It’s raining outside and the kids are bored, here are a few ideas to keep the whole family entertained without resorting to the television or screens. We all like to watch TV but it is nice to switch it off sometimes so we can interact with each other!
If your household is like ours you will have older kids and younger kids and you will know that it can be very difficult to please the entire family!
While some of these activities are probably best suited to younger kids you might be able to convince the older kids to help the little ones with some of the trickier tasks, most are suitable for all family members and will definitely fill a few hours and keep the kids entertained.
1. Build a den.
I often find that kids and adults alike get a lot of fun out of building a den. All you need is a couple of sheets a few household items and some imagination.
We like to go big and take up the whole living room floor. You can decorate the inside with fairy lights, soft cushions, and throws and the little ones might like to bring some of their stuffed animals in to play with. It’s surprising how much fun the whole family can have with something so simple. You can read stories together, blow bubbles, play a card game and just spend quality time together. Our dens have been known to stay up for a couple of days!
2. Make your own play-dough.
I have tried a number of play dough recipes over the years but this is the one that I find has the nicest consistency and lasts the longest. This is so simple to make that it is a great activity in itself to do with the kids.
To make this play dough you will need;
- 2 cups plain flour
- 3/4 cup salt
- 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (coconut oil works too)
- Food coloring (optional)
- Baking paper
- Zip locked bags
Put the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a pan over a low heat, you can also add a few drops of essential oil at this pint if you like. Add the water, oil, and food colouring and stir well until it becomes a nice springy dough. Put your warm dough onto a sheet of baking paper and once it has cooled knead it till you are happy with the consistency.
My kids have so much fun with play dough, they love rolling it out and making shapes and usually make pretend food out of it. It’s a really fun way for them to improve their motor skills and to make their own fun together using their imaginations.
3. Play the story game.
This is a favourite game in our house as it is one that the whole family can play together. It is very simple and you can let your imagination go wild. We usually sit at the dining table for this but you can also sit in a circle. The first person starts off the story then next add a bit and so on until the story is complete. The story usually ends up pretty funny as we all try to make it as incredible as we can!
4. Make a suncatcher.
This is an ideal craft to do with young kids as it doesn’t require scissors or glue.
For this craft you will need;
- 2 pieces of sticky back plastic pre-cut into the shape that you want.
- A black construction paper frame, also pre-cut.
- Some different coloured tissue paper.
First, get the kids to tear up the tissue paper into small pieces and then place your frame onto one of the sticky back plastic pieces. Let the kids choose the colours of tissue paper they like and then they can stick them straight onto the sticky back plastic. When it is completely covered they can stick the second piece of sticky back plastic onto it. Little ones might need a bit of help from an older family member with this part.
Your suncatcher is now ready to stick on the window. They look really pretty when the sun shines through them and can last for years.
5. Bake some cookies.
Our family loves to spend time in the kitchen together and baking is a great opportunity to teach kids how to weigh out ingredients and follow simple instructions while having lots of fun. This simple cookie recipe makes 10 perfectly soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies. If you want to make more just double the recipe. For chocolate chip cookies you will need;
- 120g butter, softened
- 75g light brown sugar
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 180g plain flour
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 150g dark chocolate chips.
- 1/4 tsp of salt
Preheat the oven to 180 c and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter and the sugars together until fluffy and then beat the egg and the vanilla into the mixture. Add the flour, bicarb, salt, and chocolate chips and stir until evenly mixed.
Spoon small amounts of the mixture onto the baking paper making sure that you leave enough space for them to spread. This mixture should make around 10 cookies depending on the size you make them. Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, they should be firm around the edges but still a bit soft in the middle and leave to cool. My kids have a lot of fun making these but even more fun eating them!
6. Dress up and put on a show.
This really is a great activity that the entire family can get involved in. Suggest the kids write their own script and you might find it really gets their creative juices flowing and they may come up with some really amazing ideas.
Once they have planned their show they can have fun choosing and dressing up in their costumes and they might want to have their faces painted before they are ready to put on their show.
