Right now during these unprecedented times of daycare and school closures you may be wondering what to do with your kids to keep them busy.
Many of our usual hangouts and indoor play places have been temporarily closed.
So I’ve brainstormed a list of things to do with your children while they’re not in school or daycare.
You can set up several of these ideas around the house in “stations” like they often do at daycare.
Then if your child gets bored doing one activity, they can go the next station, and back again if their little heart desires.
Many of these activities are for preschoolers, but school-age children usually enjoy them as well.
Please leave your suggestions for fun activities with your kids in the comments at the bottom of the page.
Crafts for Preschoolers
Below are some fun craft ideas for preschoolers to help keep them busy and entertained.
Make Play Dough (and play with it)
Here is a great play dough recipe that we got from our local preschool program. Because you need to boil the water first, it requires an adult to do this step.
It makes a good-sized batch, so you can halve it if you want to try a smaller amount.
- 2 Cups of Flour
- 1 Cup of Salt
- 2 Tablespoons of “Cream of Tartar”
- 5 Tablespoons of oil (Canola oil will work)
- 2 Cups of Boiled water
- Food colouring if you want coloured dough
Steps to make the play dough
- Boil a pot of water and let cool. You can add food colouring to the water if you want coloured dough.
- Add the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together
- Slowly add the oil and 2 cups of the boiled water (now at room temperature) to the dry ingredients and mix together.
- Then knead it with your hands. If your mixture is too sticky then add a bit more flour. If it is a little too dry and crumbly you can add a bit more water.
- Store in an air-tight container or zip-lock baggie.
Show your children how to roll the dough into “snakes” or ropes.
Show them how to roll the dough into balls.
Bring out some plastic cookie cutters to make different shapes.
This is a sticky, fun craft that older children love. I suggest having a vinyl tablecloth so the mess is somewhat contained.
Who hasn’t made a paper mache volcano in their life? Or at least started one…
We used an empty “fruit cup” as the top of the volcano to hold the baking soda and vinegar mixture.
One day we’ll get around to finishing painting our mountain.
Here is a link to a couple paper mache recipes. They list one recipe that requires glue and one that doesn’t.
Fun Bonus with a Science Twist: blow up a balloon then paper mache it. Once the paper mache dries and hardens you can pop the balloon. Then decorate the paper mache balls like planets in our Solar System.
Below you can see our start to this project. (We still need to paint this “planet”.)
Once completed you could hang the planets from the ceiling using fishing line.
Make a Super Hero cape from an old t-shirt
You can make a super hero cape from an old t-shirt by cutting off the sleeves and cutting a slit down the front of the shirt.
This provides some homemade dress-up clothes for your little one.
With spring coming soon and flowers ready to bloom it is a great time to get our young children involved and learning about spring.
With food shortages occurring in some grocery stores, I personally think this is a great time to teach our children about the food supply.
We can start teaching them about knowing, and appreciating, where our food comes from.
Teach them how farmers plant and grow vegetables, about flowers, bees and what it all means.
You could do some hand-print flowers.
Trace their hand print, draw a stem coming from the bottom and some leaves, then get them to decorate and colour their flower.
For a list of other spring crafts for kids check out this article.
Art for Preschoolers
Finger painting is a great intersection between something children love (painting) and a thing they are really good at (making a mess).
Various “Object” Painting
This is where you dip various objects into the paint then dab them onto the paper.
Try dipping things like scrunched paper, foam, or chunks of vegetables into the paint.
Added Fun: Once your dab paintings are dry, draw little stick men, insects or funny faces onto your paint blots.
Let your child explore their creative side and draw whatever they can think of.
If you want a little guidance on drawing, check out these “how to draw” articles for preschoolers.
Many families have lots of colouring books already. So pull them out and set up a colouring station.
If you don’t have any colouring books, check out these free colouring pages from Crayola.
For more Art Ideas for Preschoolers…
Here is a list of more art ideas for preschoolers brought to you by Jackie from happyhooligans.ca
Indoor Activities & Play for Preschoolers
Set up an Obstacle Course in the House
Your local indoor play place may be closed but that doesn’t mean your kids can’t jump, tumble and climb. It just means they’ll have to do in in the house.
You can make a fun obstacle course in your house using cushions from your couch and love seat.
