In search of a new activity to enjoy with your kiddos?
Whether you’re looking for the perfect family hobby, or you just need a respite from the monotony of a tiring weekly schedule, Jen Brown has ventured out with her own fam and found 62 activities for kids she believes every family will enjoy. Here are just 25 of them.
This list is particularly helpful for families stuck in a routine rut, and for those breaks throughout the school year that sneak up on all of us parents.
If you’re ready for a new adventure, read on!
From staycations and reading marathons to road trips and discovering local treasures, there’s something on this list for every family.
For extra motivation, I invite you to print off this list, share it with your kids, mark your favorites, and set a goal to try one new activity together every week or month.
Let the kids take turns choosing activities, highlight them as you complete them, and note whether you’d like to try the activities again. Soon, you and your kids will have a long list of fun activities to choose from on those “Mom, I’m bored!” days.
Fun indoor activities to do with your kids at home
Although getting out of the house to explore new places and socialize with others is important, planning a staycation or a weekend filled with homebound activities is equally fun and teaches kids the perks of creativity. Below are some family-friendly adventures and activities that don’t require leaving the house:
Reading and story time activities for kids
Reading is exercise for the brain. It helps children focus while improving their vocabulary and language. Stories encourage kids to develop their imagination and allow them to explore the world without leaving home. Reading and creating stories are wonderful activities for family bonding.
1. Set a Reading Goal
Aim to read to/with your kids daily. My kids have a pile of favorite books that they request on a regular basis. I’m fairly certain we all have the entire Dr. Seuss collection memorized at this point.
Let your kids take turns choosing a book, and read to them at naptime and/or every night before bed. As they start learning to read, ask them to read to you or the entire family, and be sure to praise them for a job well done. This will help them gain confidence and self-esteem while boosting their reading skills.
2. Make up stories with mad libs
My favorite way to make up stories with my kids is by using printable mad libs. They’re hilariously fun, and there are lots of websites that offer free printable mad libs for kids of all ages. Your children will have so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning! Check out Woo Jr. for a variety of free mad libs categorized by season and occasion. I also love the official Mad Libs books, which I always take on car trips and vacations.
Rainy day activities for kids
3. Indoor treasure hunt
Next time you’re at a discount or dollar store, pick up a few games, toys, and treats for your kiddos, and stash the prizes away for a rainy day treasure hunt. During a day at home, hide the items, and give each child a list of clues and a bag or box to collect their treasures. The process is fun, and your kids will have plenty of new goodies to keep them occupied for the rest of the dreary day.
4. Have a Dance Party
Put together a playlist of your kids’ favorite cheerful songs, include a few of your own favs, and have an impromptu dance party every now and then! For little kids, Laurie Berkner is full of energy and sings fun, upbeat songs. There are lots of free apps to stream music and make your own playlists. We love Google Play Music at our house. Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube are also excellent options. We also love the game Just Dance, which is available for multiple game consoles.
Tip: Turn on upbeat music in the morning while your family gets ready for the day. It’s a great way to start the day out on a positive note!
5. Introduce your children to yoga
Our local YMCA has a mommy and me yoga class. If there are no classes in your area, YouTube is a great resource for new yogis of all ages. This awesome video led by yoga instructor Sophia Khan is a wonderful introduction to yoga for the entire family. Yoga helps improve flexibility and balance, creates a mind-body connection, and helps kids focus. It can also help lower stress and anxiety, which many kids experience but may have difficulty explaining.
6. Learn how to juggle together
Leaning to juggle is fun, and it helps growing kids develop their fine motor skills. Plus, your kiddos can share their new talent with their friends. Josh Horton is a Guinness World Record holder and champion juggler, and he shares his tips and tricks in this fun and informative YouTube tutorial. Check it out with your kids!
Artsy, crafty activities for kids
7. Make playdough
Sure, you can buy Play-Doh at the store, but when you make it at home, it’s completely customizable! My kids and I love the playdough-making tutorials by Before and After TV. The host, Katie, has four excellent videos with easy-to-follow instructions. Our favorites are Katie’s glow-in-the-dark playdough tutorial and her no-cook Jell-O playdough tutorial. Be sure to store playdough in an airtight container or baggie to keep it soft and pliable.
