Inside: Stuck at home with kids because of school closures, rainy days, snow days or the Coronavirus/COVID-9? Use these 18 ideas to help keep your sanity when you’re stuck indoors with your kids.
We all know parenting is a tough job on a good day.
But when you’re stuck indoors because of 10 feet of snow, the pouring rain, or the Coronavirus/COVID-19, sometimes you need some fresh ideas to get you through the day.
Because when your kids are standing there, begging for yet another TV show, it’s so easy to give in. I give in all the time.
But there’s only so much Nick Jr. and Disney Jr. I can handle without needing Tylenol or a glass of wine.
So having a few ideas in my back pocket, ready to go, is the key to my sanity.
It’s the answer to the whine, “But, I’m bored,” five minutes after they get home from school.
Having a list of ideas to break up the boredom is the way you can confidently turn off the electronics…at least for a little bit.
And it’s the path to get you through another day cooped up inside.
18 Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained When Your Stuck Indoors with Kids
Whether you’re stuck indoors literally or figuratively, there are ways to make it less stressful for you and more fun for your kids.
1. Have a scavenger hunt
Kids love going on hunts. And we can sneak in some learning at the same time.
If your child is learning their colors, have them find you something red, orange and yellow.
If they’re learning their sounds, have them bring you things that begin with the /b/ and /f/ sound.
If they’re working on growing their vocabulary, have them bring you something big and little and something hard and soft.
If they’re older, tie it into what they’re learning at school: find a “simple machine” or find something that you could have found in a wagon on the Oregon Trail.
Find something that represents as many of the Periodic Table of Elements as you can.
Or you can use these Neighborhood Walk Scavenger Hunts:
2. Water play…in the bathtub.
My kids LOVE water play and if you don’t live in a climate that offers 80 degrees year-round, that can be tough.
Unless you take the water play to the bathroom. Fill up the tub, dig out their swimsuits and let them just play. Bring in a plastic tea set and you’ve got a tea party.
Purchase some bath paints and they can draw, practice their letters or write you a poem on the walls.
Turn off the lights and throw in some glow sticks.
Have a contest for the craziest shampooed hairstyles. They won’t even realize they’re actually getting clean.
3. Write to a Pen Pal
They can draw or write to an old friend, their grandma, or someone they’ve never met before (you can find some sites online that will match your child up safely with another child).
Or they can use these free printables and write letters to soldiers or veterans through Operation Gratitude.
But shhh, the kids won’t realize they’re improving their letter writing and penmanship.
4. Volunteer to Color or Draw for a Senior Citizen
We have been participating in the Family Volunteer Challenge and March’s is perfect if you’re stuck at home.
Your kids can color or draw and mail it to a senior citizen who has requested their coloring.
Get the directions, the free print out, and the mailing address here to volunteer and spread kindness and cheer to the elderly.
5. Create an obstacle course or a fort in your house
Let them jump over, crawl under, walk backward and hop their way to getting their crazies out.
They’ll probably have ideas to add to the obstacle course and that’s perfect, because the longer the course is, the more time it takes. So let them add “skip around the room while singing the alphabet.”
Or, build a fort. Go big with blankets and pillows and stuffed animals.
6. Games, games games
We love a good family game night.
But when we’re stuck inside, we start game night during the day.
We are also doing a Board Game Challenge where we try to play every board game we own before our kids head back to school.
And we just tried our first Virtual Escape Room and LOVED it. It was a Virtual Escape Room for families with kids ages 9-13 (younger kids can help but won’t be able to do it on their own, older kids can be more independent with it). Parents can facilitate or join in and help…my kids had an absolute blast (and so did my hubby and I) and they worked so well together towards a common goal…to escape Harry Houidin’s secret room in 60 minutes! All you need is a printer, scissors, glue and a pencil!
7. Get outside, even in “bad” weather
If it’s raining, get them suited up to stomp in puddles. Give points for the biggest splash.
Is it snowing or cold outside? Bundle up and go outside anyways.
Here are some great snow activities that would be fun even at home.
Then come inside and do some of the snowman craft projects while you thaw out with some hot cocoa.
