101 Fun Activities To Do With Your Child

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(Note from Kat: This is a guest post from Heidi. She shared many of these ideas in a post I linked to last year that became very popular on Pinterest and Facebook. Now that she’s closing her blog, she offered to rewrite her list for Inspired to Action. Enjoy and go have some fun with your kids!)

The Importance of One on One Time with Your Kids

Spending intentional un-interrupted time with your child has infinite rewards. No matter the quantity or quality of the toys they may have, it will never compare to simply being with you.

Do I spend every waking moment engaging with my two young boys? No – far from it. I believe in the value of teaching a child to have independent play as well. After all, I’ve got a house to maintain, adult relationships to foster, as well as a drive pursue my individual interests and business pursuits. I do, however, make an intentional effort to spend several regular slots of time with them daily.

Child development experts suggest that these little bits of ‘Special Time’ will add up to an increased trust and emotional/relational bond that will enable them to feel secure and less likely to act out negatively for attention. I have certainly seen this to be true in my home. I expect these experiences will also set a foundation for our future relationship to thrive even as they grow more and more independent.

Strive to have several 5 to 15 minutes periods of “Special Time’ rather than engaging for one long block of time with toddlers and preschoolers.

Note from Kat: Want a “Fun Idea” guidebook? My friend Jen wrote a fabulous book called KidVentures. It’s filled with fun ideas and adventures (complete with step by step instructions) to enjoy with your kids. Click here to learn more about KidVentures.
KidVentures-300x250

Here are some tips to get started:

  • First, tell your child, “We are going to have special time together.” Let them know when to expect it. (After you’ve finished a few chores, after school, or dinner, or perhaps at baby siblings nap time etc.)
  • Ask, “What are some things you would like to do for our special time here at home?” Give them some choices if they cannot think of anything.
  • Tell them when you will have the next special time.
  • Tell them when you are having the special time. “This is my special time with you, {insert child name}.” Say something positive like, “I like doing things with you.”
  • Warn them before the time is up and say… “Soon it is going to be baby’s turn ….or Mommies turn.”
  • Tell them when the next special time will be. Remind them to be thinking about what they would like to do.
  • Later, remind them about the special time you had together, and that another special time is coming.
  • Do not take special time away as punishment for behavior earlier in the day. Being able to count on special time with you provides them support and sense of unconditional love and connection.

“Special Time” provides children with some structured way of knowing when you’re available. It will meet the indwelt need they have to feel connected and to have a security about their place in the family. With sufficient positive interaction, they won’t have to act out negatively in order to get your attention. Knowing you’ll spend time with them at planned times throughout the day will encourage better independent play as well.
I have my own mother to thank for a great example of this habit. I recently found a list that we compiled together and I’ve added some of my own ideas to share with you:

101 things you can do with your child:

