Looking for things to do when you’re stuck at home? Whether you’re home because of illness in the family, school closings, or because gas is too expensive, you need ideas to help you not lose your sanity and entertain your kids. If you’re looking for things to do at home with kids, we have lots of ideas (because that’s what we do here). This may be the perfect time to cross off some of your bucket list items.
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Write letters or draw pictures for others
Remember those olden days of handwriting a letter, putting it in an envelope with a stamp and physically sending it to someone? How about opening a handwritten letter to you? It’s a nice feeling! We suggest breaking out actual paper and pens and writing a letter – or for the little kids, they can draw or color a picture – for a family member, for someone serving in the military overseas (Operation Gratitude can help with that), for someone in a nursing home here in the Upstate (here’s a list to start with), to local police, or anyone else you think would love to get a sweet letter.
It’s a good opportunity for kids to be creative and thoughtful in their writing and practice while out of school.
Make Paper Dolls
You can find classic and modern versions of paper dolls online. Print some free paper doll patterns out and have fun cutting and dressing the dolls. If you have it, cardstock works best!
Indoor Water Play
Lay out a towel and a long container or several small containers with a little bit of water in them. Let the kids play with small animal figures, pebbles, or anything else you can rummage up that’s waterproof. (Aluminum foil makes awesome boats.)
Build a Tower
Gather any and all supplies you can find and see who can build the tallest tower in your living room. Make it a competition. The winner gets to choose dinner.
Starting a garden, whether a little one indoors or something in a larger space outside, is a fun way to get some fresh air and build responsibility for cultivating and caring for plants. So buy some seeds or you can get some from vegetables or fruits you already have handy and start planting. If it’s cold get some potting soil and seeds and keep the pots indoors until the weather warms up, then put them near a sunny spot inside. Then around April, get them in the ground.
Or, grab a gardening book for kids and you’re ready to go.
Break out the coloring books
Grab all the broken crayons and coloring books you have lying around, and have a little art party. Break out your adult coloring books while you’re at it. No coloring books? Plain paper is great, and there’s something magical about a cardboard box. Let your kids go to town coloring all over your leftover Amazon boxes.
Get Crafty with Paper Bags and Macaroni
Pull out any pasta with a hole in the middle (macaroni, tube, ziti) and string it on pipe cleaners or string to make bracelets and necklaces. You can also paint or dye the pasta if you want to make it more colorful. You can also take out lunch bags and let the kids draw or glue funny noddle faces on them. Afterward, hold a puppet show.
Do a puzzle or play a board game
If you’re able to get out, thrift stores often have super cheap puzzles and games. If not, just reuse the ones you may have lying around the house. See if you can set a record for how long you can play Monopoly!
Here are more than 40 board and card games our readers recommend for family fun!
Break out of an online escape room
If you can’t make it to an in-person escape room, there are plenty of online virtual escape rooms. Put on your thinking caps and see if you can solve the riddles to break free from the virtual escape rooms…without even leaving your house.
Clean out the closets
You know all those clothes you’d love to donate or sell, whether it’s yours or your kids’? Now is a great time to do that. Make piles of those clothes to trash, donate, and sell and end up with a much cleaner closet.
Kids need to get out energy, it’s a basic fact, right? Either put on music you love, like the 80s (just sayin’) and have a dance party in the kitchen. Or get a fun YouTube dance video, like KidzBop dance instruction videos, on and follow along together.
Family movie night
Put the popcorn on and pick out a movie together for a special night of quality time together. You can use a streaming service or rent one from the library.
Family Game Night
Open up the game closet and pick out a few games to play. You can also check out our list of 50+ games that are excellent family games with tips on establishing a family game night.
Learn a new card game or magic trick
Card games are great because you can play them anywhere and magic tricks are fun to learn because they are great for quick entertainment. You can find some fun magic tutorials online or if someone in your family knows a trick, beg them to teach you. There are also many fun magic trick kits you can buy online that are full of neat tricks with instructions.