This fun activity has been known to take hours in our house from the planning stage to the performance of their show for the older family members of the family. Our kids love any excuse to dress up and perform and this is a really good opportunity for family members of all ages to work together in creating something really fun.
7. Have a pamper day.
- This is a really lovely way for all of the family members to enjoy spending some relaxing time together pampering ourselves. We like to start with a face mask as it feels nice and makes us look funny! You can buy face masks quite cheaply or you can make your own very cheaply a good recipe to use for children is,
- 1 tablespoon yogurt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
It is suitable for sensitive skin so should be kind to little ones and has the added bonus of smelling like chocolate!
We also like to give each other a manicure. A lovely hand or foot massage with some nice smelling oil or hand cream can be very relaxing and the kids will especially love doing it for Mum or Dad. This can be topped off by having our nails painted if we want.
8. Make milk carton bird feeders.
This is a really nice make that is lots of fun, good for the birds and is a good way to recycle your cardboard milk or juice carton. For this make you will need;
- A milk/juice carton
- Some card or twigs to make a roof
- Hot glue
- Buttons, gems, or anything you would like to decorate with
- A lolly stick
- Some string.
First, you will need to cut a hole in either side of your milk carton large enough for a bird to be able to fit through. Hot glue your roof onto your birdhouse and then go mad with the decoration. Thread some string through the top and then it’s ready to hang. Put some birdseed in the bottom of your feeder and enjoy watching the birds come into your garden.
9. Crazy dance party.
This is a regular occurrence in our house and a big hit with the entire family! This is a great boredom buster that will really lift anyone’s mood. Just stick on some fun music and go crazy.
We like to see who can do the craziest dance. It’s a really good way of getting physical exercise when the weather is bad outside. If you are having a nighttime dance party you could use disco lights and/or glow sticks to make it extra fun.
10. Making and racing paper airplanes.
This is a cheap and easy craft activity that the whole family can join in with. Depending on your child’s age they might need a little help with making their paper airplane but the big kids should manage with a bit of instruction. You can use this as a great opportunity to teach kids about gravity and the great challenge is finding the most aerodynamic design. It’s one of those fun activities that can keep them busy around the house for ages and hardly costs a penny.
11. Glass painting.
This is a really fun activity that all family members will enjoy and looks really effective.
For this activity, you will need;
- The glass from a cheap photo frame.
- Some acrylic paints or chalk pens.
- A picture to trace around.
- A thin black sharpie.
Place your picture underneath the glass, for young children you can use a simple coloring page and draw around the outlines in black sharpie straight onto the glass. Once you have your picture outline you can paint in your details. Start with the face and any other details and then wait until the paint dries. Once your paint has dried you can color in your picture. Once it has completely dried you can turn your picture over and it is done. If your kids love painting this is a super fun activity and it looks really good. Once completed they might like to put on an art show and get a family member to judge who’s they think is the best.
12. Hide and seek.
This game is pretty self-explanatory and I am sure most of us have played hide and seek before. The rules are one person counts while everyone else hides around the house and then the person who was counting has to go and find them. The last person to be found wins and then it is their turn to count. Our family loves to play hide bo seek as we call it although some are better than others! My youngest finds it very difficult to stay quiet so will always be found first! If you are playing with very little ones it would be a great idea to pair them up with an older one so they get a good hiding place and don’t get discovered first.
13. Scavenger hunt.
A super fun activity to keep the kids entertained is to create a scavenger hunt for them to do around the house. You can get the kids to work together in teams or individually depending on how many kids are playing. Depending on their age you can send them around the house looking for things such as something pink or something that you wind up. The longer the list the longer it will take for the kids to complete! A scavenger hunt is always a big hit in our house!
14. Science experiment
My family is always looking for fun things to do and particularly during the first lockdown in 2020 we became really interested in science and finding out how things work. Here are three simple science experiments that are quick and easy to set up.
For this you will need;
- A glass bowl
- A whiteboard marker
Draw a simple picture or shape directly onto the glass bowl and then slowly add the water to make the picture lift off the glass and dance on top of the water. This is a great science experiment to do with little ones as they will be fascinated to see their pictures dance on top of the water.
