Whether you are reading this while cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic or another time where you need to find a few new ideas for your kiddos to do at home, here are a whole bunch of easy ways for every parent to keep their children occupied for hours, sneak in a little learning, and let them have a blast doing it!
1. Dig Deep
What’s that one thing that your son or daughter is absolutely passionate about and could do for hours and hours?
Let them dig deep and spend a huge chunk of time creating that Lego masterpiece, perfecting all the dance moves to that song, reading or rereading every single book in that series, or finally beating the big Boss in that Switch game.
Maybe they want to become an expert on identifying every insect or sketching every breed of dogs or cats. Give them time to read books, watch YouTube videos, and clock in some more of their 10,000 hour journey to expertise.
Encourage them fill up a journal, create a presentation board, or make their own video sharing their new found knowledge with the family and friends.
2. Go Big
Turn “Go big or go home” on its head, and give your children permission to spread out, make a mess, and turn at least part of the house into a laboratory or gigantic blanket and pillow fort filled with every single stuffed animal, baby, and other toy they own.
Let their imaginations explode and creativity abound with a peaceful takeover of the living room or kitchen, turning it into a whole new world for the morning or afternoon.
Make sure you take some before and after pictures, so you get all the cool mom points, and also so they can put everything back in the right places once it’s clean up time.
3. Learn or Perfect a Chore
Whether it’s cleaning up the mess they just made going big or just working on a personal or household chore, now is always a really great time for kids to learn or perfect a new way to help out at home.
Even though it will take some of your time up front to show and guide them through the steps on how to make their bed, clean the bathroom, dust the baseboards, or do the dishes, the results are well worth it.
We’re talking some new life skills and a cleaner house!
Add in a few fun cleaning supplies like these mop slippers, some upbeat tunes, and turn it into a cleaning dance party.
4. Ask and Answer Why
Ever wondered why giraffes have such long necks or some people are allergic to pollen and others aren’t?
Grab a bunch of sticky notes and colorful pens and let everyone brainstorm and jot down questions that they have always wondered about but never taken the time to actually answer.
Stick all the notes on the fridge, a white board, or a window and then let each of your children choose one to search out the answer using Google and a book like Why? from National Geographic Kids, and share their findings during a dinner or other family time.
Help your younger ones or let them pair up with an older sibling to search it out in a cooperative quest for knowledge about stuff everyone really wants to know.
5. Baby Step into Something New
Have a child who always wanted to learn how to knit, draw with pastels, or play the ukelele? Grab any needed supplies and use the magic of YouTube and other online websites to let him or her take the first steps into learning a new skill.
If it is something that you or another family member already know how to do, carve out some time to sit together in person or virtually using Zoom to connect and share that knowledge.
Want to learn it with your kiddo?
Take the time to work on it together, doubling it up with some quality time. This works great for baby stepping into a new language using DuoLingo.
6. Wrap It Up
Ok, so if your kids are creative or crafty, they very likely already have a few (or a whole bunch of) arts and crafts projects, like the ones from KiwiCo, that have been started but never finished.
Declare a “That’s a Wrap” day and have them choose at least one of these projects to completely finish. Double check that they have all of the needed supplies to finish it and nothing has dried up or gone missing.
Then end the day by letting them set up a museum with all of the finished projects for everyone to enjoy.
7. Cook Something Together
Grab your matching aprons and recipes and let your kiddos help choose a new dish that you can make together. Whether it is bread, cookies, soup, or even a whole meal, choose something that you have or can find all the ingredients for, roll up your sleeves, wash your hands, and get cooking!
Discuss fractions, mixing and measuring techniques, and share stories about past cooking experiences from your childhood while you have fun making a mess in the kitchen and then cleaning it up.
Once the food is ready, make sure to enjoy it together and possibly even share it with others. Whether or not you create a new cook in your kitchen, you will walk away with a sweet family treat to eat and memory to savor.
8. Read A Lot
One of the very best ways to spend some quality learning time together is to read. You can gather all of the kids and let them bring blankets or a quiet craft like Legos or a giant coloring book.
Choose a classic like one from the Chronicles of Narnia or a shorter one like Charlotte’s Web and read for a little or a long time. If you have readers in your family, they can take turns reading or everyone can lounge around and read their own individual books.
Looking for a great reading list of books for every age and interest? Check out the great book suggestions from Sarah over at Read Aloud Revival. And if you are busy or are just not up for reading the book yourself, audio books totally count too, so check out Overdrive or Hoopla.
9. Get Messy and Experimental
Break out your shaving cream, test tubes, and messy stuff like Rainbow String Slime, and let your kiddos go crazy in the back yard or other easy clean-up location like a kiddie pool.
Let them choose a few experiments like these from Steve Spangler or just let them come up with one or two of their own. Take things to the next level with a big bucketful of expanding Orbeez water beads.
End the clean up time with a water balloon battle or at least a long bath or shower.
10. Play Around
What time is it? Game time! Gather everyone and play a longer game like Monopoly Unicorns Vs. Llamas or King of Tokyo. Switch it up with a fun matching game like Loonacy or a more active game like On a Scale of One to T-Rex. Set out snacks and play away the day.
If it is nice outside, grab a Frisbee, bocce ball set, or kite, and let everyone get some fresh air and have fun in the outdoors.
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