60+ Ideas and Activities for Kids, Toddlers & Preschoolers Stuck at Home
I’ve been there – you’re stuck indoors and have noidea how to keep your child entertained and keep it interesting. Or maybe you don’t normally find this hard, but today the creative juices just aren’t flowing, and you need some ideas. Here you’ll find 60+ of my favorite activities for kids stuck at home!
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Indoor Gross Motor Activities:
1. Paper Tunnels & Balls Take a few pieces of construction paper, arch them, and tape to the floor. Have fun rolling balls through each hole, and you can make it a color matching game by having tunnels that match your different colored balls.
2. Tubes & PomPoms Tape a few toilet paper tubes to the wall and add some pompoms to drop.
3. Paper Trail Super simple – recycle some newspaper or construction paper and lay them out in a trail around a room, or if you really want to go all out, lay a trail around the entire house! I have to admit, the first time I tried this, I thought my toddler would have no interest in it – but boy, was I wrong! He spent a good half hour running around on all the paper trails.
4. Pillow Obstacle Course Lay out some pillows (that you don’t mind washing or getting dusty) around a room and make an obstacle course! I like using our large couch back cushions that are firm and don’t slip. I just wash the covers afterwards if they get too dirty. My kid loves attempting to walk from pillow to pillow, and it is great gross motor skill building!
5. Bowling (with random objects!) Solo Cups, stuffed animals, and paper towel rolls all make great pins.
6. Balloon Tennis Select your preferred racket: fly swatters, paper towel tubes, or just your hands, and have fun keeping the balloon in the air. Add a “net” to make it more challenging. We’ve used pillows, chairs, blankets, toys, you name it! Just have a couple extra balloons on hand in case it pops! (I’ve made this mistake obviously!) You can also make your own racket with cardboard and yarn – see how
7. Stacking Cups Make a great big tower or castle with some plastic cups.
8. Sock Basketball Take some rolled up socks and turn a laundry basket into a basket ball hoop.
9. Blanket Fort If you never did this as a kid, you missed out! Push some chairs close together, throw some blankets on top, and enjoy! Older kids can create and alter these forts to their creative satisfaction, and for young toddlers, peek-a-boo becomes fun all over again when you are peeking out of a fort.
10. Paper Airplanes This is one of my favorite pastimes as a kid. It would keep me entertained for hours! I love this blog post on oragamiway.com about Paper Airplanes for kids. It has detailed pictures and step by step instructions for 14 different airplanes (some of which I’ve never seen before!).
11. Cutting Strips All you need is kid-friendly scissors and small strips of paper. For older children, you can draw lines or curves on the strips for them to cut on. Glue the cuttings onto paper to make an art piece afterwards if desired.
12. Chunkies Art I wish I would’ve found Chunkies earlier in my teaching career! (Think paint in a glue stick case) This stuff applies in vibrant colors on paper, dries instantly, and is easy to clean if it happens to get on things other than paper. I will never go without these – they make for perfect mess-free painting. You can find Chunkies here.
13. Contact Paper Art If you’ve never used contact paper, you can usually find it in the office aisle at the grocery store, or here to save you a trip. Tape it (sticky side out) to the wall, and make and make an art piece with bits of paper, leaves, foam shapes, or anything else that will stick to it.
14.Playdoh – (make your own or buy itpre-made) NEVER underestimate the boredom busting abilities of Playdoh! There’s an easy recipe here if you don’t have any (and it doesn’t use cream of tartar or other expensive supplies!). Add some objects to stamp into it and some tools to cut and manipulate it to make it more intriguing.
15. Cardboard Box Art If you’re like me and often have Amazon boxes on hand – here’s a great way to re-purpose them! Give your child the art media of choice (markers, crayons, paint) and sit them in the middle of the box to help maintain any mess.
16. Sticker Art This is another great concentration builder and fine motor activity. I usually find $1 sticker pads from Michael’s and stock up every time I go. I leave paper and a page of stickers on a tray on my son’s art shelf for him to do whenever he prefers because he loves it so much. For younger toddlers cut the sticker pad into smaller sections to make it easier to peel them off.
