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16 Activities for Kids Using Household Items

Often children need direction and ideas for how to spend their free time. Providing them with a menu of ideas to choose from may give them the starting point they need for their own creativity. Boredom can be the breeding ground for creativity.

1. Everyday Items

Look around your house and find “scrounged” items for creativity. Gather the empty boxes from Amazon deliveries, empty containers, tape, buttons etc. and let your child create.

2. Homemade Playdough

Always define the child’s workspace by putting the play dough on a cookie sheet, tray or cake pan so it doesn’t end up all over the room. Add cookie cutters, plastic knives and other utensils. Here is my favorite recipe:

Mix together:

1 cup water

I cup flour

1/3 cup salt

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 tablespoon oil

Food coloring

Cook over medium heat until mixture clumps together in a ball. Remove from heat and knead until smooth. Keep in a zip lock bag.

3. Shaving Cream

Put shaving cream in a cake pan or tray and let children create designs with their fingers.

4. Kitchen Art

  • Put cornstarch and water in a cake pan for messy art. This mixture creates an intriguing texture.

  • Use salt and watercolors to paint a unique picture: paint a picture, sprinkle salt in desired areas, once dry carefully brush away.

  • Gather light corn syrup, food coloring, paper plates and Q-tips. In a muffin tin mix a little bit of corn syrup and food coloring in the compartments. Dip Q-tips in the colored syrup and paint on paper plates. The paint has an interesting translucent quality.

5. Picture Book Plays

Read favorite stories and have children create a script and have a play. Video tape the play on your cell phone. This is also a fun activity for siblings to do together.

6. Flowerpot Gifts

If you are making trips to big box stores, many have spring flowers for sale. Buy a few flowers and inexpensive pots and let children paint the pots and leave flowers on the porch of neighbors. A little bit of color and kindness will cheer everyone up.

7. Thankfulness Chain

In tough times it is important to focus on what you have vs what you don’t have. Fostering the habit of gratitude is key. Make a thankfulness chain by cutting strips of paper, writing something on each strip and fastening them together. See how long you can make your thankfulness chain. Other variations—using sticky notes create a wall of gratitude; if you have a roll of shelf paper handy, roll it out and have kids draw pictures of things they are thankful for.

8. Sensory Bags

Put shaving cream in a ziplock and add a couple of drops or two of different colored food coloring. Make sure the air is squeezed out of the bag before zipping. Children mix the food coloring with their hands.

9. Paper Cup City

Gather paper cups and let children stack and create structures. Add paper plates, empty paper towels and toilet paper rolls.

10. Hidden Treasure Map

Children draw their own map of the house or backyard, they can mark spots to leave hints or riddles for the location of a “hidden treasure.” This is another fun one for siblings to do together or this makes for a fun way to spend a work break.

  • Create a treasure to be hidden: A painted and bejeweled plastic Easter egg is always fun or they can come up with their own idea of what would be a great treasure.

11. Make “Old” Toys Novel

  • Add small objects to playdough play (toothpicks, google eyes, birthday candles)

  • Use different household items (cookie sheet, wrapping paper tube) to create small ramps for cars or balls. Challenge your child to see what they can come up with to make their toy roll the furthest or fastest.

  • Using found material (ex. packing peanuts, paper, plastic cups, old shirt) have your child make an outfit for their doll or stuffed animal

12. Bake Cookies

13. Get Out the Board Games

14. Put a 1,000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle Together

15. Get out the family pictures or videos and review good times.

16. Throw a Party

Pick a theme and have the kids make decorations for your house: Tropical paradise, luau, spring etc. Make refreshments and party “just because.”

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