20 Fun {Screen-Free} Things to do With Kids When You’re Stuck at Home!

Mar 31, 2020 | Blog, Raising Kids

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Thing have been crazy recently, haven’t they?!

In the last couple weeks we went from knowing that there was some virus going on in China… to having it here, closing all recreational public gathering places, wondering where our next role of toilet paper was coming from, and mandatory quarantines in most major cities!

Because of all this, one of the big challenges people are facing right now is: 

What am I supposed to do with my kids at home all day?

The first thing you’ll want to do is get a daily rhythm in place. I love using a Simple Block Schedule Routine that provides predictability and flexibility at the same time. Check out this post for a step-by-step guide for creating your own routine.

The second thing you’ll want to do during quarantine is to take advantage of having extra time at home with your family.

Create some memories that your kids will remember forever!

To get you started, I put together a list of our favorite screen-free activities that we are using to survive quarantine!

I’m going to divide this list into two parts: outdoor activities and indoor activities.

And if you prefer to watch content instead of reading it, check out this video:

Outdoor Quarantine Activities for Kids!

1) Play in the Backyard

We have always tried to get outside every day, but now more than ever I want to get the girls some fresh air after being cooped up in the house all the time.

Playing in the backyard doesn’t have to consist of organized activities or assistance from the parents, just put out some balls and bikes and let their imaginations run wild.

If you want to make sure that they stay outside for the longest amount of time possible, dress them for the weather. 

We live in the Pacific Northwest and it is rainy here in the springtime… what a perfect time for the quarantine!

We use this Hapiu rainsuit over their fleece jackets and fleece pants to keep them warm, dry, and happy outside.

20 Fun Activities for Kids: How to Keep Your Kids Entertained When You're Stuck at Home

2) Start a Garden

If you have a backyard, pick a spot that you can use as a garden plot. If you don’t have a back yard, you can use containers to plant seeds or small plants in.

Children love digging in the dirt and growing flowers or vegetables.

An added bonus of having a garden right now is that growing vegetables and fruit will save you money at the grocery store. 

Saving Money on Groceries is always helpful for your budget, but it’s especially important in uncertain economic times like we are in right now! 

Check out these 37 Ways to Save Money on Groceries if you want more ideas for slashing your grocery budget.

3) Sidewalk Chalk

Move art class outside with some sidewalk chalk!

4) Break Out the Bubbles

Not only are bubbles fun to look at, but running around popping bubbles gets out plenty of energy when you’ve been cooped up for a while!

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5) Ride Bicycles

If you have a backyard, getting the bikes out is an easy way for kids to burn off some energy while you get things done… especially if you are trying to work from home!

Having more time at home is also a great opportunity to teach them to ride their bikes if they don’t already know how. 

Maybe you’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to take off those training wheels and do the valedictory run behind the bike… Well, now that you don’t have the extra commute time every day, this is the perfect time!

If your kids are already proficient with riding and can ride longer distances, go on a walk (or a run) with them while they ride around the neighborhood.

6) Go for a Walk

Going on a walk is a great way to burn off some energy while getting fresh air. Walk around the neighborhood or go to a park to walk if your walking trails are open.

We have been bringing a garbage bag with us on our walks because our girls are little trash police. Last night, we filled an entire kitchen-sized garbage bag with trash before our walk was half over.

Why not take the opportunity to get some exercise and beautify the neighborhood!

7) Go on a Hike

You’ll want to check and see if hiking is allowed in your city or state before you go with the quarantines in affect.

But if you can hit the trail, I highly recommend it.

If you haven’t hiked with little kids before, check out How to Hike With a Toddler: 15 Tips for Teaching Your Toddler to Love Hiking and 11 Tips for How to Hike With Little Kids!

Little Girl Hiking with a Backpack on

8) Go on a Family Bike Ride or Run

This is a great way to get your kids fresh air while giving the parents some exercise as well!

We love using our Burley D’Lite X double bike trailer that converts into a jogging stroller. 

We can go on runs and bike rides that are much longer than the girls could do on their own strength. And they enjoy the ride as much as we enjoy getting the exercise!

9) Have a Backyard Picnic Together

When the weather was beautiful during the first part of the quarantine in our neck of the woods, we ate dinner in the backyard almost every night.

The girls thought it was such a treat, and it was a great way to get some extra time out of the house!

10) Go Sledding

When I showed my oldest daughter the YouTube video that I made along with this post she said, “You forgot to say sledding!” 

I promised that I would add it to the post, so here it is!

Last weekend, we took the girls up to the mountains to a little sledding hill that we go to every year.

There were only about five families up on the hill that day and it was an amazing way to experience the outdoors, get some exercise, and get away from all the craziness around us.

Of course, be sure that your state’s/city’s social distancing mandates allow for sledding before you take your family. But for us, there was plenty of social distancing going on with so few people out on the mountain!

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Indoor Quarantine Activities for Kids

1) Make Bread Together

You know how much I love making bread with kids if you’ve seen my post 10 Reasons to Make Bread with Your Kiddos, but I’ll give you some of the highlights here:

1) It’s fun for everyone.

2) It will save you money on groceries. 

3) It’s a great sensory activity that seems to get their energy out, even though they are standing still.

Remember to think outside the box and try making banana bread and zucchini bread too!

