***There may be affiliate links throughout this post. Please refer to the disclaimer page for additional information.***
It is not always easy coming up with activities for kids at home, especially when it’s unexpected. Whether you’re gearing up for a no spend weekend or you’ve found yourself stranded with nothing to do, there are lots of fun activities for your kids to do at home.
The following activities for kids at home are almost entirely free. The vast majority of these activities require items you can find in most homes.
If you’re planning ahead and are not strapped for cash, check out these awesome educational learning toys, books and games for kids. They’ll keep them busy while expanding their minds.
Activities For Kids That Encourage Creativity
#1 Create a fort
Let the kids turn your living room into a big fortress. Throw a few blankets over some chairs and let the kids hang out underneath.
Alternatively, you could give them a giant box to build a fort with. Empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls can be used to add height to the fort or as props to defend the fort. The kids can make windows and doors on the box by:
- Cutting shapes out with safety scissors
- Drawing on the box with markers or crayons
- Tapping or gluing paper to the box in the right shapes
You’d be amazed at the amount of enjoyment a simple box will bring a kid. Let their imagination run free and create something spectacular!
#2 Play hide-and-seek
One person counts to a certain number, usually about 20, and then everyone else playing the game goes and hides somewhere. When the person is done counting, they go and start looking for the people hiding. The first one to be found is the seeker next time.
This is a classic childhood game and for good reason! Young minds love trying to find the perfect hiding spot. And nothing makes my son squeal more than finding me in the last place he’d think. He laughs every time he finds me.
#3 Building blocks
Most families have some form of building blocks in their home whether it’s Lego’s, Magna-tiles or some other form. Encourage your children to use their imagination and create something spectacular with those building blocks.
Feel free to give them ideas on what to create and how to get started. Sometimes hearing a simple word or phrase from you will spark their creative juices and awakening their inner Michelangelo.
#4 Put on a play
Ask your kids to create a play around their favorite bedtime story. You can have them use toys or objects around the house as props to tell the story.
Let their imagination run wild. Whatever they come up is sure to amuse and entertain the whole family.
#5 Host a talent show
All kids have some kind of special talent. Encourage them to put their talent to do use by putting on a show for you. This could keep them busy for hours trying to perfect the show.
As little girls, my sister and I would put on roller skating shows with fancy moves to anyone who’d watch us! We had high hopes of becoming figure skaters some day.
Activities At Home To Get Kids Moving
#6 Build an obstacle course
Even in the smallest backyard, a great obstacle course can be setup. Look around your yard, shed or garage for items you can use to build an obstacle course.
- An old 2×4 strip of wood (that doesn’t have nails sticking out) can be used as a balance beam kids have to walk/run across.
- Create rings on the ground for kids to jump through. You could use chalk to draw large rings on a sidewalk or patio. Alternatively, you could use an old hose to make rings in a grassy area.
- A big box can be used as a tunnel to crawl through.
- Any set of objects can be grouped together for kids to run zig-zag through. We use orange soccer cones.
- Bricks can be used to jump over.
Of course, on a rainy day, you could always set up an obstacle course in your living room.
#7 Fun run
Get your kiddos sneakers on, clear a path and start a fun run through your main living area. When our kids are a little too hyped up, we declare a fun run. It usually calms them down if only for a little while.
A fun run is simple just encouraging your kids to run laps around your home. We always start with 20 laps and see how they are do before deciding if we should add more laps.
Dad and I will jump in from time to time and chase the kids if they seem to be slowing down. It gets them all riled up and moving quickly again.
#8 Dust off that old treadmill
This is certainly not an option for everyone, but my kids love walking on the treadmill. We were at a relative’s house who had one and they got a kick out of walking on it.
Now whenever I use the treadmill at home, they fight over who gets it when I’m done. I think my little guy just wants to push the buttons but at least it gets him moving for a few minutes.
#9 Dance party
Fun for the whole family not just the kids. Bust out with your favorite tunes and start dancing with those kiddos. Even if you’re terribly uncoordinated, who cares. It’s just you and your family.
Unfortunately, not all music is good for dancing, especially if you’re looking to wear out those kiddos. So, for the best results make sure to select some fast pace music that will really get them moving.
#10 Pillow fight
In a controlled environment, a good old fashion pillow fight can be a blast. So, clear a space, toss the pillows in the middle and see who can grab a pillow the fastest.
Everyone simultaneously takes swings at each other with the pillows in their hand until you’re all too exhausted to keep swinging. Not only does this release some energy but it’s barrels of fun that always ends in lots of laughter.
#11 Don’t let the balloon touch the ground
Blow up a regular size balloon and corral the kids. Let them know you have a very special game to play. Tell them there is only one rule to this game – don’t let the balloon touch the ground.
When they’re ready, set a stopwatch and then throw the balloon up in the air. Everyone should take turns pushing it back up towards the ceiling. When the balloon falls, stop the clock and see how long you kept it up. Keep repeating until you’re too pooped out with the goal of keeping the balloon in the air longer each time.
Cooking Activities For Kids At Home
Get your kids involved in daily cooking activities. There’s plenty those little hands can do in the kitchen.
#12 Kids can help with cooking by
- Pouring cereal into a bowl
- Cracking an egg
- Washing fruits and veggies
- Squeezing citrus juices
- Sprinkling oil in a pan
- Adding spices to a dish
- Mixing ingredients together
- Skewering meats and veggies
- Dropping pasta into boiling water (parental supervision strongly advised)
- Stirring ingredients cooking in a pot or pan
These are just a few general ideas. While young kids can’t do all of these on their own most involve minimal parental supervision.
