Here are 12 activities for kids at home, as well as tips for establishing routine for kids when school is out.
While of course everyone's primary concern is health and safety right now, we're also being faced with another challenge. As schools close across the country, many parents are faced with weeks on end of being home with the kids.
While many of us parents dream of spending more time with our kids, this is obviously different. First of all, many of us still need to get work done while our kids are home. Second of all, trips to the zoo or even the playground are out. Don't feel guilty if you feel a little panicky at the thought of all of that unstructured time at home with your kiddos. As a mom to a one year old, I get it!
I want to share some ideas for activities for kids at home, but first I want to talk a little bit about establishing a routine.
Forming a Simple Routine for Kids
While an occasionally jammie day with no plans other than snuggles may be amazing, it won't work for weeks on end. Kids, especially young kids, need and thrive on routine.
This is more true than ever during these strange times. Even if your kids are too young to be really aware of COVID-19 and what's going on, they absolutely sense our anxiety and the weird energy. Establishing a simple routine for kids can help them feel a sense of normalcy.
Here's an example, but make it work for you!
- 7-8 AM Get dressed, brush teeth, have breakfast
- 8-9 AM Family reading time
- 9-10 AM Go for a walk (if you live in an uncrowded area)
- 10-11 AM Play in the backyard
- 11-12 PM Indoor play time
- 12-1 PM Lunch
- 1-3 PM Nap time or quiet time (independent play time) for older kids
- 3-4 PM Art project
- 4-5 PM Indoor or outdoor play time
You of course have to use your judgement for whether a neighborhood walk is a good idea in your neighborhood. If you don't have a backyard, even playing on a patio if you have one, can be a great way to get some fresh air.
If your kids are older, you may want to replace some play time with simple math and reading practice.
The actual schedule you create isn't really that important, what's important is having a sense of routine.
12 Activities for Kids at Home
1. Have a Tea Party
Host a tea party for all of your little one's stuffed animals and pull out all the stops. Put on your fancy clothes, get out some special dishes and light a candle. Bonus – your kids may enjoy trying some calming tea, which we could all use right now!
2. Do a Really Big Puzzle
3. Play board games
Now is the perfect time to break out your favorite childhood board game and share it with your own kids. The youngest kids can play something like Hi-Ho-Cherry-O and there are some really cool new games for older kids!
4. Make a Scavenger Hunt
Creating a scavenger hunt is super simple and can keep kids occupied for quite a while. This is really fun to do in the backyard (find an acorn, find a dandelion, find a snail, etc.) but you can totally do it inside too.
One idea is to use the colors of the rainbow – ask your child to find something to match each ROYGBIV color. They can draw or write the name of what they found, depending on their level.
5. Make Necklaces
Simple arts and crafts like necklace making are perfect activities for kids at home because they work for multiple age levels which is important if you have more than one! If you don't already have beads at home, you can order them – pony beads are perfect for little ones and seed beads are a good challenge for older kids! Kids as young as 3 can use a yarn needle (not sharp!) to string beads and it's great fine motor practice!
6. Listen to Audio Books
For young kids, it helps to start them off with stories they're familiar with so they can more easily follow along.
7. Have a Dance Party
If you have a backyard, definitely encourage your kids to get out there every day and run around. If you don't have a private outdoor space, helping them run off their energy can be a little trickier.
Enter, the dance party! Turn off the lights, break out the glow sticks and pump up the music. You might just get a little much needed stress relief yourself 🙂
8. Go for a Nature Walk
If you do have an uncrowded neighborhood you can walk around, give your child a little bucket and go on a “nature walk” together. Tell them you're going to search the ground for beautiful nature objects to collect.
When you get home, encourage them to organize their treasures or use them in a collage.
P.S. You can totally do this in the backyard if you need to stay totally at home! Research shows that nature has a big impact in terms of stress relief so make sure to open the windows, let the sunlight in, and listen to the birds every day.
9. Bird Watch
10. Write a Story Together
Do your kids love hearing stories about your childhood or stories about when they were born?
Take some time to write down these stories together. You and your child can illustrate or you can print photos and paste them in.
Of course you can write a fictional story together too!
11. Camp in the Backyard
Did you have Spring Break plans that had to be canceled? Why not take a pretend trip and set up a tent in the backyard. Leave the phones in the house and do simple things like stargaze together.
This sense of adventure can be really refreshing during a time when we're stuck at home.
12. Do a Cooking Project!
Of course I love to cook and bake when I'm stuck at home! This is a great time to bring the kids into your cooking projects since we're home more and less rushed when it's dinner time.
Try making my Chunky Monkey “Nice” Cream or Paleo Brownies for a much need treat. Obviously ingredients are limited right now for many of us, so feel free to improvise or make something super simple with your child as well.
This is such a hard time for all of us, for many reasons. I hope these ideas for activities for kids at home can help, even just a little, while we navigate these days at home. Please reach out if there are any other resources I can provide!