Many schools have been to closing all across the country leaving lots of parents wondering “what now?” These ideas all use items that are commonly found around the house and should provide tons of ideas to help keep kids busy. (and parents sane!)
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Cooking In The Kitchen Ideas
Cooking in the kitchen can be a good way to spend time with your kids. Measuring, mixing, and prepping also uses math and science skills.
Insider Tip– If you like having someone lead you through step by step, try Craftsy. Craftsy has all kinds of online classes that teach cooking, baking, drawing, painting and all kinds of fun crafts. Right now they are offering the premium membership for only $2.49 when it’s normally $80.
Craftsy is a really fun platform that kids and adults can try new things without having to plow through tons of videos, and they even have some live online classes too. We quickly found while my daughter was home last year that having someone show you step by step can really help when trying something new to having more fun. Craftsy lets you try out a bunch of different fun classes all in one place!
- No-Bake Peanutbutter Oatmeal Bites (via OnMyKidsPlate) Only a few ingredients, healthy, but tastes like a peanut butter cookie!
- Copycat Pineapple Dole Whip – (via OnMyKidsPlate) Use two ingredients to make a fun Disney copycat treat.
- Ants On A Log– Lots of fun variation ideas from my friend over at Healthy Little Foodies, which might help with what’s in your pantry.
- Chocolate Dipped Animal Crackers– (via The Art Kit Blog) Yum, who doesn’t like chocolate and sprinkles?
- Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Owl Snack – (via On My Kids Plate) Part snack, part activity, and you only need a few ingredients.
- 3- Ingredient Funfetti Truffles (via Dancing Through The Rain) A no-bake dessert using pantry ingredients and rainbow sprinkles!
- Make A Smoothie– Have the kids help you throw any extra fruit and a liquid (water, yogurt, almond milk) in the blender. It’s a great way to use extra fruit about to go bad. I like to freeze old bananas and add at least a half of one to a smoothie to make it creamy.
- Have A Pizza Making Challenge– Compete for who makes the best pizza with the ingredients you have. Tortilla pizza rollups are easy for everyone to make their own.
- Applesauce Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins (via On My Kids Plate) -These are our go-to banana muffins, and they are SO good and don’t use butter or milk.
- Unicorn Donuts – (via Well If She Can Do It) Colorful and delicious, you could also use the same idea to make fun cupcakes if you don’t have a donut pan.
- Pretend You Are On A Cooking Show– Make a meal as a family just using ingredients you find in the kitchen.
Free Printable Ideas For Kids
Printables sure makes like a little easier to do an activity fast. Try out some of these printables to learn, make crafts, or just have fun.
- Make Puppets– (via Look We’re Learning) Print and make these adorable farm paper bag puppets, then put on a puppet show.
- 30 Day Lego Challenge– (via That Brick Life) It’s free and has 30 ideas to build with legos. You can do one per day!
- Go On A Scavenger Hunt– Try this Indoor Scavenger Hunt – (via For Mommy’s Dragons) for a little fun.
- Do A Word Search– My friend over at Crayons and Cravings has so many printable word searches just waiting for you, you can do a few every day!
- Try Other Printable Games– My friends have the hook up on free printable games, check out this huge list of over 98!. (via Moms And Munchkins)
- Make Shadow Puppets– Print and cut, and your show is ready to go.
- Printable Space Spinner Craft– (via Conservamom) Make this craft and count down to blast off. Great for starting imaginative play.
- Play Matching Games (via Maple Planners) Download and print these fun memory games for the kids
- Print Disney Coloring Sheets– The Farm Girl gabs has SO MANY Disney coloring sheets, there are 1000 to choose from! You are sure to find your kid’s favorite characters.
- Try a Snacktivity– (Via Lalymom) Play Snack-tac- toe, snack bingo and even do snack-traction with this printable and whatever snacks you have.
Ideas Using Technology
There is a lot of ways to use technology with kids and more keep popping up right now. Here are a few ideas for using screens in ways you may not have thought of.
- Doodle with Mo Willians– Check out the Youtube videos and learn to doodle with Mo Williams, author of The Pigeon books and Piggie And Elephant. He’s so much fun!
