Clean and Fix
Put on your "Bob the Builder" caps (literal or figurative) and become home handypeople, figuring out what needs fixing, and doing it! Here’s a great article on how to get started.
Sort the toys: Spend a short time with your kids sorting their toys. Let them play with each one until they’re sure which ones they want to keep and which ones can be donated.
Games and Activities
Jump the river: An easy game, using just a ruler and a couple of pieces of string: Spread the strings just one inch apart (using the ruler to measure). Encourage each kid to "jump over the river." Now widen the river by an inch each time. Explain the concepts of narrow and wide. See how far each kid can jump.
Make a timeline of each child's milestones. If possible, get some pictures from each developmental stage, and tape or pin them to the appropriate place on the timeline.
Have an indoor campout. Pitch a sheet tent in the living room, plan a picnic on the rug.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt, submitted by Pam DeVos. Our scavenger hunt uses the letters of the alphabet. I made 3 columns on a board starting with the letter A-Z and we go around the house looking for the letters or words that start with these letters.
Build an indoor fort. Blankets will work, or if you've recently stocked up on toilet paper and paper towels, those work great as building materials!
Play with their older toys: Spend a few minutes together sorting through their toys. Put the names of the older ones on slips of paper and place in a jar. Every ten minutes, let your child pick a new toy to play with from the jar.
Silent Disco: Everybody puts on their headphones and dances around to the music of their choice. Don't forget to film the shenanigans for posterity!
Cuban Cooking: Clean out the refrigerator and come up with some new combinations of food based just on what you have there. (My friend Tatiana, who was born in Havana, calls this "real Cuban cooking.") Make sure the kids are involved in deciding what to combine. Explain that this is what people have to do in other parts of the world, just making do with what is available. Wegmans isn't everywhere!
ANY Cooking. Or baking. The kids' favorite cookies. A new bread recipe. Anything that's usually too much trouble for a busy day.
Arts and Crafts
Make a "Celebrations book." Print out either one page for each day of the year (365 pages, or 183 if you double-side them) or one page for each week of the year (about 52 pages). Put the date at the top and a lot of blank spaces underneath. Then go through and record the dates of significant events in your family's history, anything that's particularly important to each person: Marriages and births, of course, but also "day I graduated from high school" or "my first date with a boy" (for me it was April 12, 1985...who knows why I remember that), "first day Madison said "Mama," "first day Ella went on the potty." Things like that. Then, at a family dinner every week, you can take out your "Celebrations Book" and figure out what you're celebrating that week.
Driveway, Yard and Garden
Measure the rain: Set out a cup in an unsheltered location and monitor how much rain has fallen, and next thing you know you'll be cheering for more rain.
Hunt for worms: When the ground is soaked, the worms need to surface to get air. Kids love examining these creatures and transporting them out of harm's way.
Let rain inspire art: If rain's in the forecast, get the kids out on the driveway with sidewalk chalk, then wait to see it melt. Use washable paint on hands and feet, then head outside to see it wash off.
Perk up your plants If you have droopy houseplants, bring them outside for a natural watering. Have your young scientist observe and take notes on the rain's effect.
Shake a rainy tree. Head outside under some branches and let kids shake the branches for an instant rainstorm. Kids absolutely love getting grown-ups wet.
Play Alligator: Your front walkway or sidewalk is the river and one person is the Alligator that lives in it. Everybody else has to try to cross the river without getting caught. When caught, they become Alligators until only one person is left. This is the new Alligator.