If COVID-19 has you stuck inside suddenly it can be difficult for the whole family to adjust to a new routine. Tweens and older kids have their own unique set of challenges including separation from friends and boredom. Especially when you’re not able to get out of the house at all. These fun indoor activities are perfect to entertain older kids while you’re at home on lockdown.
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Indoor Activities to Entertain Older Kids at Home
For a lot of parents, solutions to tween boredom often involve getting kids outside or planning a family activity out. But when we must stay home, it’s a lot harder to keep kids occupied. More so if you’re going to be home for multiple days in a row.
These games, activities, and tips are easy ways to keep your older child busy while you’re all at home together.
Make some crafts
Crafts aren’t just for little kids! Older children love making them too, but they have to be age-appropriate. Some fun craft ideas for tweens are sewing, painting, knitting, and scrapbooking. You can also look online together for some easy DIY crafts or ones made from recycled materials. Google is your friend here but if you want some more direction check out the Kids Art Spot. Created for preschoolers through to tweens, the video art classes are currently on offer for a 14-day FREE trial. After that, there is a pay per month subscription price which is also 50% off at the moment. You can cancel at any time.
Another fun idea is to pull out all those craft supplies you haven’t had the chance to put to use. Try and get creative as a family, or if you need to get some work done get the kids to craft on their own. You can set a theme or just leave it open-ended. After you’re done take some pictures so you don’t feel bad if you need to throw them away!
Just because they’re out of school doesn’t mean learning has to stop. If you’re temporarily homeschooling, try and find experiments based on the curriculum. There’s a lot that can be done with just things you have around the house (like baking soda and vinegar.)
This is a great multi-age activity because you can also ask the kids to record their observations. Just tailor the level of science to their grade level. You can also combine science with fun, like making slime.
You don’t need to look further than Google to find a multitude of age-appropriate experiments to try at home and if you want to take it that one step further, check out Mystery Science for FREE science lessons. The same company offers Mystery Doug which is perfect if you have one of those kids that are constantly asking “Why?”
Make their own magazine
This is a super fun project idea for older kids and tweens. First, have them choose a topic that’s interesting. Then either use books or the internet to research articles about those topics. For photos, print them off, draw them, or clip from other magazines.
Some DIY magazine topics for tweens:
- Travel magazine to a specific destination
- History magazine about a culture of interest
- Fashion or beauty magazine
- Health, sports, and fitness
- Pop culture or current events
- Comedy magazine (like MAD)
- Video game magazine
Grow a veggie garden
Okay so this isn’t indoor but it is an activity that can be done at home! If you have a yard or even just a balcony now is the PERFECT time to teach your children (or learn together) how to grow their own veggies! Some great options to start are radishes, alfalfa and other sprouts (these can be grown in a jar on your kitchen bench), microgreens, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, beans, peas, lettuce, pumpkins, strawberries and edible flowers! There is plenty of step by step instructions online to get you started.
If growing veggies seems a bit daunting why not just start with some indoor plants. My kids love having ownership over their plants and share my sense of satisfaction watching each new leaf come up! Creating a little succulent pot is a perfect introduction to the world of plants.
Write a review
This one combines some fun and entertainment with an educational activity. Get your tween to choose either a book, video game, app or movie of their choice to review. Don’t worry too much about the medium; this is meant to be fun! For their review, you could have them read other reviews to get a feel for the style.
Another idea is to have older kids write reviews for some of their favourite venues. This isn’t just a good activity, it also might help businesses that are suffering during the lockdowns recover easier.
(And if you send us a copy of the review we might even publish it on our blog!)
Learn a new hobby
This is a great time for kids to pick up on new hobbies that they want to try. Thanks to the internet, there are almost unlimited options for online learning. If you have any instruments in your house kids can take online lessons, for example. Some are self-paced, others are done by actual teachers.
If you have some skills you can pass down to your kids and are able to teach them, now’s a great time to do that.
Go on a virtual excursion
Even though we’re stuck at home we can still go on excursions thanks to modern technology. Explore the real surface of Mars by visiting Access Mars as recorded by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Travel to France and visit the Louvre in Paris and check out the museum’s exhibition rooms and galleries. Take a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China or check out the Hidden Worlds of the (U.S.) National Parks. The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York also offers exhibitions with audio made especially for 6-10 year olds.
For more options check out this link or read 19 immersive museum exhibits you can visit from your couch.
Get in some relaxation
Times are stressful right now and even if your older child doesn’t communicate it, they’re probably still feeling the weight. Plan some activities that they can either do alone or for you to do together to help them destress and relax.
Some calm-down activities for tweens:
- Colouring in an adult colouring book
- Playing with sensory items like slime, clay, and even playdough
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Doing a facemask or other skincare routine
- Soaking feet in a foot spa
- Using calm down apps (the ‘Calm’ app is great)
- Doing yoga (you can find videos online)
Movement and exercise are vital for kids of all ages. When they’re out of school and stuck in the house they’re probably not moving around nearly as much as they’re used to. Thankfully, there’s plenty of fun ways to get kids active even in small spaces.