8. Create faux food
One of my kids’ favorite activities is pretending like they own a restaurant. I’ve helped them create menus, had the menus laminated (since they get LOTS of use), and bought each child a small notebook for taking orders. They make faux food from their homemade playdough and serve it to everyone in the family, including our pets, dolls, and stuffed animals. I encourage the kids to draw pictures of the foods we order and practice their writing skills.
9. Make slime
If you haven’t joined the wonderful world of slime-making, now is the time! There are tutorials all over the web, and my fam has tried several. Our go-to recipe is on Target’s website. It only requires a 4oz. bottle of Elmer’s School Glue, ½ tablespoon of baking soda, and ¼ tablespoon of contact lens solution. Target even carries colored glue, so you and your kiddos can choose your favorite shade. For even more fun, pick up some glitter glue or glow-in-the-dark glue!
Tip: This is a super-fun interactive activity for kids’ birthday parties. Let the children make their own slime, and they can take it home as party favors.
10. Create Art Together
Gather all of your art supplies, and enjoy an artsy afternoon indoors or out. Get messy and color outside the lines! Although I love my adult coloring books, I highly recommend a blank canvas to let your creativity soar.
Tip: If you or your kids can’t decide what to draw, paint, or color, Kids Steam Lab has an awesome (and free!) list of 31 creative drawing prompts for kids of all ages. For a fun twist, write down numbers 1 to 31 on strips of paper and have each kiddo draw a number to determine what they’ll create.
11. Make a Tornado in a Bottle
Not all science experiments require safety goggles and expensive equipment. You and your kiddos can create a tornado in a bottle with items you likely already have at home. You’ll need a bottle or jar with smooth sides and a tight-fitting lid, water, a drop of dish soap, and glitter (any color will do). Check out this easy tutorial on YouTube, which includes step-by-step instructions and a mini science lesson to boot.
12. Tie-Dye Together
Tap into your inner hippie, and pick up some supplies to tie-dye with the kiddos. This can be a relatively inexpensive activity. You can find basic white tees at a dollar or hobby store, and Tulip makes an amazing 70-piece tie-dye kit that’s not too pricy and makes tie-dying super easy. If you don’t fancy a tie-dyed shirt, your local craft store should have other dye-ready options, such as baby onesies and tote bags. You can even dye white socks, towels, or tees you already have at home.
13. Make Jewelry
You can buy jewelry-making supplies at your local craft store, but string, yarn, or dental floss and round pasta noodles work just as well. Check out this short tutorial by Emmy Made, who uses rigatoni, rubbing alcohol (or vodka), and food coloring to make pasta “beads.”
14. Create a Leaf Rubbing Collage
This activity is lots of fun for kids and adults alike. You’ll need a flat surface, freshly picked or fallen leaves, paper, and crayons. Store bought fabric leaves are a good option if there are no trees or leaves in your area, but keep in mind that they don’t work quite as well as real leaves. This helpful tutorial walks you through the process. Consider picking up frames at a dollar store to display your creations.
Tip: Avoid old, crunchy leaves, as they tend to fall apart during this activity.
15. Make a Bubble Painting
One of my kids’ favorite activities is bubble painting. It’s a bit more involved than the leaf collage project, but it’s well worth the extra effort. For this activity, you’ll need water, dish soap, paper cups, sugar, plastic straws, a piece of scotch tape, and watercolor paints. I love this tutorial by Jay Lee Painting. Even her baby enjoys watching the process! This talented watercolor artist has lots of fun, beautiful, and relaxing tutorials for people of all ages.
16. Make Stress Balls
One easy, inexpensive craft project my kids and I love is making stress balls. We use water beads and balloons, but if you don’t have water beads on hand, you can use cornstarch or flour. Use a funnel to fill balloons, tie them, and let your kids draw faces or designs on them. These make great gifts, and they’re also a fun party activity that kids can take home.
17. Create photo albums or scrapbooks
My kids go to camp every summer, and I always send disposable cameras with them. It’s fun to see their adventures when we get the film developed. Purchase a disposable camera for each of your kids, or encourage them to take photos with their phone or camera throughout the year. Then, get the photos printed and let each child pick out a photo album or scrapbook. This is a wonderful way to reminisce and ensures their memories will last forever (and not get lost in a box or a sea of cellphone pics).
