Between the upcoming holidays and the surge in child respiratory infections impacting families across the country, parents are facing long days of downtime with their kids. Parenting is exhausting, so there’s no shame in turning to screen time when you need a break from planning kids’ activities. But next time you run out of ideas to keep your kids busy, here are some low-effort activity ideas you can try first —
7 Activities for Young Kids
- Opposite season dress-up: Pull out the off-season clothes and have your kid play dress-up while pretending they’re on an exotic vacation in another climate! Put on snowsuits in summer, or swimsuits in winter, and let imaginations run free!
- Make trail mix: This is a snack they can get really creative with! Take out non-messy treats like pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, and cereal, and let your kids create their own combinations.
- Make flower crowns: Pick flowering weeds like dandelions from your backyard or a local outdoor space. They can tie the stems together into a garland and make flower crowns or necklaces for the whole family!
- Create bathtub art: Using DIY bathtub paint (cornstarch and water + shampoo + food coloring) or shaving cream, let your kids create art in the tub! They can get messy and then get clean all at the same time!
- Make a blanket fort: Drape some blankets over furniture, then supply kids with flashlights, pillows, books, backpacks, and more. You might even let them nap or sleep for the night in their fort if they make it cozy enough!
- Cardboard cutout person: Find the biggest piece of cardboard or paper you can, have your kid (or a doll, etc.) lie on it, and trace their outline — then have them decorate the cut-out person with a face, hair, clothes, etc.!
- Rainbow bookshelf: Have your kid take out all of their books or a certain category of toys, then sort them by color. Finally, have your child rearrange the objects on their shelves to make a rainbow effect!
6 Activities for Older Kids
- Try on “vintage” clothes: Let your kids raid the closet for old clothes and accessories to try on. You could even have them do a fashion show to display the best outfits they put together!
- Family story time: Get out the old photo albums and look at family photos together. Try retelling the stories of the memories captured in the photos from each family member’s point of view.
- Taste test: Cut up different fruits and other foods and put them in the freezer. A few hours later, do a taste test to see which ones they can successfully identify.
- Oversized message: In a park or your yard or driveway, create a huge message or picture out of sticks, pinecones, chalk, etc. for all the satellites, drones, and UFOs up in the sky to see!
- Living room slumber party: Set up a movie or board games, bring out the pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags, and let your kids sleep in a different room of the house for a night. If you’ve got the supplies and good weather, you can even set up a backyard campout for them!
- Time-lapse video: Choose something that’s moving relatively slowly (such as a crawling bug, or the shadows and clouds outside) and try taking a time-lapse video of it to see how the image moves and changes over time. You can even have your kid choose a favorite song to play over the video!