  1. Go to the library – stay for story time

  2. Bake something, anything

  3. Construct something with blocks or Lego’s

  4. Read a book

  5. Draw/Color together

  6. Go window shopping

  7. Host a play date with their favorite friend

  8. Dress Up together

  9. Go Sledding

  10. Build something in the snow (fort, snowman)

  11. Go swimming (indoor or outdoor)

  12. Have a picnic (outside or on the living room floor!)

  13. Listen to new music together

  14. Visit a museum

  15. Visit a Zoo

  16. Visit a pet store

  17. Write and mail a letter to someone special

18, Play a card or board game

  1. Take a walk

  2. Get out baby photos and talk about them

  3. Sing Songs

  4. Take a class together at local art center

  5. Go roller or ice skating together

  6. Tell stories about when your child was a baby

  7. Hug/hold your child

  8. Build a blanket fort

  9. Tell your child what makes them special ( to you and others)

  10. Teach/tell your child about your job – take them to work for a day if you can

  11. Have a scavenger hunt (indoor or outdoor)

  12. Go to a movie together

  13. Visit your child at school

  14. Dig out your year book and share about your experiences

  15. Visit a nursing home or hospital

  16. Finger Paint

  17. Take pictures

  18. Visit and learn about places in your neighborhood (fire station, police station, post office, dairy, etc.)

  19. Clean out a room together (basement, attic, garage)

  20. Work a puzzle together

  21. Plan a vacation together – then GO!

  22. Make S’mores

  23. Build a bird house

  24. Play a sport together

  25. Make homemade pizza

  26. Rake leaves and play/jump in them

  27. Go on a hayride

  28. Visit an apple orchard / pumpkin patch

  29. Plant something

  30. Have a water fight

  31. Play hide and seek

  32. Go to the state fair

  33. Collect different fall leaves

  34. Have a block party

  35. Take a hike

  36. Make puppets and put on a show for each other

  37. Tell stories about your childhood

  38. Attend athletic event

  39. Make homemade ice cream

  40. Learn about different cultures

  41. Take flowers to a friend

  42. Go wading in a creek

  43. Go for a train ride

  44. Go horseback riding

  45. Climb a tree

  46. Go camping

  47. Have a family talent show

  48. Draw a map and have a treasure hunt

  49. Walk/play in the rain

  50. Talk about feelings/emotions

  51. Paint a picture by numbers together

  52. Go to a theater performance

  53. Complete a DIY project together

  54. Wash the car

  55. Play Frisbee

  56. Pick up litter in the community

  57. Fly a homemade kite

  58. Jump rope

  59. Exercise together

  60. Discuss nutrition and the 4 basic food groups

  61. Start a savings account – talk about budgeting and saving money

  62. Write a story (draw illustrations together too!)

  63. Go fishing

  64. Visit a relative

  65. Visit the neighbors

  66. Go bowling

  67. Dance party!

  68. Play Simon Says

  69. Have letter or color of the week and look for them together

  70. Play “I Spy”

  71. Act out a favorite story together

  72. Listen to music and play homemade instruments together

  73. Start a gratitude journal with your child – they can draw what they are thankful for

  74. Let your child pick out the menu for a meal

  75. Start a collection

  76. Practice/teach something (reading, tying shoes, zipping zipper, sports, rhyming, sorting, telling time)

  77. Sidewalk chalk

  78. Go for a bike ride

  79. Play pretend

  80. Make a collage out of photos and/or clippings of their favorite things

  81. Tell jokes

  82. Spend time simply LISTENING to them.

  83. Make a list of things you want to do together in the future! :)

“When you look at your life,

the greatest happiness’s are

family happiness.”

~Joyce Brothers~

And You…?

Do you plan to have ‘Special Time’ with your child for set times during the days/weeks and really engage? Try it! You’ll be amazed at how it changes their behavior (for the better) and begins to seal a bond between the two of you just by being there WITH them.

What are 2 fun things you do with your children?

Want even more ideas for children birth through age 6?
Check out: Play and Learn Family Activities

Heidi is a Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach. She is passionate about helping others bring more order and peace to their home, office and family life. Heidi provides personalized one-on-one services to individuals in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota as well as Virtual Coaching Consultations. Learn more by visiting her website, OperationOrganization-MN.com.

Comments

  1. Great post! Some, but not all of these ideas will work with teenagers. Does anyone have any other ideas of what to do with teenagers (that doesn’t break the bank).
    <3 Thank you!

    • Alethia,
      I think for a teen, the best one would be #100 – list fun things to do in the future. You could take them out on a date and brainstorm all the things you’d like to do together.

      • I agree – go out for dinner or dessert and get a good idea of what their interests are then make an effort to simply enter into their world – (even if it’s video games once in a while…Ha, ha!) I remember enjoying doing sporting and other outdoor activities like hiking with my parents as a teen. You could plan for the occasional activity that does cost a bit more for a special treat too.

    • I just posted on a similar topic today – one of the things that I do with my daughter (who isn’t a teenager, but this would be a perfect fit for one) is have breakfast before school at a local coffee shop once in a while. I know it’s the rare teenager that dislikes Starbucks these days, so you might be able to get your teen up early with the promise of a yummy breakfast!

    • try to leave him or her alone if they r upset. its hard to do, but imma teen and I would love if my parents gave me space and stopped asking whats wrong or r u ok, r u upset? well yea im upset that u keep asking me whats wrong. I don’t even know whats wrong anymore, I just wake up mad now lol! but seriously if u wanna dosomething with a teen like me, just make up for girls and buy weights and guy stuff for guys, btw im a dude. what i like to do with both my parents is wash the cars and i let them watch me do mma and all my fighting because it puts joy in there eye to watch me do something. remember we don’t really like you to b involved in much, hope this help, peace!

