This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission when items are purchased through these links.
Our world has been shook up a bit in the last weeks. I’m thankful we have a God who can be our Rock in times of trouble. We can trust His unfailing love, and His perfect plan!
In the midst of the turmoil surrounding the coronavirus, there are going to be a lot of kids sitting around home in the coming days. This might be exciting for some of you, and it may bring a dose of fear in others. Having everyone all together can sometimes cause a bit of anxiety!
Keeping kids busy, can hopefully minimize the mischief, squabbles, bickering and whining. I’m not making any promises about that, but it sure does help to have a few new ideas to add a little spark of fun in the days ahead.
While I have the privilege of being home with my kids, some of you will still be working. I am thankful for all of our healthcare workers or those of you with other important jobs to keep our country running! Hopefully there are some ideas listed here that you can implement with your children, even if you are away. Giving them a schedule with lists of activities will help their time at home alone.
I have collaborated with some wonderful, wise moms to put together this list of activities. I certainly can not take credit for all these ideas. I am thankful for those that shared their ideas with me. If you have additional ideas – please share!
I hope there are some new ideas that will help these coming days build a few good memories!
Shop for a new toy or activity
This might seem like a funny suggestion. I decided I would let my kids shop for one thing on Amazon. They will buy with their own money something that might be a fun project or activity for this week or weeks we have at home.
Pull out some of those games you have stashed away because you never have time to play them. Get out some played before, or just for fun – order a new one!
While my family has plenty of players for games, it might be challenging with just one or two children. Teach them how to play solitaire. I have been enjoying playing double solitaire with my 10 year old lately.
Here is one of our newest favorite games. Telestrations. This is hilarious! It was introduced to us by a friend at Christmas. Think of the game telephone – only in illustrations. It is hilarious what you end up. Bring some laughs into this time of uncertainty!
My older boys enjoy Risk, and other strategy type games.
If you get groans when you suggest playing a game, here’s one mom’s suggestion. She said she likes to get a game all set up on a table and then wait for the children to notice it or call them over. It invites them in and increases their desire to sit down and play.
Puzzles are also a great pastime. Here is a 3D puzzle one son is thinking about getting.
Write a Letter
While you might get a few groans with this one, remind them of our social distancing. We can stay connected to our loved ones by writing a letter to them. Help them think outside of themselves, and remember those that are alone in the nursing homes without any visitors. I am sure they would love a letter of encouragement from a young person, or a picture colored by a child to hang in their room.
On another note, this is a great way to keep their writing skills up to speed while they are away from school for awhile.
Some kids can sit for hours reading on their own. I have a couple like that. Others, well – they need a bit more encouragement!
Encouraging your kids to read while they are home from school is super important. Go to your bookshelves and pull out books you haven’t read for awhile.
Set up your own reading challenge for the week. Set a goal of #of books or pages and at the end of the week if they reach their goal, allow them to order a new book or have another reward for them.
Set aside a certain part of the day for everyone to read. Have a fun activity or yummy snack planned for when the reading time is over.
Read aloud to your kids. Even big kids enjoy this occasionally. Find good quality, well-written books that invite imagination and intrigue.
Usborne Books & More –These are awesome books that my children gobbled up when they were younger. So many beautiful books of facts and wonder. I have a good friend, Heidi, that sells these books. You can check them out here. They are offering free shipping for a few more days on orders over $80.
It is a great investment in your child’s learning and reading.
Here is a stack of some of our well-loved Usborne books.
Audio books are a great option if your child is a reluctant reader. You can listen together while working in the kitchen or doing a puzzle. It helps with their vocabulary and imagination. It provides much of the same benefits as actual reading, but it allows you to experience the book together or gives you the option to do other things at the same time.
Here are a couple options for listening to audio books.
- The Libby App. This free app will connect with a local participating library. It will give you free access to thousands of ebooks and audio books. One son is reading the Harry Potter series. I have not read them yet, so we are listening to it together on the libby app so we can discuss the book together. (I did have to wait 11 weeks to get this book!)
- Another audio book option is audible. This gives you access to even more books than the Libby app as well as not having the wait time. There is a free trial, but after that, there is a monthly fee.
Adventures in Odyssey
You may already be a big fan, but if you have not heard about this kids’ audio drama, you are missing out!
Update: They are offering a free 4-week trial right now!
We subscribe for $10/month and we have access to all the episodes ever made plus new ones that are continually being produced. It is worth every penny!
The episodes are entertaining while teaching biblical values at the same time. I love listening to them as well. In fact my husband and I have been known to listen to them even when the kids are not in the car if we are in the middle of an exciting or suspenseful episode or series.
My almost 17 year old daughter will listen to them while painting or crafting in her room. I highly recommend it!
I have come to learn that you can learn pretty much anything with a YouTube video!
Your kids can learn a new skill or develop ones they have by watching a few videos. I do recommend supervision while on Youtube, as there can be some not so great videos that pop up!
Here are some how-to’s my kids have learned from.
How to play drums
How to play guitar
How to do card tricks
How to make slime
How to make….many, many crafts!
Here is a good place for art.
I was recently introduced to some great whittling kits on Amazon. My 8- year-old was super excited when he saw me looking at it. He went to get his knife and a stick and was busy for quite some time.
I decided this would be a great time to let him order the actual kit.
I am also ordering some gloves for safety.
