In this blog I’ll give so many different ideas for activities at home that I’m sure everyone finds a few things they can do with their children. I’ll also give you some tools to make things easier, such as free Lulla doll printables, and lots of fun and useful links.
There are tons of fun things we can do with our children but sometimes, after staying home for so long, I find myself all out of ideas. It can be good to plan ahead and collect fun ideas. Here I am sharing with you some of the things that I have been doing with my children in the past weeks.
I’ve been in quarantine at home with my two boys, age 4 and 8, and my husband for two weeks. We both have to work full time at home and at the same time make sure the boys do the assignments from their teachers, our mental and physical health are being taken care of and we don’t forget to have fun! I know it might sound impossible to feel happy and calm in this situation, but those two things are really what matter the most to us now (in addition to having food on the table and roof over our heads, of course) and we really can control our mental health in many ways ourselves.
To make things work organizing the day and creating a schedule is crucial. I’ll write a whole blog about that, so visit our blog again soon or sign up to our newsletter so you don’t miss out.
It’s also important to find different things to do, so your kids don’t get bored. Eyrún, the designer of Lulla doll, has drawn beautiful printable activity cards you can use to get ideas and encourage independent play at home. You can download these cards for free here, print them out, cut out each card and place them in a bowl, box, or a big jar. You can start each day by pulling a couple of cards from the pile or saving the cards for when you need to add more excitement to the day.
We’ve also created coloring-pages with the same beautiful drawings, which you can download for free and either print it out, for coloring or painting, or your child can color those pages on a tablet or phone.
I recommend playing with your children when you can. While this might not always be possible I can assure you that the moments between playing together will be easier than otherwise. When your children feel that their parents are distant you will most likely experience more conflicts and increased stress. We all need extra emotional support now, also the children, who might find it hard to understand why they can’t leave the home and visit family and friends.
So here is a list of activities you can both do together as a family but also for the kids to do independently. I divided them into three sections: Party-time, Learning-time and Relaxing-time.
A karaoke night is classic fun for everyone! You can often find karaoke versions of your favorite songs on Spotify or other music streaming services. If you have a microphone that’s great, but not necessary. To make the party even more special you can dress-up in fancy clothes, turn down the lights and use a disco light if you have one or invite your friends to join through a video message. You can also play some fun karaoke party games.
For younger kids you can find loads of music games online, if you don’t know a number of them already.
A lot of different games can be played with different types of balls. I don’t recommend playing soccer inside or other action games unless you have a separate, preferably large, playroom you can use. I’ve had my share with broken items with two active boys at home, so I try choosing calmer games for them. They don’t have to be boring though!
With younger kids you can play a simple Roll the ball with your child. You can either use the traditional Roll the ball lyrics or create different additions to the game, such as naming someone you love each time you have the ball on your side.
A lot of families are probably spending additional time in front of the TV these days. It’s very normal to have different rules when you’re staying at home the whole day, although we recommend creating rules around screen time, based on expert advice. By creating a schedule with planned activities and home school, your children will be less likely to ask for TV time or to play video games all the time.
A great idea to make TV time more special is to choose a movie they’ve never seen and that suits everyone watching (including the parents if they’re also watching). Give them fun snacks in a bowl, place some chairs in front of the TV (not too close though, of course) and perhaps lower the lights if possible. This will create a feeling of being at a movie theater, more than while sitting on the couch like usually and watching episodes or movies they watch regularly.
You can create your own bowling pins at home with empty bottles or Solo cups. It doesn’t have to be fancy for your child to enjoy playing. I recommend using a soft baby ball to throw, or something fairly light. You won’t need a heavy ball, as the empty bottles are also light and can easily be thrown down. This is great for all ages, from toddlers up to 10 years old or even older. Get your child involved in creating the bowling pins and bowling alley.
Building a house, tent, cave or a fort might be a regular activity at your home but now is the time to be creative and try new ways to create houses and find new places at home to put up a fort.
You can use chairs, blankets, pillows, and sheets to build the fort on the floor. Other ideas are to use the couch or a bed as the foundation for your architecture. To make things cozier you can even use string lights, led candles (no real candles please) or flashlights. You can play sleep time games, read a book, or pretend camping in the fort.
A lot of kids own at least one costume from Halloween or other festivals. A great way to make the day special is to have a “costume day”. Dressing up in mom’s or dad’s clothes is also fun and can be the start of a great creative play. But if you want to be very creative you can create your own costumes. You can use old clothes or bedsheets, cardboard, bottles and other items you already have at home.
Check out our Pinterest board for great ideas.
If you live in a place where the weather is getting warmer and you can go outside on the balconies or your garden, playing with water outside is great fun. If you’re not in that position playing in the bathtub or shower is a great alternative. It’s still snowing in Iceland, so water play outside would be pretty cold! My boys have found a few things in their rooms that can be used in water play, but basic shower/bath toys work perfectly well also. To make this a little different from a usual play in the bath, don’t turn on the water and put some bathing suits on. This also gives a feeling of summertime or playing in a swimming pool.
