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10 Ideas to Keep Your Little Kids Playing for Hours

By Rachel Meeks

Between the rainy, cold weather and bouts of illness, my kids have had a lot of time indoors lately. Just so we don’t watch too much Dora the Explorer, sometimes my kids could use a few ideas for activities to jump-start their creativity.

These ideas require only a small amount of set-up time from me so the kids will happily play while I get a little time to work or read.

This is what’s keeping my kids busy playing this month:

1. Pitch a tent and serve dinner outside.

2. Make a pile with all of the pillows and blankets in the house and then jump in them.

3. Make roads for matchbox cars with masking tape.

4. Make popcorn.

mommy's boots

5. Dress up in mommy’s clothes. Try on her scarves and clomp around the house while wearing her boots.

6. Make a fort.

7. Invite all the stuffed animal friends to a tea party.

8. Put your kids in the bathtub with a can of shaving cream to play with. Rinse them afterwards, and you’ll have clean, sweet-smelling kids.

9. Play hide and seek.

10. Do the laundry. (I know I’m not the only mom whose kids are fascinated by clothes tumbling in the dryer.)

What fun activities will keep your little kids playing for hours?

About the Author

Rachel Meeks

Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it’s so much easier to b...

Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it’s so much easier to be a parent when you’re not surrounded by a ton of stuff.)

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  • A

    Dress up clothes! My two girls (6 and 4) and even my son (20 months) love to get out the huge box we have filled with old halloween costumes, sparkly things I don’t wear anymore, gifts from relatives, old party dresses, etc. and they can play with them all day. It makes a huge mess but it’s easy to clean up because we just put it all back in the box. It is so fun to hear them making up stories and pretending while I’m paying bills, doing taxes, whatever. It’s my go to solution when I’m sick and need to stay in bed, they have a wonderful time and it’s so much better than letting them watch movies all day!

  • My 2 year old doesn’t do anything for HOURS yet, but some things that have kept him occupied lately include: putting clothespins into an empty water/milk jug and shaking them out, sorting Cheerios into muffin cup liners, putting pipe cleaners through the holes of a colander, creating big piles of pillows. When I do dishes I let him sit on the kitchen counter (VERY close to me) and mess with the unplugged toaster, clean spoons, etc. 

  • Board games!  Especially the old-fashioned ones like Chutes & Ladders.  My boys could play with those for a LOOOONG time.  Also, they got walkie-talkies for Xmas, so “hiding” while being able to talk to each other is something they also think is hilarious.

  • .

    I must say that these ideas are GREAT!  Keeping a young child busy can take some practice, but I think new parents can really benefit from this article.  I plan to share it with my Facebook friends!

  • Jamy

    My kids will make movies of themselves dancing, doing tricks, and falling over. Then they’ll watch them. And make more. And watch those. Thanks for this post that brought this to my mind! It’s been a while and I think we’ll have to do this tomorrow again!

  • M

    My 2y/o loves washing baby bro’s bottles with me. Then we fill the sink and she plays with any and all tupperware 🙂

  • Lisa

    My 2, 4, and 7YO all love to sort and play with buttons.  Give them a can of them, and they’ll stay busy for well over an hour!  Another is lining up 2 rows of chairs, back to back, with an isle in between, and covering with blankets for a fort. This one I learned from Mom as a child, and most kids love it for endless hours.

  • My guaranteed way to get a long chunk of constant play for my kids required quite a head start, but it was totally worth it for several reasons. I used to often box up about 1/3 of their toys and put them away for a coupe of months. When I boxed up another third and brought the first group back out again, they would just play and play and play — everything felt fresh and exciting again. Caveat: there were certain very favorite toys I never put away — that probably wouldn’t have been fun at all for them.

  • My 2 year old is obsessed with water. If I fill up one side of the sink with water and give her some bowls and cups to play with she will truly play for an entire hour while I wash dishes and make dinner. I just pull up a chair for her to stand on and keep an eye on her while I do everything I need to do. The only hard part is getting her to stop when it’s time to go eat dinner!

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