Are you struggling to find ideas for activities with kids at home all day long?
We all know those days very well. When we’re just feeling not going out under the sun, or when our to-do list at home are long there isn’t much room in our head to think about what the kids can play with.
But those little humans started to nag behind your leg, or climbing onto your PJ pants, begging you to play with them. And you scratched your head trying to think of any fun simple things to do without spending much time preparing those activities…
Ever felt overwhelmed when browsing on Pinterest just to find most of them require you to spend some time to rummage your piles of craft supply, print paper templates, draw or cut things? (And this does not include hours you spent browsing the Pinterest! Lol)
(This post contains affiliate links. It just means that if you click thru some of the links mentioned here and make a purchase, I might get a small amount of commission out of it, at no additional cost to you.)
I hardly have time to prepare a fancy activity.
Well yes, that Pinterest mommy was me when I had only my eldest daughter a few years back. I enjoyed browsing for ideas, choosing color papers, markers, buying pipe cleaners, print on papers, drawing and cutting them on shapes, and so on.
But once there’re two kids (or more!) to entertain, with all other house chores behind me, it’s like mission impossible.
But I want them to do things other than watching videos on the screen!
Yes I hear ya..
So here’re some tips I want to share, to help you finding ideas of easy things to do with kids at home without extensive time in setting them up.
1. Think of ONE simple objective for the activity.
What do you want them to explore, what do you want them to learn while they play.
Just exploring different colors & textures? Play with shapes? Messy play? Do simple counting? Stamping or pasting?
2. Use items you ALREADY have around the house.
Usually you can find useful stuff on the stationery drawer, magazine racks, bookshelf, or your kitchen cabinet.
Some common things I used over and over again are; papers (any color, any type), post-it notes, markers, watercolors, masking tape (great for maze or track games).
Also craft sticks/popsicle sticks, glue and scissors, tissue paper roll, paper plates, different shapes of containers, beans/beads/rocks.
I also talked about my favorite supplies at home in more details here if you want to take a peek.
3. Decide which AREA the kids will play.
On the floor? On the table? On paper (you can use the rolled paper like this or you can just tape some standard A4 copy papers on the floor)? On a big alumunium tray?
Do you want to let them use a mat to contain the mess (think of disposable tablecloth, or unused shower curtain)?
4. Keep it simple (the less instructions the better), and PLAY WITH THEM!
The younger the child, the simpler the play. Child younger than 5 years old may not understand well if you ask them to play something with rules.
For example, toddlers usually interested in most sensorial play (things that uses their five sense) and hand practice.
Think of playing “musical” with used milk tins, or play with colored shaving foam, stacking blocks, or pulling out tissue/fabric from a box.
Pre-schooler (age 3-5) can play with something about different colors, shape, sorting, number or letter recognition, and more physical activities.
For older kids you can even incorporate addition/substraction while playing blocks or Uno cards!
Another optional thing, but it definitely will come handy when you already have some open-ended toys or multi-purpose supplies at home.
I recommend those supplies that can be used in different ways because they’re easy to modify for different activities or age of kids.
And usually they are the sort of things kids can play as is, no supervision required. I.e., independently while you can do your folding nearby (or continue another chapter of your favourite book!)
Example of these are; any building blocks (lego, wooden blocks, domino blocks, tangrams), pompoms, or colorful popsicle sticks. P
out one box of toys (give them only one type of toys, not everything in the playroom!), and ROTATE with different toys when they get bored.
5. Think that you can GO OUTSIDE for a while?
Go to nearby playground for 20 minutes, or collects different leaves or flowers, or do nature hunts instead!
10 quick activities with kids at home, my tried version;
- Musical concert with pots, used tins and a stick (like a drum), or bottle shaker.
You can use pepper shaker, or any empty plastic bottle filled up with rice/beans. Different size of tin or filler would create different sound! Age: 0-2
- Finger painting. Fun for all ages!
Also checkout this homemade edible toddler-friendly paint by Learning4kids here! Age: all age
- Pulling play with wipes container + fabric scraps.
Baby friendly! You can use materials with different colors or textures, you can also replace fabric with ribbons. Age: 0-2.
- Stamping with kitchen/toilet paper roll. Age: from 2 yo.
- Cut and paste rainbow puzzle. Great for little hands to practice cutting and glueing! Age: 3 and above
- Paper plate puzzle. Create any drawing you like, or you can print an image to paste onto the paper plate then cut.
Use another un-cut paper plate as the puzzle base. Age: 3-5
- Color recognition and grouping.
You can use ANY objects in the house that has different colors, and containers labelled with the name of each color.
Think of using Lego or wooden blocks, clothespins, paper clips, pompoms, etc. Please always supervise when you use small items and have young kids. Age: 3 and above.
- Play with line tapes! Grab your masking tape for this.
You can make a racing game with car toys, or make a maze, or make a jumping games with the lines (Jamie has several versions of activities with line tapes here). Age: 3-5
- Letter recognition with wooden peg and card paper. Age: 4 and above
- Counting to 10!
I have a few different version of games, using popsicle sticks in this post, or using colorful counting chips in this post. Age: 4 and above
But I’m not a creative mum, I struggle to even think of ideas!
Ok, I have good news for you!
If you remember I mentioned Jamie’s blog (HandsOnAsWeGrow) as one of the kids activity blog resource I love,
now she’s going to have a FREE 5-days NO PREP activity challenge for your kids ! It will start 2 days from now on 16 April, so if you think you need a bank of ideas, go join here .
Jamie’s no longer opening her “No-Prep Craft Activity Challenge” on her website now.
But she still have this FREE 7-DAY simple, go-to activity challenges for your toddler and preschooler!
If you need a little push to be motivated to engage and play with your kids, take a look at this free 7-day activity challenge.
Every day for 7 days, you’ll get a quick email with an activity to do with your kids each day.
In the link, they’ll ask for your child’s age. So that is if you want to join a specific toddler friendly (for your two years old), or you’d want more for pre-schooler age (3-5 years old), or you’d just take all varieties!
What I love about HandsOnAsWeGrow’s activity challenge;
- she uses a lot of common items or easy-to-find supplies for the play. Take a look at this, here’s the first email she’ll send you about things you can prepare beforehand.
- many of the activities are customizable and reusable. Meaning, you can reuse the same play to adjust according to your child’s age, and make the learning be whatever you’re focusing on.
For example, your toddler can play it for color sorting, then you can change some objects for your preschooler to learn about numbers or letters.
- they’re easy to prepare, easy to do, fun, while also instilling learning for the kids. DOUBLE WIN!
Ready to take up the challenge, and really spend times with your kids?
PS: In case you’ve skipped to the end, just to let you know that I think you should check out this FREE 7- days activity challenge with your toddler and preschoolers!