Having a baby at the start of a global pandemic was not on my radar when I pictured all of the things I would do as a new mom. COVID-19 has taken away most of the typical activities we all used to love and enjoy. I have a long list of plans and activities waiting for the day it is safe again. We’ve all had to alter our day to day activities and it can be hard on everyone, especially little ones (though I feel very lucky in the grand scheme that Marin is so young and doesn’t know any different).
Playtime is such a crucial part of childhood and even if it’s just within our own families and households, it’s so important for our kids to continuously exercise their imagination, learn, and socialize. I can’t believe we are coming up on basically a YEAR of staying home. We were fortunate to get beach days in the summer and of course we get outdoors a lot in Vermont but we have not otherwise done any of the usual things you’d do with your new baby. I want to share a few COVID friendly activities to hopefully help spark some fun in your household. Some of these we’ve done, others are fun ideas I hope to do and some are suggestions from all of you. I’m hoping this post offers some inspiration for you to share with your kiddos and make social distancing a little easier.
Below are a ton of recommended activities for your family, suited for kids of all ages. We’ll be working our way through this list all winter long. I also want to mention, many of you recommended @BusyToddler for lots of fun ideas that are inexpensive or free!
21 Covid Friendly Activities For Kids
Build An Indoor Gymnasium
This is especially fun for little ones learning their motor skills and a great indoor activity particularly for cold or rainy winter days. I can’t believe Marin has never even been to a park with swings and slides, need to do that, but I digress. You can use giant pillows, bean bags, activity foam blocks, tunnels, and Montessori ladders or balance boards. I just got this beautiful Montessori Climber for Marin’s first birthday and I can’t wait for her to use it. Before Marin was mobile she LOVED her Lovevery Play Gym.
Host A Movie Night
Times have changed and movie theaters are quite possibly a thing of the past? At least for now. Luckily video streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Max make it so easy to watch your favorite movies at home.
Make everyone’s favorite snacks or do a fun pizza night. Bust out the big cozy blankets, snuggle up, dim the lights and set the mood so you feel like you’re in the theater. This was seriously my favorite thing ever as a kid, remember Blockbuster? Lol. Marin isn’t quite old enough to make it through a movie but we’ll put on Sesame Street or Cocomelon and cuddle up in a soft blanket before bed sometimes and she loves it.
Do Arts and Crafts
Getting creative and messy can be very therapeutic, and crafts are such a great activity for kids (and caregivers). Who doesn’t love coloring and creating things that allows them to make choices, use their creativity, and make something they can be proud of! It’s also great for practicing focus and motor skills development for your little ones. Some fun activities are shaving cream art, sensory bins with things like dry pasta or oatmeal, finger painting (I love this mess free idea), cardboard playhouses, and making birdseed ornaments to hang on trees for bird watching.
For younger kids, washable markers and colored pencils are great because they make cleaning up any accidental strokes a lot easier. Outdoor painting and sidewalk chalk is fun too. Even better, send some of the kids artwork to family and friends as a thoughtful hand-made gift.
As you guys know, I love gardening. Teaching your kids how to plant a garden is not only fun, but it’s a life skill that empowers them to grow and cherish what they put in their own bodies. There is just something special about growing the food you eat yourself. Planting flowers in the ground or even potted plants is also fun and grounding. If you don’t know where to start, you can see some of my favorite gardening tools HERE. Being a part of the process from start to finish is something you can enjoy together.
Have you ever made fresh lemonade? It’s such a fun process and kids seriously love it (speaking from experience when I was a nanny this was always a hit)! Get fresh lemons from the store, squeeze them (a lemon squeezer or citrus juicer helps), mix with water and sugar, add ice and you’re good to go.
Build EPIC Forts
Forts are SO much fun and this was always hours of entertainment when I was a nanny. Kids love it and honestly it’s fun for adults too. Grab blankets, pillows, cardboard boxes, chairs, and anything else you have around the house. Build giant forts and bring books, toys or snacks. Grab a flashlight so you can see in the fort and maybe even make up some fun stories to tell.
Do A Workout Together
In the age of Covid, my gym is the living room. There are so many online fitness options to choose from (I love Obé and barre3). You can do a yoga class together, dance or even pilates. Marin is still a little young but she loves to join in when we do yoga. You can always take it outside too and go for a bike ride, play tennis, do jumping jacks or bust out the jump rope. Get that kid energy out!
Conduct Science and Experiments
Bring the science fair to your house. Trying something new is a great source of entertainment. The famous baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment is always fun, or you can try a science kit from the Smithsonian. There are tons of science experiment ideas HERE as well.
Cook or Bake Together
Experimenting in the kitchen alongside your kids is another way to engage their curious minds. It also doubles as a way for them to help around the house. Depending on their age, it’s best to assign them simple tasks like mixing, microwaving, washing the vegetables, or shaping chocolate-chip cookies. Learning the importance of household collaboration is so important. Plus the reward is fun and tasty! There are a ton of easy baking recipes HERE.
