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From tie-dye to playdough, we list the best activities and games for keeping kids, both younger and older, busy and entertained in the living room and beyond.
When you’re working from home or drowning in life-admin to-do’s, it’s a minute-by-minute challenge to forge ahead with an energetic child underfoot. What kids often lack in concentration though, they make up for with curiosity. Presenting them with new, multifaceted activities that will keep them happily playing (and maybe even learning) and can secure you just enough time to tick some must-dos off your list. Help your kids beat boredom (and retain your sanity) with these eight activities for kids of all ages.
It’s time to revisit this all-weather, low-budget indoor or outdoor classic. Set up adventurous types in a tent outside or construct one from a cardboard box that can double as a canvas for later artworks. You can also keep it old school by draping a few large blankets over a gathering of chairs for the perfect living room activity. Don’t forget to add exciting touches such as cosy, atmospheric fairy lights or a secret snack box to encourage them to stay put.
Make a list of items you’ve hidden in certain rooms and encourage them to collect them in a set period. Use the stopwatch function on your phone – kids will love the time pressure and seeing the clock tick down. Add an extra incentive to keep them focused to locate everything on the list, like merit stickers or their choice of an evening meal.
Dedicate a low-maintenance area (likely outdoors) to “messy play”, where paint, chalk, and crayons are all fair game in the interests of your child’s creativity. Older kids will love the additional challenge of making tie-dye clothing or shibori linen pillowcases, where careful yet creative experimentation can result in some truly amazing patterns.
Science experiments may be a thoughtful way to occupy your kid’s attention but they’re often time-consuming and require constant supervision and help to master. A bug maze encourages scientific thinking but much less adult-involvement; collect safe and appropriate insects together, then have your child observe them as they make their way through a popsicle stick labyrinth in a cardboard box.
There are lots of educational games, puzzles and toys available that will not only keep kids entertained and busy at home, with minimal supervision, but will also stimulate their brains. Keep them learning while they are having fun with literacy and science puzzles, maths games, jigsaw puzzles, magnets, construction kits and more.
Sensory experiences are an obvious winner when it comes to keeping children distracted and with water, the bonus is there’s no danger of staining anything. A bucket of soapy water for young school age kids can keep them occupied for a surprising amount of time; suggest that they wash their toys and organise which ones to keep and which to give away. All that internal debating will take time.
Providing your floors, walls and furniture can take it, lay down a highway of unexpected twists and turns made of masking tape (rainbow tape adds even more fun). They can make the road go through different rooms, create tunnels out of stools, and bridges from the arms of chairs. It’ll mean hours of fun with their cars, buses and trucks.
Fill a bag with exciting things your child doesn’t often interact with; for little ones, this could be everything for crafting goodies such as tissue paper and paper plates to playdough or a metal cookie sheet with colourful magnets attached. Busy bags work for older kids, too - especially when packed with a book they’ve been waiting to read, an iPad pre-loaded with their favourite movie or a challenging puzzle.