17. Paper Punchers May be a challenge for toddlers, but these are perfect for preschool aged children. This setis great to have one on the art shelf at a time and rotate them out every couple of weeks. These also work best for toddlers hands, as some of the other popular sets on Amazon I’ve tried are too difficult for toddlers to punch through paper.
18. Make a Self-Portrait This is especially fun with unconventional art mediums, like nature objects, and don’t forget a mirror! This is always a hit in my classroom with my 5+ year olds.
19. Painting with Water Use the chalkboard side of your child’s art easel, and soak a sponge with water (so there is no cup spillage) to dip the brush into. After a few minutes, the water dries allowing for another blank canvas. No art easel handy? Your driveway makes a great canvas for water painting too! This is about as easy as it gets!
20. Paper Collage I adore the ideas for this seen here at @littlefishmontessori! While my setup isn’t as cute and clean as this one, it’s a great inspiration starter! My toddler uses glue from a clasped glass jar and applies to paper with a paintbrush. We also use a plastic mat underneath and have a damp sponge nearby to clean missed strokes. The gluing work set up in my Montessori classroom is always in use too!
21. Modeling Clay Modeling clay is a great step up from Playdoh for older children. I prefer the non-dry kind so we can reuse it. On my art shelf in my Montessori classroom, I always have both Playdoh and modeling clay out for use – along with some tools on each tray.
Fine Motor Activities
22. Cereal Threading Only pipe Cleaners and a loop-type cereal to string on them are needed. There’s no rule that says you can’t eat them after either!
23. Colander Porcupine This one is an easy independent activity to set up. Fill all the colander holes with pipe cleaners to make a colorful porcupine
24. Q-tip Drop Recycle an empty plastic food container, and hold punch a few holes in the lid. Add some q-tips to drop in for a great fine motor skill building activity.
25. Beads in a Bottle Drop Recycle those Mardi Gras beads into a fun fine motor activity. Punch a hole in the lid of the water bottle, and cut the bead necklaces into shorter pieces. It takes a lot of concentration to get those little beads into the hole! (Always supervise children who are using small objects!)
26. Card Drop / Posting You’ll often see this in a Montessori Infant or Toddler classroom because it is so popular. Cut a slit into a recycled food container lid and let your child drop playing cards or index cards into it. Another great concentration work!
27. Sticky Tape Shapes I saw this idea from @happytoddlerplaytime and just had to try it! Tape some tape (is that a phrase?) sticky side out to the wall and stick on small bits of paper, foam shapes, or pom poms.
28. Spooning Another Montessori classroom staple – and everyone has simple items like these in their home. Children of young ages LOVE repetition, and spooning things back and forth provides an outlet for practicing fine motor work in the hands. I change out the materials in the bowl every week or so to keep it interesting.
29. Open & Close Children, especially toddlers, are keen on trying to open and close objects. Walk around your house and find things that fit this category. Ziploc bags, small boxes, tins, food containers, and empty makeup or beauty containers are good places to start. Put a few of them in a basket and let your child experiment with opening and closing. This one is always on my shelf both at home and in my classroom.
30. Sand Tray This is a staple work in a Montessori classroom for teaching the beginnings of handwriting and letter formation and it can easily be recreated in your home. All you need is a cooking tray and some flour, salt, dried rice, or dried beans. You don’t need much – just enough for your child to make a trail when they trace with their finger. Use it for drawing, making shapes, letters, numbers, or just a sensory experience for younger children.
31. Tonging For children who find spooning not-so-challenging, tonging is the next step. Anything can be used for transferring: beads, pompoms, erasers, dried kidney beans, etc.
32. Sort Silverware For us, this sometimes turns into open-ended play instead of a sorting activity – and that’s ok too! I model this several times before offering it to my child. This is sometimes a harder concept for toddlers to grasp, but preschool-aged children typically enjoy the sorting aspect.