18. Make keepsake boxes
Before my twins were born, I bought them each a keepsake box for mementos. I saved their baby shower invitations, and cards from loved ones. Over the years, I stowed away keepsakes like booties, onesies, small toys, favorite books, and letters I’d written them. I kept up the tradition with my youngest son. My kids are all sentimental, and they love adding movie and concert tickets, pictures, cards, and letters to their keepsake boxes. They each have multiple boxes now. Although a small photo box is fine to start, I recommend picking up a larger box that will hold plenty of special treasures. It’s amazing how fast they add up!
Writing activities for kids
Unlike my generation, kids today type much more than they write. I encourage my kids to keep written journals, as it’s a helpful practice I’ve always greatly enjoyed. We also love the following activities, all of which involve putting pen to paper:
19. Become pen pals
With advancing technology, handwritten cards and letters are quickly becoming a thing of the past. My kids’ grandma lives in England and we live in the States, so we regularly send cards and letters back and forth, because a) it’s fun to get snail mail, and b) there’s nothing quite like sending and receiving handwritten letters. If you don’t have a long distance relative, perhaps you have a friend with children who would like to exchange cards, letters, poems, stories, or drawings. There are also sites that match pen pals, such as Snail Mail Penpals.
Tip: Always use caution when sharing personal information.
20. Play 20 Questions
It’s fun coming up with questions on the spot, but this game is particularly enjoyable if you write down the questions and answers and read them aloud to each other. Be sure to date your lists and tuck them away in a keepsake box to read later.
21. Create your own dinner conversation starters
Over the years, I’ve learned to get creative when asking my children about their day. Otherwise, I get an automatic “fine” or “okay,” which doesn’t leave much room for discussion. To liven up the conversation at the dinner table, my kids and I decorated an old coffee can and filled it with strips of paper with conversation starters. After everyone draws one, we take turns reading and answering our prompts. Depending on the size of your family, everyone can answer every prompt, or each person can answer only their own. Below are a few examples:
- Name two good things and two not-so-good things that happened to you today.
- If you could have three wishes granted, what would you wish for?
- List three kind words that describe the person to your left, then repeat with the person on your right. (You can also have each person say one kind thing about each person at the table.)
- Share three things you are grateful for today.
- What are three jobs you think you’d enjoy?
- Name three people you’d like to invite to dinner. Why did you choose them?
- What is your favorite book, and what do you love about it?
- If you could choose your own name, what name would you choose, and why?
- What has been the best day of your life so far, and what made it great?
- Imagine you can only eat three foods for a week. Which foods would you choose, and why?
- If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be, and why?
- Who inspires you, and why?
Although your family’s answers may change each time, it’s fun to answer new questions. Refresh your conversation starters every month or two to keep your dinner conversations new and exciting.
Cooking, Baking, and Edible Fun
22. Cook together
Getting your kids involved in the cooking process allows you to pass on family recipes, teach them skills that will last a lifetime, and make memories together. Due to our crazy schedules, my kids don’t help my husband and I cook every night, but we do try to get each of the kiddos involved at least once each week. If you plan these cooking dates ahead of time, you can let your child plan the menu, and help you cook, serve the meal, and clean up. You can also help your kids create recipe books filled with their favorite family recipes.
23. Have a bake-off
Let each member of your family choose a recipe to bake. Favorites are fine, but it’s a lot of fun to pick recipes you’ve never tried. Gather all of the ingredients, and have an all-day bakeathon. Once the goodies are ready for tasting, give everyone a sampling and let them choose their favorite. Freeze leftovers, and you’ll always have an after-school snack on-hand.
24. Make brownie sundaes
Make brownies together and gather ingredients for a brownie sundae bar. Think outside the box, and let your kids assemble their own concoctions. We like to experiment with different flavors of ice cream (you could even make your own!), and I pick up an assortment of fresh fruits, syrups, nuts, marshmallow cream, chocolate/peanut butter chips, sprinkles, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries.
Tip: It’s also fun to make “chocolate chipper” sundaes with crumbled cookies, hot fudge or caramel sauce, and your other favorite toppings.
25. Make butter in a jar
I remember making homemade butter for Thanksgiving back in grade school, but I don’t remember it being so easy! You just need heavy cream, a mason jar with a lid, and a container or plastic wrap to keep your fresh butter in. This tutorial is my favorite.
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