Go For Walks
Walks with kids are more than just physical activity. Walking is an adventure. Explore your neighborhood. Stop and smell the flowers. Touch the trees. You can walk and explore your surrounding area, get out for some fresh air, and soak up the sun (or snow) as a family. Marin LOVES her walks, rain, snow or shine and even if we just get out for a quick 10 minutes she is so happy. For bundling up in colder months I wrote a blog post with all of my favorite cold weather baby gear.
Organize A Scavenger Hunt
This one is super fun and a good way to keep a little one busy for hours. You can use household items, favorite toys, even fun snacks (just keep them in the wrappers so they don’t attract critters). Make a list of the items, hide them around the house and write out clues to find each item. Then send the kids off to find them. For toddlers, you can simply do this in a single room. For bigger kids you can send them around the entire house and even out in the yard for the hunt.
Throw a Family Game Night
A game night with kids is such a fun time! Both for the kids and adults. Grab any board games you have lying around the house and engage in a game of Candyland (my old fave), Scrabble, Monopoly, Chess, or any of your favorite board games. Puzzles, Jenga or charades on game night can be a blast. You can also try app style games like Heads Up or Trivia.
Try All Kinds Of Interactive Online Learning
I can’t even imagine how difficult it has been for parents navigating learning with school age kids. Online learning resources can help spark their curiosity and allow them to learn something new. Storyline is an online literacy website featuring actors reading children’s books alongside creative illustrations. Khan Academy is a totally free learning app with original interactive activities, books, animated videos, games, and creative lessons to captivate children’s attention on subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math. National Geographic Kids has games, videos and lots of educational information presented in a fun way for kids.
Have a Bubble Party
Kids LOVE bubbles. You can buy hand held bubble blowers, bubble machines, or even learn how to make giant bubbles using the sticks and rope method. Blowing and chasing bubbles is a great outdoor activity or indoor if you’re ok with the clean up. Have a fun daytime bath with lots of bubbles for an indoor activity. Bath bombs are always a fun activity too.
Put On A Puppet Show
Little ones especially love this fun twist on story time. Grab some puppets (or a sock), hide behind a counter or a couch if you don’t have a puppet theater and act out a little show. This one is so easy, the hardest part is coming up with a storyline. Hopefully you guys are good storytellers, haha! I usually make something up about the dogs, anything with Nora, Fuji and Hunter is a favorite of Marin.
Ok so I loved collecting rocks as a kid and spoiler alert, I still do. I have a wooden bowl at our house in RI with all of my favorites. It’s a great outdoor activity that you can make feel like a treasure hunt, shells are great too. You can also turn it into a painting activity and decorate them for artwork to use around the house or in the yard.
You don’t need an actual bowling set to do this. Just grab a ball, and anything that can be knocked over that isn’t fragile. You can use cups, your child’s favorite bath toys or figurines, even stacked toilet paper rolls works great. Get creative with it.
Play With Pipe Cleaners
Pipe cleaners for kids can be so much fun. They can create figurines, crowns, animals, or even make their name using them. HERE is a great list of ideas and activities. For toddlers and babies, stringing beads on pipe cleaners is great for developing their motor skills.
Wash The Cars
Turn a chore into a fun activity with the kids. Anyone else love to do this as a kid? I was always offering to wash my parent’s cars. Any chance to spray the hose and play with a big bucket of soapy water. You might have to bring the car to an actual car wash afterwards but it’s certainly fun for the kiddos.
Outdoor Winter Activities
We have had so much fun outside this winter in Vermont. Dare I say I am becoming a full on winter person. If your kids are old enough to snowboard or ski, that’s a great activity to do as a family. For little ones the Burton chicklet is a great way to learn with the Riglet Reel. If they’re smaller, you can try sledding, making snowmen, or snow angels. A lot of you recommended the Thule Chariot Ski kit to take little ones xc skiing (I’ve seen lots of people using them in Vermont on nordic trails). Marin loves this little red sled that we tow her around the yard in (it’s tiny so ideal for probably under 1 she is already outgrowing it).
Visit Outdoor Beaches And Parks
Outdoor areas in your neighborhood are always a good option if they’re not too crowded. Go to the beach, bring snacks, and play in the water. Or head to the park, have a picnic, and bring outdoor games. Last summer we got the Burley Minnow to hook up to our bikes and ride to the beach. Marin loved it and it’s big enough to fit all of our beach stuff so we could bring a tent, umbrella, towels, and lunch.
What activities are you doing with your family to stay busy during Covid-19?
I would love to know what activities you and your families are trying. As Marin gets older I’m sure we’ll find more and more things to do. Any ideas you can share, please send them my way in the comments below. I’m happy to add them to this list and I’m hoping to expand this list of favorite Covid friendly activities for kids. Hopefully, you’ve gathered a little inspiration to create some fun for you and your little ones.
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