This is a really simple way of teaching children that hot air rises. All you need is a teabag and a lighter or match. Carefully take the tea out of the teabag and puff it up. Set the teabag alight and it will float in the air. This is because the bag is so light the hot air makes it rise.
Egg in a milk bottle.
Ask your child to try and fit a peeled hardboiled egg into the milk bottle. It might be a good idea to have a few eggs just in case! There is no way that the egg is going to fit by just trying to squeeze it in there! If you light a piece of paper and drop it into the bottle it will cause the air to air to expand, sit the egg on top of the bottle, and when the fire goes out the air contracts again causing the egg to suck into the bottle! This is a fun but relatively safe experiment if you light the fire and it is quite dramatic to watch the flame and then the egg squeeze inside.
15. Bake a cake and decorate it.
This is a big favorite of our family as you get to eat the finished product! Baking is lots of fun and a good opportunity to work together as a family. Children learn measuring skills and how to read the scales and there are lots of chances to taste along the way. A simple sponge recipe is;
- 6oz of flour
- 6oz of sugar
- 6oz of butter or margarine
- 3 eggs
- Cake tin
Grease the cake tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the flour and eggs. Once the mixture is combined transfer into the cake tin and bake in the oven at around 180c for around twenty or thirty minutes. Your cake is done when you can stick a skewer in it and it comes out clean. Allow your cake to cool completely before taking it out of the tin.
Once cooled your cake is ready to decorate. A big favorite in our house is butter icing. To make this you will need, 600g of icing and 300g of butter. Mix together fully and spread on top of your cake. I usually provide a variety of choices and let the children decide their own toppings on the cake and it is often piled high with goodies. Your cake is now ready to enjoy.
16. Make sock puppets and put on a show.
This is a really nice way to get creative with your kids and let your imaginations run wild. Pick out some longish ankle socks, trainer socks are no good for this craft. We’ve always got a big bag of odd socks that would be perfect for this! Depending on the age of your child and how much patience you all have you can either sew or glue onto your sock to create your characters. Buttons work really well for eyes and scrap material or felt can be used to make ears and a mouth. A really easy puppet to make is a dog with floppy ears but you can make anything you can imagine. Once all of your puppets are ready you can all put on a show.
17. Family board games.
Our family likes a board game but we can tend to get competitive so we all have to be in the right frame of mind to play or it can end in tears! Our absolute favorite game to play is Cluedo as the whole family can play, it gets everyone thinking without getting too rowdy. We normally pair up the younger kids with one of their older siblings making this a really good board game for a large family.
Some of our other favorites are;
- Snakes and ladders
- Guess who
- Connect 4
When we play a board game as a family it gets us talking and working together without the distractions of mobile phones and tablets. If you really wanted to get creative you could always invent your own board game. You might be amazed at how inventive you all can be!
18. Make a time capsule.
A time capsule is a really nice thing to do with your family and I think that this would work particularly well with school-aged kids. Ask your kids to write letters to their future self telling them what life is like right now, they could write what is going on in the world, what they like to eat, what music they like to listen to, whatever they want to write. Encourage your children to dream big and make a vision board of their aspirations in life at that time. Put everything in a tin or bottle and bury them somewhere in your garden. When you come to dig it up in years to come you can guarantee that they will enjoy reading them and wonder at how much life has changed for them and did any of their aspirations come true.
19. Research your family tree.
This is one of the most interesting and fun things I have done with my kids. We had lots of fun looking at the old family photos and learning about our family history. It’s a great way to learn about the bigger picture of where we come from and I would highly recommend the experience.
20. Make jewelry.
My kids absolutely love making friendship bracelets. The easiest way to make a friendship bracelet is to do a simple braid out of three different coloured threads the more threads you use the thicker your bracelet will be.
A great activity to do with your younger children would be to make pasta necklaces. Kids can spend hours painting the pasta in different colours and then threading it on some string making some beautiful creations for you to keep forever.
21. Paint rocks.
This simple and fun activity can keep your kids busy for hours and they can come up with some really fun things to write and paint. In our town, there is a game where people hide their painted rocks and write a message on the back asking the person who finds them to rehide them. There is a Facebook group for the town where people can post where they have found their rocks and it is amazing how far some of them have traveled.