Includes: Science experiments, learning about letters and colors, math, household chores, baking, and gym class.
It is important to do fun learning projects together, especially for the older kids but there are many ways to incorporate projects for younger children that build a foundation for mathematics, reading, and more.
When we were at home in quarantine we tried out a number of projects, based on ideas from my son’s teachers, ideas I found online, and other things I remembered since working at a kindergarten many years ago. Here are some projects we tried out or plan on trying out:
I’ve found many great ideas for science experiments on Pinterest. I’m going to try out this freezing and melting experiment to explore what substance feels frozen, which ones will change and which ones will still be the same after some time in the freezer. It’s also a great sensory activity for younger children.
I also really love this experiment made by a beautiful family in Australia, which is also our beloved Lulla doll friends, posted on Instagram. They filled eggshells with their nature finds, topped them up with water, and froze them overnight. They then peeled the frozen eggs and allowed them to sit in the sun to expose the nature finds. The message behind this is beautiful: Everything is temporary and this phase too shall pass <3
Photo from @_dimity_ on Instagram
Write down all family members (the more the better) on a paper and cut out their names. Find an alphabet on the internet or in a book and line up the names in alphabetical order.
For the smaller children you can teach them about colors by playing sorting games. They can sort toys by colors into colored bins or on colored sheets of paper and you can create a pom pom scoop-and-sort tray to practice fine motor skills as well.
Create a name and logo for your home school. You can do a list of ideas of names and as a family you can then vote for the best 2 names. If you want help to choose the final name, you can put up a vote on Instagram and ask your family and friends to vote. This teaches children about democracy and percentage.
You can then show them logos online, perhaps for other schools, to get some ideas. Hand draw your own logo or create one together on the computer/tablet.
We used matches to teach my 4-year-old how two groups of X matches would add up to a total of X matches. He counted the different groups first and then the total all at once, to see how the groups would add up.
We’ve pinned other great math game ideas to our Activities at home with kids board on Pinterest.
A lot of kids actually love to do chores, as they feel good about themselves when achieving something and they feel grown up participating in the household. You can teach your children to take the laundry out of the washing machine, fold the laundry, and set the table for dinner. Here is a list of chores by age.
Now is a great time to enjoy some home-made meals. I love to get my boys involved in cooking and baking, whether it's bread or a cake. Usually, I’m lazy baking and I buy a Betty Crocker cake mix, which is great. But I recommend while you have enough time at home, to experiment and try out recipes you’ve never tried before. I’m gluten intolerant so our options are a little different than the usual flour recipes, but that doesn’t stop us. I made these great lemon cupcakes during our quarantine and we all loved them! My boys told me they loved it even more than our usual chocolate cupcakes.
It’s always fun creating a multi-colored cake or even a rainbow cake. You can do this with a store bought vanilla cake-mix or make your own vanilla cake dough, divided into 3-4 bowls and colored with the (food) colors you like. Use a white frosting or buttercream and decorate the cake with candy or cake sprinkles matching the inside of the cake.
My boys usually spend a lot of time outdoors during school days and attend sports practices. They have a lot of energy all the time and need to run and jump around every day. As the weather in Iceland is not always great, and the places are sometimes limited where there are no people, we’ve found some ways to do exercises at home.
I saw an idea online for creating an indoor obstacle course and my boys loved it! Since then we’ve created a few different obstacle courses and while I have to give them directions first they can continue going through the same course again and again, without me directing them the whole time. This created some time for me to work at home while they burned off some of that energy they have.
We’re lucky enough that our sons’ trainers have sent us regularly some videos of exercises through social media but I find that it’s important to schedule a time for a home gym class so they’ll be able to focus on the exercises they’ve been given.
Another great way to exercise is the bingo card I mentioned before. You can either play one bingo card with many small exercises and the intention of finishing the whole bingo card in one class or you can create a card with many different bigger activities and offer a reward when all activities have been fulfilled and the card has been cleared.
Includes: Puzzle, board game, and playing cards play dough, drawing, coloring and painting, sensory play, reading, yoga, and meditation.
When going through the closets at home I found a number of puzzles we haven’t used in a long time. Some of them are too easy for my boys, but that can also be a good confidence booster. A number of them are perfect for their age, which they are able to solve themselves (sometimes with a little help) and are great for their memory skills and ability to solve problems. The harder jigsaw puzzles, which we solve together, help develop manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. It’s also great for kids to take on a challenge and find that they can solve something hard with cooperation and patience.
You can also make your own puzzle, by cutting out one side of a cereal box, drawing a photo on it, and cutting out irregular shapes. Or you can simply use the printed side of the cereal box.
