Backyard lava is a creative game -- and gets bonus points because it qualifies as exercise -- where kids try to climb or jump from object to object without touching the ground. Check out this dad’s course and get busy making one of your own.
Virtual field trips are a great way to expose kids to new places all around the world, from the comfort of your own home. Ask your kids what they'd like to explore first:
Getting your kids involved in household chores teaches responsibility and hard work, and taking time to celebrate and reflect on a job well-done will pay dividends.
If the weather cooperates, spend an afternoon outside doing yard cleanup together, perhaps picking up sticks and sweeping the sidewalk. Let your kids help choose seasonally appropriate flowers or vegetables to plant and water with their own kid-sized garden gloves, shovel, and watering can. No yard of your own? See if you can find an elderly family member or neighbor who would enjoy the help.
Here's a practical life skill -- teach the kids how to safely build a campfire. They’ll love helping search for kindling and sorting sticks by size. Once the fire is going, you’re ready to roast some hotdogs and marshmallows. Just add a few sides and you've got an easy dinner. If you live in a place where you can’t have an open flame in your backyard, hopefully you can still throw something on the grill while the kids are playing in the yard. Either way, you’ll all benefit from getting out of the kitchen and into the fresh air making memories together. And if you’re really in a pinch and the weather’s not cooperating or there’s no fire pit or grill in sight, take heart -- s'mores are a fun campfire food that can even be made in the microwave! Just assemble your graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolate bar sandwich and pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds, or until the marshmallow puffs.
Hide and seek is often one of the first games kids learn to play and continues to be a classic go-to game for years. It teaches counting, problem solving skills, memory, mobility, and more. And if we’re being honest, as a parent part of the fun comes from seeing what your child thinks constitutes hiding. Check out the hilarious attempts of these babies, toddlers, and kids, and then go make some memories of your own.
Flying a kite is a fun rite of passage for kids. Watch for the next breezy day, or prepare to take matters into your own hands and make your own breeze like this dad did. Then grab your kite, watch a quick “how to” video for tips on technique, and you’re ready to head out. Before sending your kite up, always double check your surroundings to make sure you're in a wide-open area, clear of any power lines or trees. Then be prepared to remind everyone that flying a kite involves a lot of variables and takes patience. In fact, this might be as good a time as any to teach the adage – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
Even if you don’t have a dancing bone in your body, be sure to check out this Family Lockdown Boogie (warning: one instance of expletive language) for one family’s hysterical take on all their togetherness. Dancing with your kids is a sure-fire way to get some laughs flowing, and it doesn’t have to be a long or complicated endeavor. The next time you notice everyone could use a break (too much whining, perhaps!?), surprise them by turning on some favorite tunes and breaking out your most ridiculous dance moves. You’ll all benefit from spending a few minutes together, getting the blood flowing and making memories along the way.
Looking to break up the monotony of mealtime, or perhaps just encourage some new, healthier options into their diet? Try your hand at creating something fun for younger kids, and remember, it doesn't have to be elaborate to make them smile and hopefully eat. Sliced fruits or vegetables can easily be arranged into fun flower or bug shapes on a plate. Elementary kids will have fun getting in on the action and making their own more-advanced creations, like those pictured. You could even introduce a friendly competition, with the whole family voting to determine who wins in categories like, "best presentation," "funniest" or "most creative ingredient."
Every child loves the idea of assuming the imaginative identity of a strong, powerful, and helpful character. Work with your child to come up with creative costumes, and then determine the logistics of your world-saving scenario. Are you:
Kids don't need fancy toys to have fun while playing. In fact, their creativity often thrives when they're let loose with simple household objects. The more problem solving they are exposed to, the more learning and experiencing there will be in their play. Try out these simple balloon games and let us know which one was the household favorite!
Depending on the age of your kids, you'll of course want to adjust your expectations on the scope of your DIY project. Expecting to remodel an entire house with a toddler underfoot will likely be met with disappointment and frustration. However, even young children love to be helpers, and you can often find ways to get them involved in some capacity. Whether they're "helping" you paint the bathroom, handing you tools while you're under the kitchen sink, or digging in the yard with you, they'll be learning valuable life skills along the way. Elementary kids can start to handle more hands-on projects, and preteens and teens will often be willing to get involved if it's a project that interests or benefits them in some way. For example, if they like cooking, have them plant and tend a vegetable or herb garden for the family. Or if they love sports but can't ever seem to find their equipment when they need it, have them build or install some things to help organize the garage.