22. Sensory bottles.
This is a nice easy make that your child can have fun playing with once it’s done. For this make you will need;
- A plastic water bottle. I like the Voss bottles because they are nice and wide and can be turned upside down.
- Food coloring
- PVA glue
- Hot glue
Put a few drops of the coloring into the water and shake your bottle until your water changes color. Pour in as much glitter as you would like and then squeeze in some PVA glue. Shake up the mixture until it is fully combined. The PVA glue will give the water a thicker consistency while keeping it clear. If you like at this point you could add some small toys or shells and then you will need to hot glue the lid of the bottle shut. Seal the join of the lid with some painter’s tape and your sensory bottle is ready to go. We have a bottle still that we made years ago that is still as good as when we made it. Sensory bottles can be good as a calming tool for children with sensory processing issues. For more information about Sensory processing read my article. (link)
23. Post-it note game.
This little game is tons of fun and is always a big hit with my kids. Each person gets a post-it note with either an animal, a famous person, or a job title on it. Sitting in a circle we each take turns to ask a question until we have all guessed who we are. For younger children who cannot read yet, you can get a game called Headbanz which is the same principle but has pictures on cards that fit on a headband that you wear. This is a fun game that can create a lot of giggles.
24. Make birdseed hearts.
This is a lovely way to encourage birds into your garden and help them through the winter months.
For this you will need;
- A heart-shaped cookie cutter
- Some string
- A tray
- Baking paper
Mix your gelatin in the recommended amount of warm water and then add the birdseed to it and mix thoroughly. Line the tray with baking paper. Press the birdseed mix tightly into the cookie cutter and then gently push out onto the baking paper and poke a hole into the top so you can thread your string. Put in the fridge overnight and then your bird feeders are ready. Thread your string and your heart is ready to hang off a tree.
25. Dinosaur excavation.
While this isn’t a DIY it is an activity that my children can spend ages on. Dinosaur excavation is basically plastic dinosaur bones and fossils encased in a block of plaster of Paris that the kids chip away at until they have found all of them. This can get messy but you can contain the mess by putting the kit on a tray or a large oven dish. You can often get dinosaur excavation kits from the pound shop or there are plenty on Amazon at varying prices I found this one for £9.99
26. Paper mache masks.
Kids often love to get messy and this is the perfect craft for budding artists to get busy with. For this make you will need;
- A balloon.
- lots of newspaper
- PVA glue
This make might take some time so you might want to spread it out over two days.
Blow up a balloon and tie a knot in it. This is going to be the shape of your face. Tear up the newspaper into strips and dip them into a mixture of water and PVA, drape the newspaper over one side of the balloon, and build up layers until you have one thick layer. Mold a nose shape out on the newspaper and then leave your mask to dry. Once dry pop the balloon so your mask is free. Cut around the edges until you are happy with the shape of your mask. Draw where you would like the eyes to go and then carefully cut them out. Your mask is now ready to paint. Once painted you can add some hair with your wool. Once the paint and glue are dried you can either put some string on it and wear it or hang it on the wall. My kids had a lot of fun making their masks and it was surprising how different they all were.
27. Make slime.
This makes a really good experiment come sensory play opportunity and is really simple to make.
You will need;
Contact Lens Solution make sure the one you buy contains boric acid (borax) in the ingredients list. It simply won’t work without this.)
Gel food colouring (Liquid food colouring alters the recipe and doesn’t work as well .)
Pour a cup of PVA glue into a bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda, mix well, if you are adding a colour you should do it now. Add a tablespoon of the contact lens solution and whip it up with the spoon until it is stringy. Take the mix out of the bowl and knead together until you are happy with the consistency. It should feel stretchy and bouncy if it still feels a little sticky add a little bit more contact lens solution. You can add the glitter at this point if you want to. If you keep your slime in an airtight container it should last a few weeks.
28. Finger knitting.
This is a very easy process that looks really nice and you can use your finger knitted chain to make all sorts of things. The thickness of your chain depends on how many fingers you use this works really well with chunky wool. I am going to show you how to finger knit with two fingers but you can use one up to four fingers if you want.
