12 at-home activities that will keep kids busy (for non-crafty moms)

by Tanya Kovarsky, Rattle & Mum
Craft activities for kids
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Some schools were recently on holiday, and I watched in fascination how moms posted their incredible crafty and arty pics that they had created with their kids.

I’m always in awe of moms who take the time to research an arts-and-crafts project, buy all the tools, and patiently sit with their kids to execute the projects.

I love living through them and seeing the creative projects these moms inspire, while reassuring myself that at least my kids, especially my toddler, get a good amount of creativity at school.

But, now that my toddler’s school holidays are approaching, I’m starting to get prepared and think about what fun things I can coordinate without having to be ultra-creative or crafty.

My best advice is to plan in advance. Try to schedule something every day, preferably with the “buy-In” of your child if they are old enough.

Whether it’s a DVD at home, baking biscuits, going to the park, or arranging a playdate, having something planned for each day eases your stress, plus it gives your child something to look forward to.

Other handy tips include stocking up with books (even at the library) before the holiday, making sure you have baking ingredients and basic art supplies, and adding some great “edutainment” apps to your smartphone or tablet if you have one, and organising playdates if it’s age appropriate for your child.

Here are some fun at-home activities that your kids might love – simply pick ones that are age-appropriate.

Plant some herbs or seeds

Head to your nursery and buy some herbs, seeds, soil and pots. Follow the planting instructions, or ask for advice at the nursery. Find out how often they will need to be watered, and encourage your child to tend to the plants, and watch their progress. You can also help them create pretty labels for each pot, which, when laminated, can withstand the outdoors. You could also paint names on small pieces of wood, and gently pop them into the pot.

Water play

Fill a bucket with water and bubbles. Place toys, cartons, cups, bath toys, etc. in the water and let the children have fun and use their imaginations.Baby Yum Yum - home activities that will keep kids busy


Make your favourite juice and pour into lollipop moulds. Freeze and serve. Can also be made with Nutella (1/3 cup) and milk (1 cup) blended together and then placed in lollipop moulds and frozen.

Baby Yum Yum - easy activities to keep kids busy while parents work at home

Science experiments

These are great for older kids, and a lot of experiments don’t require a many items and ingredients. I’ve found some great and easy experiments at Science Kids (www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments.html), where children can do things like make glowing water or tell if an egg is raw or boiled.

“My best advice is to plan in advance. Try to schedule something every day, preferably with the “buy-In” of your child if they are old enough.”

Edible necklaces

Use O-tees or Fruit Loops (if you can find them) and thread one onto a piece of string and then tie a knot to keep the cereal on. Keep on threading until you have a yummy necklace to munch on.

Make play dough

(see instructions for how to make play dough here)

Baby Yum Yum - Make play doughPaint with ice

Fill an ice tray with water and add food colouring to each cube. Freeze overnight. Place into a bowl and allow children to use the ice cubes as their “paint brushes”.


A basic biscuit recipe can yield so much fun if you have cool cookie cutters or some imagination to make your own shapes. Get some sprinkles, edible glitter or other toppings, and enjoy! You can also bake some cupcakes (a box mix is perfectly fine), and get the kids to decorate with icing (prepared from scratch or in ready-to-ice tubes) and sweets, sprinkles or chocolate.

Pyjama day

Create a movie and pyjama day – get some movies, darken the room, make some popcorn and create a fun film day.

Baby Yum Yum - Keeping Your Kids Busy When You Are Stuck at HomeBring out the board games

Switch off the devices and bring out the age-appropriate board games, whether it’s a matching puzzle, Monopoly (there’s a junior version too), chess, backgammon, card games (rummy, snap or Uno) and Bingo, to name just a few.

Have a treasure hunt

This one might involve a little bit more organisation, but it’s huge fun for kids to follow clues, get moving, and find a small prize. For older kids, you can include some problem-solving clues.

Make a movie

Children can make their own movies with their photos and video clips using an app, such as Magisto Video Editor & Maker. It also comes with music and special effects.

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