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20 Things For Your Kids To Do When You Can't Leave The House (for whatever reason)

As we move deeper into autumn here in Northern Italy, the days are getting shorter, wetter and cooler. That means that my outside kids are spending more time inside.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term "outside kid"; an outside kid is a child who is very, very, very used to spending their days outdoors---playing, running, climbing, screaming, exploring, etc.

Now when you keep an outside kid inside for more than a day, things become interesting. And by interesting, I mean chaotic. And one thing about me, y'all... I absolutely HATE chaos (of any kind, but especially chaos in or anywhere near my home).

So to keep the peace and happiness here, I've been coming up with different ways to keep the littles engaged and content when we spend our days inside. And because I adore you and would like to keep chaos at bay for you as well, I am sharing these gems for you to use as you see fit.

Here's a list of lifesavers for inside days:

1) Rock Soup

For whatever reason, kids are really into rocks. We always have a collection of rocks in our home. (Collecting them is a fun outside activity, actually)

For this activity, all you need to do is hand your kid a big bowl, a spoon, some rocks (seashells work too) and a little bit of water. Ask them to make you their best Rock Soup recipe and let them be great.

2) Kid Aerobics

This one is self explanatory. They let out some energy and you do too. It's also super fun to add music and let them be the Zumba instructor.

3) Sewing

This one might surprise you because we don't typically think of sewing as a kid activity. But trust me, this one tames even the wildest of beasts (ahem...Chapo).

Break out the sewing kit, let them choose their favorite color threads and some fabric scraps. Teach them proper safety and a simple stitch technique, which doesn't take long at all. Then let them try to create something all their own. Chapo likes to make pillows.

4) Washing Dishes

Fill the sink with warm water, bubbles and a few unbreakable dishes. Prop up a chair or stool in front of the sink, hand your little one a sponge and ask for their help cleaning up. That should hold their attention for a while.

When they've had enough of that, drain the sink and turn on the faucet.

Watch how it recaptures their attention and gives you a little while longer to sip your tea/relax your mind/send a text or whatever it is that you want to do.

5) Gardening

This is one of my favorites because its like bringing the outside, inside.

You can pick up a few live herb plants from the market (or re-pot something you already have at home), some soil and small pots.

Teach your littles about the plant, then let them scoop the soil into the pot. Afterwards show them the roots and explain how the plants soak up the water.

Once you've potted your plants, let the kiddos give them a good watering and a name!

6) Play-Dough

Oh how I thank God for Play-dough.

My littles spend countless hours happily playing with the stuff. It's a lifesaver on inside days. They get to use their imaginations and create. I get to chill back.

When I first introduced Play-dough, I showed them a couple YouTube videos of people making things out of Play-dough to get them intrigued. I also showed them how you can make new colors by mixing the ones you already have.

After that, there's nothing left to do besides marvel at their creations whenever they say "Look, Mama!"

7) Sock Toss

A handful of socks for you to toss and a bowl for them to catch. Brilliantly simple.

8) Tattoo Shop

If you don't mind giving them a good scrubbing later on, then this is a good one.

You can alternate turns between being the tattoo-er and the tatoo-ee.

It's fun to see the designs they come up with.

9) Number Hop

This is literally how I taught Bambina to count by 10s. I wrote the multiples of 10 up to 100 on colorful pieces of paper and taped them to the floor. As I call out the numbers, she has to hop to them.

Bonus #1: Easily customizable to whatever you want to teach

Bonus #2: You can do this laying down

10) Card Games

In my mind, card games are for old people. But my littles love playing cards.

Give it a go.

Some of our favorites:

  • Memory Game

  • I Declare War

  • Crazy 8s

  • Go Fish

11) Reading

It's fundamental.

I set up a nice, comfy reading corner for the littles and scatter about a bunch of different reading material for them.

For Bambina, colorful board books, pop up and interactive books. Ones that I've read to her many times so she can recite them from memory and feel like she's reading independently.

For Chapo, interesting chapter books with lots of pictures. Some word-search and activity books too.

This is a good one when you want a chill vibe.

12) Fake Cooking

The setup:

  • A pot

  • Utensils (dull knife/ spatula/ spoons/chop sticks/etc.)

  • Some ingredients (dry rice/beans/pasta, maybe some sprinkles, some nuts...whatever you have can work)

  • Water (just a little because too much = chaos)

13) Actual Cooking

This one is so multi-faceted. Your kid learns a valuable life skill. You spend quality time together. They feel accomplished and excited to eat. And you get a task done with your little one. My kids have been in the kitchen with me since birth, and they still love it. It never gets old.

14) Movie + Fort = Yes

Build a fort with them and ask them to invite their friends over for a movie [stuffed animals work just fine]. In my opinion, this one is probably cheating though, because screen-time is lazy. But sometimes we just want to be lazy, right? Your kid(s) won't judge you. I promise.

15) Face Painting Role Play

Paint their face to look like their animal of choice and encourage them to act accordingly.

It's fun to see how creative you can be with their face as your canvas.

It's equally as fun to see their interpretation of whatever they choose to become.

Here you have Doggy Amore and Cat Zion.

16) Sock Fight

Gather your sock artillery, explain the concept, and let 'er rip!

17) Mosaic Art

Again, an opportunity for them to imagine and create.

I ask them what kind of mosaic they want to create (here they chose jack-o-lanterns). We talk about what colors we have/want to use, and then we get to ripping! We rip up the selected colored paper, squirt some white glue into a small glass and use a paint brush to spread it.

Zion is old enough to direct himself, but to guide Amore on her quest for a jack-o-lantern, I scribble the appropriate colors on the portions of her picture where she'll need certain colors. For instance, I made an orange scribble on the round part of the pumpkin and a green scribble on the stem. That way she knows where to place the orange "mosaic tiles" and where to place the green ones. It's also absolutely fine if they just want to freestyle.

18) Silent Disco

Okay so this picture is giving more "Silent" and less "Disco".

But that's cool too.

The main point is...each of them has a small music player (a cheap little mp3) that I loaded up with their favorite songs.

When they want to listen to music, but I'm not in the mood to hear the Encanto soundtrack for the 800th time, I break out their headphones and... party for them, silence for me.


19) Baking

Much like cooking, but with flour.

20) Leaf Art

Why let all of those beautiful fallen leaves go to waste?

Let your little one collect some and turn them into a masterpiece for you to hang on your window (or refrigerator).

Paper + glue + leaves = a work of art.

There you have it.

If you end up trying any of these with your child(ren), I'd love to hear about it. And if you've got any ideas of your own, please do share! There's a long winter ahead.

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