Fun indoor activities to keep the little ones busy when you can’t go outside.
Staying indoors for a long time can give anyone cabin fever! In Hong Kong, that could happen on excessively hot or rainy days, public holidays when it’s too crowded to head outside and when health and social distancing requirements rule that you stay safely at home. For those days, we’ve come up with some easy peasy ideas to entertain the whole family (including you!). These simple activities require zero screen time and offer plenty of opportunity for family bonding, sure to see you through being holed up at home.
Get everyone involved and whip up some yummy bites in the comfort of your own kitchen. We have plenty of ideas here on Sassy Mama, perfect for kids of all ages and interests – starting with pancakes in the morning and moving on to Mexican for lunch. You can extend the entertainment time by adding a tea party or an indoor picnic.
If you want to make things easier yourself, get one of the easy-to-prepare recipe kits that are available at stores and sites across the city. We love the spread that Eat the Kiwi has to offer. One Sassy Mama Editor regularly orders the Margherita pizza kit and lets her kids go wild adding their favourite toppings. You’d be surprised by how lavish kids are with these (even veggies!) when they have the opportunity to add them themselves!
Storytime doesn’t only have to be before bed. We all know the great benefits of raising a reader. So cuddle up with a pile of books and spend quality time developing your child’s vocabulary. Choose books that are at a higher level than what your kids are used to reading themselves and read to them. Then get creative and let your kids act out parts of the stories and play with costumes and props!
If you are tired and looking for a break yourself, you probably can’t wait for the kids to start reading independently. After all, it can get frustrating to read the same book for what feels like the millionth time! To encourage kids to read, we asked teachers for their recommendations for reluctant readers.
Burn some energy (and calories) by setting up your very own fitness boot camp at home. Get the family moving with skipping ropes, yoga and jumping jacks. You can even create your own obstacle course with props available around the house. Add excitement and competition by using a timer or stopwatch and setting time limits for each physical activity. If you need some help, let Joe Wicks show you how!
If no one feels like jumping around (or they are already ready for the next activity – will the day ever end?!), make an indoor bowling set using recycled bottles of plastic as pins (fill with water or rice) and knock them down with a ball. Get even more realistic by writing down scores. Customise the rules based on the children’s age!
We know that regular toys and board games lose their charm after a while, so why not tackle all the mega-sized ones that your kids got as birthday gifts that you quickly and discreetly hid away? Pull out that 500-piece cityscape puzzle and engage and challenge yourselves as a family. If you haven’t been gifted one yet, it’s a good idea to invest in buying a special giant puzzle that everyone does over time. Check out the unique puzzles from The Lion Rock Press. You can also get a puzzle of your own family portraits (available here). Frame and hang them on your wall after completion.
This is also a good time to use that 1,000+ piece Lego set to create a mini-city. Have fun with the details; add hospitals, banks, schools, parks and trees. If you don’t have Lego, make models out of paper, toys and any other items your kids have lying around.
Look for the next “idol” by hosting, judging and setting up your own home talent show! Kids can work together or separately, just tell them to have a blast and unleash their inner divas! Have the kids put on a show and be quirky with the execution. A closet raid (keep your best dresses out of this!) is a great way to put on fun costumes for their 15 minutes of fame. Paired with a read-a-thon, this works like a dream!
Is your child more of the artsy kind? Have fun with bubble wrap you recycled from packages you’ve received. It can be used to make arts and crafts such as painting with watercolour, writing cards for friends and relatives, collage making, playing hopscotch and more!
Another fun thing to do is let the kids go to town with tie ‘n’ dye. All you need is some dye, rubber bands and old white T-shirts (or onesies, skirts, shorts etc.). You can find plenty of options online for readymade tie-dye kits, but read this resource from Playful Learning, if you’d prefer to use natural dyes. After the kids are done creating their own signature style T-shirts, why not get them to make something for everyone in the family? We have more fun and easy ideas for budding fashion designers.
One other craft craze with kids is slime. You may hate the mess, but sensory play is very important for children in their early growing years, so pick safe, fun and homemade recipes available everywhere online. Let them identify different states of matter during the process, something the little chemists will definitely enjoy.
Last but not least, it’s important to let your kids play! It develops their imagination and keeps them happy and occupied.
If your kids are into cars and active toys, grab some masking tape and create a racetrack in your living room! Build roads and highways with the tape and use ordinary objects and toys to set up petrol pumps, drive-through dinners and theatres. You can be sure that your child will end up “driving” off-the-beaten track and extending to other areas of the apartment.
Those soft toys that you have always considered dust-attracting nuisances? Finally, they can be put to use for a puppet show. You can also get your kids to make their own pirate, policeman and all kinds of animal puppets with simple paper bags. (Try these easy tips for making your own at home.)
Try setting up a (safe) obstacle course to burn off some energy. Or make relay races that double up as a fun way of cleaning the house.
All days, even indoor ones, need downtime. But don’t make it the usual – build a fort instead! We haven’t met a child yet who doesn’t love building a fun place to hang out. If you want to take it to the next level, try picking a room or corner in the house that you don’t mind being messy for a few hours. Use blankets, pillows and pegs to secure them. This can potentially provide hours of entertainment if you let them decorate, bring in toys and books and maybe even a picnic inside the fort! Over weeks of school closures, a Sassy Mama Editor’s kids built their own tent and then “camped” there for days on end.
Editor’s Note: This piece was originally written by Czarina Sunga in March 2018, updated in August 2019 and June 2021 by Anita Balagopalan, and updated again in February 2022.
Main image courtesy of Getty Images, image 1 courtesy of Anita Balagopalan, image 2 courtesy of Alex Purcell-Garcia, image 3 courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels, image 4 courtesy of The Lion Rock Press, image 5 courtesy of Colin Maynard via Unsplash, image 6 courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels, image 7 courtesy of Monstera via Pexels.