2) Teach Them to do Chores

If your children don’t know how to do chores yet, this is a great time to teach them!

As you do the housework and go through your Weekly Cleaning Routine, bring them along with you and show them how to do simple tasks by themselves.

Whether they realize it or not, children want to feel like they are needed and useful. Chores are a great way to fulfill this need!

If you want some inspiration for getting your kids involved read:

How to Teach Your Kids to Enjoy Doing Chores… yep, it’s possible, and it isn’t as hard as you might think!

And if you have toddlers, read:

A Beginner’s Guide to Toddler Chores, this will help the littlest members of your family to feel like they are an important part of keeping the house running.

You can grab the Autopilot Workbook if you want to use the morning and evening routine checklists for kids!

3) Have a Virtual Play Date

Ok, so technically this one isn’t screen-free, but it’s really the only way to have a play-date or any type of social interaction with anyone outside of your immediate family right now, so I’m putting it on the list!

FaceTime or Skype your friends and family who are also in isolation right now.

If your kids are little, you can give them an activity that keeps them sitting during the call. Think a virtual tea party, a virtual spa day, a virtual watercolor party… you get the idea.

The kids enjoy seeing their friends, and it’s also nice to be able to talk with another mom who is navigating this time of being stuck at home. 

The last time we had a virtual play date, my friend joked that this seemed like it was more for the moms than it was for the kids!

4) Do a Spa Day

My girls love getting their nails painted, but when life is at its craziest, we don’t usually have time to sit down and paint their nails.

But right now, we have some time!

Break out the nail polish and footbaths and treat your kids.

5) Have a Tea Party

If you have fancy tea cups, this is a great time to get them out and use them!

Let your children choose their tea (drop in some ice cubes if they are little), get out some special snacks, and have some meaningful conversations with your kids without any screens on!

6) Do Messy Indoor Activities

Messy indoor activities aren’t my favorite thing. Even as a kid I was never drawn to crafts because I thought it was too cluttered.

My kids did not inherit this trait. And normally I try to steer them away from the messy activities. But while we are cooped up, I figure, why not?!

Get out the watercolors, playdough, legos, puzzles, erector sets… and anything that will create a mess!

Let them make a mess… then let them help clean up afterward. 😉

Little Kid Painting

7) Color With Your Kids

My girls love it when I sit down and color with them, but usually, I don’t have a lot of time to do that.

My mom got me this coloring book years ago and I hardly have any pages colored in it.

But right now, while all of our appointments are canceled and we have a little more free time at home, it’s a great opportunity to me to spend some time coloring with the girls.

8) Play Board Games Together

Our girls love playing board games, even if they don’t fully understand the strategy yet.

If you think that your kids are spending too much time on their screens during quarantine, declare a board game day. Let the kids take turns picking games and play them all day.

Pop popcorn and eat fun food as you play so that you don’t have to take breaks to cook!

9) Teach Them Something

Do you know how to play an instrument? Speak another language? Or draw?

Maybe your child would enjoy learning something from you!

You can also take this time to teach them things like how to do chores, how to have more self-control, how to start budgeting their money, or even how to dress themselves in the morning so your life will be easier when life returns to normal.

Take advantage of having extra time at home and start teaching them something!

Little Girl playing a ukulele

10) Build a Fort

Building forts is a great way to spend quality time together.

Grab the blankets, or boxes, or both and teach them how to make an amazing fort, complete with rooms inside.

If you use boxes, grab the crayons (or watercolors if you are feeling brave) and let them paint their house.

Usually, after we build a fort, the girls will play independently with it for an hour or two so that we can get some work done!

girl playing with a box fort

11) Play Chase

I’ve never had a rule about not running in the house because some of my favorite childhood memories are of my dad playing epic games of tag-meets-hide-seek in the house.

If you normally have this rule, you might consider breaking it…just during quarantine. Let the kids get some energy out in the house, and you’ll be surprised how much fun you have if you play with them!

12) Cook Together

Cooking together is a great way to spend quality time with your kids, while also teaching them important life skills.

Even my younger daughter, who is only two, loves getting in on the action of measuring and pouring anything she can.

If you have older kids, start teaching them how to read recipes, how to cut vegetables, and how to use the stove.

Family Cooking Together

13) Read Together

My girls and I have always read together before naps and at bedtime. 

But during the quarantine, I am carving out even more time to sit and read with them.

If you are getting sick of reading the same books over and over again while being stuck at home, here are a few suggestions for you:

If you have toddlers, you can check out my favorite Toddler Books That Will Keep Your Toddler’s Attention.

For older kids we love One Morning in MaineOn a Beam of Light, The House that Jane Built, and now we are getting into The Little House on the Prairie books.

I try to let each girl pick at least one book before their nap. Usually, my younger daughter will listen to her book then just play on the floor while my oldest daughter and I read the big kid books.

14) Have a Pillow Fight

And one more rowdy indoor activity to round out the list!

Have a pillow fight with your kids.

Of course, teach them to be safe and not hit each other in the head, and maybe stick to fighting on the floor, but let them have fun and get their energy out!

Two kids having a Pillow fight

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You May Also Enjoy Reading…

10 Reasons to Make Bread with Your Kiddos, How to Teach Your Kids to Enjoy Doing Chores, and A Beginner’s Guide to Toddler Chores.

See You on the Next One! Kassy