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Are you trying to work from home with your kids around? You need some engaging activities to keep your kids busy while you work. And I’ve got you covered!
Here are 50 of the things my kids enjoy doing while I’m busy working.
The activities on my list are:
- easy to set up
- perfect for independent play and discovery
My nine kiddos currently range in age from 1 to 18. Since there’s a pretty big age gap, these activities may not all be appropriate for your kids. Make sure you pick things that match their abilities.
Ready to keep your kids engaged while you write? Let’s dive in!
1. Toy Car Wash
Set out some toy cars. Have your kids turn a bucket of water and some towels into a car wash to get them clean.
You can even add a second bucket with soapy water if you want! Then they can wash in there and rinse in the clean water. My kids love using the larger O-Ball cars for this activity, as they are easier to hold and they don’t worry about them rusting:
2. Rainbow Noodle
Cook a pound of spaghetti according to the box directions. Then, drain it and add a little olive oil. Mix it up well so it doesn’t stick.
Divide the noodles into four bowls. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl. Stir well.
Let cool and have your kids play with the noodles. Learn more about what my kids enjoy doing with the noodles in this post.
3. Train Tracks
Train track sets are so versatile! Your kids can set them up like the directions say, or they can do something completely new.
Coloring books aren’t just for coloring! They’re a great way to practice literacy skills. Read this post for more details, and get each child a couple of coloring books and a new set of crayons.
5. Make a Marble Run
Give your kids a marble and a container. Tell them their challenge is to build a marble run using whatever they can find around the house.
6. Read a Book
Head to the library and let your kids each pick out some books to enjoy. Then they can sit and dive into an adventure in the pages to stay busy.
7. Write a Story
Get your kids a set of age-appropriate story starters, and have them write alongside you.
If they aren’t old enough to write, or they want to try something different, they can:
- Draw pictures
- Tell a story to their stuffed animal friends
- Act out a story
- Create a sequence of the story out of index cards
Do you have a play set outside? Bring your computer out to the porch so the kids can swing and play. The fresh air will do you both good!
9. Create Nerf Gun Targets
We love a good round of Nerf gun fun! Let your kids create targets out of paper plates, cardboard boxes, or anything else they can think of.
They can even create flaps that flip over when they get hit by a dart. My kids like using straws and duct tape to help with this.
Need a solid Nerf gun for beginnings? Check this one out:
10. Create a Board Game
With a file folder for a board and Hatchimals for pieces, your child can create a fun game. They can draw the spaces, make some cards, and figure out the rules.
11. Create a UPS Truck From a Box
My younger kids love creating a “QRPS” truck from an Amazon box. I turn them loose with crayons and they decorate to their hear’ts content.
Then, they create “mail” for the other kids out of paper. When they’re finished, they hop in their truck and deliver it.
They like handing out mail, and this project keeps the kids busy for a long time!
12. Paper Set
With a stack of paper, crayons, and scissors, your kids can create their own play sets.
Mine have made BBQ sets with hamburgers and hotdogs. The different toppings were cut out of construction paper, and they made some to order for playing pretend restaurant when they were done making them.
If your children enjoy paper crafts, get them an origami book and let them turn paper into all sorts of amazing things.
14. Paper Dolls
You can either purchase paper doll sets, print some off from the internet for you kids to decorate, or let them create their own.
My eight year old daughter loves the Little House Paper Dolls. She’s played with them for hours before reenacting parts of the story, or just telling her own adventures.
15. Extreme Dot to Dot
My ten-year-old son and seventeen-year-old daughter both enjoy Extreme Dot to Dots. They got these books with their curriculum, and it’s something I never have to ask them to do! They just willingly will sit and do dot to dots for a long time.
16. Create a Play Dough Creature
Set out some wiggly eyes, some spaghetti noodles (uncooked) and some play dough. Then let your children try to create different creatures.
Here’s one of the ones my seven-year-old made recently:
17. Solo Play a Game
You don’t have to play board games by the rules, especially if you’re playing by yourself! Here are five of our favorite games to play with creatively:
18. Set Up a Store
The kids can gather shoes, clothes, books, or anything really and create a store. They can add prices, and bring a toy cash register over to complete the scene.
After it’s set up, they can take turns buying and selling. After each round, they can practice stocking shelves and keeping the store clean.
So much pretend play to be done here! And my eight-year old recently bought this set with money she’d been saving. It’s added such a realistic flair to the stores they’ve been setting up.
