As the Covid-19 outbreak sweeps across the globe, and Qatar closes shops, soft plays, and parks to keep its residents safe, you might be hearing your kids shout “I’m bored!” more often than you’d like.
It’s time to get imaginative with fun ideas to keep the youngest members of your household entertained, without stepping outside your front door.
Here are fifty, low cost, ways to entertain them without resorting to any screen time.
1- Become a secret spy and send messages using invisible ink
Raid your kitchen for the simple ingredient you need to make your invisible ink—lemon juice. Simply dip a cotton bud into the lemon juice and use it to write your message on a plain piece of paper.
When it’s time to reveal your code, you need to heat the paper. The lemon juice will discolour before the rest of the paper, revealing your secret spy code to the world.
TOP TIP: make sure you use enough lemon juice on the cotton bud to write your message.
2- Rainbow Spaghetti
A fantastic sensory, messy play experience! Simply cook the spaghetti according to the instructions, place into a ziplock bag with a few drops of food colouring and water, and mix until your spaghetti changes colour.
3- Make a volcano erupt
You start by taking the simple reaction that occurs between bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and using that to make your lava.
Your volcano can be made out of anything you’d like: play dough, papier-mâché, or a mound of dirt in the garden. Add a tablespoon of bicarb into the mouth of the volcano, mix some orange food colouring with white vinegar, pour into the volcano and watch as it erupts!
4- Make a fort from pillows and blankets
Just make sure to use every last pillow and blanket you can lay your hands on before crawling inside to tell stories and watch movies.
5- Go on a bike ride
Not quite indoors, but by sticking to your compound, or close to home, a bike ride gets the heart pumping.
6- Scavenger hunt
Set up a simple scavenger hunt around the house for the kids using everyday items like a spoon, a cushion, a photo, and a teddy bear.
The beauty of a scavenger hunt is that it can be adapted to your child’s age and ability. Can’t read yet? Use pictures. Finding it too easy to gather all the items? Make riddles rather than lists.
Not only that, but it can be done again and again with little effort on your behalf. Win-win
7. Make a home cinema
From producing movie tickets to movie posters, concession stands, and cinema snacks, the possibilities are endless as you recreate the cinematic experience within your own home. The best part is that when you’re done, you get to curl up and watch your favourite movie together.
8- Excavate some frozen animals
This one requires a little forward planning but is perfect for the hot summer months here in Qatar.
Take your toy animals and place in a tupperware filled with water, before placing in the freezer to freeze into an ice block overnight. The next day, simply loosen the ice block from the tupperware and send the kids on an excavation to free their toys. Personally, I found a rolling pin and spoon worked well. They found that throwing the block onto the floor, repeatedly, worked better…
9- Shadow drawing
Roll out and tape a big piece of paper to the ground. After that, set up the kids’ favourite toys alongside so their shadows cast onto the paper. They can then draw around the shadows and paint or colour in their drawings to their hearts’ desire.
10. Play board games
Come together and play your favourite family board games.
11- Splash around in bubble foam
Have squeaky clean sensory fun by making your own bubble foam.
To do this, mix two-parts soap and one-part water. Add food colouring if you want coloured foam, and whisk for two minutes with a hand mixer.
TOP TIP: USE KID-FRIENDLY TEAR FREE SOAP
12- Bake a yummy sweet treat
Grab your favourite baking recipe and put your apron on — you’ll be enjoying cookies or cakes before you know it.
13. Write letters to someone you love
Everybody loves to receive post! And in this day and age, that can be done in all sorts of ways through emails, photos of letters over WhatsApp, and text messages. Check in and show someone you love them!
14- Do the 30-day LEGO challenge
Let your imagination run wild as you take the prompts and build to their heart’s content.
15- Read a book
An old favourite or a new find, curl up and lose yourself in another world.
16- Make slime
Slime making is chemistry and involves a chemical reaction between the slime ingredients being mixed, PVA glue, and a slime activator. Best of all, it’s simple for the kids to do!
Take 1 cup of PVA glue and mix with 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, before adding a tablespoon of contact lens solution. Mix in the bowl until it becomes stringy before taking it out and kneading into a ball.
Voila! Homemade slime. And the best part? Variations are possible—if you want to add colour, simply add some gel food-colouring before the contact lens solution. Fancy glitter? Add in once the slime is made and knead through—the sky is the limit.
17- Make puppets and put on a show
Act out your favourite story with some homemade puppets. All you need is a lolly stick and a little artistic flair to bring your characters to life.
18- Magic milk
Make colours dance in milk with this fun science experiment. Simply pour a little milk into a dish and drop some food colouring in. Next, take a cotton bud dipped in dish soap and place it on the edge of the milk. The surface tension will change, and the colours will swirl and dance for you!
19- Design a quiz for your family
Prove that you are the egghead in your family by designing a quick-fire trivia quiz for all of you to enjoy.