Dad jokes may make our families grimace and groan, but they also work to lighten the mood and hopefully coax a few laughs out along the way. Check out our Instagram page for #GoodDadJokes and let us know which ones land best with your kids. We're also always looking for material -- send your best zingers to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We always joke that our kids love the boxes their toys come in better than the toys themselves. Well now it's time to use that to your advantage. Search the garage or the recycling bin for a few boxes and work with your kiddos to build a house, castle, barn, car, pirate ship, maze, or whatever else their imaginations can dream up. The possibilities are truly endless. If you're feeling brave, you can even break out the paint and let them go to town decorating their creation. To maintain your own sanity, make sure they're in old paint clothes, using washable paints, and have some kind of drop cloth or plastic tablecloth down, or maybe better yet, consider letting them paint outside at a grassy location where the next rain will wash away any paint that doesn't quite hit the cardboard.
Kids LOVE bubbles. Seriously. Hopefully you have some bubble solution around the house and can just grab it and go. But if not, have no fear, you can try your hand at making your own giant bubbles like this dad did. Or if you really want to up your game (and hear squeals of delight for hours), order your kids a bubble machine -- just don't forget the batteries -- and you'll be in the running for dad of the year.
Oh, man. It's hard to think of anything much better than a well-executed obstacle course. It's every kid's dream to play in, and it's every dad's dream because it might actually keep the kids occupied for a while after you get it assembled! But seriously, this is awesome. Ask the kids to help you search through their sports equipment, pool stuff, outdoor toys, their rooms, and the yard for possible supplies. Things such as hula hoops, cones, pool noodles (check out this dad's course!), balls and buckets, string, stepping stones, wading pools, and water balloons are all possible contenders. Let your imagination run wild, and don't forget to get in on the fun. You know, just to "test" things for the kids of course.
Whether you're talking classic wheelbarrow races where one of you is walking on your hands while a partner is holding onto your ankles, or you're pushing someone around in an actual garden-variety wheelbarrow, this is sure to be a blast -- and it's great for kids of all ages. From tiny kiddos carefully perched on blankets inside a garden cart parading around the yard, all the way up to teens and parents getting in on a friendly old-school competition. Have some fun with it!
Let the kids help choose the movie and pop the popcorn. You can also put them in charge of making sure everyone has a blanket and a cozy spot to enjoy the movie. They’ll love having jobs to do and you’ll enjoy the quiet time together – that is, unless you have a kid who asks questions throughout the whole movie, not that we’ve ever been in that boat.
If you need help deciding on an age appropriate, family friendly movie check out review sites like Dove, Common Sense Media, or Plugged In.
People all over are using sidewalk chalk to spread cheer while sheltering in place, but this dad is really taking it to the next level. The good news is that whatever your level of artistic abilities, your kids will love getting out of the house and chalking it up with you on the driveway or sidewalk, and you’re sure to spread smiles to all who pass by. To mix things up a bit, try soaking your chalk in water for a few minutes before you draw for a creamier, more vibrant texture.
Board games are a great option for family time. You can typically find things that will interest kids as young as two, and are fun for adults, too.
Options like The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!, and Shelby’s Snack Shack Game are fun and teach things like colors and counting to younger kids. Another popular preschool board game is Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It, which teaches cooperative play and encourages teamwork, promotes attention to detail, and reinforces object identification and matching skills. Who knew kids could learn so much from family game night?! Connect 4 or Jenga are great classics suitable for ages 6 and up, that teach skill and strategy. For kids 8 and up, Stratego is a fun capture-the-flag type game of strategy, and Uno Flip is a fun, slightly more challenging version of the classic favorite.
Mazes are great for kids because they boost problem solving skills, patience and persistence. Below are a few a-maze-ing ideas for you, broken down by the amount of time (and let's be honest -- energy) you have available.
It doesn't get any easier than this:
If you just want to push print and have some great mazes for your kids (ages 4-12+) to work on, check out these options.
Requires gathering a few supplies and assembling:
Elementary-aged kids will have fun making and playing with this marble maze.
Most Involved a.k.a. Most Awesome:
Toddlers and preschoolers will love this giant maze made out of boxes but this one will take some time and hoarding of boxes to pull off.
Building with blocks is easy to do and has tons of hidden benefits for kids of all ages, especially when you join in on the fun from time to time.
Has your family been on a bear hunt yet? This fun activity has been taking over neighborhoods around the globe, and it's simple to do. Just take your kids on a walk and keep an eye out for teddy bears in the windows of houses as you pass by. Keeping count of all the furry friends you see is an easy way to incorporate math and memory skills into the mix. If your neighborhood hasn't quite gotten the memo yet, consider having your kids design flyers and hang them around the neighborhood to spread the news like this family did.
