20+ ideas for keeping kids busy while stuck at home – simple ideas to fill long days with fun, laughter and creativity!

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We are in Florida right now, scrambling to get a flight home to Canada amidst all of this Covid mayhem.  We’re not sick, but the Canadian Federal Government has mandated that anyone returning from any international location must go into “isolation” for 2 weeks upon their return.

As a former Stay-at-home-Mom, blogger and overall introvert – this sounds like federally mandated happiness if you ask me!

But then I haven’t been “trapped” with my kids for two solid weeks…

and they are teenagers…

might get sketchy. lol

But for those of you with kids that aren’t all attitude and social-media-addiction, I thought I’d round up some fun ideas for you to do on this (hopefully) brief hiatus.

Keeping kids busy

Painted shoes

This was so much fun – and not just because I wanted to colour a pair for myself either.  The girls and I sat and worked together chatting over life, ideas and how awesome our new “kicks” were going to be.

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Floss tassels

With just a bit of embroidery floss, you can make dozens of these to use as keychains, tassels for pillows, earrings, curtains etc.  These will keep kids busy, won’t take long and you can have fun trying out different colour combinations.

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Scrap wood robot

Use up bits of 1×1 or 2×2 wood, with nuts, bolts, screws and whatever else you have lying around (maybe tassels and buttons?).  Create your robots or other creatures and the kids will keep themselves busy imagining a new and exciting world.

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One man ping-pong

The record at our house is 81 bounces back and forth over the centre ‘net’ – see if you can beat us.  This is a great challenge for everyone and if you’re competitive (like me) the game can go on for an hour or more.

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Zentangle dishes

If you have an artist or even a doodler in your house, let them loose on a dollar store plate with Sharpie oil markers.  Keeping kids busy and creating cute keepsake for friends and family.

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DIY Mini-Golf

This isn’t a build for small hands, but they can help and then everyone can hit the backyard for a game of putting challenges.  Some of our PVC pipe was moveable, so we could alter the course and up the game each go-round.

Who me competitive?  Nah.

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Ultimate beer pong (with or without the beer)

Use a kitchen table or island counter and extend the distance between these pong basketball nets that only take a few pieces of scrap wood to build.  Keeping kids busy and parents loaded for hours – just the escape we need!

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Marbled rock paperweights

With dollar store nail polish, you/the kids can create a beautiful marbled effect on garden rocks.  We used them to hold down napkins in the summer breeze, but who doesn’t need a paperweight in the digital age right?  lol

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Cork coasters

Cork coasters are easy to find at your local Dollarama, and along with some dollar store paint and a bit of sealer, you can make several sets of these summer-time coasters.  Can you imagine – keeping kids busy AND finally getting them to quit putting wet glasses on your furniture?!

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Personal fire pit

If the backyard is the extent of your freedom (like it will be for us), then create memories over individual campfires in a S’mores party!

Repurposed t-shirt headband

I know, a lot of my ideas seem to be for girls – but I have daughters, so what can I do?  If you are doing a little “Marie Kondo-ing” in closets, save those old, ratty t-shirts and make a few sailor’s not hairbands.

DIY catapult

Shooting anything into the air is fun and with just 2 pieces of scrap wood, you can let the kids loose to shoot small toys, water balloons, marshmallows (anything that won’t hurt if it hits you in the head – ask me how I know).  Actually, if you’re shooting marshmallows, and you are okay with the 5 second rule – you could make it a game of shoot and catch!

DIY catapult for kids

DIY bird feeder

It’s still winter in most of North America and Northern Europe, so birds still need a helping hand with dinner.  Get the kids out to the garage with a hammer and a few nails and make your own $4 bird feeder.

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Polymer clay snails

We made these as picks for planters, but polymer clay is great fun for creating your own toys (and furniture for your toys).  Keeping kids busy can include creating décor for your home can’t it?

Polymer clay garden snails

Jewelry from washers

If your kids are a bit older and are into “bling”, these bracelets and necklaces made from washers and scrapbook paper are a fun activity to keep hands busy.

Necklace made from plumbing washers

Scrap wood mini-houses

Years later and I still have mine on display in a window.  All you need are scrap bits of 2×2, a bit of paint and imagination!  Great for creating a small town to play in, or to line the edge of train tracks.

scrap wood houses

Homemade Geodes

In addition to crafts and imagination, try a science project between the above activities – create these gorgeous geodes inside eggshells and check them out each day as they grow and grow!

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Pine cone owls

Keeping kids busy can be as easy as hot glue, construction paper and a pair of scissors.  Challenge the kids to come up with different animals, or make it even more fun and create caricatures of family members!

Pine cone owl

Sugar stir sticks

Another overnight project that you can start today and check on here and there – sugar sticks!  I don’t understand the science behind it, but I definitely loved (the taste of) the results!

Create your own sugar stir sticks/rock candy

Paint by number

We purchased paint by number kits for our masterpieces, but there are tons of printable options available as well.  Order a few, or print your own – these are guaranteed to keep everyone’s hands occupied.

My paint by numbers cat

Finally, and a bonus idea for staying occupied with kids during ‘isolation’;

Duck tape wallets

This project took FOR-EV-ER.  Like a couple of hours as I stopped and started the YouTube how-to, but we’ve got hours to fill and in the end everyone was pleased with their take-home.  You can certainly make this with Duct tape, but Duck tape has the fun colours and patterns.

Duck tape wallet


If this doesn’t keep kids busy for at least a few days of your isolation/quarantine/social distancing – I don’t know what will…

That’s not true – iPads work as well. lol

Have a great one everyone – stay safe and take care of each other.