As I raised my kids without a TV at home and attempted to keep their childhood as “electrical device free” as possible, I became an expert at keeping the young ones entertained. Vancouver is a rainy city and there are weeks upon weeks where we didn’t feel encouraged to leave the house. Using a bit of imagination and creativity I was able to turn the times we spent together at home into special times we all remember years later. Here are 20 of my favorite activities to keep the kids busy at home.
Lay white sheets of paper on the dining table. Spread some crayons and/or coloring pencils. Your kids won’t be able to resist the temptation. Sit back and watch as your kids spend a whole afternoon coming up with masterpieces that will delight you. You can let them draw whatever they want, or create a competition who can draw the best tree. You can participate in the drawing activity or supply hot chocolate instead. You will surprise yourself with how much fun you can have with a few art supplies and hours of uninterrupted fun.
Read a book together
Bedtime story was a tradition in my house. One of the kids would choose a book and I would read it inserting as much drama as possible. We would all cuddle under a blanket to get comfortable before magical story time. Sometimes I ended up asleep before the kids. Being a busy working mom and all. Other nights I was besieged to read another and then another.
Buy colored paper, glue sticks and paper scissors from the dollar store. Place all these items on a table for the kids to discover. Step back and watch magic happen all on it’s own. Matisse would be jealous of the creations that a child can come up with.
Something about kids and balloons just goes together. Buy a collection of balloons in different colors. Blow them up. Place them all over the place in the living room. Watch your kids discovering the balloons, playing with them. You can play catch with them, kick them and have a playful game of balloon boxing. Where each person holds a balloon in each hand and proceeds to use their balloon to hit the balloon in somebody else’s hand. Hours and hours of laughter will follow.
This was a favorite activity in my family. Parents pretend they are a horse, the children pretend they are a horse rider.
Choose some energizing dance music and start dancing. Your kids will join in for the fun. The rules are there are no rules. Just move your body in whatever way feels good.
Children love participating in the magic that happens in the kitchen. Bake cookies and let your kids participate in all aspects of making it except for handling the hot oven. It will take twice as long and your kitchen will be a devastating mess afterwards. But the cookies will taste better.
Decorate the House
Buy paper streamers, bust out the Christmas lights, cut out some interesting paper shapes. Then go to town decorating the house. In the past I had success with “under the sea” theme. Where I got blue and and white paper streamers, blue lights and cutout fish shapes from paper. I hung it from the ceiling and the walls. We pretended our living room was the bottom of the ocean and we were divers exploring it.
Build a Blanket Castle
Place chairs opposite each other. The chairs will act as pillars to hold the blankets. Place blankets on top. Decorate the inside of your blanket castle with pillows and favorite toys. Spend the rest of days discussing who is the king of the blanket castle and who are the subjects.
This one doesn’t need much explanation. Give each person a pillow with instructions to be gentle. This leads to a massive giggle attack.
Makeup a Story Together
Start by making up a character. For example: Once upon a time, there was a purple dragon with green teeth. Let each child invent further characters and then proceed to come up with fun events that happens to your made up characters. Write it all down. You will be amazed at the creativity of your children.
Play dress up
Allow your children to raid your closet. Come up with fun costumes to impersonate different characters. Your kids might want to dress up as you and you can dress up as them. Dress up as boss lady, mad scientist, favorite fictional character, historical character or a single color.
Let your kids do your makeup
Lie down and close your eyes. Give your kids a stash of makeup that you don’t care about. Give them permission to do as they please. This activity is not suitable on days where you have somewhere to go afterwards.
Run a bubble bath. Setup favorite duckies and other bath tub rubber toys. Let the kids splash around to their hearts’ content.
This was my husband’s specialty. He would chase the kids around the house. Pick them up and throw them in the air and then catch them. He would get into pretend wrestling matches with them.
Competition who can make the silliest face
Pull your ears. Make funny faces. Stick your tongue out. Place your hair over your face. Wiggle your eyebrows. Flair your nose nostrils. You can spend hours out doing each other.
Camping inside the house
If you already own camping gear then why waste it during winter. Set up a tent inside your living room. Decorate the inside with pillows and toys. Sit inside the tent with a flashlight and tell scary stories.
Snakes and ladders, monopoly and risk where all favorites in my household. The longer it takes to get through the game the better.
Choose a topic and have a debate about it. World events, favorite movie or something that happened at school. Make sure to listen as much as you speak. You will be surprised by the thoughts and ideas your children come up with.
Buy the bubble making container that comes with a wand from the dollar store. Blow bubbles in the living room. Make a competition out of who can catch the most bubbles. Or make a competition who can blow the biggest bubble.
All my kids are grownup now and I look back at the times we spent together with great fondness. It was so easy to keep them engaged when they were little. It takes much more effort these days. If you have little ones at home, cherish the time you spend with them. Those moments are fleeting.
Have you come up with your own way to keep kids busy at home? If yes, please share in the comments section below.