How to Keep the Kids Entertained for Weeks While Under a Stay-at-Home Order

two young boys having a pillowfight

Fun activities that the whole family will love while in quarantine

The kids are at home full-time now and you are wondering how your kid’s teacher manages to keep over 25 children entertained for months on end. It has only been a few days and you are already running out of ideas. It is okay. Do not fret. We have some ideas for you. These ideas work for almost any age group. We have activities that will allow parents to have fun as well. 

Fun things to do 

Have the kids make a pillow fort or cardboard fort in the living room. Let them keep it up for a few days. A fort is a perfect place for watching tv, playing board games, or even enjoying a snack. Find furniture items around the house that you do not use that often. Put a pile of pillows and bed sheets in the living room for the kids to use for the fort. See how creative the kids can be when building.

Who said there was anything wrong with playing cards or board games? Playing board games as a family has many positive lasting effects on kids. It can improve their mental health and cognitive development later in life. Break out the Monopoly board or even Scrabble. If you feel that a collaborative game might be better than a competitive one, you might consider a different approach. You could have the kids work together to solve a puzzle! 

Let the kids draw or work on crafts. I have many fond memories of sitting with my dad at the dining table while he taught me to draw. Of course, it has been years, but I still love to draw. Drawing and painting at a young age fostered a lifelong hobby. Any time I had free time, I was doodling in a sketchpad. Fortunately, it was not an expensive hobby.

Consider creating a treasure hunt around the house or even the yard. There are a bunch of ways to set this up, and you can be creative with this. You can have the kids find pieces of a map that show them where the next piece of the map is. You can have them solve riddles to find the next clue. You can even set it up with math problems. I have seen parents ask their kids to solve a multiplication problem before being told the next clue. I have also seen parents put a bunch of numbers around the yard. The kids solve math problems to find the correct number for the next clue. 

Educational games  

Have the kids play reading bingo over the course of a week or month. Scholastic has a template you can use. If you have older kids or want them to read more, you can make a bingo game out of the books the family already owns. Is there a book they have not read yet? Add it to the list. As the kids get a bingo, they should get a small prize of some sort. The kids could win an extra hour of screen time or even an extra cookie.

Now is a great time to teach the kids how to cook. Have them help you make cookies or cake. They will have a ton of fun because they know they are making something delicious. If you do not have all the ingredients for sweets, or just want to limit sugar, there are other options. You can have the kids help you prepare lunch or dinner. This might not be STEM based, but it is still a valuable life lesson. If you do not teach your kids how to cook, they will never learn. Since you are likely cooking almost every meal now, it might be a great opportunity for everyone. Make cooking more fun by having the kids help occasionally. 

Listen to a story from space! It does not matter how old your kids are. This is a cool activity for any age. Astronauts are reading kids’ books in space! You and your kids can watch the videos here. Unsurprisingly, most of the books they have are spaced themed.

Learn about animals! You can watch a nature documentary for kids together. Amazon prime, Netflix, and other streaming sites have a few options! If you do not have a subscription to any of these services, you can always check out YouTube for free! If neither of these options seem interesting, you can also check out your local zoo or aquarium to see if they have a live video of their animals for free! You can watch the San Diego Zoo or Houston Zoo  videos. Both zoos have live videos of some of their animals.  If fish are more your speed, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium live videos.

Want your kids to work on math problems in their free time? Math Is Fun has a bunch of free worksheets for almost any age. They even have answers to the problems so you can check your kid’s work! The great thing is their worksheets are relatively simple, so it is okay if you do not have a printer. You can likely write out the problems on a regular piece of paper.

Of course, many people are encouraging parents to teach their kids about germs and the importance of washing their hands. One preschool teacher shared the great way that she taught her class about germs and the importance of washing their hands. Other parents are using glitter to show kids just how much stuff they touch in a day. Although this is probably an important lesson, having glitter all over the house is just a little too messy for our preference. But hey, it is up to you. 

Outdoor activities

If you have a yard or a driveway, you can let the kids play outside. There is nothing wrong with a game of catch or hide and seek in the backyard. You might even let the kids ride bikes or scooters outside. There is a reason schools have recess. It lets the kids stay active and healthy. It also lets the kids blow off some steam and run around for about an hour. If the kids are home, do not make them give up recess time. 

Take them to the park if your state allows it. A jungle gym or playground might be germy. There are other activities you can do at the park instead. Find a hill to roll down. Go for a run around the park. Bring the bicycles and let the kids have fun. If you have a dog, they will love a trip to the park just as much as the kids will. Is there a pond with ducks or geese? Do not bring bread since it is not good for these birds. Instead, bring rice, grapes, corn, or something else from this list

No matter what activities you choose, you will want to keep a schedule. There is a reason teachers plan out their weeks. It helps you stay sane and helps the kids know what activities they will be doing next. You can still surprise kids with fun activities. Simply block off time for the event and write “surprise” instead of the actual activity. You will not spoil the fun and the kids will not know what to expect. If they are at an age they can read, they will be looking forward to that block of time.

Hopefully this list has provided you with a few ideas and inspired you with several more. Planning weeks’ worth of activities for the kids can be tiring. We understand that many parents want to reduce screen time. If you do find yourself beyond tired, there is nothing wrong with putting a movie on the TV. It gives you and the kids time to just relax. You might even get to take a nap!

Hang in there! We can make it through this together. 

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