10 Activities to Keep Kids Busy and Successfully Work from Home

This is a companion post to the main article I wrote on tips to increase working from home productivity as a parent and/or grad student. Check out the post by clicking on this hyperlink.

  • Buy your child a pair of child-safe scissors and colorful scrapbook paper. If they are younger than 4.5, let them have fun cutting. If they are slightly older, have them cut shapes that you draw on the paper. You can make these shapes more complicated as they get better at it. Cutting paper is a great way to improve their motor skills. If they are older than 7, ask them to make models of things using the cut scrap paper.
  • If they are older than 3, get lentils (small ones, not the kidney bean kinds) and put them in a large box. They can hide toys, make it a race pit for their cars, or generally feel and touch and have fun with it. (Please make sure they are very near you when they are doing this activity and again, very small grains of lentils please.)
  • If you live in a place with warm weather, buy a really big inflatable water tub, put it out in your balcony or backyard and let them go crazy! If you are lucky and you have more than one child, get those awesome water balloons that can be filled as a bunch and let them have at it. They don’t hurt at all and they are so much fun!
  • Spend some time building or making something with them which they can then use to play. For example, you could make slime with them and then they can play with it by themselves for a while. (I have also tried lego models and just cutting holes into cardboards to make buildings and such and they work like a charm. :))
  • This one you can do ahead of time. Buy medium-sized ice cube molds in different sizes and depths. Fill them with colored water or different kinds of fluids and drop your child’s favorite toys in them. Freeze. When they are ready, put them one at a time or all together in the bathtub–your child will spend literally HOURS digging out their toys and they will love it!
  • Design a treasure hunt around your house. Plant clues to lead them to a favorite toy or book or a treat. (This game is best if you have more than one child at home because otherwise they will expect you to be their co-investigator–learned that the hard way.)
  • Take them outdoors, preferably to a water body that is safe for little ones to play in. You can get some sun and work outdoors while they splash around or build a little sand fort or just dig dirt up. (Bonus idea: if you have older kids, get them a metal detector. Will keep them occupied for hours.)
  • Make a tent or fort with some furniture and bed sheets. It will be a parent-child activity and then they can have some imagined play by themselves inside their castle.
  • Place a plain white paper inside a ziploc bag. Add any number of acrylic colors. Close the ziploc. Your child can now see colors moving and dancing and creating pattern on the paper as long as they’d like. It’s mess-free “coloring” that’s mesmerizing.