Updated: Mar 14
Dealing with the effects of the coronavirus is hard enough for adults, but is especially hard for toddlers and young children. A lot of us are working from home (#WFH) and social distancing, which means a lot of time spent cooped up indoors.
Here are some suggestions to help you pass the time with your kids. These activities are affordable, simple, and child-friendly. Let's turn the idea of being stuck at home into a Staycation!
1. Make playdough
We found this awesome no-cook recipe.
2 cups plain flour (all-purpose)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (baby oil and coconut oil work too)
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cream of tartar
1 to 1.5 cups boiling water (adding in increments until it feels just right)
Gel food coloring (optional)
Glitter (if you feel brave and adventurous)
A few drops glycerine (my secret ingredient for stretch and shine!)
2. Build a fort
Build a fort with dining chairs and sheets. Just put the backs of the chairs in a square or rectangle formation, throw a flat sheet over them, a quilt inside with books and stuffies.
3. Rock sorting
Gather rocks in a tub, or purchase pea gravel and colored rocks in the local pet store. Use a muffin tin so the rocks can be sorted.
4. Read chapters books
Start a chapter book like Boxcar Children, Charlotte’s Web, Ivy and Bean, Pippi Longstocking, Magic Treehouse
5. Listen to audiobooks
Listen to Audible books, search YouTube for books read aloud, or listen to the Stories Podcast. Skip the video portion on YouTube and have the real book in hand. My granddaughter and I listened to all of the Frog and Toad series in the car on YouTube. Note that we only listen to the audio, and do not watch the video.
You can pick up crayons and coloring books or print out coloring sheets (thank you Google images)
7. Sock puppets
Make sock puppets with odd (clean) socks. Draw or sew buttons for eyes, red marker for the mouth, and maybe yarn for hair!
Gather a laundry basket full of dress-up clothes. Scarves, hats, glasses with no lens, jewelry, shoes, shirts, tank tops, belts, ties, and anything else you can think of around the house. Let your child dress up and take photos on your phone. Send them to Walgreens and make a spiral book!
9. Lights, camera, action!
Gather all the stuffed animals and dolls and make a play. Once the play is created, video it and then watch it together.
Play charades by category. Make the topics clear, like animals (kangaroo), people (basketball player), vehicles, food preparation (making a sandwich).
11. Finger art
Make fingerprint art Ed Emberley style!
12. Board games
Play board games like Candyland, Hi Ho Cherry-o, Chutes and Ladders
13. Domino train
Make a domino train and see how long you can make it before it falls. Then start over! Tell your children that it will fall, but you are going to try to be super-duper careful to keep the dominos standing for as long as you can make it.
Have a Lego building day. We mixed small Lego kits, and the children are so creative for making all sorts of things!
15. Freeze objects
Freeze objects in water – like insects. Use an aluminum pan, when frozen pop it out into a dish tub and give them a small hammer or mallet. Have about 3 towels available – 1 as a mat under the dish basin, one under their chair and one to dry their hands. You can also stuff small toys into a balloon, fill with water, and freeze. When frozen completely, cut the balloon away and discard it. Put the balls into a dish tub and, well – you know what to do! You might want to shake the balloons as they get near freezing to move the toy into the middle of the sphere.
Do 48 piece puzzles together. Many of them come with a frame. Check out Tuesday Morning – they usually have a good variety for an affordable price. Take a photograph when it is finished. Print it on paper so they have a go-by the next time... because there is always the next time.
Write letters to friends and mail them!!
Use painter’s tape to make a hopscotch grid on the floor. You can use a sock ball or a small block for the object.
Use painter’s tape to make a bean bag tic-tac-toe game on the floor. You need two colors of bean bags. Socks with a large handful of beans, rubber-banded shut will work.
20. Bean bag toss
Make a target with painter’s tape at the end of a hallway or large room. Use bean bags to try to score inside the rings.
21. Go camping
Drag a mattress onto the floor and have a camp out night using flashlights. Make s’mores for dessert and make up stories. One way is to start a storyline, “One time I was walking to the park and I saw...” Now the child takes a turn to continue the story, “my friend from school swinging on the swing and...” now it's your turn... Be creative and have fun!
Plan out a meal you can cook together. One challenge is to see what you can create from the pantry and the refrigerator! (Hint – make sure you have bread, pasta, cheese, sauce, frozen veggies, etc.
23. Video chat
Facetime with a friend! Be prepared for the hysterical laughter and giggling!
24. Clean up
Have your children clean and tidy up their room. The novelty for toddlers should last least one or two times.
25. Make a donation pile
Have them clean and sort out their toys. Tell them a story about sharing with other children and have them pick items to donate.