As some of you may know, we are a homeschooling family, and have been one for many years. Given the state of the world, I want to share with you 99 things you can do at home that are either free, or low cost. Many of the items on the list are for kids under 10. You know your kids best and what they’re capable of.
Print out large blank letters of the alphabet. Invite your child to color it in, use magazine cutouts, stickers, etc. In an ideal world, everything that goes on the page will match the letter.
This website has more audio books than you probably knew existed. Spend time finding books to listen to together. This could also be something that you have playing to keep kids entertained whilst you get some work done. Audible Website
Being stuck at home with kids and baking supplies is NOT the end of the world. In fact, it’s the opposite. Now, full disclosure, it can (and most likely will) get messy. However, the bonding and memory building are worth it. Plus, you’ll have something delicious to snack on. You can also freeze leftovers as treats for the coming weeks.
Should you choose to bake together, depending on the age of your child, this is also an opportunity to teach them how to clean as they go along. Build the good habits while they’re young.
I’m sure you’ve already thought of this. Now is a great time to dust off games you haven’t played in a while to enjoy. Our kids love Monopoly, maybe a little too much. Clue as well.
If you need to keep a little kid busy for a while, ask them to transfer food from one bowl to another. Think, seeds, dried fruit, etc. It should be something that’s not too messy, but also fun for them. You can incorporate counting, and sensory talk. Also, this totally counts as a food exposure.
Discover New Music
Introduce your kids to some of your favorites from your childhood, as well as discover new music together. There are several streaming sites to choose from.
Easy Construction Projects
This works if you are good with your hands. We are blessed because The Papa has tools and knows how to build “stuff”. He once built this cool indoor fort for the kids out of wood that we were able to take down and put back up regularly. If this sounds like you, have fun building items with your kids. It could be small like a bird house or big like a tree house.
Playing with your food doesn’t have to be a bad thing. My favorite way to see kids playing with their food is tic-tac-toe. Take long pieces of food to use as the 4 lines (“game board”). This could be carrots, cucumber, zucchini, uncooked spaghetti, etc. Use foods you’re introducing or would like to expose them to more as your game pieces (the X and O). Have fun playing with your food.
Google Culture Arts
Google has a collection of museums you can enjoy virtually. For some people, visiting these museums will never happen given their personal medical condition (myself included), so it’s amazing to be able to see places I could only dream of. Google Culture Arts Website
Cut out leaves and write items that you’re grateful for. We have a large tree drawn on paper hanging on a wall in our home. The kids add leaves each day.
Guess The Seasoning
You can play this with older kids. In the kitchen, have them close their eyes and smell a spice jar. Have fun guessing what it is, then talking about how you can use it in cooking and baking. Also connect it to foods they already enjoy.
Have Fun Remembering
I discovered something recently: our 15 year old basically remembers nothing. I’m like… You mean alllllllll those trips to the museums and parks (and the list goes on)… So, look at pictures with your kids and remind them of all them fun they’ve had. It can be a great stress reliever for adults too.
Homemade Spa Day
You won’t be getting out to the spa anytime soon, but you can have a special day at home. While this activity will cost a little, it can be fun for all ages. A simple face mask and lemon water while reading something relaxing can really help ease the stress.
Intentional Play Pretend
Children can learn SO much through play. In some cases, it doesn’t even need to be intentional play. With intentional play pretend, this a great time to teach things like table manners. There are several ways to play in this way. For example, you could pretend to have silly table manners, and your child gets to giggle, but then has to correct it. Take turns correcting each other. This method works with many different skills.
Hours of learning are at your fingertips! Khan Academy has topics for K – 12 in all major academic topics. Our kids have been on Khan Academy for years, and I love it. They have both written information and video lessons to support different styles of learning. Khan Academy Website
I’m sure many of us have a subscription box waiting to be opened (we have a few). This is a great time to work through them for hours of fun. We recently started Kiwi Co boxes and I think they’re pretty neat. I’ve also heard good things about Tinker Crates.
