Hello, magical people! I know that many of us will be at home with our kiddos for quite a long time with the Coronavirus quarantines around the world and I thought a list of ways to make the day magical might help. I have a master list of 100 ways to make today magical, but some of those are decidedly out right now (like visiting museums, throwing fairy parties, and probably that one about using toilet paper for fun!).
So I’ve compiled some of my favorite ways to make the day magical from over the years in a list of 50 ways to make a little magic (at home) with the kids right now.
50 Ways to Make Today Magical (at home)
1. Make pillow and blanket forts — pillow forts from the couch cushions, table forts with sheets, a clothesline fort in the back yard, or even giant forts with lengths of rope strung across the room and blankets draped over them.
2. Look through old family photos and videos. Talk to the kids about what they were like when they were little, or what your own childhood was like. Cuddle up, tell stories, and talk about happy memories.
3. Watch a free streaming concert together. MSN has All the Live Streams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis, which is being updated often.
4. Teach your child how to make a favorite recipe. Even little kids can learn to make simple things like sandwiches, and big kids love to learn how to cook fancier dishes.
5. Print out some free toys! Made by Joel offers free printables of everything from a Travel Size Paper City Paris Champs Elysees and Champ de Mars to paper slotted animals to an oscillating bird and more. We’ve also loved the toys at The Toymaker for years.
6. Sit down with your kids and make up lists of 10 or 20 things you each love about special people in your lives. You can write the lists for kids who aren’t writing yet, but keep it in their words and have them add some decorations. Take a picture to text or email to each loved one.
7. Have some fun with photo apps. We created this fun picture of Alex with the free Photo Labs app. Or just open up Snapchat and take some fun selfies together. Print out and frame your favorite, if you like.
8. Have an early morning balcony picnic and watch the sunrise together. Get up early and grab something simple like fruit and a cup of tea and go sit and watch the sunrise together. You can watch from your balcony, the roof of your apartment, your back yard or even a good window. Take some time to just soak in the beauty and connect.
9. Have a cleaning party together. Yes, really! Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together. Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean. Celebrate when you’re finished by making a fun new mess by cooking together or doing crafts.
10. Make colorful soap clouds. If you happen to have any Ivory soap and a bit of food coloring, this is a great time to make colorful Ivory soap clouds (and learn the science behind what’s happening).
11. Waste a box of birthday candles on repeated wishes at lunchtime. Blowing out the candles is some of the most fun of birthdays for some kids, so sometimes it’s fun to do it just because. Just put them one at a time in a muffin, sandwich, whatever. Light the candle, make a wish, blow, repeat! You join in too!
12. Make puzzles for breakfast. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of toast, pancakes or french toast. Let kids match the shapes to the pieces with the holes and fit back in.
13. Blow bubbles off the balcony or out the window. This is especially fun if you live up high!
14. Do freeze dancing. Put on a CD (or find some good songs on you-tube) and have the kids all dance wildly. Every time you hit pause, they have to freeze in place.
15. Have the kids make up funny fortunes and put them in homemade fortune cookies or leave them in unexpected places like cereal boxes.
16. Play the gratitude game at dinner. Go through the alphabet taking turns naming one thing you’re grateful for in life for each letter. Anything counts, from artichokes to Aunt Julie. 🙂
17. Send people some laughs. Task the kids with finding their favorite corny jokes, funny videos and other things that crack them up. Text them to friends and family or have the kids call and tell them over the phone.
18. Cut out dozens of construction paper hearts and write a reason you love each other on each one. Cover the windows or a door with them all, or hang them from the ceiling on lengths of yarn or ribbon.
19. Make poetry shells. Gather up a bunch of pistachio shells, smooth rocks or other natural objects and use a magic marker to write words on them. Make sure to use adjectives, nouns and verbs. For example…. I, you, we, love, wet, dogs, jumped, lick, stars…. the more words you make the more variety you can get in your poem. Drop the rocks in a bucket, shake, and grab a handful to arrange into each line. Make sure to add some funny words!
20. Throw a dinner party just for your family. Put out the good china and some delicious appetizers, set the table grandly and dress the part. Put on some music, light some candles and take your time enjoying your own company together.
21. Make up a batch of homemade playdough (white) and then hide different colors inside. Poke a hole in the middle and add a little bit of food coloring. Encourage kids to knead their balls of playdough and watch as they discover there’s more to it than it first appeared! You can also do color mixing this way (make yellow and add blue to the center of one and red to another, for instance).
22. Bring snow or mud inside for the kids to play with. Fill a big tub and give them cars, chopsticks, you name it to play with it.
23. Try circus tricks together. See if you can juggle, balance a ball on your nose, walk a “tightrope” on the floor, clown around and so on.
24. Discover a new (old) TV series together. This is a great time to introduce the kids to comedies that might have been before their time. Our kiddos have really enjoyed My Name is Earl, Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn 99, Raising Hope and Malcolm in the Middle (note that there is sometimes mature content for little ones). There are other great shows besides comedies too. Smallville was a huge family favorite here (and it was on for ten years so there are tons of episodes!). Other old shows to check out include Monk, The Great British Baking Show and Trading Spaces (though I’m not sure if that one’s available on streaming?). Please add your recommendations in the comments!
25. Challenge the kids to make each other laugh as much as possible. Try for all out belly laughs, snorts and the type of giggles where you can’t catch your breath. If you can, catch it on tape to make you all laugh all over again later.
