28 Ways to Keep Primary School Age Kids Entertained At Home
Learning| April 1, 2020
From tie-dye to science experiments, these living room activities will help younger kids beat boredom and keep busy and entertained at home.
Stuck at home for the foreseeable future? Don’t succumb to family-wide cabin fever – embrace the challenge by planning a pile of pastimes for little ones that require minimal setup and deliver maximum return. Here are 28 easy yet exciting activities to entertain the kids when everyone is staying in.
Write Letters to Friends
Is your child cooped up inside without pals? Entertain kids at home by encouraging them to connect the old-school way and write letters about their activity-packed days to their absent friends, grandparents or other family members. The best thing about this activity? Getting a letter back in the mail.
ABC Scavenger Hunt
Write the letters of the alphabet around the rim of a paper plate, then cut or rip on either side of each letter, creating a tab. Then, let the kids search the house for items beginning with each letter, folding the tab down on A, for example, when they spy an apple. Unless there’s a xylophone at home, looking for X may give parents some much-needed me-time!
Visit Museums Virtually
Travel the world without leaving home and do it with meaning. Many museums and art galleries, including the National Museum of Australia, the Boston Children’s Museum, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and the Natural History Museum in London offer virtual tours and video content.
Instead of throwing out in the recycling that empty box of pasta, milk carton or any of grocery shopping packaging, challenge kids to reuse and reimagine by creating a work of art with paints and crayons, or maybe a handy storage container for their craft corner.
Plan Some Kindness
A great way to entertain kids at home and bring some positivity into the house, especially for older school-age kids, is to introduce them to the concept of altruism by asking them to plan an unexpected kind gesture for a family member, friend or neighbour. It can be as simple as bringing in the bin for a neighbour (remember to wash your hands afterwards!), sending a cheerful video to an isolated relative or introducing a 'why you are amazing' game with your family around the dinner table.
Learn Fun Card Games
You always have something to do indoors if you have a pack of playing cards. Teach kids the classics: Go Fish, Rummy, Spit, and Snap for a start. The best part? Card games don’t create mess – just life-long duals among siblings.
Board Games & Puzzles
Board games are another fun indoor activity for kids to play together or with the whole family, from classics like snakes & ladders (ages 3 and up) to modern updates like laser chess (ages 8 and up). For solo fun, a Rubik’s cube will keep older kids occupied for hours, and jigsaw puzzles are great for any age. Keep puzzles and games in a big box or drawer so you’ve always got boredom busters to hand.
Stage Play with Props
Stuff a box with silly outfits and ask them to create a theatrical story. First step is to write the play, then let them put on a show for family members (and perhaps even charge an entrance fee!).
Have a Playdough Picnic
Crack open the lids of the playdough containers for younger school age kids – but make sure they know they have a job to do. Chefs for a morning, kids can make an array of (non-edible) treats, then gather their friends (soft or otherwise) on a living room picnic rug for pretend feasting.
Tiring mind and body while indoors can be challenging but it’s possible to keep kids active in small spaces. Access easy online resources such as Cosmic Yoga to keep little ones moving (and distracted).
Tissue Paper Mosaic
Keep kids busy with this simple crafts project. Instead of drawing or painting, get kids to sketch out a rough plan for a tissue paper mosaic to be built on top of a cardboard sheet or construction paper or even a paper plate. Then ask them to rip a rainbow of tissue paper into rough squares (perhaps the best part), grab some glue, lay out the base and build the work of art referencing the original sketch.
A tiny bit messy, but a lot of fun. Get kids to copy a bingo card, then give them a (washable) paint colour each and let their fingers be the blotter in your version of bingo. Don’t be surprised if someone has a number on their face that needs blotting too!
Like never before scientists are superheros and older kids can join their ranks for a day by making a lava lamp out of nothing more than an old soda bottle, water, vegetable oil, fizzing tablets and food colouring. This science experiment will stun even the steeliest of kids.
Masking Tape Town
Simple but effective, it’s best to clear some space in the living room for this activity. Map out a town with masking tape on the floor or carpet. Get kids to make roads, car parks, shopping centres and homes, then let them take their cars, trucks and small dolls for a spin.
Making a beautiful crane out of paper is both soothing and gives primary school kids a sense of achievement. From butterflies to pentagons and cowboy hats, there are plenty of beginner origami sites like Origami Instructions to kick all that folding off. All you need is a pile of colourful 15 centimetre x 15 centimetre square paper.
Who says staying at home is boring? This living room activity will keep kids busy and entertained for hours. Set up old milk cartons or water bottles at one end of a hallway and arm your kid with a wonky potato at the other – the results will be hilarious.
Stage a Play With a Novel
Let your little one pick their favourite book – Harry Potter is always a winner – and have them prepare a scene to act out for you later. Bonus points for sourcing creative costumes.
Learn to Sketch
Instead of running from activity to activity, let them dive deep into just one. By teaching them the fundamentals of drawing, you’ll keep kids entertained at home for hours on end. There are a host of beginner drawing tutorials on YouTube, simply choose the best one together, make sure to have the right pencils, erasers and paper handy and then let their fingers do the talking.
Build a Cityscape
This indoor activity suits any school-age child, the only difference in the final product will be the sophistication. Using cardboard boxes, popsicle sticks, blocks and more, mark out a space in the living room for construction and watch a city rise from the carpet.
Become Royal for the Day
Turn the whole family into princes and princesses with a few crafty crowns. Let kids draw a jagged line down the middle of a piece of lightweight cardboard, then, cut along the line with safety scissors. Decorate with markers, stickers, or even foil and beads to make jewels and secure the new crown around the head with tape. Then, put on your best posh accents and lord it all over the lounge.
Set up a series of sealed boxes, place varying household objects inside – from pens to egg beaters, bananas to soap. One child picks an object out of the box and another child, who is blindfolded, needs to guess the object by asking only yes or no questions.
Make Your Own Magazine
Every child has a passion. Let them explore it further by making their own passion-project magazine. First step is a name and a content plan. That blank scrapbook will soon be filled with stories, pictures and art.
When kids need an at-home activity that’s just for fun, look no further than water and freezing temperature. Freeze their favourite mini toys in an ice block, arm them with excavating tools such as squirt bottles of warm water and let them go to town.
This foolproof project will get a little messy so works best in gardens, on balconies and back decks. Promising an impressive outcome no matter how inexperienced the participant, you need a clean white shirt, tie-dye, rubber bands, gloves, a very big bucket and a sense of humour. A smock may also be a good idea!
Learn a Dance
Keeping kids active while indoors can be a challenge but it’s easier to get them moving if the activity is fun. Get kids wiggling and burning energy by learning a choreographed dance. Kids can extend the fun by sharing the dance moves with their friends and then meeting up virtually to dance it together.
Finally Fill Photo Albums
It’s time to sort out all those photographs on smartphones. Ask kids to choose a theme for a photo album, maybe Christmas holidays or friends as a start, then get them cracking on sorting through their thousands of smartphone pics to find the ones that are good enough to print out for the album.
Mindfulness is a great way to start or end the day – particularly when there is a house full of people. Older school age kids will love deciding on how and when they meditate. Just gather everyone together around the Bluetooth speaker — the hardest part will be deciding which meditation app (like Dreamy Kid) or meditation online resource to choose.
Create a Reading Nook
They may be in their bedroom or living room but they can also be 1,000 miles away with a good book. A way to enhance reading in school age kids is to create a calm, inviting reading space. Help them with the set up; pillows, good lighting, comfy surrounds and then let them loose into the world of imagination.