With people trying to stay home as much as possible, it can be a challenge to keep kids preoccupied. Most schools have gone to distance learning, which means kids do not have a designated place to get all of their energy out. This can pose a problem if you are trying to stay productive working from home. It can also be a problem for your budget, as kids’ activities can be expensive. Thankfully, there are many free indoor activities your child can do. Many of the activities listed below can be done with common household items, or they can be found at the store for a very inexpensive price.
1. Make a Sensory Bin
For younger kids who will benefit from some sensory stimulation, creating a sensory bin is a great way to keep them occupied. Many schools use sensory bins for younger aged students in their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities. To make your child’s sensory bin both a STEM activity and an opportunity for sensory stimulation, try to incorporate some science in it. This will help them to learn and develop their brain, all for free!
To make a sensory bin for your child, fill up a large bin with sand or rice, or any other non-toxic and grainy material you have on hand. Then, if you have a fake bug science kit at home, use the fake critters for the sensory bin. If you don’t have a science kit, you can use toy cars, plastic animals, and even gummy worms. Even better, give your child a magnifying glass, plastic tongs, and a net so they can practice inspecting the bugs. They are sure to feel like an entomologist and have a blast with this free indoor activity!
2. Make Homemade Slime
Slime was a prevalent trend a few years back for a very good reason. It’s fun to make, fun to play with, and it feels like a science experiment making it! Slime is a favorite by many parents because it can be made of common household products. So, if your child needs a fun and stimulating activity to do for an hour or so, consider making homemade slime with them.
To make slime with your child, you will need a six-ounce bottle of Elmer’s non-toxic glue, half a teaspoon of baking soda, and one and a half tablespoon of contact solution. Be sure your contact solution has boric acid in it, as it will help ensure the texture of your child’s slime is stretchy and mess-free. Mix all of these ingredients together, and you will soon have a fun activity for your child. You can also add food coloring or use glitter glue in the slime to make it more fun.
3. Make a Thankful Jar
If your child is old enough to read and write, you can keep them busy for an hour by having them make a thankful jar. A thankful jar is where you write down things you are thankful for, and place them into the jar. Then, over the next weeks, you can pull a piece of paper from the jar and discuss why your kids are thankful for what the wrote down.
Making time to discuss what your kids are thankful for can benefit them greatly. In fact, there are many benefits1 of making time to discuss gratitude, both mental and physical. When you teach your child to point out the positives in their life, it can deeply benefit their brains and how they process their emotions in the future.
4. Play a Game of Budgeting and Spending
Considering we are in a recession, there is no better time to play budgeting with your kids. There are many ways to play budgeting with your kids at home. One way is to create snack coupons and distribute them amongst your kids. Then, throughout the day, your kids can budget their snack coupons to make them last. Not only does this help them understand the concept of budgeting, but it can also help regulate their food consumption. It can be incredibly easy to overeat at home, especially when you are bored. A healthy number of snack coupons each day can prevent your child from overeating or creating excessive food waste.
Another way to practice spending with your kids is with their screen time. You can have them do chores around the house to earn time on their tablets or watching T.V. Then, they will understand the concept of earning rewards, all while you get some needed help around the house. You can decide which chores are appropriate for the age of your children, and how much screen time they earn with their chores. Additionally, you can allow rollover to the following days, and allow your kids to budget and save their screen time for the weekends.
5. Build a Cardboard Fort
If you have been trying to stay home over the past few months, there is a good chance you have been doing some online shopping. If so, you likely have some cardboard boxes around the house. Cardboard can be an excellent material to make indoor forts out of. Creating a fort gives your kids a fun activity to do, and they will want to spend a great deal of time in their forts. Doing this will also allow their imaginations to run wild.
For some more fun with your child’s cardboard fort, you can allow them to draw on the cardboard. They can have some fun drawing windows, trees, or whatever else they can imagine on their fort. If they are old enough to safely handle scissors, you can also allow them to cut out areas of the cardboard.
Free Indoor Activities
No matter what you do with your kids, try to get creative with their activities. Anything that helps you stick to your budget and allows them to learn new skills is excellent. Also, don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to your child’s ideas for free indoor activities. Kids oftentimes don’t think about what costs money, they just think about what sounds like fun. The activities they come up with can keep them busy and entertained while you can focus on work or get some downtime.
1 “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude” Amy Morin Psychology Today, Apr 03, 2015