Once she even made shopping lists for the other kids to select from.
19. Make a Pattern
Use stamps and let your kids experiment with pattern making. How complex of pattern can they make? Can a sibling guess the pattern successfully?
21. Build With Jenga Blocks
Jenga isn’t just for building towers! My kids love using the blocks to build barns, houses, and just unique buildings.
22. Paint with Shaving Cream
As long as you know your kids won’t eat the shaving cream, this is such a fun sensory activity! As a bonus it cleans the table while they play.
23. The Invention Challenge
Give each of your kids the same set of random supplies and let them invent something. Ideas for their supplies include:
- Paper plates
- Empty oatmeal container or box
- Construction paper
24. Make a Zip Line
With some Legos, can your child create a zip-line to carry a mini-figure down some bailing twine? It’s a fun creative challenge.
25. Write With Battleship Pegs
Did you know you can create messages with the game Battleship? Have your kids write short words using the pegs. It’s a great way to practice fine motor skills.
Want some other ideas on how to use Battleship creatively? Read this post:
7 Fun Ways to Play the Game Battleship
26. Scrub the Floor Pippi Style
Let your kids pour some water on the floor and skate around on towels to soak it up. My kids really enjoy this method of cleaning the floors!
(Of course if you have floors that can’t handle water very well, don’t do this!)
27. Match Socks
I hate socks. I especially hate matching socks up.
And we have an overflowing bucket of mismatched socks. I pay my kids a penny a pair if they sit and match them for me.
They stay busy and get paid. I get socks matched. Win, win! 😀
28. Balloon Play
How many times can your kids bop the balloon before it hits the ground? How many balloons can they carry before they start dropping them? Dancing with balloons is also fun!
29. Build a Fort
You can go classic, like a blanket over the table. Or, you can buy a cool set like this:
In the fort, your kids can read, eat a snack, or play camping.
30. Create a Race Track
An empty pizza box can be turned into an amazing race track. Add a couple of toy cars, and you’ve got a project to keep the kids busy for a while.
31. Make a Boat
What kind of boat can your child make from things around the house? Here’s a boat my five-year-old made out of aluminum foils. It held several pennies before sinking in the tub.
32. Sort Goldfish Crackers by Color
Get the rainbow gold fish, and let your little ones sort them by color. When they’re done sorting their handful, they can enjoy a little snack.
33. Create a Stop Motion Film
This one will keep them busy for a long time! First, they need to gather the supplies and props they need.
Then, they write a story and figure out what is going to happen. When they have that done, it’s time to start slowly moving the pieces. They take still pictures after each move. An app can be used to put them all together.
I’m currently reviewing this product with my kids for my homeschool blog. We are really enjoying it!
34. Make a Card
Who needs a little bit of handmade cheer? Your child can make a card and then write a note. They can address the envelope, put on a stamp, and make sure it gets to the mail box to go out.
35. Make a Duct Tape Bag
Give your kids some colorful duct tape and challenge them to make something cool. Here’s a purse my daughter made by herself:
36. Make an ABC List
Can your child write down an animal that starts with each letter of the alphabet? What about a type of food?
ABC lists are a fun way to keep kids busy!
37. Paper Collages
Set out the construction paper, scissors, and glue, and let your kids make collages. They can be simple or elaborate:
Do your kids get super exited about using the feather duster like mine do? They love tracking down cobwebs in corners and dust on the furniture.
Invest in a couple of dusters and get your house cleaned while you work! 😀
39. Toilet Paper Tube Telescope
Set out some supplies and see who can build the coolest toilet paper tube telescope. My kids enjoy putting stickers on these. They’ve also cut out shapes from construction paper and glued them on.
40. Make Cookies
Depending on the age of your child, they can cook or bake. My oldest enjoys making lemon bars as an occasional treat, and I came up with this chocolate chip cookie recipe for early readers.
My third and fourth graders have been making them for years now. They love being independent in the kitchen, and as long as I’m working at the dining room table, I can keep an eye on things while I work.
41. Dress Up
Each year right after Halloween, I head to the store and invest in a few costumes. Our dress up collection has gotten pretty good over the years.
My younger kids really enjoy dressing up and playing pretend. Some of their favorite collections:
42. Lincoln Logs
I bought several pounds of used Lincoln Logs on eBay. My kids love them!