There are several kits with great reviews. I am choosing this one with many tools and several wooden blocks as I know his brothers will enjoy this activity as well.
It does not come with a case for the tools, but I figured we have some plastic containers to keep the tools and blocks in. Some kits come with gloves, but they did not come with very many blocks. With 4 boys, I’m going for more blocks, and ordering one set of gloves for the youngest.
Build a Fort
Sometimes I cringe when my boys want to make a fort. I know the living room will get over run with misplaced cushions, blankets and chairs. One typically will scream at the other when it falls over. They will get mad and determine the other one needs to pick it up.
Here is an idea from a mom that might help with the caving blankets and falling over cushions! She uses flat sheets, clothespins and chairs. This is great idea!
You can also take this adventure outside. Have them collect long sticks and set them up against each other to make a teepee or another type of fort.
Just add a word of warning to your kids – they will need to pick it up at the end of the day. Unless you don’t plan on using the living room and are a really fun mom and let them sleep in the fort. I’m not all that fun.
Cook or Bake
Don’t be afraid to invite the kids into the kitchen. Little messes and annoyances now will one day pay off to self sufficient chefs!
If you aren’t much of a cook yourself, there are plenty of cooking videos – learn together!
Have them come up with a meal for the dinner and allow them to do much of the prep.
One mom keeps easy baking mixes on hand to allow her kids to easily bake up something fun and delicious.
I actually let my 8 and 10 year old boys make pancakes on their own this morning. I set out the ingredients and measuring tools, after they got started I went outside.
This was a bit risky of me. These two can be at odds with each other most of the day. It was also risky as if they didn’t turn out, we might waste some ingredients.
However, I knew when a challenge is given, they are good at rising to the task.
Success! My older son came later to pour the mix onto the griddle, but the littles mixed it up perfectly!
We have talked about ways to keep them writing and reading in these coming days, but are there other options to keep learning?
There are so many ways to keep your children learning, but here are a few websites that might help you out.
This one lists many educational sites that you would normally need a paid subscription for, but with all the school closings, they are offering it for free without a subscription!
This one allows you to take a virtual tour of 12 famous Museums!
And this one, offers stories read by adults for children to listen to.
Make your own YouTube videos
My youngest kids get such a kick out of watching other people do goofy, crazy things on YouTube! Many of these things I would not want them to duplicate – messes and waste is all I can say.
However, a friend said her daughter used her iPad to make a motion lego movie. I say getting your kids to make videos would be a better option than watching the crazy YouTube videos. I’m saying that as my younger two are watching two crazy guys carving carrots into flutes!
One son loves to put model airplanes together. He does not love arts and crafts, but he does like putting the models together and painting them.
There are model cars, tanks, planes, etc. He was really wanting to go to Hobby Lobby to get a model to work on this next week, but we didn’t get there before I decided it would be best to just stay home.
Amazon does not carry model kits, which is the first thing I’ve looked for that I couldn’t find on their site. So this one may be out of the question, but it is a fun hobby.
Update: My older boys found some small intricate metal models they ordered. They enjoyed putting these together.
Have I mentioned that I have 4 boys? There is a lot of energy packed in those bodies, and the day goes better if they can get outside and play a game, run, bike, etc..
Get out there and do it with them! My kids will be more likely to get out there if I go for a run and invite them to bike alongside me.
If the weather does not cooperate, there are great workout videos online.
Of course this is every kid’s favorite! Ha ha. But giving my kids a list of chores they need to complete before they do other fun things is super helpful for me and of course great in teaching them responsibility.
You could work together on a project like clearing out drawers or their closet to donate items that longer fit.
You could also rearrange their room together.
Activities for pre-K children (although older kids might like these too!)
Play dough – there are many homemade recipes for play dough. I found out 8 year-olds still love play dough! He stayed home sick from school this week, but he wasn’t too sick. I was just being a little extra cautious. We made play-dough, and he just thought it was the greatest!
Here is the recipe we used. I never seem to have cream of tarter on hand, so there are better recipes that use that. This one worked though!
Slime – another hit, especially if you put it in a mason jar. My boys will giggle for hours listening to the sounds they can make. Oh my! Here’s a video for you.
Sink full of bubbles. Give your toddler or preschooler a few scoops, cups or spoons and allow her to enjoy playing in the bubbles.
Stations – set up areas with a certain activity at each area. For kids with short attention spans this may help keep them occupied! Set a timer for 10 minutes (or however long you think would work for your child.) Stations could include reading, coloring, blocks, dolls, cars, listening to music, dancing, etc.
Arts and crafts – set up some supplies like pre-cut paper shapes for your child to glue on paper or allow them to practice cutting.
Busy Bags – Pinterest and google searches will provide you with some great ideas to fill bags to keep your littles busy!
A few more tips to help you:
Make a schedule. Having a routine for them will help the day go smoother. Take some of these ideas and create a schedule for your child’s day. Talk it over with your child and get his/her input. This will be helpful if you need to be at work, to know your child has a plan for the day.
Set clear guidelines. Make sure your child knows all of the things he/she needs to accomplish before a screen may be used or other plans are made.
If there are squabbles and arguments between siblings, separate the children into different rooms. Keep them isolated until their hearts are ready to apologize and get along again.
Enjoy and pray!
Enjoy the extra time you have with your kids and pray for this virus to end!