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How to Keep Kids Busy at Home: 37 FREE Things to Do

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If you’ve already plowed through the craft project ideas I posted, then I’ve got something else good for you: 37 completely FREE things you can do at home to keep the kids busy.

I asked my Instagram followers how they were keeping their kids occupied during this strange moment in time while we’re all stuck at home, and their responses were INCREDIBLE.

As soon as I started reading them, I immediately knew I needed to share the ideas with all of you.

A grid of six images of kids and fun activities to keep kids busy - making kid-friendly crafts, game night, playing outside, and more. Image text reads "how to keep kids busy at home" and "37 clever, no-cost ideas"

Because let’s be real: While I consider myself a creative person, it’s exhausting to try to come up with ALL the ideas for ALL the things on my own.

I know many of you feel the same way.

So this is the perfect opportunity for us moms to band together and learn from one another!

Keep Kids Busy at Home with These 37 Totally FREE Activities!

To make it easy to find something that your kids will love, I grouped all the activities by category.

Most of these activities are best for kids ages 4 to 10. Younger or older ones could definitely participate, too, but you might need to modify the activities a bit for them.

FREE Educational Activities for Kids

#1 – Pick a topic (seasonal topics like vacations, trips or activities are always good!) and ask your child to write a short story about it.

#2 – For younger kids, create a sensory bin using uncooked rice and items of your choice. Have kids dig to find the treasures you hid. Take a look at this bug sensory bin as an example. Talk about what they found and Google info about what was in the bin to learn more facts about the objects the kids “discovered.”

A colorful sensory play bin for kids, made with colored rice in plastic bins.

#3 – Use uncooked rice and set up a play cooking station — one of my followers had the genius idea of setting up a pretend birthday cake-baking station. She put rice in a pan for her daughter to make a “cake,” then set out play candles and other items to host a birthday bash. Such a cute and clever idea. Take the opportunity to talk about the real steps that are required to make a cake, talk about what “birthday” means with younger children … there are lots of ways to extend this idea.

#4 – Take a virtual tour of a museum from the comfort of your couch.

#5 – Make your own matching game. Grab a stack of index cards, a marker, and think of pairs of things — like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, seeds and plants, Elsa and Anna (Heyyyy, Disney fans!), etc. Write one word on each card and then flip them all over. For younger kids, you can draw or print off photos instead. Then play a traditional memory game and challenge the kids to match the like items.

#6 – Have the kids help you with simple chores: they can vacuum, put away dishes or set the breakfast/lunch/dinner table. (Life skills for the win, you guys.)

A little girl stands on on a stool at a kitchen sink and washes bowls and cups under running water.

#7 – Give the kids reusable shopping bags and ask them to find 10 items around the house the start with a certain letter of the alphabet. Have them bring the full bag of items back to you so that they can share what they found.

#8 – Do the same as above, but assign a certain color or a type of item (toys, clothing, things you use each day to get ready for school, etc.). Make this activity as easy or as challenging as you want!

Free Indoor Activities to Keep Kids Busy

#9 – Build a fort with chairs, pillows, and blankets. Bring a flashlight and tell ghost stories (or heck, just read any story) while hanging out inside.

#10 – Read a new book.

#11 – Write a letter or card to a classmate and mail it to him or her.

#12 – Write out cards for residents at your local senior center; mail them or drop them off.

#13 – Play your favorite board game.

A mom, dad, son, and daughter gather together, playing a board game at home.

#14 – Host an indoor scavenger hunt. Make up your own or use this one.

#15 – FaceTime or Skype with a family member. Instead of just asking “How are you?” check out this list of great conversation starters for kids.

#16 – Have a big cardboard box laying around? Turn it into a car, a rocket ship, an ice cream shop … use your imagination!

A little girl plays astronaut with a cardboard rocket and space helmet, sitting on the floor in front of a blue wall decorated with yellow paper stars.

#17 – Take a yoga class through Cosmic Kids Yoga.

#18 – Play a game or two of freeze dance. (Crank up the KidzBop playlist!)

#19 – Work on a puzzle together.

A little boy plays with puzzle pieces on a hardwood floor.

#20 – Bake something! Try a boxed mix from the grocery store, or tackle a really simple recipe, like this banana sushi recipe from Weelicious. It’s appropriate for all ages, it uses ingredients you probably have at home, and it lets the kids get creative!

#21 – Have the kids help you clean out their dresser or a closet. Fill a bag with clothes or other items that you’re no longer using, and talk with the kids about where you might donate the goods.

#22 – Build the kids an indoor obstacle course.

#23 – Place small strips of paper in a jar with mom-approved movies written on them. Let the kids choose a piece of paper — whatever movie is written on the paper is the one they get to watch. This approach helps avoid arguments over who gets to choose the movie, and also keeps your kids watching only the stuff you want them to be watching.

Outdoor Activities to Keep Kids Busy

#24 – Take a walk around your neighborhood while playing “I Spy.”

#25 – Take a walk around your neighborhood and do an outdoor scavenger hunt. My kids and I used this outdoor scavenger hunt printable yesterday and loved it!

#26 – Go for a bike ride.

A little boy rides on a red bicycle with training wheels around his neighborhood.

#27 – Have a backyard? Grab a ball and play a family kickball or soccer game.

#28 – Raining outside? Hop in the car and do this road trip scavenger hunt.

#29 – Grab some sidewalk chalk and make some masterpieces.

Two young girls color on a sidewalk with pastel colored chalk, drawing a house and tree with flowers.

Totally Free Arts and Crafts Activities for Kids

#30 – Find a simple art project from my list of 21 easy craft ideas for kids. Bonus: They only use things you probably already have at home, like paper plates and crayons. No shopping required!

#31 – Does your little one love finger painting? Check out this finger paint alphabet — it’s adorable!

#32 – Alphabet finger painting feels too involved? Try this simple dandelion finger paint art project instead.

#33 – Grab a pipe cleaner or piece of string and some beads, and make some pretty bracelets.

#34 – Grab some pasta from the pantry and some washable paint. Paint the pasta, let it dry, and then string the pasta on a piece or string or a pipe cleaner for an easy way to create some fun jewelry.

#35Make your own unicorn slime with just a few simple ingredients.

#36 – Grab a mason jar, some washable paint, cotton balls and glitter (if you have it) and make a DIY galaxy jar. The kids and I are making these later today!

#37 – Have an older kid who likes origami? These origami picture frames are simple and fun … and now you’ve got an excuse to print out a sweet family photo, too. Have your child display the finished frame and family photo in his or her room.

How else do you keep the kids busy at home? Share your clever ideas below!

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Saturday 28th of March 2020

I LOVE this post! It's just what I needed to start our Coronavirus Spring Break holiday. My kids have already gone over the list and created a paired down list on what they really want to do. Thank you!!!


Saturday 28th of March 2020

I am SO happy to hear that you liked this list! I figured we could all benefit from creative activity ideas right now. Hope you and your crew have a fun spring break!

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