Fun Family Activities to Do at Home

It's a day inside the house with the kids. Try these fun family activities to do at home with your little ones. Whether it's a snow day or a rainy day, spending extended time with active kids can be either something to dread or an exciting opportunity. Be ready to fill their active time and down time so you can make the day at home more fun.

Active Time and Down Time
When planning family fun activities, be sure to include active time and down time. Active time means something involving movement, such as dancing, playing music, exercising, doing a puppet show, having a scavenger hunt or working off excess energy in other ways. Down time means something quiet, like coloring, playing a board game, watching a family movie or television show, reading or crafting an art project. Structuring both kinds of time helps keep the day balanced, which prevents kids from getting too tired or building up too much energy.

Devising a plan for the day can be helpful since kids thrive on structure. Getting the kids together and writing the plan down on a piece of paper is a strong start to organizing the day. Involve the kids in choosing activities, and they'll be more likely to participate with enthusiasm.

Ideas for Active Time
Start the kids off with an art project. Random items such as buttons, empty toilet paper rolls, plastic containers, bits of yarn and fabric, odd socks, paper scraps, beads, pipe cleaners, construction paper, cardboard, popsicle sticks, glitter and sequins can all become fun works of art. Have each kid gather something to use, and bring it together. Cover the table with newspaper or plastic tablecloth, get the glue and let the creativity begin.

Simple arts and crafts ideas could include making puppets for a puppet show, creating pictures or sculptures for an art show, decorating a useful container for pencils or other items or even designing jewelry for a dress-up fashion show. Try thinking of a way to use the art project in an activity, and you've created two activities to add to the schedule.

You can also involve the kids in making lunch. If you're creative with food, lunch prep can be an activity in itself. Cut sandwiches into different shapes, or allow the kids to "decorate" their bread with peanut butter and raisins, chocolate chips, banana slices or other combinations of food that they'll eat for lunch. Just put the ingredients into different bowls, and let them have fun. Veggies, hummus dip, pita, cheese cubes and pickle slices also lend themselves naturally to this activity. Just be sure to set ground rules for neatness, so the food stays on the table.

In general, when having activities at home, get kids to clean up after themselves. One of the most helpful rules is that one activity gets put away before another is begun. Setting this rule can avoid the frustration of the house being trashed at the end of the day.

You can also try to turn chores into games. If, like many families, yours has a box in the laundry room with odd socks collected in it, make the chore into a game called "Socks Madness!" Dump the socks into the middle of the room, set the timer for five minutes to increase the excitement, and make each pair of socks worth a point. Whoever matches the most pairs of socks when five minutes is up wins that round. Do as many rounds as needed to get socks matched up, and be sure to award prizes.

Ideas for Down Time
When it's time to relax a little, family reading time can be a wonderful treat. Let everyone gather pillows and get cozy on the couch, floor, wherever. Choose a family-friendly story that's age-appropriate for your kids, or else make one up as you go along. Start a story and let each kid have a turn adding to it. Later, the kids can write down the stories, draw illustrations and assemble them into a book.

Another popular activity for down time is movie time. Choose a family movie that everyone can enjoy, curl up on the couch, make some popcorn and watch it together. The togetherness adds a little quality to this family time. If you have family movies from vacations or just silly fun, this can be a great time to bring out the videos and laugh together.

Family games are also a great choice for down time, but they could also be an active time choice depending on the nature of the game. You can open up a pre-packaged game, set out a deck of cards or assemble a game with paper and markers. The possibilities are almost endless. Old standards like Charades and Pictionary are great for any time of the day and require a minimal amount of clean-up efforts. If the kids are up for being creative, you could also have them put on a talent show.

A day stuck in the house with kids can become family fun day with a little planning, creativity, and an easy rule or two. You might even get some of those chores done that you never thought you'd get to.

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