Ask your child to build something that they are capable of, but also takes them out of their comfort zone. If your child is weak in the area of imaginative play, start with easy challenges. Over time, you’ll be able to ask them to make really cool stuff! I’ve asked for swords and a suit of armor.
Make Food Stamps
This works really well with beets! Cut the end off of a beet, then use a small cookie cuter to make a shape. Beets have a strong red color, and can transfer on to paper several times with their natural juices.
Make Positive Posters For Your Home
These can be motivational images/quotes, words of affirmation, Bible verses, etc. Print them out and place them in places where your kids will enjoy seeing them.
Make Your Own Playing Cards
We did this a LOT when the kids were little. I mainly made cards that matched our weekly themes. We had fish cards, dino cards, nature cards, and more.
You can use a standard deck of cards as your physical base, and print out your own design. I made our cards like Go Fish, and we had hours of fun. Plus, the kids were able to learn how to pronounce all sorts of new words.
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt/Bingo
For those of you who are able to go out for walks, look for things around your neighborhood. You’ll have to choose age appropriate items to look for.
Pass On a Skill or Hobby
This will be individualized to your home and the age of your kids. In our case, we could pass on technical skills, web design, electrical installations, and more. Everyone is good at something, and this can be a fun time to teach your child something you’re passionate about.
For those of you that do things that are on the creative side, incorporate themes and characters your kids are familiar with to make the experience more enjoyable (and memorable) for them.
Puzzles & Puzzle Challenges
If your kids are sticker driven, create a sticker chart for puzzles. As they complete a puzzle, they get a sticker. For some, that IS the reward. For others, the stickers can earn them something later. You can also do time challenges and races (as long as your kids are OK with healthy competition).
Being an awesome learning company, Scholastic has really stepped up during the current state of the world. They’re offering free lessons online for kids who will be at home. Scholastic Learn At Home Website
This is great for children of all ages, especially for kids who struggle with sensory input, textures, etc. This website has all sorts of wonderful sensory play ideas.
There are so many different games you can play with spelling. If you have little kids who are unaware of letters, an easy way to start is to simply tell them. For example: Your name is Jack. That’s spelled J-A-C-K. Simple! Sprinkle these statements into your day.
For those of you with older children, have fun with spelling new words, do spelling activities, and even have a spelling bee at home (our teenagers still enjoy these).
Spend Time Tutoring Your Children
Fair warning: this won’t work for everyone. You know your personality and that of your child best. If you feel you’re unable to do this well, skip it. Children who are struggling in school often times have negative emotions around learning, and the goal here is to shift their perspective.
For example, if your child is struggling with math concepts, use this as a time to be with them one-on-one and present the concept in different ways. Often times when kids struggle with fractions, SEEING real life applications (ie baking) can make a world of difference.
Before teaching anything, ask them to explain to you what they don’t understand (if they’re old enough to give you a reasonable response). In some cases, you’ll need to just jump in and show them the mechanics of a topic, and practice.
Once you’ve done this for a while, have them teach the subject back to you. Having to teach something forces us to communicate the ideas clearly.
Rory’s Story Cubes are a lot of fun. Kids roll the dice and make a story from the images that appear. They can do this alone, or as a group. We sometimes make up a group story, and sometimes individual stories.
Story Time From Space
The title says it all. I wish I had known about this one when the kids were younger. Having an astronaut read to you can be an amazing experience as a child. Story Time From Space Website
Enjoy having famous people read to you! This is something new I learned about thanks to La La Lunchbox. Visit Story Online website and enjoy having different actors read to you. You could pick out an actor your child my be familiar with for extra fun.
Take a piece of paper and write a topic. Draw a circle around it. Now draw lines that shoot off and write related items. Put a circle around those as well. There’s a good chance you did this in school as a kid. The idea is that a well thought-out story web will make writing a story MUCH easier.
