10 At-Home Activities for Sick Kids

When young kids are sick at home, it can be hard to come up with activities that keep them occupied but avoid over-exertion. 


This can be a problem, especially at the tail-end of being sick when they start to grow restless but aren’t yet ready to be re-introduced to society.  Another problem arises when healthy siblings (who are also stuck at home) want to get more active than you’d like.

Here are 10 of my favorite ways to keep healing kids calm and occupied:

  • Baking: You may not want to actually eat whatever your infected little ones cook up but the act of mixing and stirring will keep them happy and calm.  You don’t even need a recipe, just have fun combing water with some dry ingredients like flour, sugar, etc.
  • Washing dishes: Once you’re done cooking, turn the facet on just enough to trickle and let them stand at the sink “washing” the dishes along with tupperware, cups, large utensils and etc.  Giving baby dolls or cars a bath can be fun too.
  • Out-of-rotation/special occasion toys: Following the practice of only keeping a percentage of your toys out to play with at any given time really pays off when illness hits.  Now is the time to break out whatever’s been in storage!  Also, it never hurts to have a few “special occasion toys” for times like these.  The plastic race track pictured above is flimsy and a pain to keep putting back together day after day.  But the kids love it and they’ll spend an entire sickly afternoon playing with it if I keep it under wraps when they’re healthy.

  • Turn-taking picture drawing: Sit (or better lay) on the couch together and take turns making a collaborative drawing.  Begin by drawing a shape, then pass the paper and crayon to one of your children to make their contribution.  Keep passing and drawing in a circle until your creation is complete.
  • Turn-taking story writing:  As in the last activity, go around in a circle and take turns contributing.  The idea is to create a story one sentence at a time.  If your kiddos are too young to write, act as the group scribe.
  • Arts & crafts:  Break out the art supplies and go to town.  This one is especially helpful if you get creative and use old materials in new ways.  For inspiration, see our glue paints and DIY window paint posts.  If the kiddos really aren’t feeling great, a coloring book and some crayons or some play dough will do just fine too.
  • Science time: Try a few of these kid-friendly experiments to amaze the kiddos and help pass some time.

  • Origami: The art of paper folding is a great low key activity for older kids.  Check out my paper crane tutorial to get started and google “origami” for more ideas.
  • Reading books: Again, novelty is your friend here.  Once the kids are in bed and your spouse is home, head to the library and stock up on some new-to-them reads.  Stories about being sick may especially help little ones feel better.  Llama, Llama Home with Mama is one of my favorites.
  • Screen Time: Along with traveling, sickness is one of the few times I let my kids take in as much screen time as they like.  Mixing up the computer, ipad, and TV helps and they don’t end up actually watching that much because they usually sleep a lot more than usual throughout the day. 

That’s my list.  What do you do to pass the hours when your kids are sick?