40 Activities for Kids to Curb Cabin Fever during the CoronaVirus Outbreak
In an attempt to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, many school districts across the United States have proactively closed their doors. Some schools have set dates, while others are unsure of when school will begin again.
If you’re in a similar position with school aged kids at home, I’ve put together a list of 40 activities that will help curb your kids’ cabin fever during this time.
Before I jump into the list, I just want to say three things:
1. I created this list with the hopes that you have many of these items around your home already. In the event that you don’t, I’ve tried to include online sources, whether it’s a printable from a blogger’s website or an item that can be purchased online. Affiliate links are included below. To see my full disclosure, click here.
2. You will see I’ve included some outdoor activities on my list. I think it’s necessary for overall health to get fresh air & sunshine daily while still maintaining your distance from others. For example, head to an open greenspace and let the kids run around, go for a bike ride in your neighborhood.
Alright, here’s the list:
Whether you play indoor or outdoor, scavenger hunts are a fun way to pass the time. I’ve included an Alphabet printable for you to download. Print out a sheet for each kid and they have to find an item for every letter of the alphabet from A-Z. If you go for a walk outside, there are also these Scavenger hunt guides for items found in nature.
Drape a few large blankets over a table, some chairs or other furniture pieces and let the kids have fun. Use twine or painter’s tape to hold things in place.
Pinterest has a treasure trove of printable activity sheets thanks to bloggers so you don’t have to spend a penny. I love these insect activity pages!
Hide & Seek
No need to describe this classic game. The only question is: do you play with a home base or just stay hidden until found?
Air Dry Clay allows kids to flex their imaginations. One of our favorite things to make is jewelry. Make your clay bead, poke a hole through it using a straw or skewer, paint it, let it dry and string it.
For you DIYers, use up that scrap wood you have lying around. Cut out blocks of all shapes & sizes and remember to sand until smooth. If you’d rather buy a block set, you can’t go wrong with this affordable Melissa & Doug one.
If you haven’t watched any of the Cosmic Yoga Kids videos, it’s one of the few YouTube channels I let my kids watch. Grab a few beach towels as “yoga mats” and namaste the day.
My 5 year old loves doing small jigsaw puzzles. They are great for brain development, problem solving and small motor skills.
Have your child write a letter and send it to a friend or family in another city or state that they don’t see that often.
I also have to mention a Facebook group my friend created called Corona Sunshine. Since elderly patients are at high risk for Coronavirus and with many facilities prohibiting visitors, this group allows you to bring a little sunshine to their day. Your child creates artwork and then you upload it (via phone image or scanner) to the group page. Then, contacts who work at various Assisted Living Facilities will print the artwork and deliver it to the elderly residents themselves. This reduces the risk of spreading germs.
A game a charades is always likely to induce laughter as participants struggle to guess what the actor is acting out. This website has an awesome Charades printable that is geared towards children.
For this game, one person is Simon and he/she instructs the others what to do. The trick is you aren’t allowed to do anything unless “Simon Says” is said before the action. This game is great for following instructions and listening skills.
Sit down, grab a snack and watch a family movie together. Netflix and Disney Plus are where we find most of our family friendly movie options.
When I was a preschool teacher and we had to stay inside due to poor weather, I’d pop in my Laurie Berkner CD and the kids would go crazy as we all sang, danced and marched around the room to her music. I don’t know where that CD is, but she does have a YouTube channel. I’d say her music is more geared toward ages 2-5. For the bigger kids who like dance routines, I recommend Just Dance Kids channel.
Whether it’s finger painting or water color art, painting is a great way to pass the time. One product we love is something called magic water paint paper. It’s like color wonder paper except you don’t need to buy any special markers. You just use a wet paint brush and the design will show up on the paper. As the water dries, the design disappears leaving a blank canvas to start over again.
Now is the time to dust off those board games and have a little healthy competition. Here are a wide range of board games for kids.
I always keep a few bars of Ivory soap around just for this activity (provided you can find any). Put down newspaper, hand your kids a bar of soap with a few plastic knives and craft sticks then let them carve out anything their little heart desires. I usually join in on this craft because it’s so much fun. A few things that are easy to carve: fish, cars, turtles, trees, flowers, sailboat, ice cream cone, funny faces. Bonus: save the soap scraps to mold a new soap bar for handwashing!
