Got kids going bonkers at home because of school cancellations? Here is a HUGE list of fun things to do at home with kids – with a free printable for you to download and have handy. This post contains affiliate links.
First of all, you can print out this whole list to have handy in a very compact, plain, purely functional format – intended to be user-friendly, skimmable, and customizable.
Just enter your email address in the form below and it’ll be delivered right to your inbox. Don’t want to sign up for updates? Just scroll through this post – I spelled it all out for you here!
Second, this is NOT a finished list – I will be updating it, adding more links, etc. in the following days. I just got way too tired and wanted it to be available already as a resource for parent who are already stuck at home with kids (friendly wave.)
How to use the free printable list of things to do at home:
Highlight those that are the best fit for your family and add your own ideas!
If you are alone, go for the more involved hobbies on this list. They can occupy hours. Switch on the music, and try to relax.
There are so many ideas here that can be done with the enormous amount of online resources available on Youtube, blogs, etc.
I’ll try to add in as many links to resources as I can. Most of these are being brain-dumped off the top of my head, so forgive me as I resource better for actual practical applications. But meanwhile, you’ll find this list extremely helpful.
Of course, screen time is always an option, but you don’t need my help with that – so this list is made up primarily of screen-free ideas for fun things to do at home with kids.
In this list, I do my best to make use of what you already have at home, budget-friendly ideas that cost within a few dollars, and things that are very easy to get online.
I also try to avoid using up things you might want to keep stocked so you don’t need to leave home unnecessarily, in case resources get scarce. For example, I wouldn’t recommend making salt dough because you may need your flour.
Creative fun things to do at home with kids:
Arts & Crafts ideas:
Focusing on things you already have is the way to go when stuck at home! A trip to the craft store probably isn’t on the agenda, and you might be budgeting right now – even if you don’t normally. These ideas were chosen for moments like these.
- Repurpose toilet paper tubes (before they go into the bathroom)
- Make clothespin puppets
- Take on adult coloring (great for big kids too!)
- Think of new uses and crafts for the following household items (links below are to idea lists for that item):
- Do a paint by number
- Make something with scrap wood
- Dig into your recycling bin and get creative
- Try a paper cut – it’ll help lots of hours pass!
- Color with chalk on dark paper (M’s long-time favorite as a toddler)
- Try ice painting
- Try illustrating your own coloring pages!
- Illustrate a new (themed) set of playing cards – a great collaborative project! Think simple games like old maid or memory match.
- Create your own board game
- Build a pretend city out of boxes and other recyclables
- Create your own line of greeting cards
- Draw some mazes
- Design a new line of jewelry
- Then make it!
- Paint a plain t-shirt
- Googly-eye various items around your house just for fun
- Paint rocks
- Try any craft you typically make – but take it to the next level this time!
- Make your own stickers
- Try embroidering paper (tags, cards)
- Make your favorite friendship bracelet stitch big enough to be a necklace!
- Make masks or costumes and wear them just for fun
- Make your own musical instruments
- Paint plain wooden beads for jewelry
- Use up all those rainbow loom supplies (or perler bead…)
- Craft a kaleidoscope
- Make duct tape wallets
- Create paper flower bouquets
Learn a new skill:
These are the hardest if you can’t get new supplies because if it’s a skill you don’t have yet, you probably aren’t stocked up yet. But they’re still worth a shout-out – and I avoided those that skew more expensive (such as resin, oil painting, etc).
Where I have a tutorial, resource or series, I linked it. Otherwise, seek out tutorials on YouTube, or on Bluprint.
- Learn a new friendship bracelet pattern
- Learn how to watercolor
- Learn how to make jewelry
- Learn crochet
- Learn how to make seed bead jewelry designs
- Learn calligraphy or brush lettering
- Learn Woodburning
- Learn how to make wire wrap pendants
- Learn Paracord
Give your books a new purpose with these ideas.
- Read a book or…
- Play Spaghetti and Meatballs. When reading a book, replace all S words with spaghetti and all M words with Meatballs. Missed one? You’re out – it’s the next person’s turn.
- Make a book-based craft
- Make puppets based on your favorite book
- Then put on a show
- Even better, repurpose boxes to make a theater for it!
- Record an audiobook just for fun (great for early readers!)
- Make a play based on a favorite book
- Read in the dark with a flashlight. My friend Susie of Busy Toddler shared this idea with me years ago when I was desperate and it was a WIN! She has LOADS more ideas for you as well.
Try a little STEM – it’s fun:
M begs me almost every day to do science experiments. There are so many different ways STEM can be fun, and Pinterest is your best friend for this, but here are some ideas off the top of my head.
