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12 Activities to Keep Kids Busy (That Don’t Involve Watching TV)

Some days are spent playing with the kids at home where busier days are made for independent play. These creative kids activities will keep your little ones entertained.

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Young girl enjoying cozy time at home facetiming with grandparents via internet wearing headphones in bed on stay at home order during social distancing time due to health crisis virus outbreakHRAUN/Getty Images

Virtual Playdates

Your kiddo’s face will light up when they see their best bud on the screen! Plan a few play activities to keep the besties entertained for hours. Throwing a dance party, show and tell or charades playdate will go over very well. Be sure to check out these virtual get-together tips before setting them up on the computer.

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Portrait of happy girl standing at table with Asian food in plateMaskot/Getty Images

Make Kid-Friendly Snacks

This one is for all the little chefs out there. Have your kiddo whip up one of these easy cooking recipes for kids as a mid-afternoon snack or lunch (they’ll love throwing together these no-bake peanut butter treats and turkey ranch wraps). Or try one of these kids cooking kits with helpful tools and instructions designed for budding cooks.

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Girl scrapbookingJupiterimages/Getty Images

Photo Collage

Let your little one’s creativity shine with this DIY craft! Have toddlers use safety scissors to cut up old magazines to make a photo collage. If you’ve got a “big kid” on your hands, set them up with scrapbook paper, gel pens, stickers, magazines and printed photos to make their own scrapbook. Crafts like this are one of our favorite fun things to do with kids at home.

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Melissa Franco for Taste of Home

Kitchen Science Experiments

Does your kid love all things science? Have them try out one of these easy science experiments for kids. Write out or print off step-by-step instructions and provide all the needed ingredients (bonus: each experiment uses up items you already have on hand!) so your little scientist can whip up these experiments all on their own.

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Child doing homework and writing story essay. Elementary or primary school class. Closeup of hands and colorful pencils.romrodinka /Getty Images

Write Letters

Keep your little one connected to family, friends and teachers—the old-fashioned way. Provide them paper, envelopes, stamps, colored pencils and stickers and let them get to work. Encourage them to throw a personalized drawing into the envelope, too. For older kids, encourage them to practice neat handwriting or even calligraphy as a new skill.

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Black girl decorating cookiesAriel Skelley/Getty Images

Decorate Cookies

Grab a little apron, sprinkles and icing—it’s time for some baking fun! Parents: all you have to do is make the icing—let the kiddos handle the cookie decorating. They’ll have a blast applying the frosting and sprinkles.

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Shedd Aquarium filming videos for virtual toursVia @sheddaquarium/Facebook

Virtual Tours

Have your little one travel to the Houston Space Center, Walt Disney World and the San Diego Zoo all in one day (and better yet, without leaving the living room)! We’ve compiled a list of all the available virtual tours that you could dream of—from museum tours to theme park tours. Oh, did we mention they’re all free?

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Asian Chinese little girl washing dishes in the kitchen at homekiankhoon/Getty Images

Help Out Around the House

Okay, okay. This isn’t the most fun activity for kids, but it’s definitely a way to keep them busy (and that will help you out, too). Check out our kid-friendly chore chart for some inspo. If the backyard needs some TLC, have the kiddos pick up a few kid-friendly garden chores.

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Children playing kinetic sands at home during sunrise due to the lockdown of the Coronavirus or Covid 19 outbreak. Selective focus.Azlin Nur Bakarudin / EyeEm/Getty Images

Build Indoor Sand Castles

We can’t get over how smart the edible sand TikTok trend is. All you need is some Cheerios and a blender to make a mini sandbox that is perfect for toddlers. You’ll never have to worry about your little one eating sand ever again!

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Children play educational games with a sensory bin in kindergarten.zsv3207/Getty Images

Scavenger Hunt

Before you start your busy day, set up a scavenger hunt throughout the house or in your backyard. Provide clues in each hiding spot to help them find the next clue. The last clue should lead your kiddo to a fun prize like gold coin candy or some fun jewelry. If your little is in the toddler age range, try setting up a sensory bin scavenger hunt. Place items like toy cars, shovels and plastic alphabet letters in a bed of kid-friendly materials like sprinkles or rice.

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lovely 2 years boy made macaroni beadsivolodina/Getty Images

Make Pasta Jewelry

Unleash your kiddo’s fashion design skills with this independent play idea. Set up a pasta jewelry workstation equipped with different shaped pasta shells and string. If you want to step things up a notch, throw some stick-on jewels and markers into the mix. Tie up your little one’s creation with a simple knot at the end of their jewelry piece. If they’re a big fan of this activity, treat your kiddo to real foodie jewelry for the next holiday.

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Asian toddler boy relaxing, reading on sofa.twomeows/Getty Images

Reading

Set up your bookworms for a day of reading fun. Little ones can listen to their favorites on audiobooks or have them read along with Youtube channels like Storyline Online and KidTime StoryTime. Provide the big kids with the real deal: paperback or access on their e-reader.

Christina Herbst
Christina is an Assistant Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in content creation and SEO optimization. She enjoys trying out local foodie restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on.

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