Inside: Activities to do with your kids at home while they are out of school.
“School is canceled for the next few weeks.”
You look at the text on your phone and immediately you start to break out in a sweat and your legs turn to jelly.
The realization that you are going to have all your kids at home at once starts to sink in and you fight the urge to run out the door. You don’t have a plan for what to do with your kids at home for one day, let alone for several weeks.
How will you stay sane while trying to keep your kids educated and happily busy? What are fun, educational activities to do with kids at home every day?
No need to panic! I’ve got you covered with simple activities for all areas of your children’s development using materials you most likely have on hand in your house!
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Rev Those Motor Skills
Young kids are developing fine motor and gross motor skills and so any activity you can do to strengthen those will have your children on their way to the big leagues. Well, maybe not exactly, but every bit of practice will help them be adept in all areas of motor.
Roll Out the Play Dough
If you are stuck at home without any store bought play dough, no problem. You can make your own. Here is a great recipe that will provide your little ones with hours of fun.
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup salt
- 1 TBSP cream of tartar
- 2 cups water
- 2 TBSP oil
- Food coloring
Put all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook on medium until it pulls away from the sides of the pan stirring frequently.
Put the dough on wax paper to cool then knead until it is the right consistency.
If the dough is too sticky add flour a little at a time. Store in an airtight container.
Model for your children how to roll the play dough into “snakes” or balls. Show your children how to make their names using the play dough.
Then have your children try making their names as well as letters, numbers and shapes.
Encourage them to make animals, people and anything else creative they can think of.
Build With Blocks
My son spends hours camped out on the living room floor building with his blocks.
I really think if I took all the rest of his toys away, he wouldn’t even notice. (Well, he might be a tad bit upset if his monster trucks disappeared).
He loves making structures with any type of blocks he can find and he is good at it. He mainly uses big wooden blocks we made ourselves, big Lego blocks and letter blocks.
Building with blocks is a great way to hone fine motor skills. It also requires children to problem solve and be an engineer.
Hopefully, you have some blocks at home. If not, check these out.
Move It, Move It, Move It
If the weather is nice, head outside for some fun in the sun. Running, hopping and catching are all wonderful ways to help your children strengthen their gross motor skills.
Remember all the outside games you played as a kid? It’s time to teach them to your children. If you need instructions or ideas check out my post on fun group games for kids.
Sing and Dance
Singing with your kids every day is so beneficial. So, warm up your voices and sing your favorite songs or nursery rhymes. Here are some fun songs from Cocomelon, our favorite kids song channel on YouTube.
To get the wiggles out, turn on some music and have a dance party. Want to really have some fun? Make some decorations to hang up, dress up in some party clothes and break out the snacks. This may be the best party you have ever been to.
Draw and Paint
Paper and crayons! That’s all the materials needed to encourage your children to draw.
They can draw (or scribble) whatever they would like. If they need some inspiration, give them some prompts:
- Can you draw your favorite animal?
- Show me what your room looks like.
- Draw where you would like to go on vacation.
- What does the playground at the park or school look like?
- Can you draw a picture of your family?
If you really want to keep your young children occupied for a while grab some paper, watercolors and salt. Then let your kids paint! Salt painting is great fun for kids and will entertain them for hours.
Here’s how you do it:
- Swirl glue onto a piece of paper and sprinkle salt on the glue.
- Shake off the excess.
- Use watercolor paint or mix food coloring in water and dip the color onto the sand and watch what happens.
Bring on the Magic (I mean Science)
Here are some science activities to do with kids at home. These activities will convince them they can do magic!
Magic Trick #1
- Add food coloring to baking soda in a bowl.
- Place the bowl in a pan for easier clean up.
- Add vinegar and watch the excitement!
Magic Trick #2
- Pour some milk into a shallow bowl.
- Whole milk works best but use what you have.
- Add a few drops of different colors of food coloring around the edge of the milk.
- Dip a Q- Tip or cotton ball in dish soap and put into the center of the milk.
- Watch the magic happen!
Cook Something Yummy
It may be messy, but cooking with your kids teaches them so many skills. The best part? Getting to eat the end product!
Make rainbow cupcakes
- White Cake Mix
- Food Coloring
Mix up a white cake mix (or one from scratch) and divide batter into 4-6 different bowls.
Add a different color food coloring to each bowl and stir to combine.
Add a spoonful of each color to a muffin cup or tin and bake as directed.
Make no bake cookies
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 stick (8 TBSP) butter
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1 TBS vanilla
- Pinch of salt
Bring sugar, milk, butter and cocoa to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, add oats, peanut butter, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine.
Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Store in the refrigerator.
Time for Math Fun
Look around your house for things that can be sorted. Silverware, laundry, toys, buttons…
Ask your child how the objects can be sorted? Have them put the objects in piles based on how they decided to sort.
Candy is great to sort if you have some on hand and are up to the sugar high that may accompany this activity. M & M’s and Skittles are especially fun to sort by color if your kids can resist the temptation to eat them before they sort them.
Have some dice available? Roll one and count the dots. Put that many objects into a bowl. (Cereal, blocks, marbles, cotton balls, whatever). If you don’t have dice, find 6 pieces of paper or index cards. Write a different number from 1-6 on each card. Have your child randomly draw a card.
Read and Write
Read, read and read! There is nothing better for your children, than reading books to them. Even if you read the same one over several times, it is still beneficial!
Writing is another wonderful literacy activity. Try writing a story with your child. Have your child tell you a story. Ask questions to get them to continue their story and ask how it ends. Write one or two sentences on a page and have your child draw a picture to go with the sentences.
Or take pictures of your child doing various activities. Print out each picture on a page and then write a sentence to accompany the picture. I took pictures of my son playing with different things outside (riding his tricycle, playing in the sandbox, pushing his play lawnmower….) Then I printed out the pictures and made it into a book.
Sane and Happy!
There are many fun activities to do with kids at home using materials you already have. The ideas in this post are just the beginning. Feel free to expand on these ideas or modify them to fit your children’s abilities and needs.
Pick activities that are best suited for them at the moment. What are they interested in? Do they need to do something that is active so they can release some energy? Or, is it time for them to do a quieter activity?
Maybe an activity such as cooking is the best at this moment. Perhaps they need to practice reading and math skills so they don’t get behind academically.
You know your children and their needs better than anyone. Thankfully, there are many activities to choose from to meet all their needs.
You reach for your phone.
“School is canceled for the rest of the year.”
Your eyes widen for a split-second.
Then you just smile.
No panic this time. You have all the ideas you need to keep you and your kids sane and happy!