- Do science experiments – our favorite is this color reveal one. It’s was a hit with a group of six-sevel year olds when we did it.
- Try building a Rube Goldberg machine. Start very simple and see how far you can go with it.
- Create a stop motion animation by photographing items such as paper cutouts, action figures, etc, at different intervals of activity and joining the images into a fast slideshow
- Film a family movie
- Chain together paper clips – how long can you make it?
- Collect various items from around the house and see if you can build a tower with them.
- Go on a nature hunt in your backyard and then make something pretty with what you find.
- Buildtoothpick and grape structures (and then hydrate by eating them!)
- Or switch this up by using balls of clay and straws
- Race toys cars and then discuss the different reasons one might be faster…
- Stack cups! Switch it up by adding bowls, using different size cups, etc
- Have paper airplane races. Try switching things up on your airplanes to make them fly differently.
- Make rock candy
Sensory Play is way cool!
While typically sensory bin fillers such as dyed rice and pasta might be worth holding onto for now, you can still do sensory play.
- Do sensory bins! Some idea starters:
- Make fidget bracelets
- Make infinity cubes
- Have a texture walk. Remove shoes, and lay out different textures (felt, a rug, a metal sheet) . Blindfold each participant and have them guess what the texture is.
- Make discovery bottles
- Make a quiet book/sensory book
- Do “guess the smell” challenges
Want loads and loads of kids’ activities and craft ideas? Get the ebook!
Productive things to do around the home with kids:
Revisit the Kitchen:
Cooking can be fun, and you can turn it into an activity to do with kids. Here are some thought starters for keeping busy in the kitchen.
- Bake a cheesecake
- Decorate cookies
- Try cooking a new ethnic dish
- Invent some new Mocktails (stay hydrated!)
- Try making new flavors of popcorn
- Make ice cream sundaes
- Invent a new flavor pasta sauce
- Try baking your own bread
- Make dips to add flavor to the bread
Especially if you’re mostly staying indoors, you might need to be creative with staying active!
- Throw a dance party with the family – just turn on the music and go crazy
- Or make up an actual dance routine
- Have a pillow fight
- Play outdoor games indoors if you have the space! Jump rope, ball bouncing games, hopscotch, etc.
- If you have a private backyard and nice weather, fresh air is good for you! (Unless medical professionals in your area have advised otherwise – listen to them first!)
- Watch exercise videos
- Have crab walking races
Get the home & life in order:
- Pick a closet to declutter with the kids
- Paint a piece of furniture
- Start planning the holiday season – I KNOW it’s early but you’ll take the load off then and your kids will love getting involved with this:
- Craft some gifts
- Or some decor
- Make a menu
- Label the items in your pantry
- Organize your art supplies
- Alphabetize or organize your books by color
- Prep the garage for Spring/Summer
Make the most of being at home with the kids:
Reinvent toys and games you already have:
Learning new ways to play with old toys is a great way to beat boredom – and will carry you over even once you’re back out and about!
- Invent a new LEGO build
- Or try one of the builds in Sarah Dees’s amazing books
- Build a house of cards
- Try the domino effect
- Invent a new card game for classic playing cards
- Think of new rules for board games you already have
- Have siblings find things they are ready to pass on, and create “stores” for their siblings to shop at using fake money.
- Paint and stamp with toys.
- Challenge new readers to write words with scrabble or bananagrams tiles (M is doing this as we speak!!)
- Make a chalk town to play with cars and figures.
Be a family:
So you’re stuck at home together? What a great chance to make memories! Here are some ideas!
- Make up a secret family language
- OR make up a family secret code
- Set up an at-home nail or hair salon for members of your household
- Write a kids’ book as a family
- Or be brave and try for a short novel!
- Ask “get to know you” questions
- Ask “would you rather” questions
- Make up a family anthem
- Review emergency escape plans, etc in a fun way
- Make a family tree as far back as you can
- Create mascots for each family member
- Make a family talent show
- Look at family photos
- Even better: order prints if you can budget for them!
- Look at home movies and maybe turn them into a family movie.
- Send the family movie to elderly relatives who may be isolated and lonely
So many more cool ideas:
- Call or video chat with grandparents or other lonely people who are afraid to go out
- Improve your makeup skills
- Make up some corny jokes
- Put those jokes on cootie catchers
- Start a journal/diary of this weird time
- Write a poem
- Write a limerick
- Make a list of self-soothing statements if you’re feeling anxious.
- Even better: letter them or make signs to hang around your home
- Or just color these
- Write an actual physical letter to someone
- Create a summer bucket list
- Make a rubber band ball
Got any fun activities to do with kids at home to add to the list? Share in the comments below!
Print this list and keep it handy: