35 Screen-Free Activities To Keep Kids Busy At Home

While everyone’s still stuck at home, we’ve come up with the ultimate list of activities to keep your tots on their toes

No thanks to the ME-G-CQ — or whatever they’re calling it now — our kids are stuck at home with nothing to do. And with online learning just taking up a few hours of our kids’ days, it’s enough to drive anyone stir crazy. Our cure for cabin fever? This mega-list of tried and tested activities to keep the kids busy INDOORS. You’re welcome.

35 ways to keep the kids busy at home without screen time

1. Create your very own home spa

Grab some towels, your fave bottle of lotion, a nice mug of tea and insist your kids give you a foot rub. Pay them if you wish — we think an afternoon off chores should do the trick — and everyone’s a winner.

2. Get splashing

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a garden, your bathroom or a sink will do. Grab some old plastic cups or shampoo bottles, throw in a bit of soap and you’ve got at least 15 minutes of me-time.

3. Have some snacks

Our tried-and-tested time killer on road trips, snacks are a great way to keep kids in one place and somewhat quiet. If you want to calm ’em down, you might want to skip the sugar.

4. Bring back to the good ol’ days

Allow yourself to get nostalgic and share your old photos with the kiddos. Yup, once upon a time, lolo‘s hair was black and lola didn’t have glasses. Daddy didn’t have much of a belly either, but that’s another story…

5. Get them to do chores

Can’t get the kids to play “spa”? Now’s a good time to teach the children to roll up their sleeves and do some work. We don’t mean cooking dinner or paying the bills, we’re talking mopping, setting up the table for dinner or lunch, or simply cleaning up after themselves after they’ve made a mess. Heck, they should be doing this all year round!

6. Make playdough

Making playdough is so much more fun than buying ready made clay. Add a bit of essential oil and it’ll smell a lot better too! Check out our fave recipe for playdough here.

7. Keep a schedule

One of the easiest ways to stay sane during MECQ or quarantine is to have a schedule. This way, you’ll know how to fill your days and how much time you’ll need to do them. Another tip? Keep it on the fridge so everyone has access. Don’t worry if you can’t stick to your schedule, especially when you’ve got little kids.

8. Try some sensory play

We love sensory play! Not only does it keep our tots busy, it builds coordination, critical thinking skills and encourages kids to use ALL their senses. Check Teacher Camille’s article on sensory play for more ideas!

9. Build a blanket fort

The whole family can get involved in building a blanket fort. And in our experience, Daddies are extra good at tying strong knots. Our tip? Bring in some flashlights and tell not-so-scary stories under the blanket.

10. Do arts and crafts

Arts and crafts are a great way to get our kids creating! Luckily for you, we have tons of arts and crafts ideas for you to try out! Whether you’re into making princess arts and crafts or want to go the sustainable route, we’ve got it all…

11. Make a cardboard slide

Got an old refrigerator box — or any large box for that matter — lying around at home? Your little thrill seekers will love sliding down a cardboard slide! Check out this guide on how to make the ultimate indoor slide.

12. Rent an indoor play set

If building a cardboard slide isn’t your thing, you can rent one instead. Check out this awesome list of suppliers of inflatable castles, slides, pikler triangles and more.

13. Learn something new with educational toys

Not only are they attractive and enjoyable, but the best thing about them is how they champion the development of essential skills & creativity in our little ones! Educational toys are a great way to get your kids to think outside the box and engage in imaginative play, just as children should. 

14. Make some soap

While getting kids in the bath can be a challenge, you might have better luck if they bring their own handmade soap. Check out Artbar’s guide on how to make the prettiest rainbow soap!

15. Play hopscotch in the hallway

Miss playing hopscotch outside? Bring the outdoors inside with your very own hopscotch illo! Masking tape works just as well as chalk, and doesn’t leave residue!

16. Write out get well soon cards

No thanks to COVID-19, everyone knows at least one person who’s down with the dreaded virus. Convince the kids to make a get well soon card for them. Who knows, it might just be the positive vibes they need!

