As a parent with a toddler that was used to getting out and seeing other children, being at home has been a confusing time. Not only has she not been able to attend her normal social gatherings at the library but then we’ve also gotten a bunch of snow so our outdoor walks are also out for some more time. At first I was really struggling with occupying our days as well as how I keep her entertained all day, but it’s gotten much easier! I wanted to share some ideas to occupy your kids during this time (if they’re not distance learning). This is focused toward younger kids and toddlers, but I’ll include a few activities for older kids too to help your kids cope with social distancing.

self care discovery box

What do we do all day?

1. Discovery Boxes

This was a hit with our daughter. It’s geared toward younger kids (around walking age to 2), but you could easily modify this to include more items that your older kids may enjoy! Some ideas include kitchen items (pots and pans, tupperware, measuring cups and spoons, sealed ingredients like cans or boxed such as pasta). We also did some with bathroom closet items including lotion bottles, hair brush or comb (cleaned out), some larger makeup or hair care items, a box of kleenex, and anything else you may have! Be sure to supervise especially with items like mascara, soaps, or anything that they could potentially choke on.

For older kids (2-3) you could do more intricate items from the kitchen such as a whisk, coffee filters, ziploc bags, different ingredients, etc. Put everything in a large basket or box and let them play. Once they get bored, put it all back and hide it for the next day or so.

2. Play-Dough or Silly Putty

Making these at home is really simple and can be fun for kids (and adults) of all ages! Below are a couple of recipes for these using pantry items so you don’t have to go to the store!

3. Reading

If you have books at home, now is the time to use them! If your little one is an infant or around the age of 1, take out anything and point to objects and say what it is. You don’t even need books for this. You can use anything in your house! You can also read books and point to pictures. For kids of all ages, story-time is a great learning experience. Kids are exposed to words, pictures, and can watch your mouth move. 

4. Build Towers or Play with Blocks

From about the age of 1+ kids seem to love blocks. Take some time and build with blocks, legos, or anything you have at home. You can save toilet paper and paper towel rolls, boxes from food, or even books. Teach them how to stack things on top, or make fun shapes with older kids. Build them high and let them knock them down!

Take baby to storytime or the local library

5. Get outside!

Whether it’s cold or hot, you can get outside and play in your yard or go for a walk (if it’s permitted). With our little girl, we bundler her up and put her in the baby carrier on cold days, or stroller for warmer days, and take the dog for a walk. If it’s nice out we will put her shoes on and let her go walk around or play on a little ride on toy in the driveway. For those of you in warmer areas, go out in the yard with some toys and play in the fresh air! Even if it’s the same thing you did inside, getting fresh air does you a lot of good. If you have chalk, draw some fun activities on the sidewalk such as hop scotch or other crazy lines the kids need to follow. 

6. Watch a movie

I know screen time is not recommended for little kids and you don’t want to give in to screen time, but trust me on this, a little will give you a bit of sanity back. Throw on a kids movie and give yourself a little break. Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or even a DVD all are great options to give yourself a little break to make lunch or get some chores done. 

movie night bowl of popcorn

7. Check out the free educational resources out there!

Since there are SO many available right now, I’m not going to list them off here, but do a quick google search. There are tons of things out from free eBooks on Audible, to Lakeshore, Scholastic Learn At Home, Khan Academy, Debbie Allen Dance Classes, Storytime from Space, Cincinati Zoo Home Safari, Philly Zoo Zoo at 2, and TONS more. These are great for kids of all ages. I have casted to our TV and looked at the zoos with our daughter, and she loves it!

8. Do some crafts or get messy!

If your kids are little, let’s have some fun and get messy. Make some edible finger paint and whip out some butcher paper. If your kids are older (2-3) do some more interactive crafts, such as gluing cotton balls or pipe cleaners to make different shapes. Check out this great list of spring themed crafts for 2-3 year olds here! For kids older than that, check out this list for some fun ideas such as cereal box puppets and brown paper bag cities. 

kids crafts supplies

 9. Scavenger Hunt or Obstacle Course

This is more suited for older kids but who says a toddler can’t enjoy! Set up a scavenger hunt in the house for certain items and when they complete it, give them a prize (a dessert, coupon for a movie out later, etc.). You can do an obstacle course with pillows and couch cushions for little ones, or bigger items like kitchen chairs for your older kids. 

10. Have a fashion show

This is great for kids that are able to dress themselves. Let them rip through the closet and put together whatever random outfits they want! Better yet, if they love mom and dad’s clothes, let them do that too. One of our favorites growing up was trying on the old prom dresses, wedding gowns, or other formal dresses (when we were big enough to fit, of course!). 

backyard camping

11. Build a fort

Let’s be honest, this is fun for everyone! Throw some blankets over some chairs and make a fort. Let the kids play in it, or heck you can participate too. If it’s nice out, it’s great fun to do outdoors too. 

12. Backyard Camping

This is fun for all, set up a tent in the backyard and pretend like you’re out camping. Put together a bonfire and roast some hotdogs, marshmallows, or anything else you can think of! Your older kids will enjoy and there is nobody saying you have to sleep in the tent. 🙂

13. Do some baking or cooking

No better time for your tot to learn the value of home-cooked meals or desserts than now! Start with some easy recipes, and let them get messy! Here’s a couple of my favorites that are kid approved. 

kiddie pool and toys

14. Blow bubbles! 

This is one of those things that with littler kids (6 months+) you can probably do for hours before they get bored. If you don’t have bubbles at home, here’s a recipe for homemade bubbles! Don’t have a bubble wand at home, make your own! Here are a few ideas

15. Play ‘store’ or other scenarios

Whether it be playing doctor, kitchen, store, post office, or any other situation, you can have a blast with your toddler pretending and using your imaginations. 

16. Play in the kiddie pool or bath

Whether you are in a cold or warm area, you can play in the water! Run a bath with lots of toys or set up the kiddie pool outside and let the kids play away.

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There are hundreds of ideas out there for things you can do with your kids while you’re stuck at home. Hopefully this will help your kids cope with social distancing a bit more. This is just a list of a few that we’ve done or that we’ve heard our friends do. Hope you got some fun ideas out of this! Let us know what you have been up to in the comments below.