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12 No Fuss, No Prep Ways To Entertain Kids

Family time: Mom and some of the sisters' children play at home in a children's homemade tent. Portrait.

I am not a “crafty mom”. There I said it! Pinterest is full of cute inspirational ideas but most end up giving me anxiety just thinking about the prep and clean up time that I’ll end up doing (my 3-year-old is NOT a reliable helper). Even if I wanted to be crafty, nowadays it’s nearly impossible to find art supplies, and most days I just don’t have the time or energy. I mean, some days we’re lucky if sorting laundry is the most exciting and educational activity I can put together. 

 

If you’re the complete opposite of me and live for your daily craft projects with your kiddos, you keep rocking and rolling. Those adorable art projects may be the only thing bringing you any joy or peace and quiet. And as parents, we’re all just trying to make it through the day, so you do you. But if you’re anything like me and a pin-worthy activity is not on the schedule for the day, then check out these fun no prep, no mess, no fuss ways to keep kids busy at home. 

 

Have a Dance Party

Put on your dancing shoes (or house slippers), dim the lights, and jam out to your family’s favorite songs. To keep kids engaged and the fun going for more than a few minutes, play a musical game such as the limbo, hot potato, or freeze dance, or try a new style of dancing such as square dancing, salsa or swing dancing. 

 

Cook Something Delicious

A kitchen is a fascinating place for kids and it’s never too late (or too early), for children to have fun helping in the kitchen. Check out LittleGuide Detroit’s guide to cooking with kids loaded with everything you need to know about cooking with kids along with delicious, healthy, and easy to make kid-friendly recipes.

 

Write a Book 

Children of all ages can write and illustrate their own stories by simply using paper, markers, or crayons. Here are ways you can tell a story through drawing. First, ask children to draw the pictures for their book. Next, spark children’s creativity and writing skills by asking simple, open-ended questions such as, “tell me about this picture” or “what happened on this page?” Encourage older kids to write down their thoughts for each drawing. And for little ones or reluctant writers, children can illustrate their storybook and an adult can dictate their drawings.  If you’re low on paper or supplies, check out these fun websites which give kids a chance to virtually create their own books

 

Build a Fort

No instructions needed, this one’s a classic- but if you’re not the most creative (myself included) here are a few inspirational indoor forts to get you and your kid’s creative juices flowing. 

 

Go on Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunts are an easy, inexpensive way to get kids moving and the perfect self-directed activity for older children. Create your own treasure hunt or check out some of these fun and easy ideas from Good Housekeeping

 

Pitch a Tent & Go Camping (Inside) 

Grab a few sleeping bags, pillows, sheets, and flashlights and enjoy an indoor camping adventure. Have kids choose a few favorite books and then snuggle up as a family in your homemade tent. Bonus points if you have the supplies to “roast” homemade smores in the kitchen. See more ideas here.

 

Build an Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are all the rage- it lets kids get out some of that never-ending energy, is fun to create, and best of all keeps kids engaged for hours. Try these simple obstacle course ideas or let kids create and build their own. You can even turn it into a hands-on educational experience by having kids “map out” their course and write up a list of materials.

 

Create Process-Focused Artwork

While pursuing my degree in Education, I quickly learned the importance of process-focused artwork and it forever changed how I view children’s art activities. Process-focused art is completely child-led with no step-by-step instructions or samples for children to follow. Instead of focusing on the end product it emphasizes and celebrates the process that children take to create their art. Set up a self serve “art cart” with paper, paint, crayons, glue, and even a few interesting art materials such as colored tape, tissue paper, cookie cutters or string. You’ll be surprised by how children use the various materials and kids will be so proud of their end product. 

Learning Extension: Take a Virtual Field Trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and then give children materials to design their own creation inspired by their favorite piece of artwork. 

 

Take a Brain Break 

Brain breaks are a popular tool among parents and educators as an effective way for kids to relax, reduce stress, build self-esteem, and regain focus. Carve out a little bit of time each day for one of these easy and fun brain breaks that can be done as a whole family.

 

Create & Play with a Cardboard Box

The next time an Amazon Prime box arrives at your doorstep instead of tossing it let little ones recycle and reuse. The possibilities are endless and range from super simple (paint the box) or amazingly complex (create a cardboard rocket ship). And the best part is that you’re not limited to “building” with a cardboard box- you can create learning activities, art projects, or fun indoor movement games! Happily Ever After Mom has our favorite compilation of cardboard box activities, games, and crafts for those of us who need a little inspiration to get started.  And if you need more boxes here are some places to find them.

 

Start a Gratitude Journal

Even during a worldwide pandemic we still have things to be grateful for. And what better way for kids to find joy in their daily lives than to reflect on what makes each and every day special. For families who don’t have time to squeeze in another daily ritual, keep it simple and at the dinner table ask prompts like, “who/what brought you joy today?” or “what’s one thing you’re happy you have in your life?” In my household, we love using the 3 Minute Gratitude Journal which asks the same simple questions each day. Older kids can easily fill it out on their own, while younger kids and parents will love working on it together. 

 

LittleGuide Detroit Daily Inspiration Guides

If you need more ideas and inspiration for at-home fun with kids, check out LittleGuide Detroit’s daily inspiration guides full of fun themed activities, crafts, outdoor activities, and games. 

 

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ABOUT ASHLEY HUBBARD-PORTER

Ashley Porter is a Chicago native who now calls Birmingham home. Ashley and her husband Mike and son Jake love attending local festivals, exploring Detroit’s diverse food scene, and venturing outside of Metro Detroit to enjoy the natural beauty of Michigan. With a background in Early Childhood Education, Ashley loves connecting with and supporting families in her community, which is why she is so excited to be a part of LittleGuide Detroit.

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