90+ Activity Ideas for Quarantined Families

Mar 26th, 2020 | By | Category: News

Co-authored by Halle Dickerson, age 12

With an escalating pandemic, a Shelter-In-Place order recently issued, and county-wide virtual schooling, many families in Greensboro and the Triad are grasping at straws to stay entertained. I’ve compiled this list of ideas, mostly for families and the young at-heart, with the help of my 12 year old daughter.

Shoot the angry bird

“Shoot the angry bird” by 4nitsirk is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

• Make an Angry Birds course in the backyard. Bring out the buckets, coolers, storage bins, and laundry baskets, and have fun flinging stuffed animals toward their pig targets, which can be balloons, plastic cups, or whatever else is laying around.

• Play a group Wii or Switch game in your family room

• What is today’s unique little holiday? Find out, and celebrate that holiday! Saturday March 26th, for instance, is Something on a Stick Day! Celebrate it by roasting marshmallows, eating corn dogs, or making cake pops, or by trying to balance things on pencils.

• Bake goodies from your pantry staples outside of your comfort zone: ever made meringues? Or cookie cups?

• Pick up a to-go painting project from Mad Platter.

• Make meals with fun presentations, like salad bowls made from tortillas. Squish starbursts into edible sculptures. Use a potato ricer to make ice cream “spaghetti”.

• Build forts with couch cushions, blankets, and sheets. Gently fold in pillows and a few good books.

• Raid your arts & crafts supplies and let ideas flow/finish old art projects.

• Make crafting a game, like Chopped: create a mystery box of odds & ends to cobble together something useful. The point isn’t to win, just to play.

• Have an indoor picnic! Lay out a blanket, use a pitcher to pour drinks or drink out of thermoses, wear straw hats, eat off of your camping plates and utensils. Play some picnicking music. What’s picnicking music? You tell me! Sometimes you can even play the song of chirping birds or waterfalls in the background!

• Take the time to plan several weekend trips or day trips for the summer. Maybe find a couple of historical places or a museum and a locally-owned restaurant nearby.

Rube Goldberg Machines

“Rube Goldberg Machines” by KGA Team 6th Grade is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

• Make a Rube Goldberg machine

• Have a family read-along. Pick a book and take turns reading paragraphs.

• One-act plays can be really fun to do this with, too! And movie scripts! Pick a character (out of a hat if you can’t agree) and dress like them.

• Write and perform an original play. Or pick a short scripts to act out.

• Have a tea party. If you don’t drink tea, have a lemonade party or a Sprite party or whatever, but it’s important – and I do mean important – that you put your pinkies up in the air and discuss your favorite heroines at length.

• Round up things to donate (and sanitize) to Goodwill, Freedom House Thrift, or the Salvation Army. Make a pile of things you arent sure actually fit anymore. The next time that person says they’re bored, you have an assignment waiting for them.

• A lot of us are going to need some extra cash this summer, and consignment is an fast way to turn things you dont use into groceries. Round up books or games you can sell to McKays, cause if you don’t read or play them during a quarantine, you never will again. Plato’s Closet and other local second-hand clothing stores are always buying gently-used clothes, dresses, shoes, purses, and accessories. And then there’s The Red Collection and Replacements LTD for furniture, china, dinnerware, and estate jewelry.

• Leave some handwritten notes hidden around the house in everyday items (smushed inside an umbrella, in a book, crumpled inside a shoe, e.g.) to say what you love about them. Be specific and mean it. Maybe one day they’ll realize every time they open an umbrella, they instantly feel cherished, who knows? At the very least, you’ll make someone’s day with a book they bought at Ed McKay’s.

• Choose different characters to be that day and if possible, dress the part. Bring your unwitting pets into it and declare silly rules like “only pets can be bad guys” and with any luck, your living room will be a red carpet for Beyonce, Hulk Hogan, Elsa, and a Jack Russell terrier doing an Oscar-worthy Madam Mim.

• Carry walkie talkies. Not for any specific purpose. Check on people when they’re peeing. Make announcements.

• Have a fire drill and talk about fire safety. Do you have a family fire or emergency plan? Test smoke alarms together (press the Test button), learn the sound of the alarm, and assign tasks for fire emergencies. Plan to visit a fire station as a family when it’s safe to do so. Make firehouse recipes for dinner – you best believe every fireman has at least one dish they whip up at the station.