      • Wow this is great advice, ace, thanks! :) The line “I don’t even know whats wrong anymore, I just wake up mad now lol!” really helps the most.

      • fact i hate when my parents get involved with my stuff unless it’s really serious!

  2. Awesome post — going to print out this list and make a goal of checking off as many as I can before my kids are too old to enjoy them!

    (Also, because it caught my eye, we did a train ride for our oldest’s 3rd birthday and it was so much fun! Maybe we’ll do it again for our youngest’s 3rd birthday!)

  3. Love this!
    Pinning to save for later/planning :)
    Thank you!

  4. We do a lot of these things already but there are definitely some new ones to try. Thanks!! A few that have been favorites lately: 1) Family Wii “Just Dance” parties and 2) doing color-by-number with my 5-year-old. I also like Saturday morning “donut dates” with my boys. :)

  5. Thanks for this great list! I love (1) swinging with them at the park – seeing how high we can go and feeling a bit childish doing so, and (2) watching a cooking show together. It is hilarious, but my boys find that to be a real treat and it is relaxing for us all.

  6. Thanks for all the great ideas! I’ve been thinking about this topic since last week (and just blogged about it with a link back here)! I took my daughter (without siblings) to Chuck E Cheese so that we could reconnect. But I think spending time can be as easy as taking just one of your kids on an erand with you to be mom’s helper. :)

  7. Thanks Kat! So needed this reminder. Life around here gets so busy sometimes and although my intention is to spend time individually with my kids it doesn’t always happen. The ideas you mention are great. Now to actually block out the time and stick to it.

  8. This is definitely more than a 10-15 min. commitment, but I’ve been doing slumber parties with my 5 yr old daughter and she loves it. We usually have pizza and then watch a movie of her choosing and stay up “late” and then hop into bed where we tell stories and then go to sleep. It’s become a really special and fun time for us.

  9. It is also important to make the time to be with our teens, they are independent now, but still need that one-on-one, even qhen they are not asking for it.

  10. Amy Martin says:

    My son’s favorite: playing with his tractors.
    My favorite: reading books.

    I’m going to print them out too! Thanks!

  11. This is simply wonderful, Kat! I want a printable version of it (hint, hint).

    My daughter’s favorite things are to “play Mary & Laura” which means to pretend to be those two characters from Little House on the Prairie and to play with her dollhouse. She’s such a little girl.

    Seriously love this post!

  12. Rachel B. says:

    Thank you for these suggestions! I was actually looking for fun things to do with my mom, but I was inspired by this list nonetheless.
    It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that, especially at this time of year, it’s important to just be with someone – just give them your full attention.
    Keep spreading the joy!
    -Rachel

  13. Randi Beardon says:

    Thanks so much for this enlightening and entertaining list – we have never laughed so much

  14. Henley Paige says:

    Building a time capsule is also really fun. Or writing a book together. You come up with a story together, you write it, and let them illustrate.

  15. what if your mom is bi-poler what do you do then

    • Hi, Ashley. I have bipolar too. You can do everything you can to help your mom around the house, cook meals etc. Realize that the way she is is NOT a reflection on you. Realize that she is hurting on the inside and her behavior is not under her control, and any way she treats you is a consequence of her sickness. Try to get away with friends and talk to an adult you trust about your feelings. You may have to be more independent. Don’t try to “fix” her. Realize she still loves you.