- Host a virtual playdate – (via Shrimp Salad Circus) Plus a free printable idea sheet of what kids can do during the playdate
- Learn A Hand Clap Games– Youtube has so many great handclap game ideas (like Ms. Mary Mack!) Your kids can learn a few hand clap games starting here, and more here on Youtube from kids!
- Yoga For Kids– Check out Cosmic Kids Yoga for some great videos everyone can follow.
- GoNoodle – Move, dance and just get the wiggles out.
- Scholastic Online– Scholastic has released a lot of really cool ideas that will keep kids reading, learning and still having fun.
- Facebook Messenger Kids– Facebook messenger kids lets kids connect to only the friends you approve of in the kids app. They have fun filters and games that kids can play together in the app.
- Call A Friend Or Loved One– It doesn’t have to be fancy!
Take your kids on an epic field trip right from your computer, tablet or laptop. Check out these 15 Awesome Virtual Field Trip Ideas Online For Kids.
Mood Changers- Ideas To Keep Your Sanity
Sometimes you just need to help everyone change their mood fast because they are driving you crazy. Here are a few ideas that might help turn things around fast.
- Take A Bath– You can throw in bath toys but take a look at your regular playsets and see if any of them don’t have batteries and are bath friendly. A kitchen strainer is also a lot of fun.
- Have A Snack- No one is in a good mood hangry.
- Go For A Walk– We are trying to do this every day as a family, the fresh air and conversation is good for everyone. Make sure everyone has had a snack before you start.
- Have A Dance Party– Crank up the tunes, get silly and let loose a little bit
- Have A Pillowcase Sack Race– Like a potato sack race, but with pillowcases for the kids. Use old pillowcases!
- Tell Jokes– I have 50+ Easter Jokes that will make your kids giggle! You can also ask Alexa to tell you a joke.
- Watch A Funny Movie– Find the silliest one you can in your collection or streaming.
- Hide An Object In The House- If you have more then one kid, they can hide it for each other.
- Pretend The Floor Is Lava– Give everyone two washcloths they can step on to be “safe from the lava.” Then challenge them to go from one end of the house to the other.
- Have A Kid’s Spa Afternoon– My daughter always really gets into wrapping up in fluffy PJs and painting finger and toenails.
- Make A Spider Web Obstacle Course– This idea from Mama Smiles is really fun, especially when the kids are cooped up.
- Build A Fort– Pillows, blankets, chairs and if you have a folding table that helps too. Great to cuddle up for a movie in when they tire out.
- Have A Paper Airplane Contest- Who can build the fastest plane? Who can build the biggest? The tiniest?
- Have A Pillow Fight– Grab your pillows, no bopping above the neck. Even a one-minute pillow fight can change everyone’s moods quick!
- Jump Competition– Clear a space and see who can jump the highest and the furthest.
- Balance Competition– Who can stand on one foot the longest?
- Thumb Wrestle- 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a thumb war. Draw a face on your thumb for more silliness. Hold one hand with another person facing them and try to pin the other person’s thumb down.
- Keep The Ballon Up– Blow up a balloon and try to keep it from touching the ground.
Ideas That You Don’t Need To Prep Ahead
This is one of my favorite lists as I can’t always prep ahead. Try these ideas that require no prep.
- Look At Photos Together– All those photos you never printed? Pull up those albums and tell stories about when the kids were little. Even better, put them up on the TV.
- Make Up A Story Together– You can even pass the story where each person adds a sentence.
- Give Your Pets A Bath– One of the teachers at my kid’s school did this for the kids, and it was pretty funny!
- Make A New Dance
- Write Cards To Family Or Friends– Have family or friends far away? You’ve been meaning to send them a letter or make them a card.
- Read A Book– Dig through that shelf and find a book you keep meaning to read. You can also listen to and read books through the kindle app. Many libraries also have free ebooks and movies through apps like Libby, Hoopla, and Overdrive.
- Make Up A Secret Handshake
- Play 20 Questions
- Build The Tallest Tower You Can– Pull out the blocks, legos or even pillows and couch cushions.
