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Activities for kids to do without a lot of parental intervention

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Dr. Laura,
I have 2 little girls (6 and 8). I work from home, and the girls are at home with me, while I work. For the most part, they are really good at keeping themselves busy in constructive ways.

However, there are times when they seem to run out of things to do, and they either a. get themselves in trouble or b. fight with each other.

I'm looking for some easy and not terribly messy crafts that I can keep on hand to help fill in the down time, especially now that they are out of school for the summer.

Of course, they are properly supervised, at all times. However, it would be great if the crafts could be something that they don't need my constant help with.

I'm thinking things that I can get them started on and then check back every few minutes as opposed to me standing over then and giving them step by step instruction/assistance.

Thanks in advance!


We all need resources for those times when we need our kids to play with minimal supervision and they've run out of ideas. Of course, they often just need a little refueling time with Mom and then they can exercise their own creative muscles. But if they've got a full love tank from you and just need some ideas to stimulate their thinking caps, you may need to pull down the "Boredom Buster Jar" or check the list posted on the fridge to give them some options.

This first list is craft/art projects. The second list is activities. I haven't included detailed instructions, and most of these projects are pretty simple, but you can also readily find more detail online if you want to flesh out your vision of these ideas. I encourage other moms to write in with additional ideas!

Crafts and Art Projects:

Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
Make an underwater diorama scene in a cardboard box
Make an enchanted castle from a cardboard box
Use a big roll of white paper to make homemade wrapping paper with markers/stamps/paint/ink
Cut out pictures from magazines and make collages
Make salt dough & use to make holiday decorations or jewelry
Cut up old holiday cards and make holiday stickers for next year by coating the back with gelatin glue, let dry (2 tsp gelatin in 5 tsp boiling water.)
Tie shells to a branch with ribbons to make a mobile
Macrame Plant Hangers for hanging plants
Mix liquid hand soap, cornstarch and food coloring into paint and paint the bathtub, then bathe.
Decorate photo frames
Make placemats for the 4th of July or other occasion and laminate.
Make funky junk hangings by gluing broken jewelry to a pie plate or small board.
Make a zoo for your stuffed animals by cutting up cardboard boxes and taping them together.
Decorate a plate or mug for a present for Dad.
Make your room into a rainforest by drawing and cutting out plants and animals.
Use no-bake modeling clay to make beads. Let dry on skewers, then thread on elastic cord.
Make an edible aquarium with blue jello, gummy fish & plastic cups.
Make a sculpture from pretzels and peanut butter
Make an atom sculpture using toothpicks, mini-marshmallows and gumdrops.
Cut paper into spirals to make a snake.
Cut paper snowflakes and hang them to make a summer blizzard.
Hang a sheet in the yard and paint a stage backdrop for a performance/play/puppet show.
Use papier mache and a balloon to make animals or piñatas.
Make birthday cards for the coming year for everyone you know
Make a photo album/scrapbook
Create your own board game
Learn to make origami cranes
Make an origami crane chain for someone who's ill.
Use stamps on paper to create stationery

Other Activities
Write your Granny a letter or make a tape for her to listen to.
Put on some music and dance
Write down ten things you love about each person in your family, present at dinner.
Play hopscotch
Play with bubbles in the sink
Make a scarecrow for the garden using a broom (stuff a pillowcase, draw a face, and tie it around the broom head for the head.)
Make kabobs with grapes, banana slices (use a plastic knife) and melon chunks (use an ice cream scoop.)
Play jumprope
Brush the dog
Find shapes in the clouds
See how many times you can dribble the basketball
Plan a treasure hunt, with clues
Ride your bike
Start a journal
Organize your room
Write a story
Create a play with costumes
Surprise your mom by making lunch
Make a museum of leaf shapes, look up what kind of tree they're from.
Create a family newspaper/newsletter
Make dessert
Start a collection (leaves, rocks, buttons)
Create a circus performance
Make an obstacle course
Read a book
Make a book of recipes
Have a water balloon fight (outside!)
Memorize a poem and recite it for your parents
Play a board game
Weed the garden
Wash the mirror with a sponge
Set up a bowling alley with cereal boxes and soda bottles.
Make a book of jokes
Build a fort with blankets and pillows
Make a list of fun things you can do without a grownup

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