When the Bit was sick the other week, I decided to keep track of all the things we did during that day, just to see how we managed to entertain ourselves and to document just how busy a kid this age can be, even when she’s sick. (As I mentioned in the Day of Art post, she did four different art activities in less than 40 minutes!)
I thought, then, that it might be instructive to other people who are looking for things to do with their kids, especially with Spring Break coming along, but also just for sick days, rainy days or any other day you’re having trouble coming up with something to do. It’s a happy coincidence I came up with 64 activities to eliminate “March Madness” or stir-craziness that happens now or at any other time of year (I refuse to believe there are actually 68 teams involved. Those first four games do not count.)
The beginning of this list is actually things we did while she was sick, more or less in order. The rest are things we do a lot but didn’t happen on those two days. But many of these are answers to that “what can we do?” question so often asked by so many kids.
- Read. We read a lot, all the time, but reading happened a few more times than normal when she was home sick.
- Play with farm animals. The Bit has a collection that lives in the bathroom and loves traveling around the tub.
- Play in the bathroom. We have a whirlpool tub in our bathroom that she just learned how to climb in and out of while she was sick. It remains to be seen if this is a good thing.
- Draw on the white board.
- Play with magnetic letters.
The Bit is proud of her work with the letters.
- Play with the items in the old sensory box while mama’s trying to clean it out.
- Play with the new sensory box.
- Play with your regular sensory stuff.
- Play with phones. Play phones, real phones that aren’t hooked up, my girl loves them all.
- Play with blocks. We have a couple of different kinds of wooden blocks, cardboard blocks, Mega blocks (a set upstairs and down) so we actually did this a few times, too. Bonus points if you can turn cleanup into a color sorting activity.
Building a tower with cardboard blocks.
- “Cutting” projects. Sure you can use actual scissors, but the Bit has lately been trying to cut felt with tweezers!
Look at that concentration!
- Play a toy piano. Or a real one, if you have one. Or a xylophone.
- Drums. We have so many this gets to be its own category. Bells and other percussion instruments are good, too.
- Busy box. My girl has the B Toys Zany Zoo busy box, and she likes to play with the alphabet tiles and the little animals that go up and down on tracks.
- Have a snack. If your kid is old enough, have him or her participate in the making of the snack.
- Play with busy bags! We came back to these again and again.
- Play in the other bathroom.
- Carry things between floors that are possibly too heavy/unwieldy for a toddler to carry. Only works if you have two floors…but watching her try to carry her toy shopping cart upstairs was pretty funny.
About a minute later she said “you have to do this.” :)
- Nap. If your kids are young enough. Nap with them if you can. Or just be silly in bed together.
- Play outside if the weather is OK or if you have a covered place (even opening the garage door and putting some toys in there on a rainy day can count as “outside”).
My favorite picture from a day full of taking pictures.
- Give toys a bath.
- Play with water beads. Or combine these two, like we did.
- Dress up.
- Play with/talk to stuffed animals.
- Watch a little TV (she was sick, after all).
- Play with playdough. Or make your own.
- Color with crayons on a big piece of paper on the floor.
- Make and use liquid watercolors.
- Use fingerpaints. Or regular paints.
- Use markers and stickers.
- Play with sidewalk chalk.
- Have a dance party. We usually do this with her on our bed and us on the floor, but the bed is optional.
- Take a bath or shower together. Only if no one in the family is icked out by that.
- Do “yoga.” The Bit loves to get out my mat and try to do different moves (most of which involve touching her toes, then laying down).
- Take them shopping. OK, not great if you have a real sickie on your hands, but my girl was fine to sit in a cart and not breathe on people. Besides, we were having a milk crisis.
- Let them play iPad. This is not an every day thing in our house, but she does get it on the weekends, and she got a little extra when she was home sick.
- Play with cars. Make a track or obstacles on the floor if you want. Some day I’m going to make some fabric road for us to play with.
- Play trains.
- Have a tea party.
- Play with a doll house. Or just with dolls. The Bit loves rocking her dolls and putting them to sleep in her cradle.
- Lace wooden beads. Or play with beads and pipe cleaners.
- Do puzzles.
- This one is probably just in my house, but pretend to knit. Or just play with yarn.
- Play with balls. Rolling, throwing, kicking, or bouncing off your hands and missing catching it on purpose. It’s hilarious to little kids when you mess up.
- Play with colored rice.
- Or cloud dough.
- Or anything else you can pour from one container to another.
- Make a fort with blankets and a table or chairs.
- Or just pile blankets and pillows on the floor and read. Or have a “picnic.” Outside or in.
- Throw a big bag of buttons of different shapes on the floor and play I-spy (we did this one last weekend and it was fun; again we did part of clean up sorting by color).
- Play with a toy camera. Or a pretend camera.
- Chase the cat. Or the dog. Or just run around in circles. It may help if you start by chasing your kid.
- Play “hide and seek.” At this point, the differences between hide and seek and peekaboo are not incredibly clear in our household, but it’s fun either way.
- Sing songs. Bonus points for ones with dances or movements involved.
- Make up songs.
- Make up stories. We’re also going to be needing some story stones pretty soon.
- Find an old keyboard and play “computer.”
- Let the kid loose in your office and see what she finds to play with (not for the faint-hearted).
- Play kitchen. If you don’t have an actual play kitchen, give the kid some bowls, cups, spoons, etc. to play with.
- Give your child an interesting surface to paint on or something different to paint with. My girl has a giant wooden A in her room that I painted a base color and she painted over and she loved it. Or try making different textured paint brushes (you can buy these, too) to see what your kid will do.
- Keep a toy or a box of toys in reserve for stir-crazy times. Thanks to some sales and pre-buying, I now have a good collection of semi-educational toys (sorting bears, puzzles, sticker pages and the like) that would be great to pull out when we’ve been home together a little too long.
- Or keep an easy sensory/art activity in your back pocket that you can whip up while the kiddo is waiting or during a nap to play with later that day (that’s actually what I did with the watercolors, though we didn’t use them until the next day). Try gel bags. Or make your own glitter. Or make stamps out of bottle caps and foam stickers. Or search Pinterest for something to do with something you have a lot of.
- Do some baking or cooking. Bigger kids can help, but little kids will enjoy watching while you narrate.
- Give lots of hugs and kisses. While you still can. Snuggle on the couch, in bed, on your mountain of pillows. Give lots and lots of love. Enjoy your wild child.
What do you like to do with your kids when they’re sick, or it’s raining? I’d love your additions to the list.
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