Parenting

13 things to keep kids entertained if quarantined for coronavirus

Keep the boredom at bay with these activities.

Bored little girl looking out a window. Credit: Getty Images / PeopleImages

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If the thought of being quarantined with your children for days—or weeks—on end sends you into a panic spiral, rest assured you're not alone. Without exception, every parent I've talked to recently is freaking out about the possibility of school closures. What does one do to occupy a high-energy child when you're not allowed to leave the house? Here's a list of 13 ways to keep kids entertained in the event of a quarantine—and it's not just unlimited screen time.

1. Sticker books

Sticker Books
Credit: Melissa & Doug

Reusable stickers and giant sticker books keep the fun going for days on end.

Kids love stickers, and there are lots of sticker book options for kids of all ages. Melissa & Doug's giant sticker pads come with over 100 reusable stickers that will provide loads of entertainment for toddlers. For older kids who know their numbers, opt for something that requires a little more concentration, like the Paint By Sticker Zoo Animals book.

2. Play-Doh

Play-Doh Kitchen
Credit: Play-Doh

The Play-Doh kitchen is reasonably priced and provides hours of fun.

I don't usually allow my kids to use Play-Doh inside the house, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Spread out an old sheet or some towels, and set the kids loose with a 36-pack of Play-Doh and the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Magical Oven. They'll use their imaginations and the colorful modeling compound to come up with lots of kooky "baked goods."

3. Puzzles

Map Puzzle
Credit: MasterPieces

A map puzzle keeps them busy—and teaches basic geography.

Puzzles have the potential to keep kids—and adults—entertained for hours, especially if they're old enough for one of the really complicated 5,000-piece ones. Puzzles help encourage problem-solving skills and boost memory, and they are fun to play over and over again. I like the MasterPieces Explorer Kids USA Map puzzle because it's a great way for kids to learn about the United States. If you don't want to have to move half-finished puzzles off a the dining room table, set-up a card table to serve as a puzzle station.

Get the MasterPieces Explorer Kids USA Map Puzzles on Amazon for $5.33

4. Art supplies

Do a Dot Art
Credit: Do a Dot Art

Keep kids occupied with a stash of unique art supplies.

Never underestimate the power of markers, crayons, or paints to keep a child busy for long stretches of time. Even if your kid isn't super artistic, providing them with a selection of fresh new art supplies can spark creativity. Teach older kids about famous artists and their various techniques by looking through fine art books or online galleries, and then have them create their own masterpieces. My kids always find Georges Seurat's pointillism fascinating.

5. Math workbooks

Tiger Math
Credit: Tiger Math

Tiger Math workbooks keep the learning going, even when they're not in school.

If you have school-age children, and you don't want the learning to stop just because school is out of session, Tiger Math books are a great way for kids to keep up with their numbers and math skills. These aren't like the boring workbooks you remember from your own childhood—they actually make learning fun, and my kids actually ask to do them.

Get Tiger Math books on Amazon starting at $6.99

6. Anything from Lakeshore Learning

Lakeshore learning
Credit: Lakeshore

Lakeshore carries a huge variety of games that are educational and fun.

Avoid any quarantine-related brain drain by keeping a stash of age-appropriate learning toys on hand. Lakeshore Learning has the best selection, hands-down, and I love that it was started by a single mom. Whether you have a preschooler who is just learning their ABC's, or a tween who needs a little math boost, Lakeshore has plenty of items to fit the bill. All of their products are colorful and appealing to kids—and they really do make learning fun.

Shop at LakeshoreLearning.com

7. Science kits

Science Kit
Credit: Scientific Explorer

There's no reason kids can't learn about science, even while stuck at home.

Science can be fun, and a great way for kids to learn about how things work. While younger kids will definitely need some help to execute the experiments (or at least read the directions), the My First Mind Blowing Science Kits includes lots of cool chemistry experiments that kids will love. It even includes a set of test tubes, which my son found super cool. For younger scientists, get a Glow 'n Grow Terrarium Kit. They'll love decorating the jar, planting the seeds, and watching everything grow.

8. Costumes

Costumes
Credit: Melissa & Doug

A well-stocked costume box will come in handy for long days at home.

Don't get rid of last year's Halloween costumes too quickly—they're a great thing to dust off for long days trapped inside. Have your kids write their own sketches and then put on a performance. You'll be amazed at the different ways that kids can repurpose costumes to suit their imaginative play. Don't have any costumes on hand? Melissa & Doug offers a great selection of popular outfits, like a chef, firefighter, and veterinarian.

Get Melissa & Doug costumes on Amazon starting at $24.99

9. Get cooking

Kids Cooking set
Credit: Tovla Jr.

Cooking projects teach science and math—and they're delicious.

Cooking is not only a good activity for long days spent at home, but it's also a great opportunity to teach kids about science and math. Get them their very own baking set, and stock up on ingredients for their favorite recipes so that they can do some kitchen experimenting and whip up some delicious creations. If you want an easy way to provide some guidance, sign your kids up for an eat2explore subscription.

10. Subscription kits

KiwiCo
Credit: Reviewed / Lisa Lawrence

KiwiCo offers STEM activity kits for kids of all ages.

A quarantine seems like just the situation that warrants signing your kids up for a monthly activity box subscription. My kids love KiwiCo's STEM kits, and babies and toddlers will get lots of use out of a Lovevery Play Kit. Kids who haven't been able to leave the house in days/weeks/months will be thrilled to receive a box in the mail.

11. A book club subscription

Bookroo
Credit: Bookroo

Make sure they have plenty of new books to read with a Bookroo subscription.

There's nothing better than getting lost in a great book. Make sure you and your kids have plenty of reading material on hand by signing everyone up for a monthly book subscription. Bookroo offers options for kids from toddler (board books) to age 10 (chapter books). Older book lovers might enjoy a Book of the Month subscription, which allows them to rate and review their past selections and customize their books to their personal interests.

12. Building toys

Zoob
Credit: ZOOB

Zoobs help kids get in touch with their inner engineer.

Toys that kids can use to build structures usually provide quite a few hours of fun. Kids of lots of different ages can find creative ways to play with MagnaTiles, Tinkertoys, and—our personal favorite—Zoobs. While it may seem like these are just fun toys to pass the time, they're actually teaching kids important lessons about engineering and spacial perception.

13. The best tablet for kids

Kindle Fire HD 8
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Our favorite tablet for kids comes stocked with age-appropriate games and books.

Real talk: There's going to be a lot of screen time happening if kids get quarantined. The Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is our favorite tablet for kids thanks to its long battery life and that it comes with a free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. Download some great educational apps so that you won't feel totally guilty about letting your kids zone out in front of a screen.

Get the Kindle Fire HD 8 Kids Edition on Amazon for $129.99

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