  16. Ashley S. says:

    These are SOME great ideas, but SOME seemed a little silly to me. I googled “things to do with your kids in the house” and this is what came up…Not really anything to do with my kids in the house… Play in the snow?? Sled?? Visit places?? Write list of things to do in the future?? I have a 6 yr old and a 4 yr old?? A little confused… However, there were a few things that I found to be GREAT ideas and I am definitely going to try/do these things!! Thanks for the advice and suggestions, but I would love another list of things to do in the house with younger kids EX: arts and crafts with things we may already have around the house, or fun learning activities that keep a toddlers interest, games that incorporate learning as-in they wouldn’t even really realize they are working and learning. Just a few ideas. Thank you and in no way mean to offend you, like I said great ideas just nothing here I can really do with my kids or my daycare kiddos…

  17. Girish R Chaudhari says:

    gr8 activities you have mentioned. Simply earning money is of no use but to enrich our kids with fun, exposure to knowledge,experiences,expenses,expectations n toiling hard to fulfill them ….all such things would give them well versed knowledge n widened/broadened view to look to the life
    Thankx

  18. 31. If u want him to hate u!

    • maybe that came out alittle strong, but take some advice. that might be cool to do with him/her until they are 10-11 tops. Trust me cause I’m a teen right now just trying to find something to do with my mom and I would freak out if my mom or dad showed up to visit me at school. I’ve been like that since the beginning of Jr. high. Just be cool with your kid and hopefully it doesn’t end up like what I have with my parents right now. lets just say we don’t see eye to eye on anything. hope this helps and don’t treat your kid like to much of a kid of there teens cause then we just rebel against everything you say.

      • I laughed out loud at your original post haha. But I agree, i’s definitely an age thing….younger kids I think would appreciate this more

  19. hey well um…. whats something fun to do with your daughter when shes 10 years old?

  20. Hello ,iam a daycare teacher I would like to know if you can give me any ideas or suggestions what I can do with my afterschool children games ,arts and crafts etc. Thanks

  21. Since my son was 2 or 3, we have always had snuggle time at night when I tuck him in. While I am lying in bed with him, I use my phone camera, and we take really funny-face pictures together! It is so fun to look back over the years of all these fun times :) He loves it, even at almost 12

  22. Thanks foor sharing your thoughts on humorous birthday poems
    for men. Regards

  23. Thanks for the great list!
    I’m only 10 and I wanted to do something fun like what it has on this list with my lil’sis and my lil’cousin Today but we didn’t know what to do. Now we cant pick!
    -Grace

  24. I agree with you that spending one-on-one intentional un-interupted time with your child can bring some great results!

  25. I love these ideas. I hope more parents look into ways to spend time with their kids and get them off technology.

  26. I like the list. There are a bunch of things I already do but didn’t really concider them to be special time. Like reading. We read about 40 min to an hour a day but have done it for so long it just feels like everyday time. Which it is. My son is 2 and I’m about to have another one so doing things more out of the ordinary is what I’m aiming for.

  27. The best activity for me and my child is to go to the theatre :) It is just like our tradition to go to performances every Sunday :) We even have a list of performances we liked the most, you can see it here- Restoranai Klaipedoje :))) Try to have the same tradition at least once in a month and you will not regret :)

  28. I love going fishing and I do no have children yet but I love babysitting. I found some great cheap books on amazon for my kindle on how to take kids fishing! I am a pretty good fisher “woman” but I know the ebooks even taught me a thing or two. Great blog post, great ideas!

  29. i wanted activities which are in an activity book

  30. Okay so I’m a 13 year old girl, I love that parents are trying to get closer to their kids and I think its really sweet but we also need some space just to be around our friends and people of our own age range outside of school. Also, we might just want to spend some time with ourselves on our own. However, if you do want to spend some time with your kids it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, the best things to do with your children would be just to join in with them in activities they enjoy. Such as with me I like to be outside, so I have a ‘Mini Olympics’ with my family and friends where we make small teams and play sport events against each other to earn points The team with the most points at the end wins the Olympics. This is a fun cheap idea for you to do with your kids. Please remember though that teens do still need their space and don’t like to be smothered

    Hope this helped:)
    Grace <3

  31. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for this. I am a single mom of 3 (5,7 & 6months) since my baby was born, it seems like I’ve lost the bond with my other two. I try to spend as much time as possible with them but usually it’s just eating, homework, baths, teeth and bed. Never enough time in the day to just play with them. I’m definitely going to try to set a “special time” for just us so we can get the bond back.

  32. Nicole says:

    These are really boring and a waste of time. I mean like to go out just with their mum. Some where that they won’t be bored especially the brats,

  33. Superb post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic?
    I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit
    further. Appreciate it!

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