A list of ideas to entertain your kids at home.
As I write this article my family is home due to a crazy situation in the world and “stay at home orders” have been issued. I thought it might be useful to write about the best things to do with your kids while we are stuck at home.
These things would work if we had to stay home for whatever reason- bad weather, family illness, no transportation, or anything else that keeps you stuck at home.
My family is used to getting out and doing things outdoors at parks, hiking trails, campgrounds, etc. We also do things at home, but we have never had to stay home this much!
So, I thought it would be helpful to write a list of the things to do with kids when you are stuck at home for an extended time that worked for us!
This list could also work to have on hand for that occasional day where you just need to entertain your kids at home no matter the reason!
Have a small supply of new games/toys/puzzles
My husband and I planned to get our girls some new STEM type games and puzzles. We decided to get several new items and then gradually gave them to the kids over the duration of staying home. The get one every few days when we need an extra activity to keep things running smoothly.
These do not need to be expensive items. If they are new to your kids and exciting and can entertain your kids for a while, then they would be great.
We chose things like puzzles (cute ones and a huge United States map puzzle), “Zozoplay Straw Constructor STEM building toys,” a marble run set, “Brainflakes” engineering toys, etc. We also chose some cooperative games to play, like “HootOwlHoot!” and “Noah’s Animal Rescue.” Given our circumstances we chose some outdoor games as well- including a stomp rocket launcher, which the girls love!
These games have been such a huge success. Given all the big changes in our routine this was a great way to bring cheer and focus to something new. Also, these games are fun, educational and entertain for long periods of time!
We were able to find all these items at www.amazon.com.
You do not have to spend a lot of money to do this. None of the items we purchased were particularly expensive. Also, if you gradually accumulate some of these things, then you will just have them on hand.
Another Idea would be to make some games, toys, craft projects you and your child like to do together! Save these toys or projects for together time or special occasions. Then these toys are like new again. See below for some other ideas for craft or build at home toys.
I think we are always going to keep a supply of carefully selected games like these now. You never know when you will need it!
Get outside if you can
My family definitely enjoys getting out and seeing things! If at all possible, I recommend getting outside and enjoying time together that way!
Use your backyard if you have one or take walks in the neighborhood, whatever it takes to be outside for a few minutes.
There are lots of things you can do close to home that are outside. Make up a scavenger hunt the kids can do on a family walk. We did several nature scavengers hunts. My three-year-old was so excited to find a pinecone!
Sidewalk chalk is also awesome! Making chalk art is super fun!
We even went tent camping in our backyard. The at-home camping was a huge success, my girls LOVED it!!
We did several of our usual camping traditions such as hot cocoa, BBQ dinner, etc.
So, get outside with your kids and play!
Make time for Education
Our situation was unusual due to a pandemic. Suddenly everyone had to do homeschool, whether or not you wanted to do homeschool or were used to it.
Our family had already been doing a hybrid school that was 2 days a week at school and part homeschool- so we had a home school set up.
However, it had not been that long since I was brand new to homeschooling and can totally understand how parents can feel uncertain about at home education.
That being said, there are times when we all do homeschool- those of us that choose it and those that need to due to illness, unexpected travel, etc.
Homeschooling is a topic all its own, so I’m not going into too much detail here, but I do want to say- educating our kids is a fun and bonding time. I think the first step is realizing that you can do it! You can educate your kids. Trust me.
Once you can realize this, then school at home is much less stressful.
You know your kids best, so weave education into activities they already enjoy.
Also, there are lots of resources that can be really helpful. I like www.welltrainedmind.com www.khanacademy.org, and www.pbskids.org. There are tons of other options also if you search around the internet.
Make Toys at Home
Some of my girls’ favorite games stem from playing with toys they make! Dad spent an hour or two with them building a boat and an airplane- out of large cardboard boxes.
They drove around in those things for days!
