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27 Activities for Kids at Home

Sometimes, even a rainy weekend stuck at home is difficult for kids. Now, with schools closing due to COVID-19, children and parents everywhere are off-schedule, stressed and going stir-crazy. To help out, I made a list of activities for kids at home.

Backyard Fun

  • Play Ball- Catch and kicking a ball around are always fun. Try using a laundry basket and see who can toss the ball into the basket from an increasing distance away. Or, use empty soda bottles to make bowling pins and play backyard bowling.
  • Get Dirty- Playing in the mud or digging in the dirt is fun for littles. For something more structured, save seeds from fruits and vegetables to plant and see what sprouts or tend an existing garden.
  • Picnic- On sunny days, take meals outside. If you don’t have an outdoor table, grab a tablecloth or bed sheet to spread on the ground and sit on.
  • Explore Nature- Observe insects, compare plants and leaves. You could also download a plant identification app and use it to learn about plants growing in your yard.
  • Sidewalk chalk- Patios, driveways, and sidewalks become canvases.
Backyard fun activities for kids at home

Indoor Crafts

  • Break Out the Art Supplies- Drawing, painting, cutting and pasting can be fun for all ages. If they need a little motivation, give a general theme and have awards for the most creative, detailed, colorful, etc.
  • Think Outside the Box- Old magazines, newspapers, junk mail, cereal boxes, cardboard tubes, etc. make creative art supplies. Tubes become telescopes or binoculars. Cutout pictures and letters to make collages.
  • Playdough- Use store-bought or make your own. I think it’s easier to clean up than slime, but of course, that’s an option, too.
  • Go Big- If you have any large cardboard boxes, get creative with them. Rolls of butcher paper or the plain side of wrapping paper are great for large murals or full body tracing.
Artwork activities for kids at home

Indoor Games

  • Board games- Break out the ones you have, invest in a couple of classics like Candy Land or Monopoly (Amazon means not having to leave the house), or create your own.
  • Charades– No pieces or props are needed to take turns acting out and guessing your favorite books, shows and movies.
  • Pictionary– Similar to charades, all you need is something to draw on and draw with.

Advanced Crafts

  • Share Your Skills- Do you sew, knit, or crochet? Whatever your craft, think of a beginner lesson and teach it to your children.
  • Learn Together- Do you have supplies for a project that never happened or a skill you never got around to learning? Look up tutorials or YouTube videos and learn it together.

In the Kitchen

  • Make Cookies- Or cake, or brownies. Baking introduces basic cooking skills, reading instructions and fractions. Depending on what you’re making, all of the measuring and mixing can be done without needing the stove or oven until it’s time to bake.
  • Let Them Help- Give them options and let them help with meal planning. Older kids and teens can be more hands on with meal prep. Even little ones can help with washing vegetables, setting the table, mixing and measuring.

Educational Screen Time

  • Stream Documentaries- Netflix and other streaming services have tons of documentaries available. Pick a subject your child is passionate about, or look for something fun and quirky and watch it together.
  • Khan Academy– This website has lessons on just about anything you want to learn for all ages.
  • Preschoolers- PBS Kids has games and videos for all the PBS Kids shows. Starfall.com is a fun way for kids to learn ABC’s and reading basics.
  • Google Sketchup– My kids enjoy playing around with this drafting program (website).

DIY Toys

  • Dress up- Look in the back of your closets for old clothing and accessories, or dig out old Halloween costumes. Or, make a super hero costume from an old t-shirt.
  • Blanket forts- Use blankets, pillows, couch cushions, whatever you can think of to build a hideaway for the kiddos to hang out.
  • Bath time- While not exactly a toy, playing in water is fun and calming for little ones, so if they’re getting a little stir-crazy, let them play in a bath. If older kiddos are feeling antsy or stressed, suggesting a bath or shower might help them, too.

Storytime

  • Break out old favorites- Keep a basket of books in a handy spot, like on a coffee table to make it easy to grab one and read.
  • Read aloud- Adults can read to everyone or have older children read to younger ones. Beckett doesn’t always like listening to me or reading on his own, but he sometimes enjoys reading aloud to Thaddeus.
  • Explore new books- Many public libraries give you the ability to checkout ebooks online. Project Gutenberg has over 60,000 books online for free. Or, try Kindle Unlimited to get unlimited access to tons of ebooks and audio books for a low monthly fee. Use this link to get your first month free.
  • Write your own- Take turns making up stories or turn it into a project by folding paper books and adding illustrations. Pre-k and younger can draw pictures to tell their stories.

What at home activities do you like to do with your kids? Please share your activities for kids at home in the comments.

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Office Construction

If you’ve followed SubEarthan Cottage for long, you know about the questionable techniques used in our 1937 home. Over the last few weeks, Chris replaced the sagging ceiling in the center room of our home, removed part of the floor damaged from foundation problems, and put a temporary floor in to allow the final foundation work to be done. 

Office temporary floor
Section of temporary floor.

