There are mountains of free books to borrow at your local library. You can let the kids pick their own to read or simply look through the pictures. You can have story time together and read a book to your younger children.
2. Write a book or story.
Even if your kids aren’t writing fluently yet, they can still compose literature on their own. Drawing pictures to tell a story is another way to let your kids tell a story. Later, you can write the words for them as they dictate them to you, or they can sound out the words phonetically and write the story on their own. These books will also make great keepsakes later.
3. Act out a book/Playing dress ups.
Does your child have a favorite book? Have them act it out! If you have a video camera you can record it to watch with the whole family later on.
4. Listen to a book.
Your local Library has a great selection of quality literature for children. Download a few to your mp3 player, and either give your child some headphones, or play the book over speakers while they play quietly.
5. Make an indoor Fort.
I remember turning my entire bedroom into a fort as a kid, my siblings and I would crawl around in there for hours, adding new sections and making improvements. We used these 2 form mattresses along with our beds and furniture to create the walls, then we covered everything in sheets!
6. Perform a puppet show or play.
Its as simple as using some stuffed toys as puppets to create the perfect puppet show. You can also use more toys as their audience and film the lot. Using some sheets or an old box to separate the stars is a fun way to get the theatre theme going.
7. Have an indoor picnic or tea party.
Lay out an outdoor tablecloth on the floor, and enjoy lunch together down there. Kids think it’s a big treat to do the everyday in a new and weird way, and the floor is one of those different places. Or brew up some warm (caffeine free) tea, and have a little tea time in cups with saucers, alongside crackers or sweet bread for an afternoon treat.
8. Make homemade play-doh.
Play-doh made from scratch is incredibly easy and you can make an endless array of colours with basic food dye. Plus, it doesn’t have that awful commercial-brand smell. Spread the outdoor tablecloth on the floor, and give them dull knives, a rolling pin, and some cookie cutters. Click here for the method and recipe of homemade play-doh.
9. Help with chores.
Many younger kids think it’s a blast to help Mom with the chores (its the teenagers that decide its no fun anymore). Chores teach kids that running the house is a family effort, and that life involves work (and things we don’t always enjoy doing).
10. Save up those Toilet Paper rolls and wad up your socks.
Arrange TP rolls like bowling pins on one end of the hall. Stock up a few balled-up socks on the other. Bowl or throw at the “pins,” and you’ve got an indoor bowling alley.
11. Time to DANCE!
Weather you throw on a CD or turn on their favourite singing and dancing DVD kids love to wiggle. Crank up the music and get dancing.
12. Craft, craft, craft.
Crafting is a great way for kids to use their imagination. Introduce them to finger knitting, or painting. Hang on to those old cereal boxes and torn sheets, you never know what they could use to create their next masterpiece!
13. Write a letter to a friend.
Old-fashioned letter writing is so much fun, and a real change to today’s chosen form of communicating – emails, texts, messaging etc. Help your child write a letter to Grandma, cousins, or a friend, and make someone’s day when they open their mailbox a few days later.
14. Have a simple playdate.
Invite your child’s good friend over — this often makes for an even easier day, because your kiddo has a playmate instead of asking you to play all the time.
15. Play shop.
We use to borrow mum’s canned food from the pantry for this one. If your kids are happy to play supermarket that is a cheap way of making it happen. You can also create different shop kits from thrift store and sale finds. The next time you’re at a craft store, pick up some fake flowers on clearance. Make some homemade plant labels, save some empty seed packets, and hang on to those temporary pots from store-bought plants — all these supplies will make great tools for a flower shop at home. A notepad, pencil, apron, tray, and play food are all you need to play restaurant at the dining room table.
16. Rearrange the bedroom.
If your child is old enough to safely move small furniture around, let them explore their creative side and rearrange the bedroom. Depending on the result, it could be an afternoon set up, or it could be a new permanent look.
17. Supply some cardboard boxes.
If you haven’t recently moved or purchased a new appliance, go to your local grocery store and see if they have any cardboard boxes you could take off their hands. Bring a few home, and let your child’s imagination take over. They might build a castle, take off on a spaceship, or go sailing to a new world.
18. Go on a treasure hunt.
Think of some unusual spots around your house, or plant some treasures in rooms and on shelves (in an age-appropriate location, of course). Then make a list of objects, and have your child go on a treasure hunt. If they can’t yet read, draw a sketch of the hidden item.
19. Have them help with cooking.
If they’re old enough to stir, sift, and pour, let them help you with the basics — pasta and pizza sauces, muffins, and breads are all kid-friendly.
Boredom is good for kids. Children are seldom truly bored, they just haven’t lately exercised that part of the brain that requires them to use their imagination. Make a rule that if your kid announces they’re bored, they’ll have to do chores (this one was used on me haha). So if they truly can’t think of anything off-hand to do… eventually, they’ll think of something.
It’s a good lesson to learn that life is not always entertaining, and that they’re not the center of attention. And if you’ve got a typical home, there’s actually plenty they can do. So don’t feel like you always have to provide options and events for your children. They’ll be just fine exercising their brain.