• Pull out your cookbooks and make 1 new thing every day with ingredients you have on hand.

• Got painter’s tape? Make an obstacle course in the hallway! String the tape from the sides of the wall, side to side. Add fun obstacles or prizes even, turn off the lights and twirl flashlights around like a homespun strobe light. Add a plush animal they have to “rescue” in ten seconds or less.

image via My Home Life Mag

• Compile a family cookbook. Poll the household for their favorite breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, birthday meals, snacks, smoothies, cookies. Do you have a go-to movie night menu? Time-honored side dishes for Christmas brunch? Grandma’s famous cake recipe? Get it written down, even if more for the memory than reference. This could even be made into a Christmas gift for extended family (hey, Aunt Georgia!) if you turn it into a PDF with photos or printed physical copies.

• Make a haunted house! If you dare, challenge your kids to turn their room into a haunted house. Leftover cereal boxes can be turned into headstones, sheets into ghosts, see what their imaginations can do! These can turn out HILARIOUS. If that’s too scary, make a fun-house with dressup clothes, prank items, a walkable maze made out blocks or ribbon, etc.

• Turn off the lights in a dark closet and tell ghost stories by the light of a flashlight/candle/LED candle/camping lantern.

• Play hide and seek. Want to change it up? Or maybe you don’t feel compelled to hide in a confined space for a period of time? Take turns hiding a stuffed animal or object.

• Oh no! Stripes the cheetah has been kidnapped by an evil poacher! Just like a birthday gift scavenger hunt, hide a plush toy somewhere in the house and clues on strips of paper leading to various places around the house, ultimately arriving at the plush hostage.

• Spin a globe or look at a world map, point to a random spot without looking, and take a Google Maps tour there. Get on street view, discover the language, look up their regional cuisine, and listen to a song from that region. Repeat.

• Plan a fictional vacation. At random, pick a foreign country you’ve never visited, choose an Airbnb to stay in, pick a few restaurants, find historical places and monuments to tour, watch a YouTube video from a traveler about that locale.

• Plan a fictional time-travel vacation. To what year and where will you travel? What will you wear? What problems will you face? Who will you meet, what events will you see? How will you speak differently? Where will you sleep and what will you eat?

• How long since your last camping trip? Set up a tent in your backyard, roast your dinner on your camp stove, drag out the sleeping bags. See who can stuff their sleeping bag back into the stuff sack the fastest.

• Have a family talent show or open mic. Each person has two minutes to sing, act, dance, perform a magic trick, tell jokes, and be the center of attention.

• Have a quote confessional time. Maybe over breakfast, or just after. Read a quote out loud, talk about what it means. Do you agree or disagree? What experiences have you had that lead you to that conclusion?

• Get talking! Ask questions! Have an honest devotional with your family. Here’s a few starters:

• Make story cubes or story dice, and make up stories. This would be a great supplement for homeschool.

• Have karaoke night. YouTube is a great place to find karaoke or lyric videos. Dare eachother to sing different songs or pull song choices out of a hat.

• Got old plastic easter eggs in your holiday storage? Stuff them with leftover arcade tokens, or coins, or silly dares. Celebrate Easter again and again.

• Drop off those odd recyclables that city trucks don’t take, such as glass or electronics. You can drop off glass at First Presbyterian Church’s parking lot off of Fisher Ave, and electronics at the Guilford County Prison Farm Park. Neither of these locations require any transaction or contact with people.

• Donate blood to the American Red Cross, who are currently in need of platelets. Find locations to donate here:

• Have an after-dark dance party with flashlights or glow sticks, if you have them. Bust out the toys that light up or glow in the dark.

• Make dominoes out of books, blocks, DVD boxes, VHS tapes, anything rectangular will do.

• Have a car wash in the kitchen sink for all those Hot Wheels cars.

• Celebrate the holidays again! Some people are redecorating their houses for Christmas, just to bring a little cheer to passers by. Make hot cocoa, wear those tacky sweaters, listen to Christmas music, deck the halls!

• Bust out the old mediums you might have in storage. Still have a VCR? An old handicam? An 8 track? Dare I ask…a BETAMAX? Now is their time to shine, and your children’s time to groan as you wax nostalgic for the old school.

