For those days where you’re sick, need a break, or are stuck inside with the kids with no place to go, here are no-prep kids activities to keep them quiet!
There are times when exhaustion sets in.
It’s as if my brain partially shuts off.
My body is lethargic. And, thinking about entertaining or preoccupying the kids is a little more than I can bear.
Case in point, last week I was hit by a pretty nasty cold. On top of it, my husband was away from Wednesday until Sunday. Did I mention I’m twenty-five weeks pregnant and have extreme morning sickness?
Even on medication, I get sick daily.
Add in a cold? And, I’m much sicker, much more frequently. I do agree that times like this are the best excuse for screen time. And believe me, I’ve used the iPad and Netflix more than I would like to admit.
While I’m sure my kids would be okay with an endless stream of YouTube and movies, I can only take so much. I’m also not a fan of turning my kids’ brains to mush, no matter how poorly I feel. So, this week I got inventive with activities for my kids. By inventive, I mean I have created the simplest no-prep kids activities I could possibly think of to save my sanity. I also asked creative blogger friends for their best no-prep kids activities for when mom is sick. Here is what we did last week and what my friends contributed.
I hope these ideas give you some much-needed downtime. At the very least, they’re worth having in your back pocket for a rainy day or just cause!
Low or No-Prep Kids Activities for when Mom is Sick or Needs a Break
Have Fun with Toy Cars
- Set up an amazingly simple car ramp. Simply flatten out an empty cardboard box and secure it to your stairs (I punctured holes in it and then used string to tie it to the railings). Then, I got my son his toy cars and he had loads of fun racing them. To extend the fun, give your kids markers and stickers to create lanes on the cardboard before attaching it to your stairs.
- Create a road for cars. Older kids can use a flattened cardboard box, markers, coloured paper, scissor and glue to create their own 2D car road. For younger kids and a simpler set-up, grab some toys for them to arrange along the road.
Set Up a Sensory Bath to Contain Mess and Get Quiet Time
- Make bath paints and let them paint like crazy. Use this recipe for vibrant and beautiful bath paints or simply use some shaving cream and food colouring. Muffin tins or plastic containers work well. Once your kids have finished with the paints, buy yourself some more time by running a bath for them, giving them a squeegee and a face cloth to clean the bath walls.
- Add a new dimension by making foam shapes. Cut out foam shapes and designs to use in the bath by themselves or with bath paint. See an awesome example of a bath Christmas tree here.
Run a Bath or Fill a Pool for your Child’s Favourite Toys
- Run a toy bath. Because my kids have the incredible ability to turn the smallest amount of water into what looks like a monsoon in no time at all, I put big beach towels down on the floor. Then I fill on of my biggest pots with warm soapy water and bring over any of their toys that do not have stickers on them. For instance, my son’s Paw Patrol vehicles have sticker details. I don’t want them to come off so they stay out of the water. The rest are fair game!
- Add a toy slide and make it a pool!
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Create a Sensory Painting or Colouring Experience
- Make natural stamps. If you have some bruised apples you’re not planning on eating, use them for paint. Cut an apple in half, place a fork in the middle of the skin of the apple (to act as a handle), dip it in some tempera paint and paint away!
- With some markers and a cardboard box, explore the sound of colouring. Click here to see a quick video how-to.
Arrange for Some Fine-Motor Focus Time
- Put pipe cleaners in the opening of a bottle. Click here to see how.
- Follow the line with stickers. Draw a line and encourage your child to follow it with stickers. See the how-to here.
- Play with fine-motor practice using pom poms. Using plastic tweezers or tongs, set up a sensory bin for kids to work away on. Click here to learn more.
- Set out stamps and play dough. This is such a simple activity. Unlike using a stamp pad, your child will stay mess free. Each time they want to “erase” their stamps, all they have to do is knead the play dough and start again!
Set up Simple Sensory Play
- Make stained glass windows. Tape contact paper to a window and encourage your child to decorate away! See the post here.
- Dump several cups of lentils in a bin. Add your child’s favourite toys and they will play away! Putting an old sheet underneath helps contain the mess.
- Create simple sensory bottles for quiet time. Click here for the ingredients.
Facilitate Simple STEM Learning with Household Items
- Make a kitchen catapult. A simple ladle or slotted spoon on top of a plastic container creates a catapult. Add some toys (bonus points if they’re your siblings – see below) and have fun!
- Tower plastic cups. All it takes is plastic cups. Adding plastic placemats between levels can add to the building fun!
For more low or no-prep kids activities for when mom is sick, there is a great resource here.
This is such a handy resource, we all get those day when we just NEED something simple to entertain the kids when we are not feeling well.
Thank you so much! I’m really happy with how it turned out. And because I’ve been sick with a cold the last week, I’ve had the opportunity to try a lot of these out!
You found some fabulous no prep activities to keep thee kids busy. Handy when the parents are sick or busy.
Thanks so much Shelah! I’m coasting through a week and a half of the worst cold I’ve ever had and these no-prep activities has been life savers!
Jacqueline|Mama's Munchkins says
This is an incredible list! Even if I’m not sick, I hate spending to much time setting up activities for them, mainly the reason is because they only play with it for a little while! If I need to spend 15 minutes setting something up, then they need to spend at least an hour playing with it! I love this, some of them my kids could even set up themselves!
Thank you so much for such a nice compliment. I agree, even if you’re not sick, these are great to buy time and keep the kids busy!