20- Make bread in a bag
It really is as simple as adding all your typical bread ingredients to a bag, squishing them together, kneading the dough, and then baking!
21- The naked egg experiment
How do you take the shell off a raw egg and leave the egg intact? The process is, really, very simple. Just carefully place the egg in a cup and fill the cup with vinegar until the egg is completely covered. You’ll start to see bubbles on the shell immediately as the acetic acid from the vinegar reacts with the calcium in the shell. After 48 hours, you should have a naked egg that you can then do a myriad of experiments with, from bouncing (from a short height) to colouring with food colouring.
22- Camp inside (or in the garden)
With camping season officially closed in Qatar, why not bring that experience home? Set up your tent inside (or in the garden!) toast some marshmallows, tell spooky stories, and cosy up together overnight.
23- Write a journal
To look back on in years to come. There are plenty of free templates online to make your own daily journal. Or simply, grab a notebook and get scribbling.
24- Make your own newspaper/magazine
We’re making history, why not report about it?
25- Do a family jigsaw puzzle together
26- A cardboard box and some imagination
Is it a TV? A rocket ship to outer space? An aeroplane? The possibilities are endless with a cardboard box and a little imagination.
27- Paper aeroplane races
Who has the best design? Take to the skies to see who can fly the furthest!
28- Walking water science experiment
Did you know you can take a glass with red water and a glass with yellow water, and magically make a third empty glass fill up with orange water without touching the glasses?
Simply line up your glasses and place one end of a folded paper towel into each filled water glass. Then, take the other end of your folded paper towel into the empty glass. All you have to do now is watch and wait. After 30 minutes, you will start to see the colours creeping up the paper towel, and after a couple of hours, you should have a glass of different coloured water. Magic!
29- Have a Zoom party
Connect with family and friends near and far with the help of a little technology.
30- Get your body moving
With kids circuits, kids yoga, and kids PE lessons all available on YouTube, there are no longer any excuses to not get moving. Pick your favourite type of exercise and get the whole family moving together.
31- Adopt a pet rock
Design your very own low maintenance pet. There’s so much you can do—from dressing your rock by painting a face, clothes, or features to creating the perfect rock home for Rocky to live in out of junk from around the house. Best of all, no need to worry if Rocky gets forgotten about…
32- Teddy Bears Picnic
Gather your teddies and spread out the picnic blanket for a special lunch.
33- Recycle your old stubby crayons to make rainbow crayons
All you need to do is melt down your old crayons in a silicone mould (at a VERY low temperature) and leave to harden. Voila! No more small, stubby crayons.
34- Make some window art
Draw pictures to put on the window. Use crepe paper and water to make a design. You could even try watered-down washable paint on your window. Make your house something to smile about.
35- Set up your own band and put on a concert
Vocals, air guitar, and who can forget the saucepan drums?
36- Make an obstacle course
Indoor, outdoor, up, down, in, out, round and round. Use everything you have at your disposal and find out just who could become the course champion.
37- Become the star of your own TV show
Lights, camera, action—who will you be? Be sure to record it!
38- Make your own play dough
All you need is flour, salt, warm water, a little oil, some food colouring, and your favourite recipe to follow. It couldn’t be easier to make your own playdough!
39- Stage a fashion show
Could you be Qatar’s Next Top Model!?
40- Braid a friendship bracelet
Head back to the 90s and get your groove on making friendship bracelets again. All you need is a variety of embroidery thread, some sellotape, and a little patience as you knot the strands together.
41- Make some fruity ice lollies
Fruit, water, and lolly moulds are all you need for a tasty summertime treat.
42- Junk model
Save up all those cardboard loo rolls, milk cartons, boxes and let your imagination run wild as you model the next Taj Mahal.
43- Blow painting
All you need is some water on a sheet of paper (think runny enough to be blown across the sheet) and a straw. Just drop the paint on your paper and blow—what will you create?
44. Draw your family tree
Do you know where you come from? How far back can you go on your family tree?
45- Turn your dining room into a restaurant
From planning to executing a meal, there is a lot that can be gained from this task. You can make something tried and tested, order takeaway, or try out a new recipe. Design menus and prepare a shopping list too, and don’t forget to dress for dinner!
46- Learn how to knit
Ask someone to teach you or watch an online tutorial.
47- Pass the story
This is an old-school classic adaptable for any age. The idea is that everyone starts by writing a sentence of a story, leaving only a word visible for the next person to continue. This goes on and on until the story is finished.
For younger children, you can also play “pass the drawing”. You start by drawing a hat and folding the paper over leaving two little lines to show where the head should be drawn. Pass it on. Continue the game until there’s a head, body, legs and shoes. And voila! A whole person.
48- Dress up
Become someone else for the day.
49- Have a party and play some old-school party games
50- Let them get bored and see what they come up with
After all, their imagination is a wonderful thing…
And there here you have it, 50 ways to beat the boredom without breaking the bank.