How do you keep kids entertained at home? Many modern parents turn to Pinterest for crafty activities. I personally have about 12 boards devoted to keeping my children out of trouble. Just kidding, most of my boards consist of goo made from glue and cornstarch. I guess I’m just a sucker for goo.
The internet can be inspiring, but sometimes it’s unrealistic. Sadly, I don’t have the energy to make edible gluten-free Playdoh, scented with rosemary from the herb garden. I don’t have a herb garden. I’m too busy trying to keep the two year old out of the kitty litter. Luckily I’ve noticed that children aren’t complicated. Why make edible Playdoh when they’re perfectly happy to eat the store bought stuff?
My son was obsessed with milk cartons. I’d save the empty ones for him and he’d run around, a milk carton in each fist. This was cute until he started a collection. Soon there were so many milk cartons in the sand box that there wasn’t room for sand. He started demanding every milk carton he saw, even if it was still full and at a neighbor’s house. I began pouring milk in secret. Thankfully, he outgrew it, but if a kid can be that excited about milk cartons, why over think it?
In the spirit of imagination, wonder, and milk cartons, I’ve compiled a list of children’s activities. They’re easy, fast, and do not require rosemary.
Ten Simple Projects For Kids
1. If your house is like mine, the washing machine eats socks. I don’t know why, but I suspect it’s just jealous because washing machines don’t come in pairs, and here are all these socks, in love and matching so perfectly. Anyway, you probably have at LEAST 92 mismatched socks. Hand your kid a sock and a washable marker and tell them to make a puppet. They can put on a puppet show behind your couch. Or a play with 92 individual sock puppet characters.
2. I know this sounds crazy but I’m going to say it anyway: I let my 1st grader hammer nails into a 2×4 in the garage. I’ve also provided him with sand paper. After the initial instructional meeting where my husband taught him how to use a hammer, he has been pretty independent. Yes, he may hammer his finger at some point, but don’t we all run that risk in life? I sometimes don’t see him for a good hour. He is busy building an Iron Man suit from a 2×4 and a fireplace log that’s left over from last winter.
3. Put A Stamp On It!
Pick a relative and have your kids draw a picture or write a letter to them. If you can’t think of a person to write to, write to a soldier, the local fire department or police station. As long as your child gets to put a stamp on it, it will be a success.
4. While you’re at the mailbox mailing your letter, take all your junk mail and hand it to your child. Then, if you’re lucky there will be one of those fake credit cards in there and your child will think it’s Christmas. My seven year old likes to store his fake cards in an old wallet from circa 1997.
5. Wet a sponge, wring it out and sprinkle some flax seeds on it. Wait a few days and keep observing your seedy sponge. Finally, this will (hopefully) sprout into a very exciting Sponge Garden. Or just give them a wet sponge and let them throw “sponge balls” at each other in the back yard.
6. Teach your kids how to make PB&J’s and have a picnic in the back yard. File this under “Life Skills” and congratulate yourself on preparing your 6 year old for college dorm cooking.
7. Visit a nursery in town and buy a six pack of flowers or vegetables. Add a trowel and some dirt, and for less than four dollars your kid can start a garden. Alternatively, you could just let your child plant seeds from the apple they had at snack.
8. Make a tent out of sheets and your dining room table. This activity can buy you a good twenty minutes of alone time. You can double the fun if you hand your child an empty back pack and tell him to “pack” for his camping trip. If you’re feeling generous, a flashlight and a magnifying glass from the dollar store will make their day.
10. Give your children a cup of water and an old paintbrush, then send them outside and tell them to paint. What should they paint? The house, the rocks, the sidewalk…it’s water, it’s not going to hurt anything. This is magical because the water disappears as the surface warms in the sun.
So there you have it, tried and true ways to keep kids busy and keep your coffee warm. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list because I haven’t even MENTIONED egg cartons and cardboard boxes. Personally I could always use more easy ideas to keep kids entertained, so please share yours in the comments below!
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