48 ideas of At-Home Activities for Parents during COVID-19

First of all, some general tips and reminders: As more families face social distancing, self-quarantine, and school and work closings as a result of COVID-19, it’s possible to feel stressed—not only about health issues, but also with the reality of suddenly being at home for many days with energetic little ones.

  • Already today you should take away half of the toys and hide them somewhere, we don’t know for how long this will last, but the fact that you can introduce one “new” toy from your “hiding spot” from time to time will make a huge difference  
  • Try to keep daily routines as stable as possible during this break. As much as possible, try to stick to daily routines, with wake-up times, meals, naps, and bedtimes as usual. Children thrive on predictability, and it’s good for their caregivers, too. (It’s much easier to deal with a long day with little ones if it’s divided into smaller, more manageable pieces.)
  • A little reminder, your kids are used to be allowed to a bitt messy while the play in kindergarten and so one. You have to let them do the same now, they can't let loose and get rid of energy if they constantly need to think of the mess they are making. Just make a habit of cleansing up together and to put back stuff where they belong afterwards. Kids are used to that rule as well.
  • Toys can be used for more than what initially where made for: cars do not only need to be used for “driving”: sort them by color, take them all to a car-wash, tejp together papers and paint a town with roads and hoses together – then start “driving”. The same goes for all toys. 

Let’s go outside! It will be important during these strange and stressful times. Go outside every day if you are able! But we need to stay physically away from people outside our families, and we should not use public facilities like playground structures (as coronavirus can survive on these structures for days and aren’t getting regularly cleaned). First of all, if you have infants bring them in a stroller: Then you can play with your older kids:

  • Play ‘I spy’. Keep it simple, “I spy something blue”, “I spy something that moves”.
  • Collect rocks or leaves, then sort them by size, color, and shape.
  • Kick, roll, or toss a ball back and forth.
  • Dig in the dirt (don’t forget buckets, bowls, measuring cups, spoons, gardening tools, whatever you have!).
  • Play with sidewalk chalk: draw pictures, trace one another’s outline, and more.
  • Play “I’m going to catch you.”
  • Create an obstacle course using rocks, and toys.
  • Pretend to be the different animals you might see in your neighborhood: Birds, squirrels, rabbits, deer, etc.
  • Bring also a blanket. Independent play (when children play by themselves with you nearby) is also an important type of play—and parents shouldn’t feel guilty about giving their babies and toddlers a chance to play on their own.

Let’s get loud! Kids love to sing and dance, especially if you join them! Here are some ideas:

  • Turn on some music and have a dance party.
  • You can sing Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes, head and shoulders, knees and toes. This is baby’s body! Eyes and mouth and ears and nose, ears and nose, ears and nose. Eyes and mouth and ears and nose. This is baby’s body! As you sing, be sure to gently touch each body part
  • Sing songs like Rain, Rain Go Away and Itsy Bitsy Spider. For your baby: Try using hand gesture while you sing Itsy Bitsy Spider—your baby loves to watch you entertain her! Watch your baby—after she sees you do the gestures several times, she may try to copy you! For your toddler: Sing songs like Rain, Rain Go Away and Itsy Bitsy Spider together. Teach your child the gestures that go with Itsy Bitsy Spider. Talk about different rain words: puddles, rain boots and raincoats, umbrellas, pouring, sprinkling, misting, fog, wind, and clouds. Look outside: How many of these words do you see outside your window?
  • Play charades: pretend to be the different animals use your body and voice and let them guess. Take turns. 
  • Make instruments: turn pots and pans upside down, give them wooden spoons and if you like:  make maracas by putting rice in empty bottles or e.g. Tupperware boxes

Keep it quiet from time to time. Children (and you) also need some quiet time each day. This is great for relaxing and recharging. Here are some ideas:

  • Read together or independently (toddlers can flip through books and talk about what they see in the illustrations)
  • Picture It! Before you read a book, take a “picture walk” with your child and look at the illustrations first. See if your child might want to tell you the story just using the pictures as a guide.
  • Do Coloring, Puzzles and Block building together..
  • Pretend play with stuffed animals, dolls, trains, cars, or kitchen items for “playing house”
  • Stickers on paper – you can draw large shapes, letters, or numbers on paper and your child can line the shape with stickers
  • Tape on paper – you can cut short pieces of masking tape and your child can stick it to a piece of paper (sounds boring, but little ones love it).