33. Citrus Squeezing Oranges, lemons, limes, whatever citrus you prefer! If you have a hand juicer, great! If not just squeeze it all into a big bowl and strain the seeds and pulp out afterwards if you want to drink it. Toddlers don’t often care about drinking it afterwards, the fun is all in the cause and effect of squeezing! If you don’t have a juicer, you can find one here
34. Banana Sushi Snack We love this recipe from The Many Little Joys! It’s super easy for young kids to do and another bonus – it’s healthy! Also a great opportunity for kids to practice cutting skills.
35. Wash Produce Get a large bowl and a few apples or pears. Dunk them, scrub them, whatever keeps their interest! And your produce gets washed in the process.
36. Wash Dishes Use your learning tower or a sturdy chair to pull up to the sink, or put some dishes and soap in a large container. This is a definite boredom buster.
37. Cutting Food Since early toddlerhood, we have incorporated food prep into every day life for my son. Kids knives and cooking supplies are a must in our household. You can find my list of kitchen items for kidshere.
38. Magnets on Cooking Trays You probably have several on your fridge – just pull those off and put them on a metal cookie sheet. Seeing the magnets used in a different way makes them interesting all over again. Our favorite magnets are some gear turning ones we got secondhand like these, and Melissa & Doug has some great magnet boxes you can find here.
39. Flower Arranging Whether they are wildflowers or store bought – this is such an aesthetically pleasing activity. Let them arrange and rearrange, and when they are done, it can be a centerpiece on your dining table.
40. Make a Fruit Salad This is one of my son’s favorite kitchen activities. We pick a few fruits and he cuts them up either with a knife or small cookie cutter shapes for his own personal fruit salad. If you don’t have a child-safe knife – this is the set I reccommend. We’ve had it 2 years now and it still holds up well!
41. Pouring Young children love to pour, and you’d be surprised how much time they will actually spend doing it. Put a couple of cups or pitchers on a tray, and let them pour rice, beans, beads, water, or pasta back and forth.
42. Rice or Bean Sensory Bin Grab a large Rubbermaid container, throw in a bag of dry rice or beans, some scoops or cups, and watch the concentration unfold! This has kept my toddler occupied for long periods of time, and it’s while not a daily activity for us, it’s always in my back pocket for when we are stuck indoors. This one can get messy, so I typically use a large towel under the container to help with cleanup.
43. Bean Sensory Bin with a Puzzle Same as before, just add puzzle pieces! Search for the different pieces, match them to the puzzle, then bury them again! This has helped me make use of old puzzles that became too easy.
44. Moon Sand This set has served me well in a pinch! It comes with a tray to keep the sand in, kinetic sand, as well as some tools and a mold to make a great starter play kit. Can’t beat the price either. Oh, and in case you’re wondering – no, kinetic sand does not dry out! I still store mine in a plastic bag between play times, but if it’s left out for hours it’s just fine. I’ve tried making my own a few times, but the homemade versions just don’t compare.
45. Magnet Exploration You’d be hard pressed to find a child that isn’t interested in magnets! Just put a large magnet in a basket or on a tray along with some items that will “stick” to it.
46. Make Oobleck My favorite recipe is: 1 & 1/2 cups of cornstarch 1 cup water (food coloring optional)
Mix the ingredients in your hands until it feels like the consistency of honey or molasses. You can keep it in an airtight container to play with again later. Just mix it together again if the water and cornstarch separate.
We often do this one outside because it can get messy – but it is oh so much fun! A good rinse with water cleans it all off.
47. Button Sensory Bin I’ve found loads of buttons at Goodwill and secondhand shops. They make for a super fun and unique sensory bin!
48. Water Exploration It sounds simple, but a tub of water, some cups, spoons, or scoops makes for a busy kid. Let them pour, measure, transfer, and scoop away!
49. Sink and Float A classic for all little scientists. Grab some objects from around your house (that you don’t mind getting wet) and test if it sinks or floats! We also do this outside with nature objects in our water table.