17. Play old school games

Bring out the jackstones, Chinese garters and marbles – it’s time to get old school! Not only will your kids learn new skills, it’s also your chance to show off your own #skillz and school your young ones.

18. Try out a card game or two

While Pusoy Dos might be out of your kid’s league, we recommend games like Go Fish! or UNO to get started. Old Maid and SNAP works too! For more game inspo, check out this article.

19. Tackle a home obstacle course

Bring out your hidden American Ninja and create your own obstacle course at home. Adjust the course according to age and athletic level and remember to take it easy on the toddlers! Try keeping the instructions as simple as possible for smoother game play.

20. Write an e-mail to loved ones

Who doesn’t love a nice e-mail? Whether it’s a simple greeting or a detailed narrative of your kiddo’s day, someone’s bound to enjoy the positive vibes. Especially during times like these.

21. Whip up some dinner

Raising mini-masterchefs? Get them to whip up dinner! Help them plan the menu (hopefully it’s something other than spaghetti and meatballs or pizza) and get them involved in food prep. If they’re old enough, you can teach them how to use the stove and oven, too!

22. Do some gardening

Your little plant-ito or plant-ita in the making will love growing a plant they’ve nurtured from the seedling stage. When choosing a plant for kids, go for lower-maintenance options like snake plants or succulents.

23. Play dress up

Get out your wackiest t-shirts and outfits and do some styling. Pick a theme — sports, 80’s, Hollywood, or whatever you fancy, really — and go crazy!

24. Organize toys

Channel the inner-Marie Kondo in your child by teaching them to organize their toys. While it isn’t necessarily the most exciting thing on this list, it’s probably the most useful. You can reward them with a fun activity after.

25. Bake some cookies

Everybody wins with this activity. Our favorite to make is this easy-peasy chocolate chip cookie recipe. Minimal mixing and minimal prep time; doesn’t it sound perfect?

26. Play some board games

One of the best distractions from those pesky screens are board games. Not only do they encourage kids to get their thinking caps on, it’s also a way to get in some friendly competition. Read our article for all our favorite kid-friendly board games.

27. Watch a movie marathon

We tried really hard, but here’s one activity that does involve screens, sorry. But here’s the thing, it’s not really screen time if the whole family’s involved! Read on for this dad’s recommendations for 80’s movies for your next movie marathon.

28. Do some exercise

Burn those calories and feel that endorphin rush with good old exercise. Take turns being the “instructor” and tape up your WOD (Workout Of the Day) on the wall.

29. Read books

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of reading and books in general. It’s a great way to bond with kids and a sneaky way to practice those thinking and reading skills. If you need more reading material, check out our list of kid-friendly bookstores!

30. Do an indoor treasure hunt

Make like a pirate, write out some clues and hide them around the house. Don’t forget to hide your treasure — and for kids, a healthy treat will do!

31. Get coloring!

Remember when adult coloring books were a thing? Well, now’s the perfect time to bring them back! Your kids will love the intricate details of adult coloring books, and yes, it’ll buy you more time to get other things done.

32. Play memory games

Memory games not only improve kids’ attention spans but also concentration and focus. It’s undoubtedly beneficial and heaps of fun, too! Check this out for a simple memory game to play with kids aged 3 to 6 years old.

33. Do a mini-theatre production

Challenge your little thespians and ask them to create their own play! Help them with the script and the costumes and let the kids direct and figure the rest out. When they’re done, just sit down and enjoy the show!

34. Make up stories

Children love to hear stories, why not give them the chance to make up their own? You can start by telling them your own story, a made-up one or a real one, to show them how it’s done.

35. Play hide and seek

Ah, who can forget this classic? Here’s a hint: the longer you give your kids to count, the more difficult your hiding spot can be — which means more time to chill for you!

Now that you have all the activities you need to keep the kids busy indoors, hopefully it will be easier to get through this MECQ. You’ve got this, mama!

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