With schools shuttered and families following recommendations to self-isolate at home, parents around the country are scrambling to figure out what to do with the kids.
It suddenly seems like there’s so much time in the day to fill. Worksheets and distance learning lessons from school only do so much to stave off boredom.
If you’re looking for some free or low-cost activities for your kids to do while stuck at home, let this list serve as a little inspiration.
Activities for Kids Individually at Home
Whether you’re trying to work remotely or just need a little me time, here are some things children can do on their own.
- Try a science experiment. Making slime or creating a baking soda-vinegar volcano are fun ideas.
- Mould with Play-Doh. You can make your own version with flour, salt, water and oil.
- Learn something new online. Practice phrases in a new language with Duolingo or learn how to code with Tynker.
- Practice yoga. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a popular YouTube channel.
- Take a virtual field trip. Various attractions around the world, from the San Diego Zoo to the Louvre in Paris, are offering free virtual field trips.
- Learn a new dance. Watch a YouTube dance tutorial to master all the steps.
- Create and illustrate your own story. Use your imagination to come up with a wild plot.
- Write in a journal. A diary of your quarantine will make for entertaining reading down the road.
Activities to Do at Home as a Family
You’re all in this together. These activities will help the whole family pass the time because let’s be honest, parents get stir crazy too.
- Host a movie marathon. Stick to a theme like comedies or Disney classics.
- Throw a dance party. Put on your favorite mix and dance it out.
- Play board games. Make sure your game night includes snacks!
- Play cards. Teach the little ones “Go Fish.” Save poker for the teens.
- Put on a fashion show. Dress up in the craziest combinations from your closets and strut your stuff.
- Play bingo. Let the kids decorate the boards with markers and stickers.
- Play a game of musical chairs. The kids can get their energy out without needing to go outside.
- Organize a family talent show. Each member of the family can show off their skills.
- Play charades. Find out who has the best acting chops in the family.
- Teach your kids something new. Pass along a skill you know, whether that’s how to sew on a button or playy piano.
- Cook a meal together. Try a new recipe that everyone will enjoy.
- Have a bake-off. Form two teams and see who can bake up the best batch of cookies or cupcakes.
- Plan a scavenger hunt. Hide different items throughout the house and give the kids clues to find them.
- Create a family tree. Share passed-down stories as you document the various generations.
- Make a time capsule. Compile items that will remind you of these current events when you dig up the capsule a decade from now.
- Have a virtual meetup with friends. Use a video chat platform like FaceTime, Google Duo or Skype to help your kids keep in touch with their BFFs.
- Video chat with relatives. Stay in touch with grandparents or cousins as you collectively shelter in place.
- Take family photos. You don’t need to have a professional photographer. Take candid shots and group photos of your crew with your cell phone camera.
- Use conversation cards to learn something new about each other. You can find free, family-friendly printable cards online or make your own. The Family Dinner Project has several conversation starters you could use.
- Sing karaoke. Have a lip sync battle if no one wants to really sing.
Activities for Kids to Do in the Backyard
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t step outdoors for some fresh air. Here are some outdoor activities to try when the kiddos are suffering from cabin fever.
- Create an artistic masterpiece with sidewalk chalk. Or simply use it to play hopscotch.
- Blow bubbles. Little kids especially love this activity.
- Have a water balloon fight. Cool off on a warm day.
- Do some gardening. Use a journal to write down observations at each stage of development.
- Plan a field day. Do fun activities like a sack race or hula hoop showdown.
- Go bike riding. Fresh air and exercise for the win.
- Go stargazing. Set up a blanket in the backyard and point out constellations in the night sky.
- Plan a backyard picnic or BBQ. Enjoy dining outside.
- Fly a kite. Wait until a windy day to do this activity.
- Camp out in your backyard. Skip the campground fees.
- Enjoy a night around the fire pit. Don’t forget marshmallows for toasting.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.