20+ Stay at Home Kids’ Activities
Need easy indoor activities you can do with supplies you already have at home? Here’s 20+ stay at home kids’ activities.
As the pandemic showed most parents, we need an arsenal of stay at home kids activities. These indoor activities will save your sanity when you are on the verge of losing your mind.
You don’t have a lot of time or mental bandwidth to pull together an activity. That’s why all of these activities are super easy and can be set up in less than five minutes.
You already have most of the items at home but a lot of the supplies are linked below for your convenience.
Some of the stay at home kids activities are so basic, the steps are literally: set out the supplies. But since you’re tired there are clear steps so you won’t missing anything!
In no particular order, here are 20+ stay at home kids activities.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links; read more here.
Why Bother with Stay at Home Kids Activities?
Play is the work of childhood. We want and need our children to be able to direct their own play and we need to give them ample opportunity to play.
But sometimes, we need activities for our kids to do. Activities as predictable parts of our daily routine because they serve as transitions for my children.
When we start the day with Morning Making, it helps set the tone for the day for my children.
Similarly, when we have activities after snack time and after quiet time, it gets my children into the frame of mind that playing is now their primary job.
Often in my family, we gravitate to technology when we lack a structure or plan. Instead of grabbing the remote, we try to use activities as a bridge to creating which leads to independent play.
Sensory Activities for Kids at Home
Some of the best kids’ stay at home activities involve sensory play. Sensory activities are even more important when children aren’t getting all the outdoor time they need!
Rules for Sensory Play
A lot of parents don’t like sensory activities because they are messy. So set up from rules for sensory play.
Teach your children the expectations and boundaries and then enforce them:
- The materials stay inside the containers.
- If the materials are dumped out (purposefully), they will be put away until tomorrow.
- Then check for your child’s understanding: “Where does the water stay?”
- And next, “What happens if you dump it out?”
- Follow through with your little boundary testers.
I’ve had to put away the beans bin just one time. My son to got the message that I would enforce the sensory play rules.
1. Action Figure Bath
Daniel Tiger, Paw Patrol, Sesame Street – any figure you have at home works.
- action figures
- plastic bin
- dish soap
- scrub brush or sponge
- dish towels
- Grab a bin.
- Fill with water and a bit of dish soap.
- Add action figures and a scrub brush.
2. Play-doh Creatures
Play-doh can be more manageable if we give kids a direction. Then it doesn’t just turn into a giant mess.
- google eyes
- Put out materials
- Explain they are supposed to build a creature.
3. Float and Scoop
Use items you already have at home that float and practice hand-eye coordination to scoop them.
- ball pit balls (or rubber duckies or bath toys)
- large plastic bin
- small plastic bin
- slotted spoon
- Fill a large bin with water and the balls (or another floating toy).
- Give your child the spoon and show them how to scoop.
4. Shaving Cream Trucks
The texture of shaving cream can be hard for some kids but it provides so much valuable input. Try pushing around cars or trucks and rinsing them off.
- Put a small amount of shaving cream on a rimmed baking tray.
- Add the trucks.
- Fill a plastic bin with water.
- Show your child how to push the truck, then dunk in water to clean.
5. Playset Snow Day
Extend a playset in your house by creating a snow day. If you don’t have a bin large enough for your playset, try a cardboard box. I recommend 400-500 cotton balls (this was not enough for us so we ordered more!)
- play set (use one you already have – we used Paw Patrol)
- cotton balls
- large bin
- Get your large bin or a shallow box.
- Add the playset and cotton balls.
One of the easiest kids’ stay at home activities is a simple play prompt. A play prompt is just a quick set up of some open ended toys that gets your child thinking and playing.
Sometimes kids need a little prompting when it comes to play. When my children get stuck or in a bad loop of misbehavior or fighting with each other, play prompts help them transition into independent play.
6. Block City
Help your child see more possibilities with their blocks by start a city for them.
- On a flat surface, set out a few blocks that suggest a city.
- Add cars.
- Say something like, “Want to drive these cars around the town.”
7. Build a Home
This play prompt has really snapped one of my children out of a bad mood one day. I say, “oh let’s build Skye a house.” Somehow the problem-solving and the beloved action figure is magic.
- Action figures (we used Paw Patrol)
- Set out the Magformers and the action figure.
- Say, “Build him or her a home.”
8. Stuffie Snack Time
I grab a few stuffies from my children’s bedroom and some sort of eating props. You could use real dishes from your kitchen if you need to.
- Stuffed animals
- Melissa and Doug play food set
- Green Toys Tea set
- At a table, set up the stuffed animals.