And get creative to add different obstacles to climb over, crawl under and jump through.
Here is an obstacle course my daughter and I set up last weekend. She is 3 years old and she loved it.
She had to climb onto the couch, jump across the cushions, squeeze through the air tube, crawl under the hockey stick and through the hula hoop then climb onto the love seat.
And repeat…and repeat…and repeat…
Make different Sensory Bins
Try filling different plastic bins or totes with various objects like dried beans, building blocks, or rice.
Then add in some ladles, scoops, spoons and toys and let them have fun. It is a good way for them to learn motor skills like scooping, dumping and pouring.
Need some ideas for sensory bins? Then click here.
Create Lego or Building Blocks Station
If you have building blocks, now is a good time to pull them out.
One of our favourite things to do is make a tower as tall as we can.
Play sock basketball
Grab some balled-up socks and toss them into laundry baskets. (I still enjoy playing this as an adult.)
Toy Tote Storage Rotation
If you have toys in different totes now is a good time to start rotating them for use.
Have a tote of toys for Monday, a tote for Tuesdays, and so on.
That way when you pull out the day’s tote they’ll be “fresh” again for your kids.
Try Mixing and Matching Toys and Playsets
Who said Mr. Potato Head can’t play in the Barbie house?
Try bringing out different toys that you don’t usually associate with each other and let your child’s imagination take over.
Build an Indoor Fort
Build an indoor fort using cushions, sheets and whatever else you can find.
Once they’ve built their fort suggest they bring their favourite book in there.
Perhaps you’ll actually get a few minutes of quiet time. 🙂
Have a limbo contest
Put on some music and have a limbo contest. Grab a broom stick to use as the limbo bar and have some fun.
Have a Dance Party
Put on some fun tunes and have fun dancing. It is great extra and sure to get some good giggles.
You could play a dance-freeze game. They have to dance when you play the music, and freeze in place when you stop it.
Ask them to put on a Puppet Show
If you don’t already have some puppets, try making some using socks.
Then ask them to put on a puppet show with their good old-fashioned sock puppets.
Outdoor Physical Activity and Play
Here are some ideas for outdoor physical activity and play.
If you are being instructed to do social distancing then this is a good opportunity to get into the backyard or to get into nature away from the hustle and bustle of society.
Go for a Walk in the Woods or along a Nature trail
Getting outside and exploring nature is a great way to keep young children busy (and to tire them out!).
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of natural items that your children need to find on your nature walks or in your backyard.
Examples could include:
- Find two pine cones (one large and one small)
- Find a white rock
- Find a tree branch shaped like the letter “Y”
- Spot three different types of birds, and describe their colours
Nature Photo Scavenger Hunt
This may not be appropriate for all children and all ages, but if you let your kids use a tablet or a phone with a camera, then there are lots of opportunities for Photo Scavenger hunts.
You could write a list of things they have to find and take a photo of.
Such as a yellow flower, a purple flower, a bird, a fallen log, etc…
Obviously the things on your photo scavenger hunt will depend on where you live and the weather you are experiencing.
But regardless of what’s on your list, get creative and have fun.
Set up a Balance Beam in the Backyard
Try laying down some flat pieces of lumber on the grass and tell your preschoolers that it is balance beam.
I laid down some 2×4’s end-to-end in my backyard and my daughter uses it as her own balance beam.
Or you could toss down pieces of cardboard and then have to pretend those are rocks and the grass is lava. They can’t step on the lava!
Kick the Soccer ball around your yard
Try setting up some cones or bins for your child to try and kick the soccer ball around. It’ll help their coordination, activate muscles, help their soccer skills, and they’ll have fun.
If your child enjoys other sports perhaps you can get them to work on some skills in the backyard.
Thank you for checking out this list of things to do with your children while daycare is closed.
I’ll try to add to the list as I come across other fun ideas.
If you have suggestions for fellow readers, please comment below.
And if your children are school-aged and they enjoy word search puzzles, they may like a few of the free puzzles I have on this site including:
- Spring word search puzzle
- Pizza word search puzzle
- Hockey word search puzzle
- Star Wars word search puzzle
- Disneyland word search puzzle
- Pets word search puzzle
Thank you and take care.
Tim from Puzzletainment Publishing