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What to Do When You’re Stuck at Home with Kids

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Stuck at home with your kids? Here are 20 easy indoor activities you can do with supplies you probably already have at home.

With COVID-19 and social distancing, you are stuck at home with your kids.  I know it can be hard.  While I’m grateful to be safe at home, I need a bunch of activities and I know you do, too.  These indoor activities will save your sanity when you are on the verge of losing your mind.

But I know 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.

It’s hard to find some supplies now, and it’s harder to get to the store. So I have linked a lot of the supplies below for your convenience. My hope is you already have most of the items at home.

I wrote out steps for almost all the activities.  Some are so basic, the steps are literally: set out the supplies.  You’re tired and I wanted to be clear you weren’t missing anything!

In no particular order, here are 20 easy activities to do when you’re stuck at home with your kids.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links; read more here.

Why Bother with Activities When You’re Stuck at Home with Kids?

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 to do with our kids.  I have 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 bridge to creating which leads to independent playi.

Sensory Activities

When you’re stuck at home with your kids all day, they might not be getting all the outdoor time they need.  Sensory activities are even more important then.

For these sensory activities, I choose materials that are widely available in the stores right now. Traditional sensory bin fillers (pasta, beans, and rice) might be hard to find.

A lot of parents don’t like sensory activities because they are messy. So teach your children the expectations and boundaries:

  • 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 for my son to get the message.

action figure bath time stuck at home with kids

1. Action Figure Bath

Daniel Tiger, Paw Patrol, Sesame Street – any figure you have at home works.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Grab a bin.
  2. Fill with water and a bit of dish soap.
  3. 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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Put out materials
  2. Explain they are supposed to build a creature.

3. Float and Scoop

Use item you already have at home that float and practice hand-eye coordination to scoop them.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Fill a large bin with water and the balls (or other floating toy).
  2. 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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Put a small amount of shaving cream on a rimmed baking tray.
  2. Add the trucks.
  3. Fill a plastic bin with water.
  4. 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 play set, try a cardboard box.  I recommend 400-500 cotton balls (this was not enough for us so we ordered more!)

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Get your large bin or a shallow box.
  2. Add the playset and cotton balls.

Play Prompts

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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. On a flat surface, set out a few blocks that suggest a city.
  2. Add cars.
  3. 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.” Some how the problem solving and the beloved action figure is magic.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Set out the Magformers and the action figure.
  2. 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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. At a table, set up the stuffed animals.
  2. Put the food nearby.
  3. 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.

I got this idea from Busy Toddler on Instagram.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Open a large box so it lays flat.
  2. Use a marker to draw a road.
  3. Set out some blocks, toy cars, and a play set.

10. Dominoes

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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Step up a few dominos on their sides.
  2. Watch your child build or create.

Active Indoor Activities

On the days when the weather is just too bad to go for a walk or play in the yard, active indoor activities help burn some energy. 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.

Supplies:

  • Dice
  • Paper
  • Marker

Steps:

  1. On a piece of paper, draw the six sides of a die.
  2. Label each one with a movement that is appropriate for your child.
  3. Demonstrate the movements.
  4. Instruct your child to roll the die and match it to the paper.
  5. 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 is a reluctant puzzle solver.  Making it into a game got him more involved.

Grab those puzzles you have a home and hid 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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Grab your puzzle.
  2. Hide all or a few pieces in your liviing area.
  3. Depending on the child, adjust the level of difficult for the hunt.  For my toddler, I made it super duper obvious.
  4. Once your child finds the piece, show him or her to put in the puzzle.
  5. 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’s 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:

Steps:

  1. Just start the obstacle course with whatever you can tolerate.
  2. Tell your kids and let them finish the set up.

14. Fort

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.

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Set up one or two pins with wooden blocks.
  2. Instruct your child to build more.
  3. Give them a ball to bowl.
  4. Repeat.  This killed a solid 20 minutes in my house.

Creating Prompts

While we always have crayons and washable markers out and accessible for our children, some of the messy supplies are off limits.

Messy art is important for children. 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. I often draw an outline for my children to fill in.

Supplies:

17. Finger paint heart

In our home, finger painting is a free for all. Then I cut them into shapes like hearts and we mail them to family and friends with a note on the back.

Supplies:

18.  Watercolor Rainbows

My daughter has been on a real rainbow kick lately.  So I draw an outline for her and she likes to paint within the lines.

Supplies

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.

Supplies:

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.

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!

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