#13 Make a mini-pizza
A great introductory food to get young kids involved with is pizza. What kid doesn’t love pizza? The idea of making their own pizza is super intriguing to young minds.
Kids can spread tomato sauce over their own personal mini pizza, sprinkle cheese over the top and add a few of their favorite toppings. You can even encourage them to make special shaped designs, like smiley faces, with their extra toppings.
Activities For Kids To Keep Their Mind’s Busy
My oldest has always enjoyed doing puzzles. We were completing a 1,000 piece President’s puzzle together by the time he was 6. We’ve done it several times now and it’s always a big hit. He’s really into history so this particular puzzle always captivates him.
Find a puzzle on a topic that interest your kid and create a space to start chipping away at it. Nobody says you must do it in one sitting. Spend a little time bonding with your kid each day while you start connecting the pieces.
#15 Card Games or Board Games
Most of us have a few of these lying around and likely have a few family favorites. Encourage your kids to play with them even if you’re busy with something else. You may find they make-up their own, more fun and creative way to play.
There are some great single player games available too. Solitaire is classic single player card game that only requires a single deck of cards. Think Fun’s Invasion of the Cow Snatchers and Smart Games’ IQ Stars make great single player games too.
#16 Treasure Hunt
Have the kids dress up as pirates and start hunting for treasure. Write out clues on pieces of paper for them to find around the house.
You should hand them their first clue that directs them to their next clue. For example the first clue could say, “I’m in a cool box near something white that you drink every day.” Then, leave their next clue next to the milk in the fridge.
The final clue should lead them to something special that you know they’ll enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a new toy either. Instead, it can be a hint towards other activities for kids at home to do next.
In an effort to make this easier for you, I have included 13 clues in this free printable. This printable is a downloadable PDF version of this list and includes 20 treasure hunt clue squares. 13 squares are pre-populated for you and 7 are blank for you to populate if you wish.
#17 Word Scrabble
My son actually came up with this game. He takes an alphabet toddler puzzle and rearranges the letters to form multiple words that intersect. Then he removes certain letters and makes my husband and I figure out where they belong.
Watch out: any word that starts with a vowel always seems to trip us up.
#18 Show and tell presentation
Ask the kids to pick an item they can find around the house and tell you a story about it. Give them some prompts on the types of information they should share.
A few ideas are:
- Where did the item come from?
- Who gave it to you?
- How do you use the item?
- What do you like most about it?
- What do you least like about it?
The object of this game is to solve the word before the picture of a person is completely drawn. For each incorrectly guessed word, a new part of the stick figure is drawn.
At a minimum, you get at least 6 chances to correctly guess the answer. Now, you could draw a face, hands and feet to extend the game longer if you want. It’s totally up to you.
Other Activities For Kids At Home To Do
#20 Practice blowing bubbles in water
Swimming is one of those skills all kids should learn. The greatest fear young children have with swimming is going under water. So, learning how to blow bubbles under water is critical.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be in a pool to practice blowing bubbles. Fill a bowl or bucket of water up and have you kids practice blowing bubbles in it. The bathtub is another great place to practice this skill.
#21 Bubble, bubbles, bubbles
Kids also love chasing or catching the type of bubbles you blow in the air. If you don’t have bubble solution laying around it’s relatively inexpensive to buy – especially in bulk.
My favorite are the bubble wands. Instead of having to blow every bubble, you can take the wand and slowly move it around in the air to form bubbles – big bubbles too! These wands are also great for kids who struggle blowing their own bubbles too.
This may not be the best idea if your kids are tone death like my oldest and I are. However, if your kids can carry a note this can be oodles of fun.
My little guy was born with music running through his veins. He’s only 3 but is quite the performer. He sings along to his favorite songs with this microphone. It’s Bluetooth enabled which allows music to come right from the microphone.
Don’t have a microphone laying around, that’s ok. Any old hairbrush will work in a jam. Who hasn’t sang into their hairbrush at some point?
#23 Thumb war
1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a thumb war. Adults have an unfair advantage over young children in this game, as adult thumbs are longer. However, if you have more than one child it’s a great game they can play together.
To get started, lock your hands together. Then, try pushing down your opponents thumb with your thumb. The first to hold down their opponents thumb with their thumb for 3 seconds wins.
#24 Rock, scissor, paper
A great 2 player game. Each person holds out a fist and starts shaking it while you count to 3. When you get to 3 you make 1 of 3 shapes with your fist: rock, scissor or paper.
You can win by:
- Rock crushing scissors
- Scissors cutting paper
- Paper covering rock.
If you have the same shape, you’ll have to try again. You can play best out of 5 to see who wins.
#25 Write letters to family or friends
Ask your kids to write a letter to a relative or friend that lives in a different location then you. Give them an envelop and show them how to address it so the letter gets to the right place.
This will give the kids something to do and delight the recipient. With any luck, your kids will get letters back in the mail too.
Conclusion On Activities For Kids At Home
Whatever the reason you find yourself staying home with the kids, it’s always nice to have a few ideas to keep them busy. So, I hope you found a few new activities for kids at home that will keep them entertained and you sane.
Snag a pdf copy of this article to save for later when you need it. Remember, the printable includes 13 treasure hunt clues not listed anywhere in this article.
You could, alternatively, bookmark this page or pin it for later so you can easily access these ideas for a rainy day.
Related Article: What is a Staycation + 31 Best Staycation Ideas