50. Homemade Bird Feeders All you need is peanut butter, a pine cone, and birdseed! Spread the peanut butter on the pinecone, then roll or sprinkle on some birdseed. Tie a string to the top, and hang it near a window so you can watch the birds enjoy a snack.
If you don’t have a pine cone, you can swap it out for a cardboard toilet paper tube instead.
51. Water Beads Oh we adore these little things. If you’ve never used them, you are missing out! Non-toxic, biodegradable, and countless hours of fun. (I personally do not use with children who still put things in their mouth) This is our favorite set because it comes with enough beads months of play and some scoops too!
52. Wash the Windows You can find all these little things at the dollar store. Don’t have a squeegee or spray bottle? Just use a sponge and water bucket and let them get to scrubbing!
53. Driveway Chalk While we enjoy our outdoor chalkboard on the farm, the driveway makes a great blank canvas! Plus it comes off as soon as it rains or is rinsed with a water hose.
54. Nature Art My toddler loves finding nature items to stack and design with. This picture was taken after he stacked pieces of a broken concrete block. James Brunt has some astounding ideas! Spirals, shapes, sculptures, anything can be made with rocks, sticks, and dirt. Check out his Instagram page for some inspiration.
55. Flower or Leaf Press I love this wooden flower press from Toysmith, however you can also use a heavy book to press and preserve your nature finds. Pressed nature items make great art pieces and great additions to greeting cards or scrapbooks.
56. Leaf Wreath Look at this beauty from @earlyyearsoutdoor ! So simple and easy to make with your nature walk finds. All you need is a large sewing needle (I like to use the blunt tipped plastic or metal needles for little ones like this one here) and yarn. Thread your needle with a long string, and poke a hole through each leaf with the needle and sew through it. Once you have enough leaves, tie the ends together to complete your leaf wreath!
57. Water the Plants or Grass This one never gets old for my toddler. A watering can makes watering seem more official and important when you’re little – and I love this set because it is made with recycled materials and comes with a couple of garden tools. No garden needed – grass lawns need water too!
58. Make A Grass Bouquet Springtime wildflowers are lovely, but they aren’t needed for a bouquet! Everyone has some interesting looking weeds somewhere in their yard. This is a frequent activity for us, as my son loves an excuse to cut something other than paper. We either tape them to a stick when finished or put them in water to display for a few days.
59. Rock Painting You can keep this simple (my toddler often enjoys painting with just one color at a time) or get some inspiration with some of theseideas. I use 1-2 coats of acrylic paint and then spray a matte sealer after it dries. This keeps the paint from wearing off. There’s also great rock painting art kits that come with everything you need as well as design ideas.
60. Rock Scavenger Hunt After letting your painted rocks dry – hide them around your yard and send your kids on a scavenger hunt! Trust me, this one works every time!
61. Wash the Driveway For this, we took the broom head off of an old broom and turned into his driveway washing tool. Add a little water in a bucket, and you’ve got a busy kid.
62. Water Table or Kiddie Pool You can use these for anything – it doesn’t have to be restricted to water play! Our pool and water table get used all year round. We’ve played with everything imaginable in them – and they are a definite staple at our house. Don’t have a water table? This is the one that has served us well and provided for plenty of busy hours! Check out @happytoddlerplaytime’s blog post for tons of water table ideas and inspiration!
63. Car Ramp Races We prop up a few boards on a tree stump or lawn chair and watch the cars race. My toddler can work at this for hours. Need it indoors? Grab that box of Hot Wheels, put some painters tape down on the floor for a start and finish line, and try to get the cars over it. Add a homemade cardboard ramp off of a chair if the activity needs a bit more excitement.
64. Bubble Bath with Kitchen Utensils At the end of a long day of play, the fun doesn’t have to stop for bath time! The same old bath toys can get boring, so add some kitchen utensils and bubble bath solution for a totally un-boring bath time! Grab some safe kitchen utensils – mixing spoons, whisks, a turkey baster, etc. Mix up the water to help the bubbles form, and give your child time for exploration with these “new” toys!
Have any favorite indoor activities you didn’t see here? Comment below to share!