Stuck inside with nothing to do? Whether you’re social distancing, quarantined because of illness, or you’re inside because of bad weather, here are 17 things to do with kids when you’re stuck at home.
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Up until last week, we hadn’t even mentioned what was going on around the world to our kids. We live in Minnesota, and life hadn’t really been affected here. Our kids had no idea there was a virus spreading around the globe, making people sick, shutting down cities, and causing a mad rush to stock up on toilet paper.
But then one of our favorite NBA players tested positive for the virus, the entire NBA season was postponed, Disneyland decided to close its gates, and our church leaders announced that church meetings would temporarily be suspended worldwide, all within a period of 24 hours.
Things suddenly felt a lot more real.
In the last few days, our entire country has started taking this seriously. That means cancelling events, postponing movie releases, and even shutting down entire school districts.
I’m glad people are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Social distancing, while it may be difficult, is the best way to slow the spread of this disease. Sure, it sucks that we didn’t get to go to Disney on Ice last week and that lots of people had to cancel their spring break trips, but it’s for the overall health of the world, and that’s why it’s okay.
Like I said, we hadn’t talked to our kids about what was going on until a few days ago. But even they have noticed that something’s off right now. We didn’t go to the gym, we’re not going to church tomorrow, and we’re staying home on a Saturday, a day we usually try to get out of the house and do something fun.
Our kids are seven, five, and three. I know not everyone’s kids will notice something’s going on, especially if you regularly stay home with your kids and they don’t go to school yet.
But if you’re in the large group of mamas who suddenly finds herself stuck at home with her school-aged kids, you might be stressing about how to keep them occupied and how to prevent total chaos and madness in your house.
Fortunately, this is happening at a time when most people have access to the internet. It’s starting to warm up so kids can play in the backyard in most states. Lots of restaurants and fast food places have drive-thru or deliver options. We can order groceries online and have them delivered, or go to the store and stay in our cars while they’re loaded into the trunk.
Social distancing sucks, but it’s only temporary, and we can get through it.
In an effort to prevent mamas everywhere from losing their minds, here are some things to do with kids when you’re stuck at home.
Things to Do With Kids When You’re Stuck at Home
There are tons of exercise videos on YouTube, and so many of them cater to kids! My kids love the Get Moving series from Disney Family. You can also try GoNoodle or Cosmic Kids Yoga.
Cook or Bake
My kids always love helping out in the kitchen (especially in their aprons!), and of course our favorite part is always eating what we make! We’re going to try out homemade soft pretzels finally and maybe some Rice Krispie treats later this week!
Tour Something on Google Maps
If you were really set on that vacation you had to cancel, there’s a way you can still (sort of) enjoy the place you were going to go! Tour it on Google Maps! From a desktop, go to Google Maps and type in a location you want to tour. Then drag the little orange person at the bottom right of your screen to the place. It should bring up pictures of that location and you can tour it! I know it works for Disney Parks, historic monuments (Stonehenge!), and even the White House. This has quickly become one of our favorites, and I’m sure it will be one of your favorite things to do with kids when you’re stuck at home, too!
Do a Science Experiment
My kids love doing science experiments, and I love doing easy ones that don’t require a bunch of extra materials I have to buy. We got out son the Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book for Christmas and we’ve had fun doing a bunch of the experiments in that.
“Ride” Rides at Theme Parks
In this day of the smart phone, it’s very popular to take videos of theme park rides and post them online. Which is nice when you can’t go anywhere, because even if you aren’t really going up and down with the roller coaster hills, you still kind of get the experience! For kids, it’s enough, especially if they aren’t tall enough to go on the ride anyway! So head to YouTube and watch videos of rides at places like Disneyland, Six Flags, Sea World, or Universal Studios!
Color or Draw
My daughter could (and does) color for hours. My older two especially love making little story books and stapling them together. Just give your kids some paper and crayons and let them at it! You can even print coloring sheets online (my oldest LOVES color by number pages!).
If it’s warm enough to play outside, send your kids out for thirty minutes. It helps to break up the day and they can get some of their energy out!
Go for a Walk or Bike Ride
Walk around your neighborhood, at a regional park, or on a local trail. It’s another way to get your body moving and get some much-needed fresh air!
We’re going to be inside for a few weeks, so you might as well make it worth it! If you have seeds, plant them in little yogurt cups, or if you have beans, you can grow them in a plastic bag in the window. It’s always fun to check on your plants every day and see if they’ve grown!
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Did you know that there are museums that offer virtual tours? Did you know you can visit National Parks, farms, and even the Space Center without leaving your couch? Check this list of 50+ virtual field trips you can take with your kids to get some ideas.
Watch Facebook or Instagram Live Videos
In the last few days I’ve seen lots of places hosting Live videos on Facebook or Instagram. The Cincinnati Zoo has daily “safaris” you can watch on Facebook and James Dean, the author of Pete the Cat, started hosting Live story time on his Instagram page today. It’s a fun way to participate in something live while still at home!
If your kids are old enough, print them out a word search! It will keep them busy for a while and there are tons of free ones available online (just google “printable word searches” and you’ll find a ton!). Amazon also has lots of cheap word search books (my oldest really likes the “My First Word Searches” book).
Have a Building Competition
The best way to do this would be to use LEGO bricks, but you could also use blocks, pillows, boxes, or anything else you can stack. Give your kids 30 minutes and see who can build the tallest or fanciest tower and offer a reward to whoever wins.
Play Card or Board Games
My friend Britni just put together an awesome post of the 25 best board games for kids, which is a great resource when you’re stuck at home! And here’s a post of 10 kid-friendly card games you can play!
No matter how old your kids are, reading aloud together can be a great family activity. I remember my parents reading chapters of books to us every night before bed and how special that was. Read one of the books on this list of first novels to read aloud, or if you have a favorite book from childhood, now’s the time to start it!
Do a Scavenger or Treasure Hunt
What kid doesn’t love following a set of clues or a map to find something special? You can try this nature scavenger hunt or make your own! It’s really easy to set up, and you can adjust it to their ages of your kids! You can find more scavenger hunt ideas from Play Party Plan.
Listen to a Podcast
Podcasts aren’t just for adults anymore! There are so many great kid-friendly podcasts out there. I know not every kid will be able to sit and listen to a podcast for more than a few minutes, but if your child is older and has a longer attention span, they might love listening to podcasts! This list of podcasts for kids from Common Sense Media has some great ones!
There are plenty of screen-free things to do with kids when you’re stuck at home. Yes, it can be hard, and yes, you need to make sure you get some quiet time during the day, but if you stay busy and refuse to let it get you down, being stuck at home can actually be a memorable, fun thing!
Since we don’t know how long this crazy pandemic is going to last, we’re just taking it one day at a time. Hopefully these fun things to do with kids when you’re stuck at home will help you stay sane and prevent everyone from losing their minds while we’re quarantined!