Planning outings may help, but on days when you just wants to stay home, you wish your children would be able to amuse themselves. Sometimes finding the spark of an idea is the most challenging part for kids. Here is a list of 15 stay at home solutions you can suggest to your children when they come to you looking for ideas.

Suggest writing a movie or play script.

In an age of iPhones and Androids, this activity can be a special treat. Not only do your children receive the opportunity to create their own story, but they can watch it come to life again and again. Once children become involved in the project, they can spend as much time as they want designing costumes, writing the script, or choosing a background. Siblings may especially enjoy the collaboration such a project entails, though those without siblings can recruit the help of mom, dad, grandpa, or anyone else nearby.

Pull out a drawer of old photos and catch up on some scrapbooking.

While this may seem like more of a project for you than for your children, including them can lead to family bonding as well as alleviate boredom. Most children will love to look at pictures of themselves as babies, reminisce about third grade, and relive family road trips of the past. Older children, too, may be rapt listeners to stories about family members before they were born—just be sure not to tell anything too embarrassing that they will blurt out next Thanksgiving!

Sign up the kids for a summer reading program and have lots of books accessible at home.

Instilling a love of reading in your children from a young age is critical to their future academic success, but it also can be something they genuinely enjoy for its own sake. Summer readings programs are excellent motivators because of the built-in positive reinforcement. Best of all, children can read at home, as long as you ensure they are surrounded by books they want to read. Let your child stock up at your local library with books that interest him or her. By allowing your child the freedom of choice, you will be less likely to face resistance or create a negative reading experience.

Take your time organizing a closet of board games.

When I was growing up, my family kept a few shelves of board games under the kitchen counter. It was easy to get sloppy in putting them away throughout the year, so every summer, my mom would ask us to organize the games. Instead of viewing this as a chore, my brother and I would be excited to rediscover and play games that we didn’t realize we had! Allow your children to take their time organizing and playing the games, too.

Stage a puppet show.

Have you discovered lots of holey socks that won’t survive another winter? Summer is the perfect time to recycle them in the form of sock puppets. Paper bags or cut outs on popsicle sticks will also make excellent puppets if you are short on socks. Whatever form your children’s puppets take, they will provide a creative outlet, an art project, and some blessedly busy moments. Inviting grandparents, friends, and neighbors over can add to the fun, especially for “joint productions” of cousins, siblings, or neighbors.

Make a memory book of the school year.

Ending a school year can put your child in a nostalgic mood, and if you want to clear the stack of graded papers from the living room, you should use this mood to your advantage. Have your child create a scrapbook or notebook containing assignments your child did well on, pictures of friends, and special events that happened throughout the year. Include details such as height, favorite foods, and hobbies. Not only will your child have a blast remembering the most recent school year; your child will have a reminder for years to come.

Host a real tea party.

Your child may be tired of playing pretend kitchen, but what if you set up a tea party with actual food? This will require more work on your part, parents, but carving away a moment to spend with your child is certainly worth the time. Prepare drinks and finger foods, set the table with some pretty dishes, and invite a host of stuffed animals—though be sure to keep them away from anything sticky!

“Publish” a poem, song, or story they write.

For aspiring young storytellers, there is no treat like seeing their words in printed form. After your child has written a piece they are proud of, “publish” their work by typing it up and printing a few copies for them to keep and share with family members. Older children might type their own. Remember that you can play around with formatting your documents to look like books, flyers, or whatever your child would like.

Create a photo story or book of pictures.

For those more inclined to visual images than the written word, this project can encourage their creativity. Have your child snap pictures and arrange them in a way that tells a story. If they like to draw, they can do the same with their own illustrations. Just like with the written stories, “publishing” your children’s pieces on a printable document can give them a feeling of accomplishment.

Make popsicles or other summer treats.

If your children are hungry as well as bored during the summer, they will be sure to be in a grumpy mood. Kill two birds with one stone by experimenting with summer recipes. As a child, I know I always loved freezing fruit juices to make popsicles. Check out the Food section of our website for more recipe ideas that will keep your kids entertained both while eating and creating.

Pull out a toy they may have forgotten about or even some of your childhood toys.

It’s easy for toys to fall into dark corners of your children’s closets. Sometimes your children don’t need new toys or ideas as much as they need to remember something they already love. Pull out the dusty bin of dolls or extra matchbox cars and suggest they play with those. Another fun activity can be pulling your childhood toys from the stash in your closet (if you kept any). Your children will love seeing what you played with as a child, and you will receive the satisfaction of knowing that you had kept them for all these years for a reason.

Write a letter to grandma or a friend who lives far away.

Even in a world filled with emailing, texting, and facetiming, the excitement that accompanies receiving a letter in the mail never gets old. To receive a letter, however, one must first send one. Encourage your child to write to a friend or relative who lives far away, and watch them as they eagerly await a reply. Even children who live relatively close to each other might enjoy sending letters if they are no longer attending school together every day.

Invite the neighbor kids over to your house.

If you can’t muster the courage to leave the house, make some of the outside world come to you. Take turns watching the kids with a fellow parent in your neighborhood. More children might spark more ideas, and if you can work out a fair rotation schedule, each parent will receive some much needed free time.

Send them outside to play or throw balls to the dog.

Sometimes sunshine and a little fresh air is the best solution to summertime blues. The children will be less likely to bust Mom’s antique vase, and Fido would certainly enjoy the company anyway. As always, make sure your children have sunscreen and water as needed—once they start playing, they may forget these necessities!

Have your kids look through their toys for things to sell at a yard sale or donate to charity.

Just like when your children spend time organizing the family game cabinet, allow your children time to sort through their things at their own pace. They might play with toys they rediscover, or they may decide they are too old for certain toys. Maybe they would like to give an old doll to a younger cousin—encourage these acts of kindness and enjoy ridding yourself of some unnecessary items, too.  

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"If your family is like mine, time with everyone together is becoming more and more difficult. We all have crazy schedules, and it’s easy to put family time aside for soccer games, school assi...
52 Activities for Family Fun

Laura Torres