The Henry Ford Museum
This museum has really neat feature for online visitors, including recipes. Once you’re on the website, click Explore on the navigation. Henry Ford Museum Website
The Metropolitan Opera
The Met is offering access to opera on their website each evening. While it can be hard to take kids to an opera presentation, it’s a lot easier to show it to them in smaller time amounts. Who knows, maybe they’ll love opera! I Found Details on The Vulture Website
This is great for little kids. You can make a simple splash table or create an elaborate setup with plastic toys you already have. If all else fails, have your kid hop in the bathtub to play with fun toys. When our kids were little, to make bathtub play more exciting, I had them wear their swimsuit and goggles. Oh the fun they had!
More Ideas That Don’t Need An Explanation
- Art Outdoors (Paint, Sidewalk Chalk, etc)
- Backyard Camping (if you have materials and space)
- Bake a Fancy Pie Together
- Build a Baking Soda Volcano
- Build a Fun Track for Race Cars
- Build a Sand/Dirt Castle
- Build Something Awesome Together in Minecraft (for older kids)
- Change The Linens (might as well have a helper)
- Clean Messy Rooms (garage, play room, etc.)
- Create Your Own Comic Book/Strip
- Dance Party
- Draw Together
- Finger Painting
- Fort Building (indoors or outdoors)
- Free Coding Online (for older kids)
- Indoor Obstacle Course
- Make Breakfast Together
- Make Foil Armor (this is SO fun with all ages)
- Make Music with Pots & Pans
- Make Up Silly/Short Stories Together
- Learn a New Skill Together (good for older kids)
- Easy Kitchen Science Projects
- Exercise Together
- Ice Cream Eating Contest
- Learn a New Language Together (or teach them one you know)
- Learn How to Clean (and other chore teaching/building)
- LEGO Fractions
- Live Art Classes (many artists are streaming online including @wendymac)
- Live Baking (We will be doing these, along with other bloggers)
- Live Writing Classes (check @turshen and other authors)
- Make a Collage from Old Magazines
- Make Puppets (Finger, Sock, or Larger)
- Make Your Own Time Capsule
- Memorize Important Information (good for little kids, address, phone number, etc.)
- Organize Closets
- Picnic Time (indoor or outdoor)
- Pillow Fight
- Play Cards
- Play Classic Kid Games (Mother/Father May I, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light)
- Play Dress Up
- Play Hopscotch
- Play Pretend
- Play Sudoku Together
- Polish Old Items
- Practice Musical Instruments
- Read Each Other Jokes
- Riding Bikes & Skateboards
- Steamed Veggie Eating Contest
- Study Flashcards Together
- Talent Show (you can include others via video chat)
- Teach Your Kids About Money (age appropriate lessons)
- Video Chat with Friends & Family
- Wash Your Pets
- Watch a Cooking Show Together, Then Make What You Saw at Home
- Watch Classic Old Movies Together
- Watch Your Childhood Favorite Cartoons Together
- Window Shop Online (can be fun for older kids)
- Word Searches (you can create custom ones free online)
- Work on Cutting & Tracing (for little kids)
- Work on School Work Together
- Work on Scrap Books
- Write Letters to Friends, Family, Teachers, etc.
And Finally, Number 99: Learn The Value of Peace and Quiet
Many of you will have your kids home for six weeks, and I’ve heard some schools are considering closing for the rest of the school year. This + summer break = it’s time for kiddos to learn the value of peace and quiet. You can teach this with the help of a timer.
Set a kitchen timer (or sand timer) for an appropriate amount of time, based on your child’s age. It could be 1 minute, 5 minutes, or even 20 minutes. Tell them what will happen when the timer beeps, and what’s expected of them while the timer is going (if they can read, draw, etc.).
When the time is up, enjoy the reward together. Keep doing this until they’re naturally OK with quiet time for 20 minutes (or however many minutes you need).