One of the best memories, since I was a child, is the quality moments with my parents and grandparents playing cards and board games. Most of the card games I know today I learned from them and I love to pass that knowledge on to my sons.
If you don’t know a lot of card games yourself or you need to fresh up your mind here you can find 11 easy card games.
If you don’t have any board games you can, fortunately, order them online.
You can make your own board games as well, print out free printable board games, or play fun dice games. There are many great ideas for DIY board games available on Pinterest, such as games that practice math or spelling. You can also create your own Bingo card with activities or things that are nice to do during social distancing or quarantine.
I saw a great printable board game for feelings, from an Icelandic social educator. She created a classic ladder board game that practices positive thinking, gratitude, recognition of feelings, and deep breathing. I think this is a great idea for both kids and adults, to talk about how we are feeling. When we practice gratitude we get a surge of rewarding neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and we experience brightening of the mind, according to HuffPost.
I also saw a great snakes and ladders game for kids' workout and fun movements. This can include jumping like a frog, standing on one foot and counting to 10, making a funny face, laughing like a witch, and walking like a spider. Just use your imagination and create your own fun snakes and ladders board game.
There are many recipes for making play-dough and clay at home. I’ve decided to show you a few of these recipes. Most of them are very simple, but you might not have all the ingredients available at home, so having a few options is great.
You can also add some glimmer to your dough and pure essential oils, such as lavender oil, to add a nice scent to the dough.
This recipe for play-dough includes very basic ingredients that most people already have at home, so although the recipe is a little more complicated it might suit some better than the most simple ones:
4 cups flour
1 ½ cups salt
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups warm water
Here are three other great play-dough recipes:
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
1 tablespoon oil (cooking oil or olive oil)
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup boiling water with food coloring
- For further instruction check out this website
1 part Hair Conditioner
2 parts Cornstarch
- For further instruction check out this website
If you want to make some air-dry modeling clay, this recipe is great for that:
2 cups baking soda
1 cup corn starch
1 1/2 cups water
- For further instruction check out this website
You can also start with just half of the recipe, to create a smaller amount of the clay.
While in quarantine both we and the kids miss spending time with family and friends. To show someone that we’re thinking about them, why not draw a picture for them? You can then take a photo of the drawing and send them (or their parents) in a message or you can collect them and give/send them to the person in a few weeks. This also helps your children focus on something positive. Ask them what they love about the person they’re drawing for and write down what they’re saying.
Eyrun, the designer of Lulla doll, has hand-drawn coloring-pages, which you can download for free and either print it out, for coloring or painting, or your child can color those pages on a tablet or phone. We’d love to see your child’s colored pages or a photo of the child while coloring. You can send us your photo at firstname.lastname@example.org or a message on social media. Please tell us if we can share your photo <3
Sensory play is so valuable for younger children. There are many ways you can introduce sensory play to your child’s daily activities, such as creating sensory bins including materials with different textures, for example with rice, and creating an activity board.
I’ve talked about the importance of reading before. And I stress the importance of reading here. Reading should be a part of your regular family routine and reading together will be a nice shared activity you can continue for a long time.
You can add a twist to your reading moments by reading inside a homemade fort, reading under the kitchen table, reading in the dark with a flashlight on, or reading a story online.
I’m at a beginner level myself in the yoga philosophy and practice. So while I find that it’s important now to learn more about mindfulness and meditation, to take care of my mental health, I also find it important for me to teach my kids what I learn. Therefore, all visual and spoken assistance is great for us.
If you need more supportive material this Youtube channel might suit you well. It shows yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation in a fun way and is used in schools and homes all over the world, including my older son’s school here in Iceland. I love how his teachers have already built up a foundation of knowledge about mindfulness and yoga, so while I’m teaching him some things at home he’s also teaching me what he’s learned!
I find that essential oils help us relax more while practicing yoga. We have an oil diffuser which we use, but we also like adding 1-2 drops in our palms and inhale the scent with a deep breath. We love the mix of lavender (⅔) and mandarin (⅓) oil for relaxing. Make sure you use pure essential oils.
I do recommend rewards for some projects done at home. Especially these days, while you might be learning how to work better together every day as a family at home. It’s necessary for your child to feel motivated and that what they are doing is appreciated. Of course it’s crucial to give verbal praises but other rewards don’t have to be costly or large. It can simply be a stamp for finishing a project or a chore, or a sticker system that gives a larger reward after receiving a certain number of stickers. I love these printable reward charts, but you can also create your own depending on your child’s age and interests, or your goal of achievements.
I hope my ideas for activities at home help some parents out there. I know that a lot of parents all over the world are going through the same situation right now and as hard as it is creating new ways of living it’s crucial for children to have a certain schedule and routine. It helps them be more balanced emotionally, it eliminates the feeling of uncertainty and helps them sleep better. Hopefully, cuddled up with their Lulla doll <3