My love for sensory bins runs deep. Remember my DIY wood & concrete play table? Open ended sensory play is so amazing for children. If you have a large bowl or bin in your home, fill it up with whatever sensory item is safest for your child’s age (ie: no small choking items for babies/toddlers and make sure you supervise this activity). There are hundreds of themed sensory bin ideas if you want to have even more fun with it.
Have you ever heard of story cubes? They are dice with pictures on them that help children create their own story using their imagination. We also love Mad Libs in our home. Bonus: they learn the parts of speech this way, too.
Save those cardboard boxes. Open up the ends and let the kids make a box tunnel or a turn it into a playhouse and let them decorate it.
Help your child strengthen their memory with a matching game. Here are some printable matching sheets and then there’s always Racoon Rumpus, a game of color, costumes, memory & matching.
Bust out the painter’s tape, crepe paper, couch cushions & all. Create an obstacle course in the home and time your kids to see who finishes the fastest. Only have one kiddo? Have them complete a few rounds to set a personal record.
Teach your child responsibility by having them help clean up around the home. Some easy tasks for little ones include: dusting the shelves, spraying and wiping down the mirrors, using a small hand vacuum to clean up crumbs and sorting & putting away the laundry.
Bean Bag Toss
Snag a few bean bags and use household items like buckets, baskets and bowls to create a tossing game. Add a point value to the containers, with the smaller containers having a higher value, to make it competitive.
Just add water for instant childhood fun. Kids and water are like bread and butter, they just go together and there are entirely too many water activities to list so check out these suggestions. When in doubt, fill up the tub and give them some measuring cups, bowls, water safe toys and bath crayons.
Make a kid-friendly snack together or have the kids help you prepare for meals. Make sure they wash their hands well. If you don’t feel like your little one is ready to help in the kitchen, they can help set the table.
Dramatic play is one of my personal favorite childhood activities. Bring out the play clothes and let their imaginations go wild. I’ve found kids love when you give them prompts like: you’re a chef at Waffle House, a fireman going to rescue a cat from a tree, etc.
There are only two rules in our home when it comes to pillow fights. You’re not allowed to hit above the shoulders and you can’t use my decorative throw pillows… everything else is fair game.
Stickers are great unless you find them stuck somewhere they’re not supposed to be (ahem, like a vintage mid century nightstand, for example). To prevent this, roll out kraft paper over a table and put out crayons, markers & colored pencils. Then the kids can draw open-endedly around the stickers. You can also buy these reusable sticker books which are convenient for on-the-go.
Get out of the house by going on a car ride with the windows rolled down. To make it more fun, play a game of Car Bingo.
There are plenty of screen-free things for kids to do, but if you want to let them play on the computer or tablet, check out some of these websites and apps that will encourage learning and education: Progressive Phonics – Teach Your Monster to Read – Quick Math, Jr. – PBS Kids Games
Put on your helmets and go for a friendly bike ride around the neighborhood. Bonus if you can ride along to your favorite music. I bring this waterproof portable speaker with me everywhere: in the backyard, on bike rides and even in the bathroom as I get ready.
Science projects aren’t only fun, they’re also educational. Here is a list of over 100 science projects suitable for school-aged kids. You can also consider looking into home STEM kits.
If the weather permits, let the kids draw outside with sidewalk chalk. If you have strict Homeowner’s Association, you might want to stick to just your driveway and hose everything down when the kids are finished.
Make and decorate paper airplanes then take turns flying them the farthest.
Whether you use a pair of socks or brown paper bags, let the kids decorate their own hand puppet then have them put on a show. Get creative with whatever craft items you have on hand or you can purchase craft kits like this which have everything you need to make your own. Of course, you could always buy ready made puppets, too, but I think making them is more fun.
Just go explore nature. Grab some sticks, play with rocks, not much more needs to be said (except of course, keep your distance from others).
A little dirt never hurt. Send the kids outside with a few buckets of water and empty vessels to make some old fashioned mud pie.
Thankfully, we live in a time where we can see people face to face without the risk of spreading germs so take advantage of apps like FaceTime, Skype & Facebook Video Messenger and let the kids see and talk to their friends & family members.
That’s all. How are you holding up so far? What activities have you found helpful to pass the time and make it a memorable experience?