8. Bring outdoor toys inside.
If we’re stuck indoors and can’t go outside, sometimes we need to bring the outside inside the house.
Shove the slide into the living room.
Carry the playhouse into the kitchen.
Bring the tricycle into the basement.
If it entertains them for 10 minutes, it was worth lugging the stuff inside.
We also love this hover ball so the kids can play “soccer” indoors.
9. Turn their water table or kiddie pool into a Bean Pit.
When my eldest was young, we seriously dumped Costco-sized bags of pinto beans in her water table so she could pour, stir and bury toys in beans.
Just put a sheet down underneath them for easier cleanup.
You may need to sit with them to curb their bean eating and bean dumping, but it’ll be worth it.
10. Bake and cook with them.
Let them wear aprons and stand on kitchen chairs so they can be in charge of all the stirring and pouring.
Older kids can read the recipe and convert the fractions to double your recipe. Younger kids can be in charge of the timer.
You can share an old family recipe or make muffins straight from Betty Crocker’s box. It really doesn’t matter.
Because licking the beaters and silently sitting to watch their food bake through the oven window are magical times.
11. Sneak in some learning with science.
Kids love science because it’s messy and really, really cool.
If science doesn’t come easy to you, no worries. Here are some super fun and easy science from a few of my friends:
- Water Xylophone from A Dab of Glue Will Do
- Rain in a Jar from A Dab of Glue Will Do
- Slime from Little Bins for Little Hands (We made her Hot Chocolate Slime!)
12. Bring on the cute crafts
Let them cut and glue and draw and create.
Turn their art into birthday cards or wrapping paper or mail it off to Grandma.
Make crafts for the next holiday and decorate your house with them.
Related: Gifts for Creative Kids
Just make sure to hide the glitter. Glitter will ruin your day. Trust me.
You can make Friendship Flowers like these.
Or you can create Pointillism art using q-tips.
You can also use these 10 super cute craft ideas we use for Craft Night.
13. Bust out the Nerf guns and set up target practice.
Normally Nerf guns are outside toys in our house. But, when we’re home for multiple days, we often bring the Nerf inside. But I give them challenges:
- Try to knock down towers of paper cups or hit a remote-controlled car.
- See how many darts can stick to the sliding glass door.
- Can they make it into a basket?
This kept my kids busy and playing nicely with each other for over 30 minutes. In a row.
I love the inventor of Nerf guns.
14. Teach them a craft or game from your childhood.
Take some time to show your kids something from when you were a kid. Go “old school.”
Related: Make Shrinky Dink Keychains
Or show them your grandpa’s favorite card game that he once taught you.
15. Paint Kindness Rocks
We love painting rocks and then hiding them around our community for others to find.
You can put anything on your rocks, but we prefer kindness messages that lift others up.
You can get directions to make the Kindness Rocks here.
16. Teach them an “old school” skill
I showed my kids how to sew using meat trays that I remember making in Kindergarten.
My 10-year-old son still requests to do this simple sewing project.
We’ve made them for most holidays, but sewing his initial was his favorite.
17. Thank Essential Workers
Use this time to thank essential workers that are the unsung heroes of our communities: nurses, doctors, grocery workers, mail carriers, delivery drivers, garbage collectors, and teachers.
Your kids can print these coloring and activity sheets out and color them and then write a note to go with it.
18. Challenge them with some reading
We love to hunker down with a good book when we’re stuck inside.
But sometimes we need to challenge them to read in new and different ways and we use this to make it more fun and interesting.
We also do a Book Movie Club where we choose books that also have movies. Once we’re done reading the book, we get to watch the movie next. It’s a great way to encourage more reading, especially for reluctant readers.
Do you need even more Boredom Buster ideas?
Here’s one of my favorite Pinterest Boards called: Boredom Busters
The trick is to go through these ideas, pick your favorites and gather the supplies before you’re stuck inside.
Before you’re going to pull your hair out.
And remind yourself that the rain will stop and the snow will melt and the virus fears will end.
Your kiddo will one day—hopefully soon—be able to go back outdoors or back to school.
Bedtime is coming. You’re almost there.
But if all else fails, it’s okay to let them watch another episode of their favorite TV show.
Just pour yourself a glass of wine first.