You can play movement-based games together, download a dancing video game like ‘Just Dance’, or look up exercise routines on YouTube to try. Or check out ‘P.E. with Joe’, the Body Coach who is posting a 30min video Monday-Friday for your kids to continue their P.E. lessons from home. Here is the first video to get you started! Make sure you incorporate physical activity into your days at home.
Have a family marathon movie day
Stay in your PJs all day and butter that popcorn! Movie days are so much fun for everyone. The hard part will be finding a movie you all agree on. Check out our list of Ten Inspiring Movies to Watch with Your Tweens or another list of suggestions here to get you started. Or if you’re a theatre family you can take advantage of the 7-day FREE trial Broadway HD has on offer and choose from the family-friendly options. Disney Plus also offers a 7-day FREE trial. (I highly recommend watching Aladdin with your kids if you haven’t already, it’s the best!) Just don’t forget to cancel your subscription before the free trial period is over if you don’t want to pay.
Play with younger siblings
If you have multiple kids at home, and especially if you’re trying to work from home, it can be hard to keep everyone occupied. Take advantage of your tween’s boredom and desire to be in charge by having them play with younger children.
This is a great excuse for older kids to play ‘little kid’ games or with toys. Some fun activities are ‘Simon Says’, making crafts together (where your tween helps the younger kids), or just playing with toys.
If all of your kids are older and you find they won’t stop fighting then now is a great time to introduce a gratitude jar system. Everyone gets their own jar and puts their name on it (they can decorate it if they like by using washi tape or glueing items on). Each day everyone must write one thing they are grateful for about their other siblings (or entire family up to you). At first, it may seem like a chore but eventually, they will have a newfound appreciation for their brother/sister. It’s also perfect for kids if they are having a bad day to pull out their jar and read all the lovely things that have been said about them.
Have a virtual hangout with friends
Kids need their friends and being forced to stay away from then suddenly can be tough. To help make it a little easier, help your tween arrange a virtual hangout session with a few of their pals.
There are a few ways you can do this. The easiest is using a video chat app or something like Skype where everyone can see each other. Another idea for kids who play video games is for them to ‘meet up’ with their friends (while voice chatting) in their favourite game. With any online mediums, you will need to check their settings and make sure they are communicating in a safe environment.
Listen to an audio book
While schools are closed, Audible are offering an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, for kids to stream for FREE on desktop, laptop, phone or tablet! And if your kid is a David Walliams fan then you’re in luck because he is releasing a FREE audio story every day for 30 days (started on/around 24 March). To access visit The World of David Walliams.
Create a vision board
I did this activity with my 14-year-old daughter recently and we both really enjoyed it. We cut up old magazines, newspapers, and if we couldn’t find something specific we really wanted we just cheated and printed it ourselves! It’s a great activity for a tween or teen to start setting goals and visualizing what they want to do with their life or what they want to achieve (i.e. it may not be about owning a big house or going to university but just being ‘happy’). It’s also a great conversation starter for you with your teen/tween.
It feels like most tweens are glued to their phones, so why not take advantage of it? There’s nothing wrong with them coming up with creative (parent-approved) Tik-Toks, or starting their own YouTube channel or creating their own website! With so many different apps out that have some kind of artistic or educational value, you’ll be able to find something that works for both you and your child.
It’s also important to give yourself and your kid a little bit of slack when it comes to screen time. As long as they’re doing a wide variety of activities throughout the day and getting some exercise and learning time in, it’s probably OK to chat with friends or disconnect from the stress with a favourite show.
Learn another language
Immerse your child in another language! Duolingo offers FREE learning that was designed to be fun so people would prefer picking up new skills over playing a game. My 11-year-old boy has the app. downloaded on his phone and uses it all the time. You can also check out Mind Snacks which has seven FREE languages to choose from as well as the Kids’ Vocab (paid) app that allows kids to build on their vocabulary anywhere, anytime, all while having fun!
Have a cooking day
There’s no better time than being stuck at home for everyone to improve on their cooking skills! Check out Nomster Chef which offers an online library of illustrated recipes for 2-12 year olds.
Take some animation classes
Get a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs at Pixar in a Box where your child will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. Or have them create a FREE animation at Scratch where they can program their own interactive stories, games, and animations and share their creations with others in the online community.
Play some board games or cards, read a book, dedicate a table in the house to become the “puzzle table” that everyone can come and go to when they please. Check out the National Geographic Kids site or subscribe to Time for Kids who are offering FREE access to their digital library for the rest of the school year (I’m assuming they are referring to the U.S. school calendar so best to sign up soon). Illustrator Rob Biddulph is posting two video tutorials a week that kids can watch during lockdown. Wonder Mag. created this gorgeous FREE e-book for their fans!
In addition to the list above, I highly recommend you check out survival expert, Bear Grylls, new initiative called ‘The Great Indoors‘ – a collection of 100 activities designed to encourage kids to try new challenges and learn new skills at home. Each challenge has a clear age bracket (6-8 years, 10-14 years, 14-18 years etc) and makes use of items you might have laying around the house!
If you’re able to, try and at least get some fresh air every day even if you can’t go anywhere. For the rest of the day, these indoor activities to entertain older kids at home will help make these days pass quickly.