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For many families, parents working remotely is a way of life. Maybe you’re a digital nomad, traveling the world with your family but still need to get some work done every day without constant interruption. Maybe your job has always been remote, and you work from the comfort of your home while the kids are with a sitter or at school.
But what happens when school or daycare is cancelled for whatever reason and now you have to balance work and entertaining your kids? A lot of the activities mentioned here can be packed for travel, which is a bonus! Here are 50 activities to keep your kids busy while you work remotely.
50 Activities to Keep Kids Busy
ARTS AND CRAFTS
What child doesn’t like arts and crafts? My own 8 year old will craft for hours and we have built an entire section of her playroom dedicated to crafting, with tons and tons of supplies. There are so many ways to craft, the possibilities are endless.
We love Playfoam in our house and have quite a bit of it! You can get this party pack or our favorite, Playfoam Pals which come with a little animal inside. This is a great toy to bring on flights too!
As a parent, you probably have a ton of this stuff already! Play doh is great for kids of all ages, from toddlers all the way through grade school age. Milana still loves play doh at the age of 8 and we have a huge bin with tons of different colors and tools for her to play with. If you will be using it inside, get some of these silicone mats to help control the mess.
Want a large amount of art supplies in one shot? These art jars are great at inspiring kids to create whatever they imagine. This giant busy box is perfect for little ones, we had this exact same one when Milana was 3 and she loved it.
Preset art kits are fun too! For Christmas, Milana received this sewing kit and it was by far her favorite present. She was so proud when her animal was finished! Another big hit in our house was this magnetic tile painting set. We still have them hanging on our fridge!
Make a Fairy House
Grab an empty tissue box, some buttons, popsicle sticks, markers, paint, whatever art supplies you have and have the kids make fairy houses!
Sorting Pom Poms
This is a great activity for younger kids! Pick up a bag of pom poms and some colored plastic cups and have your kids sort them by color. Use kid friendly tweezers to develop fine motor skills. Then have them count them for even more learning!
Reusable Sticker Pads
Melissa and Doug makes these awesome reusable giant sticker pads that will entertain your kids for quite some time! I think at this point we have them all, they’re a huge hit in our house!
Grab some rocks from outside, pull out some paint and let the kids paint them however they want.
Make a Collage
Save those old supermarket circulars and magazines and let your kids cut out pictures and make collages.
Sensory bins are great for toddlers and younger kids. The possibilities are endless! When Milana was a toddler, we purchased a large plastic container and changed the them every 2 weeks or so. Here are some sensory bin ideas for toddlers and preschoolers.
These were a huge hit with Milana when she was younger! These tiny little things blow up to marble size when water is added. The play possibilities with these are endless and it was one of our favorites when she was younger.
Another great thing to add to sensory bins is Kinetic Sand. If you’re not familiar with it, kinetic sand is moldable and sticks together unlike regular sand. It’s great for indoor play and you can even buy accessories for even more fun.
Fill your sensory bin with some rice or lentils and get some Safari LTD Toob Animals. There are a ton of different ones to choose from and as a bonus, these are small and perfect to travel with. Have you kids build different animal habitats, depending on which animals you get.
There are so many different science kits to choose from. Milana got several for Christmas and loves doing the experiments. This is better for older kids who can follow directions/read unless you want to assist.
My First Science Kit
If you have a beginner that’s just starting out with science kits, this is a great one!
This magic science kit was one of Milana’s Christmas gifts and she really liked doing all of the experience.
National Geographic Geodes
This geode kit is better for older kids, as they will be using a hammer to break open geodes! Milana loved this kit and keeps asking to buy another.
I’ll be honest, I hate slime! People who buy my child slime or slime kits as a present get a Costco size container of craft glitter when it’s their child’s birthday. For crafting, of course! That said, Milana just like every other kid these days loves the stuff and especially making it. This kit is cheap and has everything you need to make slime.
ACTIVITY BOOKS AND WORKBOOKS
I know it’s hard to believe, but some kids actually enjoy doing workbooks! If yours is one of them, pick up some different ones to encourage some learning.
180 Days Of is a whole line of books for reading (and math), so you can easily find the grade level you need.
As homeschoolers, we personally like the Singapore Math curriculum and that is what Milana uses. She attends class once a week and then we do the rest at home.
I grew up doing Mad Libs and now Milana loves them too! These are fun books where your kids fill in the verb, noun, etc. and then read the story which is always hilarious!
We have used this activity book on the plane, it’s perfect for kids who are between 5 to I’d say 9.
Most kids love to build and there are so many awesome building toys these days! Here are some of our favorites that we currently have in our playroom. There are travel sized versions of many, so you can bring them along on your trips!
If you haven’t gotten these for your kids yet, it’s a must! Milana got her first set at 18 months and now at 8, it’s her most played with toy. She builds houses, enclosures for her animals, bridges and pretty much anything she can imagine. Money well spent! Magna Tiles are the original, however we have a mixture of those, Picasso Tiles and Playmags and honestly can’t even tell the difference when they are in the bin so I wouldn’t spend the money on Magna Tiles when you can get the others for more than half off!
Legos are such a classic toy, it was probably your favorite growing up too! The best thing to do is buy a bin of Lego blocks and let your kids create whatever they can imagine. Milana also loves sets and will spend quite some time focusing and completing one, it’s a great way to spend an hour or two quietly building. You can also buy this travel case and bring Legos with you on the plane!