You can also use paper towel tubes or toilet roll tubes to make art projects. Use construction paper to make all kinds of objects- animals, flowers, etc.
By the way- if the kids help with the cutting and the pasting and creating- this is educational!
The main supplies we always keep in their art caddies include: (remember my girls are preschool and kindergarten age) toddler/kid safe scissors, glue stick, tape, pencils, markers, crayons and colored pencils and a large eraser. My oldest also has a 6 inch ruler. You can easily adjust this based on age.
We also have a dedicated small table (you can create whatever space works for you) that has some paper and coloring books. It is amazing how often they like to go create art on their own. And we know it is safe for them to do so!
They do have many other arts and craft supplies, but these are the ones they can get to anytime they like.
Sometimes we do projects with them, but lots of time they will entertain themselves at this space!
Have a routine/schedule
In general, most kids will do best with a routine, an understanding of what to expect. I have learned that kids’ schedules are an ever-changing thing.
Even as babies, I started to be confident and get used to their schedule after a few weeks. Then suddenly their needs change. So new schedule it is!
Even though you have a schedule, remember it is so helpful to go with the flow, adapt your daily routine as needed.
What I had to learn recently was that sometimes all our schedules have to change dramatically and quickly. Despite not being able to go anywhere or do our normal activities, I created a schedule for us, and it changes a little bit as time goes by.
I can show you what our schedule is like, but really you must create one that works for your family!!
Moms- don’t forget to schedule yourself some Mom time- a phone call with a friend or loved one, a relaxing bath, a few minutes to read a good book, meditate, whatever keeps you recharged. It’s so important!
Our Current Schedule:
Morning- wake up- get dressed, make beds, eat breakfast
Play, do yoga/exercise or walk for about an hour.
An hour to two of school time- it varies with online tools, reading, crafts, they could do assignments from teachers if that applies. My kids are young, the focus is really reading and fun projects for the other subjects. We often take a snack break in the middle of school and stretch!
Quiet play after lunch- naps if you kids are still napping, puzzles, coloring, plain wooden blocks, STEM toys, etc. Mom can do what she needs to during this time also- chores, relax (maybe!).
Later afternoon- possible second session of school if needed or else continued play.
Weather permitting- outdoor time later in the afternoon- bikes, outdoor games, etc.
Dinner and bedtime routine has not changed much right now.
Stay in Contact with Other People
When we cannot get see people like we would like, it is still really really important to remain in contact with other people virtually.
We are social creatures- so take advantage of all the available virtual contact we can- Zoom, Skype, facetime, even a regular phone call is beneficial.
Exercise is good for us all. It is ideal when the activity is enjoyable and engaging.
My girls love to do yoga and Cosmic Yoga on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga) is one of their favorites.
You tube has tons of videos for kids like dancing, cardio work outs, and family work out videos. This is a great way to let the kids be active while remaining indoors.
It is also fun to join in if you feel like it!
Get in the Kitchen with your kids
I strongly recommend having your kids help in the kitchen!
Even if you are not a big cook- most of us have at least one or two things we enjoy prepping in the kitchen.
It definitely does not have to be fancy or “gourmet”- your kids spending time with you cooking in the kitchen will be something they love and likely will remember for the rest of their lives.
Just remember it will likely get messy, but just get set up for that and go with it!
There are lots of kids cookbooks and ideas out there. I have found that if you choose something you like to cook or bake they will love it too. So reach for what you love, pass on family recipes, play in the kitchen!
A list of ideas to entertain your kids at home.
So that is what I’ve got for now! I think you will love trying out some of these ideas with your kids!
I hope that we never are stuck inside again due to a global health crisis. However, I do suspect that from time to time in our lives we will be at home and we won’t readily be able to go out- whether that’s for a day, a week or more. Now you have some ideas of how to enjoy that time with your kids!
I have listed many ideas that worked for our family and likely will work for others. Use these ideas or use them to branch off to your own adventures!
Please leave a comment below! Have a great day!