and I have been reading a chapter book together each night. I’m looking forward to expanding our at-home library and making sure the kids are getting in plenty of reading time. If you don’t have books at home, try swapping with friends. For more tips on How to Host a Book Swap, see more tips on Always Moving Mommy.
Check out this list of 100 Best Kid’s Books for story time inspiration.
- Whitney at Simplifying Family shares why you should still Read Aloud to Older Kids.
- Even if you can’t tour the world, young kids can still learn about new cultures from these Children’s Books from Around the World, a list from Kids Are a Trip.
- Read the book series and then host your own Harry Potter Party at Home, using the ideas in this round-up from my friend Sarah in the Suburbs. Butterbeer, anyone?
- Upper-elementary aged kids may enjoy this book based on Maleficent, Mistress of Evil called Heart of the Moors. Read the review of this Disney book on Five for the Road.
- My friend Jana at Whiskey ‘n Sunshine shares a review of the Frozen-inspired book Conceal Don’t Feel as well as a tasty recipe for a Frozen White Chocolate Milkshake.
Teach Kids How to Cook
You’ve stocked up on pantry supplies. Now take the time and teach kids how to work their way through the kitchen. Simple tasks like measuring and dumping ingredients into a bowl can be done by preschoolers. Older kids may be able to complete an entire recipe on their own. The Vintage Modern Wife has ideas on her budget at-home staycation with kids post about how to create a Chopped-style competition with kids.
- Kick off breakfast with this easy and yummy Brie and Bacon Quiche from my friend Kara J. Miller. Or try this Raspberry Smoothie Bowl Recipe from Allison at Family Vacations US.com.
- This super-simple Key Lime Pie recipe from Creative Cynchronicity only has three ingredients and only needs freezing (no baking!). Elementary-aged kids might be able to prepare this by themselves.
- Teenagers can tackle one of the more advanced recipes including this Pork Carnitas Instant Pot recipe from Honest and Truly. Just a few steps and dinner will be served!
- For older kids who love to bake, make sugar cookies and this Royal Icing Recipe from The Mom Set.
- This is one that even toddlers can do! Create Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag, from The Denver Housewife.
- With all 4 kids at home, I might be doing my share of stress-eating! My friend Andrea at Just is a Four Letter Word offers this list of Best Healthy Snacks for Stress-Eating.
Snuggle Down with a Movie
With any sort of lengthy downtime, one of my favorite family activities to do with kids at home is to cuddle up with a movie series. With the anticipation of Avengers Campus opening at Disneyland, I’ll be catching up on the Marvel Series in This Order, using this list from my friend Tania at Lola Lambchops.
- Prepare this Mickey Mouse Trail Mix from my friend Leslie at Trips with Tykes for the perfect Disney+ munching snack.
- Moneywise Moms has a list of 100 family-friendly movies along with tips on maximizing this family time.
- Create fun activities and treats to go along with your chosen movie. The Little Mermaid is a great choice and this Mermaid-Inspired Candy Bark from Ashley and Co. is so pretty!
Play a Game
Do you have a bunch of board games in the closet? Now’s the time to pull them out and plan a time to play. We’ve already set up a temporary card table with a puzzle so that my kids can put it together at their leisure.
- My friend Britni at Play Party Plan shares the top Board Games for Kids that she plays with her family.
- It can’t be texting and video games all the time, right? Convos with Karen shares her ideas on the Top Games for Teens.
- Solo games like solitaire come in handy when other family members are busy. Seek out games that kids can play alone. My elementary aged kid loves crossword puzzles, word finds and Sudoku.
Kids already bored with all the games you have? Here are a few suggestions:
- Trade games with friends and neighbors. Put an address label on the box (so they know to return the game and all of the pieces back to you), then trade off so that kids have something new to play.
- Make your own game, like this easy printable Sonic the Hedgehog ring toss from Pretty in Baby Food.