Tegu Magnetic Blocks
These aren’t cheap but they are so worth it! They’re well made and encourage hours of open ended, unscripted play. We have been using ours for years and Milana still loves playing with them. There are full size sets or you can get a smaller set for travel.
Clip Connect Blocks
We first discovered clip connect blocks at a children’s museum and ended up buying a set in the gift shop there. They’re fun, even for adults! There are so many ways to create with these and you can easily bring some on the plane for some in flight entertainment.
GROSS MOTOR ACTIVITIES
Being cooped up means your kids will have some pent up energy. Here are some great ways to release that energy with minimal equipment.
Get some masking tape if you’re making it indoors or chalk for outdoors and make a hopscotch course!
Kids love balloons! They are the cheapest form of entertainment. Blow it up when they need to release some energy and watch them run like crazy little people trying to catch it. For extra points, put some glow sticks inside the balloons and turn out the lights!
Another hit with kids are balls. Get a few playground balls and watch them be entertained for hours.
Balance Stepping Stones
We had these when Milana was younger and she loved stepping on and balancing on the different stones. These are great for toddlers and preschoolers.
Hula Hoops are one of the best classic toys! It’s hilarious watching kids trying to use them. They can also jump through them, use them for hop scotch and lots of other things.
Another classic that I haven’t seen much lately! Get a jump rope and let them get some energy out.
When all else fails, turn on some music and have a dance party!
QUIET GAMES AND ACTIVITIES
Let’s be honest, kids are loud and you probably won’t be getting much work done with them running around! These activities may not keep them totally silent but it should keep them focused enough to sit still.
Puzzles are a huge hit in our house. For toddlers, I recommend wooden peg puzzles. They are easy for tiny hands to hold and a great way to learn how to put puzzles together.
For the preschool crowd, Melissa and Doug has some great map puzzles.
And for the older kids, we love the Crocodile Creek puzzles, especially anything to do with maps!
There are so many variations of quiet books. They are great for toddlers and preschoolers, with activities like buckling, color matching, etc.
Pick up some felt fabric from the craft store and cut out some felt shapes and have your child stick them onto the felt. If you don’t feel like cutting out shapes, you can buy this already made set.
If your kids are at least 6, this is a really fun puzzle. Milana loves this and the best part? It’s intended for one player so they can keep themselves occupied.
Penguins on Ice Game
Another one player strategy game that is a huge hit in our house.
Board and Card Games
Invite some friends over to play games! We love games in this house and play every night. Gamewright makes some of our favorite games. Games are fun and educational, most of these are strategy games so your kids will be learning in the process.
I have never met a child who doesn’t like books! If your kids are older and like to read, I recommend the Greetings from Somewhere series. Milana loves these books and has read most of them multiple times. For those just starting to read, I recommend anything from the I Can Read series. For toddlers, a board book will do!
Let’s face it, you will have to give in and give them the screen at one point or another! There’s nothing wrong with screen time and teaching mindful usage is very important so that they don’t become zombies that stare at screens all day. There are a ton of great, education apps, many that don’t require wifi, making them perfect for on the go entertainment. Here are some other apps and screen time ideas that won’t rot their brains!
Reading Eggs and Math Seeds
We have been using the Reading Eggs app for a few years and highly recommend it! It makes learning to read fun and the app also comes with Math Seeds, a fun math game.
Another great way to utilize your phone or iPad is listening to Podcasts! There are so many family-friendly Podcasts on just about any topic, you are bound to find one that interests your kids.
Brain Pop and Moby Max
As homeschoolers, we use Brain Pop as part of our curriculum. The videos are educational and on every topic from science and social studies to math and art. There are optional quizzes, worksheets and lots of other supplements to make it a great educational experience.
Moby Max is another great program. Both Brain Pop and Moby Max are offering free subscriptions to schools who are closed to to current events so that students can continue learning at home.
There are so many great family movies these days. Make some popcorn and let the kids have a movie day!
OTHER ENTERTAINMENT IDEAS
Build a fort
Get out some pillows, blankets, chairs or couch cushions and let the kids create the fort of their dreams.
Make paper airplanes
Have everyone make a paper airplane and see which flies the farthest!
Bubbles are a great, cheap way to entertain your kids. Pick up some solution (or make your own!) and some wands and let them get messy.
Have the kids set out all the ingredients and measure. A little bit of math to get the yummy cookie reward at the end!
For older kids, write the clues out. For little ones, use pictures. It will buy you some time as they hunt for some treasure!
I’m sure you have some Amazon boxes lying around the house. Milana loves creating anything and everything out of boxes. Towns, animals shelters, schools…you name it, she creates it. Give your kids some empty boxes and watch their imaginations soar!
Have a Lego building contest
One of our family’s favorite shows on tv is Lego Masters. Teams are given challenges and have to create things out of Legos to match the theme. You can do the same thing at home and see what everyone comes up with!
Sure it’s messy but at least the mess is contained in your bathtub! After they are done painting, hand them a sponge to wipe up the mess.
I hope some of these ideas will help keep your kids occupied when you need a few minutes of peace. Comment below and tells us what some of your favorite ways to entertain your kids are while working?