The big kids are at home with you for several days or weeks. Get ahead of the “Mooooooooooommm, I’m bored” groans, sloth tendencies, and arguments about screen-time. How? Not only can you come up with a good routine for yourself and your family, but you can also try out these ideas for big kid activities for your days at home.
Help your big kids start to manage their own days.
Implement a routine. Routine not monotony.
Make a (flexible) plan and stick to it. Your big kids have a routine when they are in school or at camp. They spend a certain amount of time on a given subject, activity, or experience. Likewise, you spend your day in a routine filled with certain tasks and experiences. Routines help us manage our days and prioritize our responsibilities.
Continue with their normal morning and bedtime routines. Then, help them break their day into digestible bits filled with engaging and educational or helpful tasks.
Help them identify 2 tasks or activities (ideas below) they will work on between breakfast and lunch. This could be accomplished through conversation, a homemade choice chart, a Popsicle stick pull, or another decision-making method.
Do they need to continue working on any morning goals after lunch? If so, keep at it. If not, what will they do after lunch? Choose another 1-2 activities.
What is their usual after-school routine? Can it continue or be adapted even though the kids are not in school? Try to continue with or adapt the “after school” routine to look and feel similar.
Take the kids on a quick walk around the neighborhood or to run a few quick errands and plan to get home around the time they typically would get home from school. This “arrival” home could ease the transition into the evening and bedtime routines.
Remember Your Needs
When helping kids make these decisions, remember your own needs. If you are working from home, consider what you can and cannot help with during the day. Think about any amount of uninterrupted time you need to achieve your own goals and deadlines, and what errands need to be completed to keep your home running smoothly.
If possible, try and sneak in a little bit of me-time because you can’t run on an empty tank.
10 Big Kid Activities for Days at Home
To get the get big kids excited about each day, provide engaging choices that double as educational for them and/or helpful to your household.
Have each kid pick a topic they want to learn more about and spend 30 minutes each day learning about that topic.
- Encourage them to learn through a combination of screen time, time reading books, time outside, and time in conversation with a friend, family member, or neighbor (in person, via text or email, or over the phone.)
Challenge them to bake or cook something new each day (and clean up after themselves.)
- If you haven’t gotten out of the house to pick up ingredients, challenge them to make something tasty with the ingredients available. This will require critical thinking and potentially some research about ingredient substitutions if your pantry is low.
Use all the Legos and building toys in the house to make one giant structure.
- Check out this 30 Day Lego Challenge Calendar for lots of building ideas!
Challenge them to plan and create a Rube Goldberg machine.
- If the weather is nice, have them make the Rube Goldberg machine outside. For an added challenge, only use materials found in nature!
Work on a puzzle.
Listen to a podcast.
- Check out Common Sense Media for The 25 Best Podcasts for Kids.
Help them to record their own podcast.
- Remember those 30 minutes per day of studying something interesting? Help them share their knowledge in an audio recording then publish it…or simply send it to Grandma & Grandpa!
- Having them listen to a few podcasts by different people might help them get ideas about how to make their podcast engaging for the audience.
Learn a new skill. Teach a new skill from start to finish then have them practice!
- Do your big kids know how to do laundry from start (pile of dirty laundry) to finish (folded and put away)?
- Have your big kids practiced making their beds from scratch? Have them take off all the sheets (this could be a good time to wash the sheets!) and re-make their beds.
- Do they know how to play chess? If not, now would be a great time to learn. Check out this post: Teaching My Son to Play Chess Taught Me to Be a Better Dad
- Ask them to brainstorm a skill they would like to learn that would enhance their independence.
Have them sort through their clothes and set aside clothes to donate that they’ve outgrown or no longer wear.
- Make sure they are only setting aside clothes to donate that are in good enough condition to continue to be worn by someone else.
- Take your kids with you when you donate those clothes to a local organization.
Let them rearrange their bedrooms.
- Rearranging rooms allows kids to clean up their bedroom floor (have them vacuum while they’re at it!), make a plan about how they will rearrange, execute that plan, review their work, and show off their accomplishment!
There are so many ways to keep older kids busy. These are just a few big kid activities! What ideas do you have?
Here are some ideas to keep the younger ones entertained: 20 Things to Do with Young Kids When You’re Stuck Inside