Things to keep kids entertained at home

Without many of the normal clubs or holidays, we asked our family support workers and Children 1st Parentline team for fun ideas to keep the kids entertained at home.

Playing comes naturally to children – it’s been called "anything they decide to do when they are left to follow their own ideas or interests." Often parents will only be needed to get things started, or to help with new ideas to spark their imaginations.

Screen time and the internet get a bad press, but having a bit of downtime with a game, video or programme is a pretty normal part of most families' lives, especially if we’re stuck indoors for a while.

It is important though to agree some rules and stick to them. Try to make sure screentime doesn’t take over from healthier ways to play or start to be a constant 'babysitter'. For young children, it’s also important to keep an eye on what they’re watching, and to make sure it’s safe and appropriate for their age.

Lastly, try to take a moment to look after yourself. The house doesn’t need to be perfect. You could even ask the kids to help with laundry and tidying up – especially if you make it a game or a competition.

Ten ideas for keeping kids entertained at home

Turn a cardboard box into a TV by cutting a square out of one side and covering it in tin foil. If you don't have a box big enough you could make a cardboard frame.

Take turns to get into the TV and put on a show! You could create a more positive version of the news, be a stand-up comedian, or remake your favourite show.

Children love making noise - why not turn it into music?

You can make all sorts of musical instruments out of things you might put in the bin. Clap two yoghurt pots together like a coconut, or put some rice in an empty milk carton to make a shaker.

The Scouts website has instructions for more complex instruments for older children.

Lots of us would enjoy a trip to the spa at the moment! Tell the kids it's a spa day and spend some time pampering each other.

You could paint nails, give each other massages, and even have a go at making your own face masks to look after your skin.

Scavenger hunts immediately make the world around you more exciting. It's lots of fun to do in nature but can also happen inside if the Scottish weather is keeping you in!

To add an extra level think about how you can ask your child to use different senses, for example: 'find something that feels soft', 'find something that smells nice', 'find something that makes a noise'.

Fancy dress is a brilliant way to get silly and have fun - for children and adults!

You don't need fancy costumes: use a tea towel as a cape, pull on a pair of tights or put on some rubber gloves. Think about what your superpower is and what you use it for.

Older children might enjoy thinking more about their character. They could draw a picture or make a comic about an adventure their hero has.

It's been an anxious time and people of all ages will be feeling the strain. If your child is at a stage where they can understand when they're feeling worried it can be helpful to think about things that help them feel calm.

self soothe box brings together things that ground you and help you feel peaceful. You can help your child to make a special box that they can get out any time they feel worried.

Things you could put in:

  • Activities - colouring sheets or a favourite book 
  • Something to touch - a cuddly toy or a fidget spinner
  • Memories - photos, letters or special mementos 
  • Something smelly - a favourite cream or some perfume on a tissue

Your child can choose a favourite song to listen to when they use their box and decorate the outside to make it feel extra special.

Make lunch or snack time exciting by giving it a theme, like the Mad Hatter's tea party.

Set up a carpet picnic and ask everyone to wear hats. You can wear hats you already have or try making some out of paper or cardboard. 

Or hold a teddy bear's picnic and invite along all the cuddly toys!

This could be a project for older children. The idea is to gather together lots of interesting facts and positive memories to put into your time capsule.

It helps children look forward to the future and think about the good things that have happened, even in difficult times.

Ideas for your time capsule:

  • A factsheet of what you are like right now: your age, your height, your favourite things etc.
  • Interviews with other members of the family
  • An interview with someone outside your house, like a grandparent or friend
  • Drawings or stories
  • What is a typical day like?
  • What things are you most looking forward to?
  • Your favourite things you've done
  • A letter to your future self.

Make the weekend (or any other night) feel exciting by having a sleepover in a different room of the house. 

Get the family together, get in your PJs and snuggle up for a special night in. You could make some popcorn and put on a film, play a board game or take turns telling stories.

Your children might think they've been in the house so long they know every inch of it - but do they?

Go on a journey around your home and find different sounds, or find different things you can make sound with. It might be putting the kettle on in the kitchen or scraping a stick against a wall in the garden. 

Each time you find/make a sound use your phone to record it and then pause until the next one. When you listen to it back you will have a soundscape of all the noises around your house.

Our Children 1st teams have been inspired by lots of fun ideas from our friends at Starcatchers, Scotland’s National Arts and Early Years organisation. You can find more ideas on their website. 


We're here for you

Children 1st Parentline is a helping hand for every family in Scotland. Remember we're here if you're feeling overwhelmed or need someone to talk to. 

If you live in Scotland call 08000 28 22 33 free or start a webchat below.

If you live in England please contact Family Lives for further support.