Who isn’t looking for some at-home, FREE, fun things to do with their little ones while we’re all staying home right now? It’s easy to go stir-crazy when you have to stay inside and can’t get out to do the normal activities you’re used to. Children, in particular, have so much energy and really need something to focus that energy on other than their younger siblings or pets. So…read on to get some inspiration for homebody life! These activities are entertaining, get the whole family involved, and are free for the most part, as you’re likely to have any supplies already in your pantry or closet.
Who hasn’t made a huge pot of playdough at some point in their childhood? This easy recipe makes enough to create at least 4-6 colors (or more if you’re industrious!), and it lasts for weeks. Have fun!!
1 cup water
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
1 Tbs. cream of tartar
1 cup flour
- Combine water, oil, salt, and cream of tartar in medium saucepan and heat over low heat until warm.
- Remove from heat and add flour, stirring until smooth.
- Transfer to a large bowl or countertop and knead until smooth. Add more flour if needed so that dough is not sticky.
- Divide playdough among small bowls and add food coloring to make different colors, kneading until color is distributed evenly.
- Store playdough in airtight containers or Ziploc bags. The cream of tartar makes this playdough last at least 6 months.
2. Blanket Forts
Again, does the mention of these bring back memories? It does for me. My parents had an old, huge couch with back and seat cushions that were removable. My brothers and I would prop them all up in a line to make walls and a top for our fort, and then seal the ends off with blankets. Whenever we visit my parents, my daughter does the exact same thing and loves to hide from her grandpa as he tiptoes by looking for her. You can use furniture, tables, chairs, blankets, and sheets to make a deluxe fort from which to read, watch TV, even have a picnic as my daughter and I have done many a time!
3. Beach Day
We just did this one over the weekend. Make it as simple or as fancy as you like! Spread out a beach towel or two, prop up an umbrella over one end, put on your swimsuits and lay out the sunscreen, flip flops, and goggles. Then get some snacks, a drink (iced, of course!), some great beach reads, and relax! My daughter even drew and colored a sun to hang on the wall next to our sunny beach spot.
4. Indoor Picnic
So this is actually one of the most popular activities at our house. We spread out our picnic blanket, set it with napkins and paper plates, and enjoy lunch at our favorite (indoor) picnic spot, which is usually in the living room but sometimes ends up in my daughter’s bedroom. If you’re so inclined, you could go all out and make some classic picnic fare including (but not limited to): peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ants-on-a-log (e.g. celery sticks spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins), chopped fruits and veggies, chocolate chip cookies, etc. Have fun with it!
Who doesn’t love a good game of hide-and-seek? I used to absolutely LOVE this game when I was a kid, along with its sister game, Sardines. This is a flip-flopped version of hide-and-seek where one person hides while all of the others count, then everyone starts looking for the hider. When someone finds them, they hide with that person, until everyone has found them and hidden with them. The last person to find them is “it” for the next round. The hardest part, of course, is staying still and quiet as the hiding group gets bigger and bigger! Both games are super fun and totally free!
Wherever you live, there are birds. Not all of them come to feeders to eat seeds, but you can still see most of them out in the woods, at a park, or in your own backyard. Try setting up a feeder for those species who do like seeds, and you can document the types you see. If you’re really into birdwatching, you can even collect data through the FeederWatch program at Cornell University. We have some serious birders in our family, so I thought I would share a couple of websites here for more information on bird species, feeding habits, and migration patterns. You can use these sites to help identify the birds you see, whether through their markings or songs.
7. Baking Day
As an avid cook, this is one of my top choices! Take a vote on what everyone wants to make, and have at it. Here are a few links to some of our go-to favorites. Cookies, of course, are always at the top of our list, but we also love to make homemade chocolates and gummies (both MUCH healthier than store-bought), crackers (rolling out the dough is like working with playdough!), and no-bake drop cookies. Some of these are my own recipes, and I’ve linked to some of our favorites from other bloggers as well. Enjoy!
8. Dance Party
Woo-hoo!! Crank up the radio or tunes on your phone, clear the furniture away, and dance away the day! Kids absolutely love dancing for the most part, and it’s a fantastic way to burn some calories inside. I’m always out of breath by the time my daughter is ready to stop dancing. We love to play soundtracks from our favorite movies, and of course Amazon Prime has all kinds of fun dance music to choose from.
9. Animal Shelter
This may be an unlikely choice, but it’s such a fun way to put those stuffed animals to use! The way we set up an animal shelter is to grab some empty boxes and place one stuffed animal in each box with a blanket and toys. You can also give them food and water bowls if you have them. Your shelter will need a sign, of course, advertising the animals up for adoption, hours, and how much each animal costs. Our animal shelter even has a clinic attached for injured or sick animals, complete with mini animal beds and vet equipment. Family members love to browse the animal shelter and buy new pets with Monopoly money!
10. Movie Night!
Of course, TV is an obvious choice when you’re stuck inside for days, but this isn’t just any old TV day, it’s Movie Night!! So break out the popcorn, drinks, and blankets, turn down the lights, and choose your favorite movie (or two) to watch. We love to pick something new each time to keep it exciting for everyone.
With a little creativity and a sense of fun, both parents and kiddos can weather this storm we’re in, and before you know it, we’ll be looking back on this time and feeling thankful that we all made it through. Stay home and stay healthy, everyone!!