Challenge your kids to build:
- A house
- A stable
- Two connected buildings
- A city scene
43. Calligraphy Practice
Hand lettering is an amazing skill to have! If your kids are interested, buy them a calligraphy book and supplies, and let them practice while you blog.
Or for the younger kids…
44. Make a Comic
Did you grow up reading Uncle Scrooge comics like I did? I loved those adventures so much!
Now my kids read Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes. No matter what comics your kids enjoy, they can create their own with some paper, a ruler for getting straight line, and some coloring supplies.
Or you can keep it easy and get a set like this:
45. Limited Lego Challenge
Take a plastic cup and scoop up a cupful of Lego bricks. They should be random pieces.
Each player gets one cupful. Then, challenge them to build something in a certain category. Ideas to get you started are:
- A building
- A vehicle
- Something from the room you’re in
- Something alive
- A stroller
You can also allow your kids to go pick five pieces once they see what they got from the cup. That way they know that they have wheels or whatever.
46. Domino Fall
Can your child use every domino in your set to create a build that will fall over when one is touched?
Since this is loud when the dominoes fall, having them in another room might be better. Tell them they can surprise you went you did.
47. Cookie Cutter Play
If your cookie cutters are plastic, not sharp metal, they make a fun learning manipulative.
With them, your children can:
- Make a pattern by tracing cookie cutters on to paper
- Sort them by color, holiday, or size
- Put them into a bucket and take them out (great for youngsters!)
- Wash the cookie cutters in the sink
For even more ideas see this post:
How to Use Cookie Cutters to Encourage Learning
48. Create an Obstacle Course
What kind of challenges can your child come up with, just by using items in the room? Could they jump from pillow to pillow?
Or weave in and out of chairs in a line?
Let your kids use their imaginations and come up with different activities to try. Then they can string them together into an obstacle course.
49. Match Letters with Letter Mat
This is the best toy for teaching kids their letters (in my opinion!)
- Pop the letters out and match them back in
- Make an ABC path on the floor and walk on it
- Build a house out of the letter frames and identify which ones are in there
- Hide the letters for a sibling to find
50. Create a Map
My elementary kids are really enjoying our map studies in social studies. They’ve been having fun trying to create their own maps of our house, their room, or our property.
What can your child create a map of?
50 Activities to Keep Kids Busy While You Work
There you have it. Fifty of my kids’ favorite activities to work on while I work.
Which one will your kids like the best? I’d love for you to tell me in the comments.
Want even more kid friendly activities? Check out my eBook, The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Family Writing Time. You’ll find dozens of additional activities to keep your kids engaged while you write.
Lisa Tanner loves helping busy moms find time to grow their own business. As a homeschooling mom to nine, she knows a thing or two about balancing diapers and deadlines.
No kids at home but when the grandkids come over I will have to remember all of these. Great ideas.
Thanks Candy, I hope your grandkids enjoy the activities!
susie liberatore says
There are so many great things here to do! OMG. My son would love a lot of these, thanks for sharing.
I hope your son has a lot of fun with these Susie!
Kimmy Ripley says
You have some really excellent activities noted here! I am really digging the rainbow noodles idea! Sounds like a ton of fun!
Kimmy Ripley recently posted…Extreme Pizza REVIEW – 26 Gourmet Signature Pizzas Available At This Grosse Pointe Pizza Parlor & A Way To Save On Your Next Visit
My kids had a blast with the rainbow noodles Kimmy. I hope yours enjoy it as much as mine did!
Brittany Limberakis says
These are all such great ideas! We love books and LEGO’s! Also I love the color noodle idea!
Thanks Brittany! Books and LEGOs are so fun!
Patricia @ Grab a Plate says
So many great ideas! I love the colored spaghetti! I’m going to send this to my sister — just talked to her and her little one is on spring break! Perfect timing!
Spring break is the perfect time to try some of these fun activities out Patricia! Thank you for passing this onto your sister.
Wow! What’s great list! I love how you guys used train tracks to make a marble run – I never would have thought of that! And thank you for listing all screen free activities!
It’s amazing what the kids can come up with when they’re given a challenge; they discovered the marble worked perfectly in the train track. I hope you found some activities that’ll work for your family Tiff!
I have never been able to get the noodle thing to work for me. Always ends up slimy or moldy.
I’m sorry to hear the noodle play hasn’t worked for you Kristen. We typically are able to save them in the fridge for about a week before they get tossed.