• Have a family spa day. Wear face masks (the moisturizing kind), learn a few yoga poses, listen to a guided meditation, wear pajamas and robes and hair towels, write in journals, do breathing exercises. Espouse the value of self-care. This is a great segue to talk about managing stress and the importance of balance.

• Create an idea board. What do you want to do better this year? What do you wish you could be doing, what does your dream summer look like? What are your favorite things about life? What is your spirit animal? Use magazines, catalogs, and drawings to manifest your best life on a poster board or amazon box cardboard, etc.

• Melt your leftover chocolate chips/Easter chocolate/Valentine’s Chocolate and scrounge the pantry for fun things to try dipped in chocolate. Banana slices? Saltines? Peanuts? Pretzels? Potato chips?

• Dive headfirst into a rabbit hole of nostalgia. Start with commercials from a random year during your middle school ages, then check out cartoons you watched before school in elementary, and what’s next? Songs you might have heard at homecoming? What foods have been discontinued since yesteryear?

bulletin board

“bulletin board” by merwing✿little dear is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

• Create a happiness corner! Create a small space to write happy thoughts, good headlines, pictures of puppies, whatever might have the power to instantly distract you and take you to your happy place.

• Keep a dream journal. Talk about your dreams when you wake up. Do you believe in the meaning of dreams?

• Get off your favorite spot on the couch. Put down a few pillows in the tub and read a book, have date night in the laundry room, light a candle on the kitchen floor and play cards. The film industry calls this phenomenon a “forced perspective” and believe me, it costs Hollywood millions of dollars every year trying to make Tom Cruise look tall.

• Dress up like you’re going out. Curl your hair, apply some of your favorite perfume and some of your best lotion, strap some heels on. And then stay home.

• Rearrange your furniture for a week or a few days at a time, then rearrange it again. Every time you walk into that room, it WILL feel like a different place.

• Simplify, simplify. Pack a suitcase and live out of only items from that suitcase for a specific amount of time. For a fun twist, try to do this for each other! Everyone but the person using the suitcase can add items.

• Write a list of life lessons you hope to impart to your kids. Here is a list to get you thinking.

• Do science projects! Does magnet strength change with temperature? What floats and sinks? Can you grow a plant from seeds? Can you change a flower’s color with colored water?

• Make a time capsule of your family’s time in quarantine. Each person can write a letter to their future selves to answer: what is their favorite aspects and most boring parts of quarantined life? What will they do when out of quarantine? Who do they miss seeing in school? Save snippets of items relevant to your life now, drawings of quarantine life, recipes you’ve made with all that rice.

• Write an article for Avant Greensboro about your time in isolation, or a letter to the editor of various area publications.

• Have an old-fashioned theme day. Dress in perceived old-fashioned clothes, listen to music so old it no longer holds a copywright. Eat by candlelight, play an old-fashioned game, listen to a radio show, write a newspaper of that days activities, don’t forget to include advertisements. (Hit songs from the 1920s)

• Order a Popin-Cookin miniature baking kit, or try to make tiny versions of food.

Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade

“Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade” by vpickering is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

• Throw a fashion show for your pets. Who knows what you can find in your baby clothes bin, dress-up clothes, and backs of closets. Maybe you could even make your pet some new duds! Also, do they like hats? Also, can you send me photos?

Things to do outdoors:

• Do some yardwork – pull weeds, trim the edges of your lawn, replace that outside light bulb.

• Identify some of the plants and weeds in your yard. iNaturalist app can help, just upload your photos. You might have dandelions, sorrel, daffodils, cleaver, who knows!

• Use sidewalk chalk to make obstacle courses: green circles are lily pads, red zigzags are lava!, blue squares are slippery icebergs, you have to gallop on purple lines, etc.

• Go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt (idea via @TheLeanGreenBean and @PeanutButterFingers.) Make a list of age-appropriate items to be found in your ‘hood like cardinals, daffodils, a house number with a 5 in it, 3 dogs, etc.

• Go on a “detectives walk” – find a rock with a strange coloration? A suspicious ring of mushrooms? Are those squirrels BURYING something? Maybe these are clues! Draw each “clue” you see (instead of picking it up) and try to deduce what zaniness has occurred.