- Put the food nearby.
- Invite your kids to create a tea party or snack time.
9. Box Road
Save your next Amazon delivery boxes and draw a road. Add a playset or some blocks and watch the magic happen.
- cardboard box cut open
- wooden blocks
- toy cars
- play set (LIttle People Farm is pictured)
- Open a large box so it lays flat.
- Use a marker to draw a road.
- Set out some blocks, toy cars, and a playset.
(Thanks, Busy Toddler!)
Use dominoes as blocks to create another type of structure. Because of the unique shape, this activity encourages more hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Or show your children how to create a domino chain reaction.
- Step up a few dominos on their sides.
- Watch your child build or create.
Active Indoor Kids Stay at Home Activities
One of the reasons we all need kids’ stay at home activities is bad weather. So how are the children going to get out all that pent-up energy?
Active indoor activities are the solution. They help burn some energy and get some much-needed movement.
11. Roll & Move
Grab some dice and get some movement. Jumping jacks, twirls, frog jumps, toe touches, arm circles, hop on one foot: all these are great movements.
- On a piece of paper, draw the six sides of a die.
- Label each one with a movement that is appropriate for your child.
- Demonstrate the movements.
- Instruct your child to roll the die and match it to the paper.
- You could extend this by asking your child to do the number of movements, too. Like 1 push up, 2 toe touches, etc.
12. Puzzle Scavenger Hunt
My son used to be a reluctant puzzle solver. Making it into a game got him more involved.
Grab those puzzles you have a home and hide either all or a few pieces around your living room. We first start with my three-year-old’s chunky Melissa & Doug puzzle. He covered his eyes and then he searched for the pieces.
- Grab your puzzle.
- Hide all or a few pieces in your living area.
- Depending on the child, adjust the level of difficulty for the hunt. For my toddler, I made it super-duper obvious.
- Once your child finds the piece, show him or her to put in the puzzle.
- For an older child, I suggest only hiding 6-8 pieces of a more complex puzzle.
13. Obstacle Course
Use whatever you have a home to create an obstacle course. The sky (and your tolerance for a mess) is the limit.
Here are some ideas:
- couch cushions: put them on the floor to jump from cushion to cushion
- painter’s tape: place on the floor for children to walk in a straight line
- table: crawl under the table
If you want more complex obstacle course ideas, we also use:
- Just start the obstacle course with whatever you can tolerate.
- Tell your kids and let them finish the setup.
Building a fort can burn a lot of energy as your children run around the house gathering things. Use the couch and cushions as a base or kitchen chairs and a dining table. Find your largest sheets and blankets.
We just throw a few large flat sheets over the dining table and call it good.
15. Block Bowling
This combines fine motor skills to stack the blocks with larger motor skills to roll the blocks.
- Set up one or two pins with wooden blocks.
- Instruct your child to build more.
- Give them a ball to bowl.
- Repeat. This killed a solid 20 minutes in my house.
Arts and Crafts Stay at Home Kids’ Activities
Messy art is important for children. When you’ve got extra time and nowhere to go, arts and crafts are perfect for stay at home kids’ activities.
It provides children with a lot of different types of sensory input and fine motor skills. And messes are just meant to be cleaned. We can always wash our hands afterwards!
16. Dab a Dot markers
Dot markers make bright artwork super simple. You can draw an outline like a flower for your children to fill in.
- Dab and Dot markers
- large paper
17. Finger Paint Hearts Love Mail
Finger painting can be a total free-for-all. Let your children create to their hearts’ content.
After the paintings are dry, cut them into shapes like hearts. Then mail them to family and friends with a note on the back.
- washable finger paint
- paper plate
18. Watercolor Rainbows
Draw a simple rainbow outline for your children. It will brighten your day when you’re staying home.
- washable watercolors
- large paper
- water cup
19. Wall Mural
Somehow coloring with markers and crayons is more fun if the children can draw on the walls! Make sure your crayons and markers are washable, though.
20. Drippy glue collages
I often will provide an outline shape for my children to give them a prompt, but depending on your children, you could just set out the supplies.
My son’s preschool calls this drippy glue. Squeezing those glue bottles gives little hands a good work out, and that strengthening is a prerequisite for holding a pencil.
- Related: How to Improve Pencil Grasp
When You’re Stuck at Home with Kids
Listen, I know it’s hard. It’s good to feel your feelings but at some point, move forward. Make the best of a tough situation with some new activities in the rotation.
What activities have you done while you’re stuck at home? Leave a comment!