Weave a figure of eight with your wool holding onto the end so you don’t lose the end and then repeat the pattern above the first figure of eight. Pul the first figure of eight over the top of the top one and pull tight and then repeat the process. Carry on until you are happy with the length of your chain. I find this quite therapeutic and is a nice calming activity to do with the kids.
29. Paper spinner.
This simple game is fun to make and mesmerizing to play with. To make this you will need;
- Some thick cardboard, you can cut up a cardboard box for this.
- Some white paper
- glue stick
- Some string
- A darning needle
Trace around a cup to make two circles of paper and one circle of cardboard. Cut out your circles and then stick your paper circles on either side of the cardboard circle and decorate. The more colourful the better. Put two holes through the middle of the circle 1 cm apart. Thread your string through the hole, your string needs to be about 40cm long. Tie the end, place your disc in the centre of the string, and then pull. Your disk will spin and give your spinner a beautiful kaleidoscope effect.
30. Pasta art.
This is a fun one to do with the little kids, all you need is some paper, paint, PVA glue, and an assortment of pasta shapes. Let your kids go wild creating pictures out of the pasta shapes, sticking them to the paper with the PVA. Allow their picture to dry and then they can paint their pasta creations.
31. Make shadow puppets and a puppet theatre.
For this, you will need;
- A cardboard box, a large cereal box will do.
- Tracing paper
- lolly sticks or skewers
Cut one side off the cereal box and then cut a large rectangle out of the other side so it creates a frame. You can paint your frame or stick wrapping paper to it to decorate it. Tape the tracing paper onto the inside of the frame and your shadow theatre is ready.
To create your puppets you will need to draw your characters onto the card and cut them out. Tape your skewers onto the back of the characters and you are ready to go. Shine a light behind the tracing paper and you will be able to see your puppets through it. The kids will have lots of fun making shows for you.
32. Lego contest.
Lego is a big deal in our house and we have a lot of it. My favourite lego isn’t the kits it’s the everyday lego that sparks imagination and open-ended play. We often have lego contests where we decide we all have the same topic to make and we see who comes up with the best. The winner is decided by a vote. This can go on and on as I have mentioned before my kids are pretty competitive!
33. Make a fortune teller.
This little origami fortune teller game will keep your kids busy for a while. Little ones might need some help with the folding but can have lots of fun writing or drawing on them. You will need a perfectly square piece of paper. It is very simple to make and you can follow my picture guide. Fold the top right point into the bottom left and open, then fold the top left onto the bottom right. You should now have a perfect cross meeting in the middle of the square. Fold each of the points of your square into the centre and you will now have a smaller square. Turn your square over and turn those points into the middle. Fold your square in half and you should now be able to fit your fingers inside the flaps. Push your fingers together and your fortune teller will pop up. Your fortune teller is now ready to decorate.
34. The supermarket game.
This simple game is suitable for the whole family and will help improve your memory. Sit in a circle and the first person to start will say I went to the shops and bought a loaf of bread say, the second person will then say I went to the shops and bought a loaf of bread and some dog food, the next person will have to remember bread, dog food and add something else. It carries on like this until it gets too difficult to remember. In my house, the younger ones are much better at this game than us older ones!
35. Face painting.
I have already mentioned face painting in relation to putting on a show but my little ones love any excuse to have their faces painted and is a really good way to encourage imaginative play. You can get some really good ideas to copy off the internet, I use the guides from Snazaroo I also use the Snazaroo face paints as I think they are really good quality and last a long time. You can buy Snazaroo on Amazon at
36. Have a carpet picnic.
My children love an indoor picnic, we just set up some blankets on the living room floor and enjoy a feast of sandwiches, scones, cakes, and biscuits. You can invite the teddy bears too if you like they love a tea party! This activity can be made even better by getting the kids to help prepare the food you eat.
37. Make dreamcatchers.
These pretty dreamcatchers are easy to make and might be extra helpful if you have a child that suffers from nightmares.
