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Mendo Lake Family Life

10 Ways Quarantined Kids Can Play

By Dolores Smyth

1. Set up an indoor campground. Bring out the sleeping bags and tents and turn your family room into an indoor campground. No sleeping bags or tents? No problem. Arrange chairs in rows of two and then drape a bedsheet over them. Pile pillows and blankets underneath and—viola!—you have a DIY tent.

You can make your indoor campground as elaborate as you’d like. String Christmas lights across the top of the tent to create a starry night scene. Enjoy the glow of a campground “fire” made with paper towel tubes, tissue paper, and LED candles. Set up lawn chairs outside the tent and serve hot dogs, chips, and trail mix; play cards and board games; or do an easy “camping” craft like making beaded necklaces.

To add to the camping aura, make indoor s’mores (see for more info on how.) Last, if your kids are old enough to appreciate spooky tales, lower the lights, switch on a flashlight, and tell ghost stories.

2. Host indoor Olympic games. If you look in your kids’ toy boxes and closets, you’ll probably find enough games and activities that, if arranged back-to-back, can be made into a challenging obstacle course.

You can kick off the indoor “Olympic games” with an opening ceremony during which each child gets to parade onto the course to a theme song of his or her choice.

Depending on their ages, your children may want to grab a favorite teddy bear to serve as their Olympic mascot. Little Olympians then can compete in events such as:
• a ring or beanbag toss
• a mini golf course competition (use a broom, a ping-pong ball, and a plastic cup)
• a ball-throwing competition (in which balls are thrown into boxes of decreasing size)
• a sack race or a boiled-egg-and-spoon race
• a Hula-Hoop competition
• a pyramid cup-stacking race
• a physical endurance competition (how many jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups can be done in three 30-second intervals)
• a mad dash crabwalk to the final finish line

3. Send the kids off on a scavenger hunt. See for free, printable indoor scavenger hunt checklists that feature everyday household items.

4. Throw a costume party. Let your kids raid your closet for hats, scarves, and costume jewelry. Add snacks and a tea set to make it a tea party–themed ball! Clear a space for a catwalk and let your mini models parade their fashion choices for you.

5. Put on an airshow with popsicle-stick airplanes. All you’ll need for this craft are Popsicle sticks, a cutting tool, craft glue or a hot glue gun, and, if you’re not already using colored sticks, paint. Find age-appropriate tutorials online. Just search YouTube for “popsicle stick airplanes.” For added fun, create a runway with cardboard or sheets of construction paper taped together.

6. Hold an art show. Grab smocks for your kids and spread out crayons, paper, and other art supplies. Hang the finished masterpieces in an art show complete with glasses of apple juice “champagne” and hors d’oeuvres.

7. Make Play-Doh come to life. Just search YouTube for “Play-Doh” to find how-to videos.

8. Bring out your child’s inner chef. Set up a toppings bar and make homemade pizza (find recipes at or your own ice cream sundaes.

9. Expand your child’s knowledge with easy science experiments. Click on the “Experiments” section of to learn how to make ice cream in a plastic bag, build a soap-powered model boat, and make a static-powered dancing ghost.

10. Relax with low-key, family-bonding activities. Start a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, make a scrapbook or smash book (see the, play Mad Libs, build a Lego village together, or play tried-and-true board games, such as Clue, Monopoly, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, or Candyland. 

Dolores Smyth is a parenting writer and mother of three. Follow more of her work on Twitter @LolaWordSmyth.