- Make A Toy Car Wash– Cars, shopkins, Minifigures, really any small plastic toys can go through the car wash.
- Stuffed Animal Teaparty or Picnic– Encourage the kids to set up all of the friends for a big party or picnic right in the house.
- Write A List Of Things You Are Grateful For
- Record A Video Of You Telling A Story Or Joke– Then text the video to someone you care about to make their day.
- Spring Clean– Organize a closet, a desk or a shelf.
- Play Hangman– Just grab a piece of paper and a pen! You can find hangman directions here.
- Play Tic Tac Toe– Learn how to play basic tic tac toe and ultimate tic tac toe.
- Have A Scribble Challenge– Draw a few squiggly lines on a piece of paper, then use another color to turn them into animals, food, or pick your own theme.
- Draw What You See– Look out the window and draw everything you see for at least five minutes. Include moving things like birds, bugs, car and people.
- Build A Cup Castle- Teach the kids how to balance plastic cups so they stack, then see how high you can go. Dixie cups, party cups, or even raiding the kitchen works.
Arts And Crafts Ideas
There are so many craft ideas online to try. From painting rocks to making bracelets or a whole village, all of these ideas include things you can commonly find in many family homes.
- Make Melted Crayon Art -Make a fun picture from old leftover crayons.
- Paint Rocks– Grab some paint and rocks from outside and get creative. Love this crocodile rock idea (via The Inspiration Edit) and making kindness rocks. (via Mama Likes This)
- Make Taste Safe Paint (Via Living In A Happy Place) Use yogurt and a little creativity to make a taste safe paint that are safe for littles but still fun for the big kids.
- Create An Easy Paper Bag Village– Have a few brown paper bags? You’ve got to try making your own mini-town over at In The Bag Kids Crafts.
- Make A Book– This book template from Kitchen Table Classroom is made from a single sheet of paper.
- Paint With Water Colors– This is probably my favorite craft because I just feel like it’s less messy than regular paint. Make sunsets, paint nature, paint paper shaped like Easter Eggs, or let your imagination go wild.
- Make Craft From Pantry Staples. This is a big list of pantry crafts ideas to try via Skip To My Lou.
- Make Friendship Bracelets– Sting and maybe some beads is all you need. Some of my favorite classic bracelets are in this video or you can try this great friendship bracelet tutorial via Simply Create Inspire.
- Make Kindness Flowers – (via Coffee and Carpool) A great way for us all to slow down and remember love first.
- Make A Really BIG Mural– Use a big piece of paper, poster board or even a cardboard box!
- Make A Unicorn Notebook– (Via The Flying Couponer) When you’re done, the kids can write unicorn stories in their new notebooks.
- Trace Yourself– On big paper or with chalk trace someone’s outline. Then add details about them, their favorite food, activities, even what they want to be when they grow up.
- Paint Ice Blocks– This idea of Painting Ice Blocks from Teaching Two And Three-Year-Olds is so easy and so genius! You could also freeze toys inside the ice block, or sprinkle some salt before you paint and watch what happens.
- Build Boats– fold boats from aluminum foil and float them in the tub.
- Make Birdfeeders –You can make toilet paper tube birdfeeders (via Glitter On A Dime) or if you’re out of TP, you can also roll a pinecone the same way. Another way is to try this pipe cleaner version. (via Mud Paper Scissors) Then hang them and watch the birds fly in!
- Make Wands– Magic wands are always fun, and you can use things from your recycling and craft bins, or try these Elsa Inspired Wands. (via Moms Who Save)
- Make Oobleck– One of my favorite messy play activities from Unsophisticated Cook. Do this activity over an old tablecloth for easier cleanup.
- Teach Kids To Sew– You can start with this really easy sewing activity from Coffee and Carpools that needs very few supplies.
- Make Homemade Playdoh– Try this recipe from The Very Best Kids Ideas.
- Stamp Thumbprint Bugs– (via Toots Mom Is Tired) Grab a stamp pad and some paper, you’ll have a whole garden before you know it.
- Sculpt Salt Dough – (via Unsophisticated Cook) Make this easy dough, grab some cookie cutters and let the kids play!