You will need;
- A paper plate
- A hole punch
- Some wool
- Some beads, feathers whatever you want to decorate with.
Cut the centre of your paper plate out and punch some holes around the edges. Turn your plate upside down and tape one end of your wool to the paper plate, thread your wool through the holes making a zig-zag pattern until you are happy with your design. Tie three lengths of wool to the bottom holes so that they hang down and thread some beads onto them, tie some feathers to the ends and your dream catcher is ready to hang above your bed.
38. Make paper fans.
Get the kids to colour on both sides of a sheet of paper, the brighter and more patterned the better. Fold a cm of the paper over and then turn your paper over, fold another cm and turn over again. Repeat until your fan is complete.
39. Make a marble maze.
For this, you will need a collection of cardboard tubes, Kitchen roll tubes, and pringles cartons are perfect. Cut about half of your tubes in half, these will act as a slide for your marbles. The other tubes, ideally your pringles cartons will be the towers. make a semi-circle opening near the top of your tube, big enough to fit the start of your slide in, and cut a semi-circle into another tube lower down so your slide is pointing downwards. You can add as many towers and slides as you like depending on how many tubes you have. The kids will have had fun working out how to make it and will have lots of fun playing with it.
40. Make cards.
There are all sorts of different cards that your children can make but I find the best ones are when they have free reign to use their imagination. Provide them with some cards, glue, pens/crayons, gems, pom poms, scraps of material whatever you have, and let them go wild. My children made some beautiful cards with pressed flowers and leaves stuck on them you really can use anything.
41. Domino rally.
This is such a simple idea but great for concentration and causes a lot of excitement when you knock them all down. You will need a flat surface to be able to do this, the dining table is perfect. Stand your dominos up on their ends a couple of cms apart. Line them up so that they are directly in each other’s way. You don’t have to do straight lines wavy ones will work. When all of your dominos are lined up, knock the first one down it will start a chain reaction until they are all down. I remember having lots of fun doing this as a child.
42. Hama beads
At one point when my older children were little, these little things were the bain of my life as I was forever picking them out of the carpet! However, my children have all had so much fun with them over the years that I think they are worth a mention. They are little beads that you press onto a pegboard to make a picture. When your kids are finished you can put a sheet of baking paper on top of it and iron it together. If you tip it upside down you will have a perfect picture that you can keep. My kids have had hours of fun doing this and it is generally a quiet and calm activity. You can buy Hama beads and boards from Baker Ross
43. Make a fire-breathing dragon.
This is a perfect activity to make for the Chinese new year but would be just as much fun any time of year. For this make you will need;
- An empty toilet roll holder
- Some red or green paper
- Black pen
- 2 large green or red pom-poms and 2 small green or red pom poms
- Two white sticky dots
- Some red and orange tissue paper
- Glue stick.
Glue all over the outside of the toilet roll tube and then wrap it in your coloured paper. Put a black dot on the sticky dot and stick them on each of the large pompoms and you have two eyes. Stick your dragon’s eyes onto the top of the toilet roll tube and stick the smaller two near the end to make the nostrils. Cut the tissue paper into flame shapes and then glue it around the inside of the mouth of your dragon. Your fire-breathing dragon is now finished. Once the glue has dried blow into the tube and the flames will dance.
44. Box aquarium.
his fun project should keep your kids busy for a couple of hours at least. For this make you will need a box, A cereal box should be fine depending on how big you want to go. You will need to cut one of the narrow sides off your cereal box and make a frame in the front of your box. You now have the frame of your aquarium and it is ready to paint or cover in coloured paper. Draw an aquarium backdrop onto some card and stick it onto the inside of the box. Draw some fish onto some card and colour them in. Cut the fish out and attach some string or wool to the back of the fish Tape the end of the string to the inside of your frame and your fish look like it’s swimming inside your aquarium. You could finish it off by adding some tissue paper seaweed. Your aquarium is ready to play with.
45. Sock basketball.
This genius game combines tidying up and fun. Place a laundry basket at a distance and get your kids to try and throw balled-up socks into it. Whoever scores the most goals is the winner. You can play this in teams or as individuals.