Ramp up family time with these entertaining activities.
With everyone home from work and school, right now is perfect for spending time with family and strengthening bonds with our loved ones. Coming up with new ideas for activities is key to keeping kids entertained, engaged, and preventing the dreaded “I’m bored” remarks.
If you’re looking to spice things up, here are 10 ideas for things to do with your family ranging from educational to just plain fun.
1. Go on a virtual African safari with WILDwatch Live.
A real African safari isn’t possible right now, but you can still have a fantastic cultural experience right in your own home. Check out Bringing Africa Home by &Beyond.
On this site, you’ll find delicious African recipes to try, references for reading materials, recommendations for movies, and activities for kids. Best of all, the WILDwatch Live stream features a real-time exploration of African reserves. You can find past streams on its youtube channel.
2. Turn an adventurous book into a play by acting it out.
Reading a book is a great way to spend time with family, but reading doesn’t always have to be a quiet activity. A really fun spin on reading time is to pick out a book that your family is already familiar with and can act out, ideally one with a great storyline and multiple characters. Just like a movie script, assign family members a character to voice, and start taking turns reading through the book.
Silly voices and dramatic acting are definitely encouraged!
3. Enliven movie night by turning the living room into a movie theater.
Nothing beats cuddling up with your family over a big bowl of popcorn and a good movie. You can make movie night even more fun by setting it up like a movie theater.
Set up a concession stand in the kitchen with popcorn and your family’s favorite movie theater treats. Supply each kid with some fake money so they have a chance to practice their counting skills as they pay for their treats. You can even print out movie tickets for ‘entry’ to the theater.
Little kids will really find this exciting, but even older kids and teens will enjoy the experience.
4. Listen to an audiobook while coloring or solving a jigsaw puzzle.
Combine the benefits of reading and arts and crafts by listening to an audiobook while coloring, drawing, or working on a puzzle.
Audible has a wonderful selection of books for kids, with plenty of family favorites like “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Jungle Book”. Listening to an audiobook can also be a real treat for parents who normally are the ones reading aloud.
5. Take your family on nature bingo walk in the backyard.
Going for a walk or hike in public areas is fine in most places, but your family can still explore nature at home. Take a walk around your yard and pick out a few things you’d like for your kids to notice, such as native plants, a beautiful flower, a patch of moss, or a bird’s nest. Add these items and whatever else your kids might see or hear outside to a bingo chart for them to fill out.
You can also use field guides to learn more about the plants, birds, or insects you discover during the bingo hunt.
6. Get creative with a cardboard box construction challenge.
Online shopping is even more popular right now because of stay-at-home orders. Before you recycle those boxes, gather them up and hold a family cardboard construction challenge. You can turn boxes into cars, rocketships, or forts. For a bigger build, break down the boxes and use the panels to construct a fort.
Don’t forget to grab non-toxic washable paints for decoration!
7. Set up a free play zone with toys that inspire imagination.
Structured play can be a lot of fun, but sometimes free playtime is a really wonderful experience for families. Clear out space in your living room or kids’ playroom, bring in your kids’ favorite toys, and let them decide what to do.
Toys that prompt creativity and imagination work best. Think Legos, building blocks, STEM toys, and figures such as dinosaurs or cars. Make sure you get down on the ground and play around too!
8. Make glow-in-the-dark fairy jars that last forever.
Fairy jars, also known as galaxy jars, were originally created with glow sticks. Glow sticks are very messy, potentially toxic, and the glow only lasts for a few hours. A better idea is to use glow-in-the-dark paint or glue to create beautiful fairy jars that will last a long time.
Here is a simple DIY tutorial to get you started. Look on Pinterest and YouTube for even more ideas on how to get creative with your fairy jars.
9. Turn cleaning day into a game with prizes at the end.
Cleaning together as a family really helps not-so-exciting chores breeze by, especially if you throw in some prizes for the kids.
Create a to-do list with kid-appropriate tasks and figure out a reward system that will entice your children. One idea is to give each task a monetary reward. As tasks are checked off your child will receive Monopoly money. At the end of the game, they can cash in for treats, screentime, or a big prize like choosing dinner and a movie for that night.
10. Learn a new language with free online resources.
People of all ages can benefit from learning a new language, and it’s often easier when you have others around you to practice with.
You can find family-friendly language learning sites online that don’t cost a penny to use. Duolingo is one very popular option that will work well for school-age kids and teens. Younger kids can also participate in Duolingo if an older sibling or parent helps with the writing portions of the lessons.
Don’t forget that routine daily activities can be great opportunities to bond.
Structured family activities are always a lot of fun, but don’t forget that you can bond with your family during otherwise normal activities throughout the day. One of our favorite ideas is to make flossing and teeth brushing a family affair.
With Dr. Lang and other dentists temporarily on break for non-urgent dental care, your family’s oral health is even more important than usual right now. Brushing together gives you a chance to make sure your kids are brushing properly and helps instill healthy oral care habits for youngsters who are just starting to learn.