Because we know the foundation still needs work, we aren’t finishing out the walls yet, either. Rather than doing the texture and paint now and repairing cracks and split seams after the foundation is done, we decided to wait and do the finish work after the structural work is finished.

In the meantime, though, we need the space, so we are turning that room into an office work space. This week, Chris set to work building and installing an L-shaped counter on two walls to serve as desks. He reconfigured the over-sized desk and hutches we found on Craigslist a few years ago into a better configuration for our needs.

Next up, he will add more shelving. Every office needs tons of shelving. I think we could literally start our own library with all the books we have. No matter how much shelving we have, there is never enough. If you notice, above the white boards, there is a space. We plan to have shelving around the perimeter of the room in that space so the books are out and visible but out of the way.

Along with shelving, the office also needs lighting. Since that is the center room of the house, there is no natural light. We plan on adding task lighting and a ceiling fan with lighting.

He used salvaged materials for the majority of this renovation. They came from homes in our area torn down to make way for new construction. Not only does it save money, but I like knowing that we kept solid materials out of a landfill.

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Genius printer hack you won’t believe

Have you ever had to print a paper or mailing label NOW and realized your black ink cartridge is out of ink? As much as I try to keep an extra on hand, sometimes I run out without a backup. Something I’ve found that works in a pinch is to simply remove the black ink cartridge. This forces the printer to use the color cartridge to print the document instead.

With and without the empty black ink cartridge removed.
With and without the empty black ink cartridge removed.

The label on the right was my first attempt at printing a mailing label before realizing that I was overdue for a new black cartridge. The label on the right was printed with the black cartridge removed.

My printer will usually print one or two jobs this way without complaining, then I may have to put the old cartridge back in for a bit then remove it again if I need to print something else. Usually by that time I have been able to get a replacement cartridge.

It’s always better to be prepared, but in a pinch this trick works like magic.


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Summer recap

Photos from our summer adventures.

My baby got a haircut and instantly looked older.

We set up an “indoor” pool.

We visited the park.

And the library.

And an indoor playground.

We had lazy days.

And silly days.

We grew sunflowers.

We gained fur-babies.

We visited more parks, where I tried not to have heart attacks while my boys were monkeys.

And had fun.

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Tree trimming

Since we moved into our house sixteen years ago, we’ve had an ongoing discussion about what to do with the massive tree behind the house. It was gorgeous and shaded the back quarter of the house, but it was also just a few feet away from the house, so there was always a risk of falling limbs and foundation damage.

Easter fun.

You can see it on the side at the back corner of the house and just behind the fence.

Yesterday, with nothing but a fourteen inch chainsaw, a loooong chain and me in the Zombie truck keeping the chain taut (and trying not to have a heart attack), Christopher made this happen:

Tree

No humans, homes, animals or Zombie trucks were harmed.

Tree vs Zombie

Hopefully the chainsaw survived well enough to handle the cleanup, too.

Tree climbing

I was worried it would be dark before the tree came down. I had to wait until this morning to take pictures because it fell at the last possible moment before nightfall.

That corner of the house looks naked now. But, we don’t have to worry about storms dropping it through the boys’ room anymore. It also clears the way for us to put up solar panels once we replace the roof.

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Key holder craft inspiration

We needed a better way to organize our keys. I thought about using hooks and scrap wood to make something, but I didn’t have any hooks on hand. I did, however have an old license plate, clothespins and hot glue, so this is what resulted.

I used hot glue because I could remove the clothespins without much, if any damage to the license plate. So far it’s holding up well, but if I were to make another, I might use something more permanent now that I know the concept works. I’d also use a ruler to line up the pins. I had “help” from the two year old this time, so I had to work fast to keep the glue gun safely away from little fingers.

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December

I can’t believe it’s already December. I love this time of year, but, honestly I could do without all the holidays making what little we have of fall and winter fly by. Meanwhile stinking, hot summer lasts from mid-April to Halloween with no big holidays to break it up. 

Anyway, unlike most years where I’m busy with random chaos and crafting until I realize Christmas is a week away and I still haven’t decorated, I got out our little Charlie Brown tree yesterday and let the boys decorate it. I stayed in the next room folding laundry so I wouldn’t be tempted to micromanage. 

Because that pretty much sums it up. They did a good job, though, and since they did it, I’m less likely to keep rearranging ornaments to get everything just right.

The lighting in that room is terrible. You can make out the toddler-height holes starting to develop while the top of the tree is looking a little crowded. I predict that by Christmas, the bottom of the tree up to about 3.5 feet off the ground will be bare except for lights.

If you look closely, you’ll see some painted pinecone decorations. When Finn was little, I got a huge batch of pinecones and spray painted them red, white and silver. Then I tied jute twine loops on them for hooks. That way, I didn’t have to worry about broken glass if he took them off the tree. He really didn’t bother with them much, though. As you can see, I’ve since gotten braver with ornaments, as have my children.

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