Its officially summer break here at our house and I am constantly searching for ideas to keep my three kids occupied. Sometimes staying at home can be boring for us and it can make us all a little stir crazy. Picture this–The kids are fighting, the dogs are barking, and you are losing your patience. If you have experienced this chaos, you are not alone. In this activity list I will mention things to-do at home when you are out of ideas and the kids have already had too much screen time (guilty).
Go for a walk, play in the grass, go fishing, play in the sandbox, find sticks, dig in the dirt ……. my list could go on, and on. If you are looking for an activity that will burn energy, use their imagination, and fill the time then this is the jackpot!
Read Read Read. And if all else fails, Read some more
One of our favorite things to do is to read (we get in some schooling ;)). We pick 2-3 books to sit and read as a family daily. I usually try to pick a book on Lexi’s level and then a slightly more advanced book for Vin. Here are some of our current favorites:
- Dear Boy and Dear Girl (these are the best if your looking for an encouraging, uplifting and confidence boosting read)
- We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
- Tickle Monster (this has been a favorite for YEARS!)
- Itsy Bitsy Spider Finger Puppet Book
- Put Me in the Zoo
- Any Indestructibles book for Callum: Hello Farm, Baby, See the Colors!, Baby, Let’s Count!, Things That Go.
Make Moon Sand
This sensory activity only requires 2 ingredients: 8 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 cup of baby oil. Super soft! You can pull out those beach toys, build castles and pretend you are at the beach. (Maybe even turn on some ocean sounds in the background)
Sensory bins are very simple to make and offers children the chance to use as many of their senses as possible. Most sensory bins you can make with items you have in your pantry. At a minimum you will need a bin, a filler substance (beans/pasta/rice/sand), and a few small toys.
A few of our favorite bins are:
- Kinetic sand and small construction trucks
- Beans and small kitchen utensils
- Water beads and ANYTHING. Seriously…these are so fun!
- Pasta and foam letters/numbers (<– this is my favorite set! They have enough of each letter to spell words and they are also magnetic)
- Cotton Balls and rubber ducks
- Soapy water, “dirty toys” (we like to use our cars), and a toothbrush. <– you can also do this outside in the water table if you have one!
*A lot of these items you can find at the Dollar Store **If you don’t want to buy multiple bins, buy one bin and then put the rest of the “bins” in a gallon size zip-lock bag for storage.
This activity brings out the creativeness in your child. Paint rocks with all different colors and designs. (Make sure to use washable paint). If you are like us and have to go digging for rocks in the yard, they are probably brownish. Dip those paint brushes in water and paint! The fun never ends because when it drys, you can paint it again!
You can also let the kids help “paint/stain” the house (Using the water method above!)
For a fun and competitive activity, find a ball and some empty cans (if your a soda drinker), water bottles, solo cups or styrofoam cups, and your ready to create your own alley. We try to set it up against a wall so the bottles don’t roll as far.
We love all puzzles and Vin (5) enjoys doing the 24-32 piece ones as well. Here are some of our favorites:
- Alphabet Sounds
- Baby Shark (I know I know)
- Farm/Safari/Vehicles Set
- Dinosaur Toddler Puzzle (lots of options to choose with this one. They are great starter puzzles with 2-8 pieces!)
- 20 Piece Toddler Animals Puzzle <–this is a set of 4!
- Building Site Jumbo Puzzle
- Batman Puzzle (On Vin’s Wishlist)
- Princess Puzzle
In this activity you can use LEGOS, Duplos, Magna-tiles (we have the lesser known brand; PicassoTiles and love them), cardboard blocks, wooden blocks or any thing else you can stack to build the highest tower you can. Sometimes we build them and take off sprinting into them to knock them down. Other times we have a contest to see whose is the highest without falling over.
Want to make it a learning activity? Have your children count their blocks as they put them up or try these alphabet stacking blocks!
For Callum (our 6 month old) I like to use the blocks that are chewable…imagine that! Check them out here.
As the kids have gotten a little older we have ventured into the board games. I am hoping to implement a “family game night” soon! Here are our current favorites:
- Pie Face. The kids get a kick out of this one
- Pop the Pig
- Connect 4
- Kids Jenga (this is just like Jenga but the blocks are colorful and have animals painted on the ends)
- Roll and Play game <– this is perfect for toddlers who aren’t quite ready for board games yet. So fun!
- Move and Groove Roll and Play <– this is like the one above but is dancing/moving based.
Find the Alphabet
I found this activity on Busy Toddler. This activity only calls for three things:
Cut each paper in half and write a alphabet letter on each one. Venture around your house taping them to random areas at toddler eye level. Boom! Done.
All you need to do is call out the letters they have to go find. You can ask them to run and touch the letter and run back to you, bring the letters back in alphabetical order, or make them skip to the letter. For older kids you can say “Go find the letter that dog starts with or “find the letter that makes the ____ sound”. Endless possibilities.
Have a Dance Party
When the kids have a bunch of pent up energy–turn on some music and announce “Dance Party!”. We have a kids favorites playlist on YouTube. Speaking up–look up “The Freeze Dance” and “Tooty-Ta-Ta”—>So much fun to watch!
Play with a Cardboard Box Seriously.
If your anything like me, I have enough Amazon prime boxes laying around to pack a whole house. We have used these to make cars and places to hide but the most fun is when I plop them in a box with markers/crayons. They make some very interesting masterpieces.
Play Dress Up
We keep themed holiday accessories, fun hats, and old halloween costumes in a bin for dress up. Super hero masks and capes are a HUGE hit here. We got this pack and use it frequently! I am hoping to get the princess dress up box for Lexi soon!
Go On or Have a Picnic
Picnics are so much fun! If you are a “we only eat at the table family” this activity will be HUGE for your kids. Even though we frequently eat on the couch, when I say “picnic” you can see the excitement in their eyes. This can be done inside or outside. Put down a blanket (you can go all out with a basket and themed blanket if thats your thing) get their favorite meal (for us its simple PB and J) and enjoy.
I know I mentioned bubbles above, but bubbles deserves more than one shout-out right? Who doesn’t love bubbles?!? Maybe you love bubbles but your kids aren’t old enough to “blow” them theirselves ….. check out our favorite bubble machine! Just get a big container of bubble solution and you are good to go (until your child dumps over the container without the lid on it. Nope, that never happens ;))
Cook or Bake as a Family
Kids love to mix/stir things. They also love watching something cook (or maybes its just mine?). I know some people use the learning tower, but I just grab a few table chairs and place them around the kitchen island. Prepare for a fun mess.
Make an Obstacle Course
Use pillows, couches, or anything you already have in your house to complete this activity. We scored some gymnastics mats on a yard sale site a few years ago and they get used daily for this. We also use an indoor trampoline when making our course.
Hot Lava Game
The floor is ALWAYS hot lava at our house. Sometimes we put down paper towels and you have to step on them to cross the floor. Other times its pillows. Sometimes you just have to run on your toes yelling “ouch, oooo, ouch!” It will make you laugh!
Candy Rainbow Experiment
This activity brings a little magic to your house. All you need is a plate, Skittles or M&Ms and hot water. Place the candy in a circle on the edge of the plate and pour hot water in the middle of the plate until it reaches the candy. Watch the rainbow form.
I know how burnt out you can get when feeling trapped at home with tiny humans who only need you for snacks and to turn the TV to the correct show. However, when you have a list of ideas it is easy to opt for something fun, engaging and educational instead of more screen time. (There is nothing wrong with screen time. Trust me when I say my kids get their fair share of it daily, but we try not to use it all day). Hopefully these activities will give you some variety to your simple, and sometimes very longggg days at home.