Keep it moving. Kids are used to and need to move their bodies. They will need opportunities to be loud, run, climb, and jump. This may happen outside or inside. Here are some ideas:

  • Play: “don’t touch the floor, it’s hot lava!” - put couch cushions on the floor and crawl, walk, or jump from one to the next 
  • Use a bedsheet as a parachute (open it wide and raise it up above your heads, then bring it down to the floor). For infants, raise and lower a light blanket over them while playing peek-a-boo.
  • Build a fort with sheets, blankets, couch cushions, pillows, chairs, and more. Don’t rush the building, let the kids be part of the building. Don’t need to be nice, just safe!
  • Create an obstacle course using furniture, pillows, and toys.
  • Toddlers love challenges, especially as they are growing stronger and more coordinated physically. Ask your child “Can you lift your leg? Can you touch your hands to your knees?” Using the names of her body parts in context helps her learn, and also gives her a chance to show you all that she can do with her growing body.
  • Play with flashlights, can your kid jump to the light circle? Can he or she reach it by their hand so high up on the wall? After a while they will most likely hold the flashlight them self, let them! They often like to play with for quite some time. 
  • Have a color scavenger hunt.  let's find 3 things that I blue and put them here, now let’s put them back. let's find 3 things that is red and put them here, now let’s put them back.


Keep your kids busy:

  • Playdough is great, kids can be creative and it also builds strength in their hands for fine motor skills.  You can find the recipe here: https://teachingmama.org/how-to-make-jello-playdough/
  • Play with pompoms, Pom Poms Through a Tube, or a Color Matching Game. 
  • Empty Bathtub filled with Stuffed Animals: Have a fun playtime with all your child’s favorite stuffed animals! Just simply put them in an empty bathtub and let them play.
  • Make edible Finger Paint:  All you need is flour, water, and food coloring to make this: Pour 1 cup of cold water and 1 cup of flour into a pan. Gradually add 3 cups of boiling water to the mix. Stir over heat until it boils. Take off the heat and let it cool. Then divide the mixture into bowls and add food coloring. 
  • String beads on yarn to make jewelry and if you don’t have beads make penne-pasta negligees and or snakes. You can paint the pasta as well.  
  • Wash! Take your toy cars/action figures/dolls/ little animals, etc. Place them up by the sink. Filled the sink with soapy water. Have a bucket of water on the other side to rise the toys off. Lastly, dry them with a towel. With this activity kids also learn how to follow steps and they can also do this by themselves with parents just watching.
  • Cardboard Boxes. If you can find one, by one. It’s funny how kids love playing with simple things like cardboard boxes! You can turn them into a little fort, you can paint on them, put stickers on and if you cut out funny stuff from old magazines you can let the kids glue them on. There's no limit.  
  • Cheerios + spaghetti. Take for e.g. some play dough, roll it in a ball, then stick spaghetti noodles on the top. Have your toddler slide cheerios down the noodle. If you by Cheerios in different colors you'll add an extra level to the game if you ask the kids to do it by color.
  • Dress-Up and Role Play Let the children loose with a bunch of dressing-up clothes and props you can find at home, in order to become doctors, firefighters, a vet, a nurse, a farmer, astronauts and so one. Let them borrow your different headpieces, scarfs and shoes. Help them by collecting stuffed animals, jumping ropes, etc
  • Make you own memory: By two copies of the same magazine, something with shiny surfers and a lot of pictures. Its best to pic a theme-magazine: outdoor, dogs, cars, nature and so one. Then give your older kids, scissors, glue and paper pieces that you have cut into the same size. Now they can make their own memory.
  • Save this one for extra-long and rainy days: for older kids that love to draw, lend them you phone/tablet and search on Youtube “how to draw [insert here] easy step by step”, they will learn by paint unicorns, dogs, whales, cakes, fruit and so on. In addition, it takes time to color them. Here is an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdc1pn6jfFY

Involve children in the “real” work! One of the most favorite types of play for children is helping you do the real work. Here are some ideas:

  • Think about whether your kids can help with meal preparation, setting the table etc. 
  • Sorting or putting away laundry! Even clean ones that don’t need sorting, socks are amazing to use as a game of paring.  
  • Ask them to be part of any type of sorting objects/cleaning up (for example, putting shoes in the closet) or putting new toilet paper rolls in a basket in the bathroom. These tasks may take a bit longer with our toddlers, but it’s fun for them and teaches the value of cooperation.
  • Try a project where make a rainbow snack together. Pick out a range of healthy foods of different colors—yellow bananas, red watermelon, green grapes, blueberries, etc. Let your child choose what to have as his snack and talk about all the different colors he can eat. What does he think is the best-tasting color?
  • Paint with water. Fill a cup with water and give your child a brush to “paint” the sidewalk, door, etc.
  • Have a bicycle wash. Let your child pick out a few of his/her bigger toys or their/your bicycle to wash. Fill a bucket with soapy water and give you child an assortment of rags and sponges. Watch him get everything squeaky clean. Have a towel nearby to make drying off easy when he is all done.