- Make Toliet Paper Roll Crafts– Living Letter Home has over forty adorable ways to ideas!
- Paint Pinecone Roses– Creative Green Living has this really adorable and fun way to make roses out of pinecones. Bonus, you’ll get a little fresh air collecting them.
- Make A Forky – (via Pretty In Baby Food) Make a Forky from the Toy Story movies, he’s pretty easy to make and ready for lots of imaginative play after!
- Make Masks– You can make masks for whatever your kid loves, dragons, dinosaurs, unicorns, flowers or these fun animal mask ideas. (via Crafts 4 Toddlers)
- Make Paper Plate Crafts– (via Simple Everyday Mom) Grab a paper plate and get ready. Simple Everyday Mom has so many fun ideas, you can turn your plate into a rainbow, a turtle, a giraffe, a bunny, even a unicorn.
- Make Squishy Squeeze Balls – (via Bitz and Giggles) Make them for the kids, and the parents too.
- Make A No Sew Bag– (Via Creative Green Living) Use an old t-shirt to make a recycled bag to hold all the things!
- Make a Paper Fortune Teller – Also called a Cootie Catcher– You made them when you are young, once you make one the kids will want to make a bunch!
- Decorate A Tin Can Penguin – (via Crafty Sewing Sew) Use this little guy to hold your pencils and markers. If you don’t have felt, use can glue on colored paper.
- Make Sock Puppets– Raid your sock drawer and find any mismatched socks to make some new friends. Then hold a puppet show
Fun Ideas To Do Together
- Do A Puzzle (we love this style puzzle that has both big and little pieces for all ages) but you may be able to find one in your closet. We usually set one of these up on a table and then work on it on and off for a while.
- Play Board Games– Raid the back of the closet and find all those classic games! Some of our favorite new games I shared this winter on this list.
- Play Cards– Have a deck of cards? Start with Go Fish or Crazy Eights.
- Build Things Out Of Cardboard- I think one of my favorites is this cardboard dollhouse from Dad Life Lessons and this cute Lemonade stand from Party With Unicorns. But you can also build spaceships, marble ramps, robots and places for all of your smallest toys to play.
- Play Flashlight Games – We are a big fan of the Sardines style game! These games from Mom in the Six say they are for toddlers, but they are fun for the whole family.
- Make A Secret Code– Or have your kids write in a secret code to each other. Try out these secret code ideas from Rediscovered Families.
- Play School– Teach each other something new. Maybe your kids are the teachers to each other, or maybe you finally teach them how to sign their name in cursive.
- Hold a Minute To Win It Contest- Try these fun games ideas over at Really Are You Serious.
- Pretend to Go Camping In The Living Room– Set up a pretend tent, make a campfire out of pillows, and pretend to go camping.
- Play Telephone- One person has a message they whisper to the next person, and they whisper it to the next person. The last person in the line has to guess what the message was.
- Have A Costume Parade– Dress up in your silliest or wackiest costume, put on some music, and have a parade in the house. Raid the dress-up clothes, or just your closet.
- Rotate The Toys– Pull some of the toys that are not currently being played with and hide them in a closet. Then in a few days, switch out some of the toys in the toy room and they seem new again. Sometimes too many choices can mean toys get overlooked.
Outside Things To Try With Kids
Some places have nicer weather than others. Here are a few things you can do outside if you can steal a few minutes outside with the kids. It is also healthy for everyone to get some fresh air and vitamin C.
- Homemade Chalk Paint Make this chalk paint with stuff from your pantry!
- Jump Rope Contest – Who can go the longest or the most skips without missing.
- Trace Shadows– Set up plastic toys and trace their shadows on paper. I loved the shadow tracing ideas here from Simple Most!
- Blow Bubbles – Who can pop the most? Who can catch one without popping it?
- Make Bubble Wands– Use pipe cleaners, but also rummage through your recycling bin for items that work too!
- Make an obstacle course – Jump over, spin, touch the ground and twirl. Use whatever you have and make your own tules.
- Ride Bikes– Bikes, scooters, anything with wheels dust it off!
- Play Hopscotch – Make a hopscotch game, jump and play