Kid Crafts for All Ages
Letting kids craft and create is important, even if you don’t want to do a full-on craft project. I’m more of the “Here are supplies kids, have fun!”-kind of mom. Offer up supplies and set them free!
Stock up on these items that kids can use to create and use their imagination:
- Butcher paper in long rolls
- Coloring books
- Pipe cleaners
- Glue sticks
- Construction paper
- Made With Happy is offering 101+ Free Printables for Kids including coloring pages, movie activity sheets and holiday craft printables.
- Totally stocked up on toilet paper? Use those leftover inner rolls for these Toilet Paper Roll Craft Ideas from The Farm Girl Gabs.
- Do you have a Cricut machine? Start designing and creating new t-shirts for the next vacation, like this Pirates Life for Me Vinyl Shirt from my friend Becca at Love Our Crazy Life.
- In between book reading, print and color one of these Free Printable Bookmarks to Color from Carla Schauer.
- Try your hand at Painted Rocks, then distribute them through the community during a neighborhood walk for other kids to find.
Home School Stuff
Who says the education should stop just because school’s out? Even if you’re not a teacher, my friend Kate at Highlights Along the Way has tips on how to home school when you aren’t a homeschooler.
- You can’t go on vacation right now, but you can still dream, plan and learn more about these amazing locations. Research the great outdoors with this National Park Bucket List from Love Dwells Here.
- Or Earn Junior Ranger Badges Online using these tips from my friend Catherine at Carful of Kids.
- My friend Amiyrah at Four Hats and Frugal shares how you can Homeschool Your Kids for Free via a single website. And All Things With Purpose has a round-up of Digital Education Resources.
- These former school teachers have lots of tips for families to homeschool. Sally at Lovestalgia is a current homeschooler and shares tips and Resources to Help You Homeschool. Carly from Lipgloss and Crayons offers her recommendations for Online Reading Programs.
- Kids Activities Blog shares a big list of Education Subscriptions You Can Get For Free.
Learn a New Skill
You’ve always wanted to teach your kids but you never seemed to have the time. Here’s your chance to teach them a lifelong skill. My own kids have been begging me for years to teach them how to sew. Now’s my chance to pull out the bins of fabric and sewing machines to start making pillowcases and bean-bag doorstops!
Here are a few other new skills you can teach the kids:
- Chores, including how to operate the washing machine and clean the bathrooms. Even a young child can help collect laundry or dust. This is Why Our Kids Do Chores with tips on how to get them to pitch in.
- Change the oil in the car. Empty the trunk and remove anything that’s not needed. Use the vacuum to give the car a complete carpet cleaning.
- Teach kids how to play guitar or piano. Many YouTube videos offer step-by-step guides.
- Basic sewing, including how to patch a tear, sew on a button, use an iron or even make simple projects. One of my favorite places for free and inexpensive printable patterns is You Can Make This.
- Lots of time to finally get organized at home? Declutter with your kid’s help, using the printables from my Declutter Challenge.
Just Play and Relax
With my two younger kids, the hands-off approach works best for me when it comes to imaginative play. I let them take the lead and they’ll happy play alone for hours. Check out these 10 Ways to Encourage Pretend Play from Raising Whasians.
- I am not a helicopter parent and know that my kids are fully capable of entertaining themselves! My friend Hannah agrees and offers her 11 Tips for Teaching Kids How to Play By Themselves.
- If have any cardboard boxes laying around, try some of these Cardboard Craft Ideas for Kids from Two Kids and a Coupon that’s sure to spark imaginative play.
- Just need to kick back and relax? This recipe for a Tropical Hideaway Spa Pedicure from A Dream is a Wish Our Blog Makes is perfect for teens at home.
- This too shall pass. Collect magazines, mailers and flyers from around the house, along with glue and a big piece of paper, foam board or cardboard. Create a family vision board with ideas on how to spend the rest of the year, including vacation planning. Enjoy the moments and look forward to the time ahead.