It isn’t easy to be holed up at home–no matter who your company is. After two days, you may be thinking there isn’t enough coffee or Netflix® in this world to keep from going stir crazy. If you are a parent (and even if you aren’t), you have the unique opportunity to set the tone in your home and decide if these weeks will be just a bit hectic for everyone or filled with precious memory-making and family-bonding activities.
Here are some fun activities to keep your kids busy should you find yourself at home for an undefined length of time:
Marshmallow Tinker-Toys: For a fun twist on the classic building toy, take pretzel sticks and mini-marshmallows and let your child build a world of sweetness. Have them create pretzel-marshmallow people, houses and towns. It’s creative, sticky fun, and best of all, when they’re done, they can eat their sweet creations!
Puppet Shows: All you need for the show of a lifetime is a cardboard box, some Popsicle sticks, old socks (which may have lost their match) and markers for decorating. If you have googly eyes in the house, glue them on for more realistic-looking sock puppets. Have your child entertain you or be the entertainer — either way works. Let the show begin!
Scrapbook: Spend some quality time reliving precious memories by digging out the scrapbooking supplies and old photos to create a timeless masterpiece together.
Salt Painting: Move over, glitter; this new painting technique makes designs that are just as pretty and twice as fun! Lay a piece of cardstock on top of some old newspapers. Have your child draw patterns on the paper using Elmer’s glue. (The glue lines should be on the thicker side.) Next, pour table salt over the wet glue, making sure all the glue is covered in salt, then shake off all excess salt. Now, using watercolors, let your kids paint the salt! This works best if the paint is a bit watery so the brush doesn’t have to touch the salt too often; it can simply drip onto the paper. When your child is done painting, they’ll be left with a spectacular, super-cool design! Let dry and display their masterpiece to invoke pride and smiles for all.
Need an idea of what to ‘draw’ with the glue? Why not make a silly family crest with emojis or symbols that represent your household.
Teach a Household Skill: Instead of complaining about the endless housework, enlist your child’s help! Even very small children can help sort laundry, load the washing machine and press the buttons to turn it on (with your supervision, of course). Have the older ones help you bake, letting them put their math skills to use by adding fractions in recipes. And, of course, everyone cleans up their own messes when the day is done!
Simon Says, “Draw!”: Give this old favorite a twist by breaking out the craft supplies. Set up a table with paper, crayons, markers, stamps and any other fun coloring supplies you have in your house. Seat your kids around the table and begin an intense game of Simon Says, only, instead of movements, instruct your kids to draw something on their papers. You can have them draw basic shapes in specific colors, or something more complex if they’re a little older. Anyone who draws without hearing ‘Simon says’ or uses the wrong shape or color is out!
Homemade Photo Shoot: One of the best ways to stay connected with family and friends when you’re unable to get out and about is through social media. Why not have a fun photo shoot to share a few smiles across the miles. Grab funky clothing and props like hats, toys and anything that brings you or your little one joy and start working the camera! Use a brightly colored sheet, blank wall or decorate your backdrop with colorful drawings on paper plates, paper or happy images from old magazines.
No fancy camera at home? That’s ok. Smartphones are equipped with some of the best cameras around these days. Use fun photo editing apps to add even more pizazz!
Balloon Ping-Pong: No need for a bulky ping-pong table! Just tape large popsicle sticks or rulers to the back of paper plates, blow up a balloon and have your preschoolers play ping-pong with their makeshift paddles over your empty kitchen table!
Let it Snow!: It’s been a snowless winter in many parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the blizzard home. Whip up a batch of homemade snow while you’re stuck inside. Let your kids have a blast creating a winter wonderland that’s almost as good as the real thing.
Directions: In a large pan or bin, mix 3 cups of baking soda with ½ cup hair conditioner. Note: If you don’t have enough baking soda on hand, you can also use shaving cream for your “snow.” Keep on stirring until the mixture turns cold, soft and feels like … snow! Dig out the toy cars, small beach shovels and collections of Little People® and let the fun begin!
Scavenger Hunt: If your kids are bouncing off the walls from being cooped up at home, have them let off some steam with a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Set up hints around the house and have them race from clue to clue searching for the treasure you’ve hidden for them. If your kids are too young to read, this can work with picture clues as well. The “treasure” can be a special treat you have in the house, a new game or art supply you’ve been saving or their favorite stuffed teddy.
With some creativity and a positive attitude (and lots of patience and positivity), you can fill this challenging time with warm memories your children will treasure for the rest of their lives.
Your Turn: How are you keeping your kids busy during the pandemic? Share your best ideas with us in the comments.