35 Activities to Keep Kids Busy While You Work or Study


By DeVry University

March 18, 2020
8 min read

As the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to impact our daily lives, many of us are trying to find balance in a new routine. While working or studying from home in the midst of school and childcare cancellations might seem tricky at first, we’ve rounded up some ideas to help make things easier. Read on for a list of activities to keep kids busy while you work or study:

1. Build a Fort

Create a fort using blankets, coffee tables, couches, boxes or whatever you've got in your home. Then grab a few pillows, books, toys and a flashlight to create an epic hideaway.

2. Gather Donations

Being stuck at home doesn't mean that you can’t help others. Having a little downtime can give kids the opportunity to sift through their toy bins, closets and games and gather up anything they've outgrown or no longer use. Once you're out and about again, make dropping off your donations one of your first family activities.

3. Start a Journal

Journaling can be a great way for kids to express their thoughts and feelings. Have them spend 10-15 minutes a day writing or doodling. They can keep it private, or share and discuss it with you.

4. Learn to Draw

Kids can brush up on their skills and learn to draw some popular characters with these free video tutorials from the Art for Kids Hub.

5. Hear a Story from Space

Let your kids watch stories read by astronauts in space with Story Time from Space.

6. Build the Ultimate Paper Airplane

Check out Fold ‘N Fly's website for dozens of free step-by-step paper airplane tutorials. Have kids assemble a few of their favorites, then hold a contest to see whose can fly the furthest!

7. Put on a Play

Have kids put together a play – complete with scripts and costumes – while you work or study, and then perform it for you when you're done.

8. Collect Broken Crayons

A simple activity that kids can do is to gather all the broken crayons in the house, and then peel and discard the paper wrappings. Once you’re done working or studying, you can help them recycle the old crayon fragments into something new like a fresh set of muffin tin crayons or a great piece of decor.

9. Bake or Decorate Cupcakes

If your kids are old enough, baking is a great (and delicious!) way to pass some time. For younger kids, simply make some treats in advance and allow them to decorate with icing and sprinkles while you work or study.

10. Go on a Virtual Field Trip

Kids can join Discovery Education on virtual field trips as they learn more about the robotics manufacturing of robots, visit polar bears and blast into outer space.

11. Get Out the (Washable) Glue

If there’s one thing kids love, its glue. And the best thing about glue projects is that it’s a great way to make use of recycled materials and scraps. Gather up anything you have on hand – tissue paper, beads, toilet paper rolls, Popsicle sticks, miscellaneous craft supplies – and see what kind of masterpieces they can think up.

12. Paint Rocks

An easy way to add a little sunshine to someone's day is to paint rocks and leave them for others to find. Have your kids paint while you work or study, then set them out or leave them on your neighbor's doorsteps the next time you head out for a walk.

13. Have an Easter Egg Hunt

Easter is right around the corner, and a little practice never hurt anyone! Have your kids hide a designated number of plastic eggs, and then time each other to see how fast they can find them.

14. Set Up an Obstacle Course

While this may not be the quietest activity, an obstacle course rarely disappoints. And it doesn't have to mean jumping on furniture – set up stations for jumping jacks, stretches and more.

15. Get Outside

Social distancing doesn't have to mean completely staying indoors. One of our favorite things to do with kids at home is to head to the backyard for a little bit of exercise and fresh air. Just be sure to avoid close contact with people outside your household, as recommended by the CDC.

16. Create a Reading Challenge

Just because school is out it doesn't mean kids should stop learning. Create your own reading challenge by giving each child a reading goal customized to their capabilities – whether they read a designated number of chapter books or simply browse through a handful of board books. Consider rewarding them with a small prize such as a new book, small toy, a homemade certificate or even a one-on-one trip to the library once you're out and about again.

17. Master the Rubik's Cube

If you've got a Rubik's Cube in your house, you know that solving it is no joke. But there are actually some great tutorials to help you learn how to do just that. With a little memorization, your kids can learn to conquer the cube in no time.

18. Take a Virtual Museum Tour

Kids can explore the latest exhibits and get inside look at twelve famous museums with free virtual video tours.

19. Create Video Messages

Social distancing can be lonely, especially for friends and family members who live on their own. Have your kids make customized videos, then text or email them to your loved ones to lift their spirits.

20. Stay in Touch

While older children will have an easier time keeping in touch with their friends, don't forget that younger children can benefit from this too. Consider texting other parents from your elementary school or play group to see if they'd like to set up a time for your younger kids to chat on the phone or FaceTime.

21. Care for the Family Pet

Remember that puppy your kids begged for? Now it a great time for them to practice a little responsibility with their pet. Have them walk the dog, clean the hamster cage or feed the fish.

22. Learn Cursive

With many schools no longer teaching cursive, now could be the perfect time to learn. Check out these free printable worksheets to help them get started.

23. Practice Calligraphy

If your kids have already mastered cursive, calligraphy can be a great next step. Get started with these free printable brush lettering and calligraphy worksheets.

24. Make a Cardboard Box Car

We all know that giant cardboard boxes make for great pretend houses, but there’s a lot that you can do with those everyday Amazon boxes too. With a few markers and a little creativity you can turn your medium-sized boxes into racecars – complete with paper plate wheels and steering wheels!

25. Do a Puzzle

If you're looking for some time to focus, puzzles may just qualify as one of the quietest things to do with kids at home. Dig an old puzzle out of the closet to entertain kids of all ages while you work or study.

26. Clean Up

Give your children a daily cleaning task suitable to their age level, from vacuuming the floors to dusting the knickknacks, and your house can be sparkling in no time!

27. Get Organized

Assign each child to a task you’ve been putting off – like organizing the junk drawer, matching the Tupperware lids or tracking down all those lost socks.

28. Learn Origami

Head over to Paper Kawaii's website for free photo tutorials on how to make an origami elephant, fish, dog, butterfly and more.

29. Create a Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are great for kids to learn and explore. Start by filling a box, storage bin or large Tupperware container with dried rice, beans or even water. Then give them some small toys or utensils to play with – measuring cups, funnels, or a toy tea set are all great options

30. Sculpt with Homemade Playdough

Playdough can provide quiet entertainment for kids of all ages. Make your own using one of these 8 recipes, or simply use the store bought stuff! No playdough tools? Everyday items from your home like kitchen utensils, kid’s scissors and rolling pins will work just fine.

31. Build a Marshmallow Tower

Check out this tutorial on how to construct a tower using only plastic straws and marshmallows. Not a fan of straws? Try it with dry spaghetti, toothpicks or skewers. The marshmallows could also be replaced with playdough or even tape.

32. Go Old-Fashioned

Remember the games we all played as kids? Duck Duck Goose, Ring Around the Rosie, Hide and Seek and Simon Says are all great tech-free games that your kids can play together.

33. Exercise

Physical exercise is one of the best activities to keep kids busy and healthy. Squeeze in a little work or study time while your children stay active with at-home workouts or kid-friendly videos like Cosmic Kids Yoga.

34. Create a Photo Journal

Have kids use their phone or an old camera to create a digital photo album of all the activities and projects they complete during their school break.

35. Create a Thankful Jar

Things may seem challenging right now, but there’s a lot to be grateful for. Grab a mason jar or vase, along with some strips of paper, and ask kids to spend time writing down some of the things that they’re thankful for (be sure to add some of your own, too). Once you’re done working or studying, read through them together.

If you're a current DeVry student, now can be a great time to take advantage of all of the resources we provide to help you balance school, work and life. Interested in seeing what DeVry has to offer? Click here to get connected with a representative, or chat with us.

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