Create Your Own Sensory Box
Using things you have in your home, you can make your own busy box. Using rice ( add some food coloring the night before to make it whatever color you want) beans, or crushed Cheerios, you can make an entirely new world for your kids to explore. Add in some kitchen utensils, toys sea creatures, and paper towel tubes and you have an underwater oasis. Sensory boxes are a great way to learn, play, get a little messy, and explore.
Adopt A Cop
You can adopt your own cop right here in Greenville and send encouraging cards or letters through the mail or give a small gift in appreciation for their work. Here’s how to do to adopt a cop!
Build and Create with Household Items
One of the easiest things to make and mold is homemade playdough. My absolute favorite recipe for homemade playdough is my skin-therapy playdough made of oatmeal, oil, and flour (find the recipe in our Winter Guide). It’s a great recipe because it only takes under 5 minutes to make, requires no cooking, smells nice, and cleans up easily. Or, create use toothpicks and marshmallows to construct buildings, geometric figures, and more. Building with marshmallows also doubles as a great engineering lesson! You can also use straws with paper clips stuck at each end of the straw. Attach the straws by interlocking paper clips!
I’m terrible at baking cookies because I love cookie dough and rarely get to the actual baking part. Hopefully, you aren’t like that and have willpower. If so, baking cookies together with your kids may be fun. Sugar cookies aren’t just for the holidays, grab some fun cookie cutters and get baking.
Start a journal
If your kids don’t have a journal or diary yet, starting one while stuck at home could give them an opportunity to think of something else, daydream, or write whatever is on their mind and get out some stress or anxiety. You can use almost anything from paper stapled together and decorated with stickers and markers to neat guided journals for kids.
Have an Indoor Snowball Fight
Crumple up old newspapers or discarded papers and throw them at each other in the hallway or anywhere else that you dare. You can also purchase these realistic-looking snowballs made of soft cloth to store away for a sneak attack on a rainy day!
Order a Busy Box
We love busy boxes from Magical Momdom, a local mom-run company that fills boxes full of fun items for kids to enjoy, like cookie cutters, play dough, sparkly rocks and gems. It gives kids a way to entertain themselves while us parents get stuff done.
Do a photoshoot
Grab your camera or phone, get everyone dressed somewhat nicely, use the self-timer and do a family photoshoot. Or just let the kids get totally messy and run around outside and take photos. Some of my favorite photos of my kids are of them jumping around in puddles.
Have a salon day
If you’ve got little girly girls, set up a little salon at home with a place to do hair and nails. Just keep the scissors safely tucked away (speaking from experience….). Need supplies? Grab a Kids Spa Kit for extra fun.
Play with Paint in the Bathtub
Strip your kids down to the bare necessities and stick them in a dry tub with plenty of washable finger paint or you can just make a little bit of your own by mixing tear-free soap with food coloring. Let the kids paint themselves, the tub, whatever they want. When they are finished spray the kids and the tub off, fill up the tub with clean water, and let them have a bath. It may get a little slippery, so add a towel or non-slip mat to the floor to keep them from falling.
P.S. I have never had trouble with these Crayola washable paints staining my tub, but of course, you would want to test the paint first to be sure that it won’t stain!
Have a cooking competition
Give your older kids or teens a few ingredients from the pantry or have them pick some and then do a cooking competition! Bonus points because parents don’t need to make dinner then.
Local Greenville blogger, Sarah, who writes at Pimento & Prose, has a great list of kid-friendly recipes that you can try with your kids.
Take a walk and do a scavenger hunt
Simple enough but fresh air is always a good thing. Just Google “scavenger hunt ideas” and you’ll be presented with thousands of ideas for this. And here is info on geocaching. These are some fantastic scavenger hunts you can do outside or indoors at your home.
What other things would you suggest for having fun while stuck at home?