Very curious indeed.

• Do an unofficial backyard bird count! Plan to submit an official count next year, too.

• Try to identify birds by their calls. If you’re unsure, take a photo or draw it. Use those images as a visual reference when you look it up later. Did you know we have a bird native to NC called a bobwhite that sounds like it says “Bob White! Bob White!” when it sings?

• Go to a local park. Don’t use the restroom, visitors center, or take any maps. Don’t use handrails if you can help it, or sanitize afterward if you do. And don’t even think about touching the playground, nuh uh.

• Help a neighbor with their yard work

• Clean & fill the bird bath

• Refill the birdfeeders, or

• Make a birdfeeder by spreading peanut butter on a pinecone

• Start collecting seeds from fresh produce. Research together how to grow them. Plant them in your yard, see what grows!

• Watch an upcoming astronomical events like Venus, the April supermoon, the Lyrids meteor shower. April’s moon is called the Pink Moon, so definitely listen to “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake. Look up the names of the monthly full moons used by Native Americans. Which moon is your birth month’s? Look up full moon mythology.

• Get some sunshine and wash your car! Since you might use them soon, wash those bikes, trikes, and scooters, too. Clean the trash out of vehicles. Vacuum them, dust off the interior with putty, wash the foot boards.

• Try to take your cat for a walk on a leash. Good luck.

• Adopt a pet rock. What is its name, age, and occupation? What does it like to eat? Is it a guard rock or a toy breed? What are its beliefs or political affiliations? Make it a pet bed and paper outfits or jewelry, y’know, for outings and special occasions. Make a leash for your rock. Attempt to walk your rock. Your neighbors will think you’ve lost it, and maybe you have.

Drawing project ideas:

• Create a board game. Use a familiar game as a foundation, like Monopoly, but themed around your family’s favorite places. Or use Clue as a foundation, and instead of hypothetically murdering each other in the game, make it about who stole the cookie from the cookie jar, or inject silly and nonsensical things into the mix and see what shakes out.

• Write out a storyboard for a comic book and make it together.

• Make caricatures of each other or your pets.

• Draw yourself as your favorite Disney character.

• Play dots and boxes! Can we agree that this is the easiest game ever invented? All you need is two differently colored crayons, pens, or markers to play.

• Draw what you dreamt about last night

• Make an animated flip book. Such a great way for people with a lot of patience to show off all. That. Patience.

• Draw a whole bunch of googley eyes. Tape them to random inanimate objects around the house. Give them names. Now all of your lamps can have personalities and reactions, like Gary, the pull-string reading lamp, always looking surprised. Or Linda. She’s had work done.

• Create some fashion accessories out of paper and tape them, flat, to all of the mirrors in your house. Just a little something extra to live with and interact with when walking around and checking your hair.

See also:

Ideas involving screens:

• Take a drumming lesson with pots and pans. In earnest, y’all.

• Find an educational webcam! Animal lovers have dozens of channels available at, such as shark reefs, the aurora borealis, kittens and puppies playing at rescues, and bald eagle nests. Or check out the International Space Station:

• Take a virtual museum tour.

• If we haven’t said this already, you could have a family movie night! Ideally, you’d have a lot of pillows and a lot of blankets, and put them out with a lot of snacks.

• Screen test: using index cards, write down parts of a movie or TV show that makes you laugh, or cry, or music, or a recurring theme or statement (you get the idea) and turn them all in. Ideally you’ll make about 50 or more cards. Shuffle them, pass them out 5 at a time to each player. As you watch the movie or show, you can “play” those cards as they happen. Whoever has the most played cards at the end, wins.

• Make Tik Toks together! If it’s too embarrassing to use each others personal accounts, thats ok! Create a family account!

• Ask your kids about Tik Tok dance challenges. They’ll know. Look for a few to try together. Try a new one every day, before homeschool, and get the wiggles out.

• Finally organize all those photos and videos from your phone that take up all your space.

• Have storytime with a celebrity.

One Comment to “90+ Activity Ideas for Quarantined Families”

  1. Nanette Cornwell says:

    I’m keeping this not just for quarantine, but for ideas for any family or friend or kiddo-sitting gathering. Holidays or power outages or snow days or slumber parties or Sunday School. Love this creativity! Thank you!

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