Is anyone else feeling a little bit of cabin fever setting in? It’s been quite the year of togetherness and with winter lingering, there’s still more indoor time on the horizon. With ample time to hunker down and play, it’s helpful to have a few activities up your sleeve for easy entertainment. (And here are some fun ideas for outdoor playtime, regardless of weather!)
Remember—for kids of all ages—new is novelty, so go easy on yourself. Make it simple, easy, and fun, because truly, it doesn’t take much. And if all else fails, dump sheets and extra pillows on the couch and declare it fort-building time!
So, in lieu of feeling bored and cooped up, here are a few simple ideas to fill the hours:
Box house: Grab a big box (we’re all delivering right now, so save boxes as they come!), and plop the toddler in. Throw in a few toys, random kitchen tools, or any small toys to chew on and explore. (Or washable markers if you are feeling adventurous, for scribbling on the box walls.)
Dance party: (all ages welcome!) Turn on and up your favorite tunes to put everyone in a good mood. Jumping, dancing, and singing encouraged! (Older kids can request songs, make up a choreographed dance, and even sing karaoke.)
Jam session: Hand littles wooden spoons and a few overturned pots and pans. Bang away!
Treasure basket: Grab a low-sided basket (or box or Tupperware) and fill it with a variety of natural and everyday items. Include different textures, weights, colors, shapes, sizes—whatever may be easily explored by a sitting toddler. Plop baby in front of basket and leave her be to investigate (thus promoting independent play, curiosity, and independence).
Paper bag puppets: Grab a stack of brown paper bags (remember those?) the next time you are at the grocery. It’s puppet time! Use construction paper, kid-friendly scissors, glue sticks, markers, crayons, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, whatever else you have lying around to decorate and create. Then request a ticket to the puppet show. (Holiday hack: Use cotton balls for Santa’s beard!)
Kitchen sidekick: There’s plenty in the kitchen to entertain this age. Pull out a rimmed baking sheet, a few small bows, and spoons, and fill with anything you have left in the pantry. Think small dry pasta, beans, rice, anything they can dump and scoop to their heart’s delight (ice cubes even!). Long spaghetti dry noodles are fun for breaking and stirring, too.
DIY bowling: Grab extra paper towel rolls, toilet paper, water bottles—anything that resembles pins and can be easily knocked down and set up. A few soft balls, too, and a long hallway for a bonus. Roll away!
Treasure hunt: This takes a bit of prep work, but pays off when the activity commences. Hide a few treasured items around the house, and draw a quick treasure map (or even just a list of items) for the kids to hunt down. Plan a reward (popsicles!) when they’ve collected everything.
Game time: Simon Says is easy, requires nothing, and is perfect for this age. Or try musical chairs, hide-and-seek, Patty Cake, Miss Mary Mack...any fun, nostalgic game usually hits the spot.
Bake something (anything!) together: This age loves to help, so take advantage. Muffins for a mid-afternoon snack? Yes, please. Pancakes for dinner? Sure. Energy balls for tomorrow morning? Absolutely.
Plan a tea party: Pull out the tea set or old coffee mugs, and play tea party. Go ahead with adult supervision, or send her on her way with her favorite stuffed animals. (Bonus points for fancy clothes and an invitation!)
Play Go Fish or War: The best and easiest games are with a standard card deck. Go Fish and War are house favorites—easy to learn, quick to play, underlying teachable skills involved, and fun for all ages.
DIY animal charades: Draw and color small pictures of animals, cut them out individually, throw in a bowl, pick one and act it out to the crowd. Tada! Charades!
Draw and/or paint a self-portrait: (all ages welcome!) Set up a mirror and drawing supplies and see what they see—which is to say, their beautiful self!
Make your own playdough/slime/insert liquid concoction here: When they are finally old enough to be given instructions and supplies, let them. There are plenty of easy ways to make all sorts of manipulatives, just search for a doable recipe and let them make the mess and clean it up.
Reuse, reduce, recycle: This can be used for all ages, but for older kids, the less supervision needed. Prowl through your recycling bin and pull out any interesting materials that can be repurposed. Spread out on a hard surface with lots of glue and scissors, and let them go to town building, tinkering, exploring.
Food games: Raisin, popcorn, blueberries…one point for every throw-in-air-and-catch-in-mouth during a one-minute period. Most points wins. Ready, go!
Create a mood board: Grab stacks of old magazines, photos, newspapers, whatever printed materials you have lying around. A pair of scissors, some glue, and construction paper should have them well on their way to collage making in no time.
Pen a friend: With extra time on our hands, why not use it to chat the old school way? Encourage letter writing to friends and/or family. And remember to use the P.S. — Please write back!