With Omicron surging through most of the U.S. there's a good chance that your kiddo could have to quarantine at home if they test positive. While being stuck at home with a bored child during the cold winter months is not exactly every parent's dream, there are some creative not-just-a-tablet ways to entertain your offspring when they can't go to school or see their friends. Here's a list of 12 ways to keep kids entertained in the event that they have to quarantine at home.
1. Sticker books
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.
- Get a Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad Set on Amazon for $18.29
- Get Paint By Sticker Zoo Animals on Amazon for $7.44
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."
- Get a 36-pack of Play-Doh on Amazon for $24.99
- Get the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Magical Oven on Amazon for $26.45
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. If you don't want to have to move half-finished puzzles off a the dining room table, get a puzzle table that helps organize the pieces and can be moved from room to room.
- Get the MasterPieces Explorer Kids USA Map Puzzles at Walmart for $9.99
- Get the Bits and Pieces Original Jumbo Wooden Puzzle Plateau at Amazon for $84.98
4. 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.
- Get a roll of white kraft paper on Amazon for $24.99
- Get a pack of 40 Crayola washable markers on Amazon for $11.38
- Get a pack of Dot a Dot Markers on Amazon for $16.99
- Get a watercolor paint set on Amazon for $8.99
5. Anything from Lakeshore Learning
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.
6. Science kits
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.
- Get the My First Mind Blowing Science Kit on Amazon for $12.72
- Get the Glow 'n Grow Terrarium Kit on Amazon for $14.99
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.
8. Get cooking
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.
9. Subscription kits
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.
10. A book club 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.
11. Building toys
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.
- Get a 100-piece set of MagnaTiles on Amazon for $120
- Get a 200-piece set of Tinkeron Amazon for $42.10
- Get a 250-piece set of Zoobs on Amazon for $57.90
12. The best tablet for kids
Real talk: There's going to be a lot of screen time happening if your kids get quarantined. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition (10th Gen) 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.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.