The Imagination Box is a great indoor activity that can grow with your young child, enhance their creativity and problem-solving skills, and you probably already have many of these items laying around your house. Click here for instructions.
Kids are naturally creative and letting your kids loose with a paint brush is a great way to help them process feelings and reduce stress. Make sure everyone is in old clothes and you either have a drop cloth down or you're working in an outdoor location so you're not cramping their creative energy trying to prevent spills the whole time. Then give them freedom to create whatever they want. After they've completed their heart-warming masterpiece -- whether it's embellished with various stickers, globs of glue, or even the dreaded sparkle of glitter (that stuff gets everywhere!) -- they'll want to show it off to you.
Try praising their effort, rather than praising the product, to cultivate a "growth mind-set" and help make kids more resilient. An easy encouragement is, "Wow, you worked really hard on that!" and observations such as, "you used a lot of __(name the colors)__," or "you really took your time and had a lot of patience on those details," also work to reinforce their choices and effort.
You may not be driving your vehicle much these days, but you can still show it some love and teach your kids practical skills at the same time. Let your kids help you track down standard supplies - soap, bucket, sponge, hose and spray nozzle - and get to work on the next sunny day. If you're feeling really ambitious, break out the vacuum, surface spray, and lint-free clothes and show them how to detail the interior. Tire shine finishes the job off right. Then step back and admire your hard work. If time allows, take the whole family on a celebratory drive around the block -- rolling down the windows and playing some favorite sing along tunes will up the fun factor even more.
Puzzles are a great indoor activity that don't require any prep work on your part yet they benefit your kids in many ways. While doing puzzles kids are improving gross and fine motor skills, spatial recognition and hand-eye coordination. Puzzles require concentration and can lower stress levels by diverting your mind from other things while you're working on them. They can also promote bonding and togetherness if you get in on the fun with your kids.
Five-to-ten-piece wooden puzzles are usually great for one-to-two-year-olds, preschoolers will enjoy larger floor puzzles, while elementary kids like the challenge of smaller pieces and working their way up from 25 to 100+ pieces over time. Pre-teens and teens might be enticed to participate if you choose a theme or design that interests them and this age group can likely handle the challenge of a 250-to-500-piece puzzle. If you have an out of the way spot to leave larger puzzles set out, this can be an ongoing activity for several days rather than feeling the pressure to complete larger masterpieces all in one sitting.
Some days it seems like we're constantly telling our kids not to do things -- stop touching your brother, put down that lamp, sit in your chair, keep your food on your plate -- the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, feeling cooped up inside and out of their normal routine can intensify this type of behavior. If you want to perk them up, and regain some of your own sanity in the process, seize the next rainy day as an opportunity to let them cut loose and have a little fun. After the storm rolls through tell the kids to grab their rain boots or old tennis shoes and head out on a walk to find some epic puddles together. They'll love splashing around, and you'll be left wondering why you spent all that money at the water park last summer when they're having this much fun on a sidewalk with drainage issues.
Kids are noisy and energetic. Why not channel some of that energy into music? Whether or not you're musically inclined doesn't really matter to your kids. They'll love time with you, being silly and laughing together. Singing has been shown to improve mood, oxygenate the body and aid in relaxation. Take it up a notch by encouraging them to keep the beat by clapping their hands, shaking maracas or other instruments you might have around the house, or even these homemade shaker bottles. Rhythm is an important skill for kids to have because it helps with speech development and motor coordination which can help kids excel at academics, athletics, and more. So go start those Do-Re-Mi warmups and get ready to make some beautiful (or a least fun) music together!
Ah, the scavenger hunt. Classic fun and great for indoors or out, depending on the weather. You can create the list or make it even more fun and let your kids brainstorm with you. If you have an early reader/writer in your crew they’ll love writing out the items themselves and checking things off for the family. It’s a very official job, after all, made better with a clipboard or small notepad and pencil. Possible items for inclusion on the list are people, places, or things that can be found around the house, your yard, or a nature trail.
Playing catch is a great way to promote physical activity, and it's easy! You can literally just grab a ball and go play for as little as 5-10 minutes or if you have the time you can stretch it out much longer. Just watch for cues from your child. If their energy level or interest seems to wane, try changing sports. Maybe instead of tossing the football or baseball around you grab a basketball and practice dribbling or kick around the soccer ball. No matter what, you'll be getting some fresh air and exercise, which is a win for everyone involved!
Remember building a fort as a kid? Whether you’re talking blankets, sheets, pillows and chairs in the living room, or a more permanent outdoor structure, this is sure to be a hit. Not only do they get to help build the fort, they’ll have hours of fun playing in it -- reading books, playing make-believe and rebuilding it once it (inevitably) gets knocked down.
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