Simple Activities With Kids to Help Pass Time

As a parent, you know that keeping young kids entertained and engaged can often feel like a full-time job. When you’re stuck at home or need to fill time before appointments, school pickups, etc., it’s easy to rely too heavily on screens as a distraction. However, there are plenty of simple, screen-free activities you can do with your children to pass the time in a fun and productive way.

Get Creative with Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are a go-to way to spend quality time together while sparking creativity. You likely already have plenty of supplies around the house – paper, scissors, glue, markers, crayons, etc. Let your child take the lead on craft projects or provide guided activities like making handprint art by tracing their hand on paper and decorating the drawing. For very young kids, simply give them safe art materials like chunky crayons and thick paper and let them color freely.

Bake Together

Cooking or baking with your child teaches math skills, following directions, and patience. Bake cookies, muffins or another kid-friendly recipe together. Give young kids simple jobs like dumping ingredients into a bowl or stirring while you handle the oven and knives. Older children can take on tasks like cracking eggs. Make sure to build in time for enjoyment too with licking the beaters or decorating cooled cookies.

Play with Building Toys

Blocks, Lego sets and other building toys encourage creativity and problem-solving. Build towers as high as possible and then knock them down. Create houses, garages, castles and anything else your child can dream up. Building side-by-side is relaxing for kids and parents alike. It also sets the foundation for future STEM skills.

Break out Board Games

What better way to spend time together than around the table with a board game? Age-appropriate games teach social skills, turn taking, problem solving and more. Very young children often love “first game” types that focus on matching colors and pictures. Older kids can handle more complex games with longer rules. Take turns picking favorites and keep a family game bin handy for whenever you need an activity.

Create an Obstacle Course

On days when kids need to burn off extra energy, set up an obstacle course either indoors or out. Use existing furniture like crawling under chairs and climbing over cushions. Or head outside and have kids run around trees, jump over sticks, toss balls at targets and more. Create simple cones or signs with construction paper to mark each station on the course. Time your child racing through it or make it a silly challenge like completing each obstacle with a funny walk or backward.

Perform a Science Experiment

Science experiments capture kids’ natural curiosity, build research skills and teach scientific principles. Plus, they’re just plain cool and fun. Do classic experiments like making a volcano by mixing baking soda and vinegar. Try crystal creations by boiling water and adding borax. Or explore physics by stacking books or blocks in fun patterns andconfigurations to test concepts like gravity, balance and force.

Get Moving with Active Games

Active games are a two-for-one opportunity to occupy your kids’ time and burn off their extra energy. Play classic games like freeze tag, duck duck goose and red light/green light. Hide-and-seek or sardines also allow kids to run around. Teach your children playground games you loved at their age like hopscotch. Or make up your own silly active challenges – how fast can they crawl from here to there or pair up for wheelbarrow races?

Encourage Imaginative Play

Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to entertain themselves with their own imagination. Provide simple props like dress up clothes, play food and dishes, blocks to make castles or roads, dolls and action figures. Then step back and let them create their own worlds. Imaginative play boosts creativity, self-esteem and emotional development. It also keeps them happily occupied! Check in occasionally and ask questions about their play to spur storytelling.

The next time you need a time filler with your kids, resist the urge to thrust a smartphone at them. Instead, try one of these simple, screen-free activities that educate and connect. Have fun passing the time together!

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