26. Go sledding or ice skating in the kitchen! Pull little ones around on towels, or have them put on socks and slip around the floor. Older kids can pull the little ones and accidentally get some exercise in at the same time! If you’re brave enough, give them a bucket of warm soapy water and have them “mop” the floor with their stocking feet. My girls used to love to do this, though it can get pretty wet!
27. Start a recipe box or cookbook of family recipes you teach your child. Bake and cook them together and write each one out as you teach it to add to the collection. Don’t know very many? Learn together!
28. Be outrageously silly at odd times, for no reason, all day long! Suddenly widen your eyes and say, “Oh no! I forgot to give you noisy kisses!” and scoop up your toddler. Stick your tongue out and grin at your teenager. Be silly as much as you possibly can.
29. Do some Pinterest-inspired arts and crafts. Find a fun project, tutorial or bit of inspiration and sit down together to give it a try.
30. Start a paper chain of happy memories and accomplishments.
31. Have a family jam session. Gather up instruments or make your own by filling containers with pennies and getting pots to bang on. I love having older kids now who are great at playing the guitar and ukelele, but I also love hearing the little ones playing the kazoo or just shaking maracas. My husband is great at playing a dozen instruments and I have a hard time even keeping a beat while clapping, but we have such fun all playing together. Play songs you know and love, or make up songs together as you go.
33. Have fun with boxes. If you’re getting lots of boxes coming into the house right now, why not let the kids put them to use? Let them use them to make robots, tunnels, playhouses, you name it. You can be fancy and help out, like the ultra-creative mama at Life as a Thrifter…
Or just let the kids loose to make up their own fun!
34. Cut up a zillion paper snowflakes and decorate the house. Paint them with watercolors to make them extra special. Coffee filters make it even easier.
35. Have a silly word day. Pick an ordinary word to be the silly word of the day, and anybody who accidentally says that word during the day has to do something silly. For instance, if the silly word of the day is “car” and you forget and say it, you might cluck like a chicken or yodel.
36. Compliment each other, balloon style! Pick someone in the room to focus on and toss a balloon up in the air. Everybody else has to keep bopping the balloon up and keep it from hitting the ground. You can’t bop it without calling out something fabulous about your subject though! Think quick! See how long you can keep it up (and how many wonderful things people can think up about each other!).
37. Have an inside snowball fight! Crumple up oodles of paper from the recycling bin and give each player a laundry basket full. Find some good launching spots (behind the couch, behind a table…) and commence flinging!
38. Wear fancy clothes all day, just because. We’ve had a whole stash of thrift store costumes, capes and prom dresses for years to make an ordinary Monday seem more special.
39. Start a family poem wall. Put up a large piece of paper on a door and put a pen nearby. Ask every family member to add a word every time he or she passes. It can be silly or serious. Save the finished poems in an album or scrapbook.
40. Have a paper airplane derby. You’ll find free patterns for simple to fancy planes, helicopters, rockets, frisbees and more here. This is also a fun way to reuse old coloring pages, worksheets, scrapbooking paper and even maps.
41. Start making toasts every night at supper.
42. Bake bread together.
43. Clear out a back closet or other out of the way place to become a secret hideaway for your child. Stock it with flashlights and lots of fun items to decorate it.
44. Play balloon volleyball. If you have enough balloons, try some of these other fun balloon activities.
45. Do some melted crayon art. Line a warming tray or electric griddle with tinfoil and then place a sheet of paper on it. Let kids draw on the paper with crayons, pressing down and drawing slowly so the crayons will melt into vibrant, waxy pools as they draw. You can use mittens to help protect little ones from getting burned, but close supervision and cautions about the heat are the best protection. We turn the heat to around 200 for little ones and 250 for older kids (and more satisfying results).
46. Take apart a bunch of old jewelry and try to make a new artistic creation together.
47. Let the kids decorate you. As a busy homeschooling mama of five, I’ve had many days of entertaining kiddos even when life was… interesting. One noteworthy day when I was particularly tired and sick from morning sickness, I let my little ones decorate me with washable markers and an older child gave me a pedicure. 🙂 They had a blast and I got to rest on the couch with my feet up!
(Side note: Every week for my prenatal visit with Fiona, my doctor would look to see what kind of a pedicure I had for that visit, since my kids were so fond of giving me crazy paint jobs and they always made her smile. I also once accidentally showed up with magic marker legs under my pants that I’d forgotten about!)
48. If you have the go-ahead to walk around your neighborhood, grab a pack of colorful sidewalk chalk and head out to make the world more cheerful (even your own driveway). Have the kids leave happy faces, sweet notes, rainbows, silly cat faces, flowers, goofy aliens, you name it, in various places just to make people smile.
49. Learn some new games — or make them up! We play lots of card games here but also have fun making up games. My older kids are especially good at finding creative new games online and then coming up with homemade versions.
50. Stage a virtual talent show for loved ones. Assemble costumes and props and then sing songs, put on clown acts, recite poems, tell jokes, do magic tricks, whatever and record it all. Send it to a loved one who could use a smile (and save it for years later when you can all smile at the memory!).
But most of all…
Have a little fun.
Our kids are relying on us to keep them feeling safe right now, so it’s a good time to turn off the TV and just focus on staying healthy and happy at home together.
This list is literally just a drop in the bucket of all the wonderful ways to make the best of the situation right now, but I hope it gives a little inspiration. I’ll try to be back soon with another list.
Please add your favorite suggestions to the comments!
And with that, I’m off to play Nerts with my kiddos and rustle up lunch. Stay well. We’re all in different circumstances and some of us may feel especially alone right now, but we’re all in this together. It’s a good time for all of us to count our blessings, love on our kiddos, and as always — don’t forget to take good care of you.