Share your quiet play ideas for a pack of kids

Scroll down for an update on Caine

Maybe quiet is asking too much, but I would love your suggestions on how to keep 6 kids aged 4-10 gainfully employed.  Caine’s mom, grandma and 3 brothers are staying with us while he is in the hospital, but his mom spends most of her time with Caine for understandable reasons.  We don’t know how long they will be with us and I don’t want to plant everyone in front of the TV or video game console, so I would love to hear your ideas on what they can do indoors.  Yes, indoors.  The weather has been nasty.  Yes, we’re spoiled and we call 40’s and 50’s in January “nasty weather.”

Here are my requirements:

  1. Easy.  Must not require a lot of hand-on assistance.  Remember, I also have a 2yo and a very demanding baby.
  2. Cheap.  Must not require expensive or extensive supplies.  We have lots of free paper, and I can spend a little on materials but not too much.
  3. Clean.  Must not be too messy.  I’m hesitant to try anything that involves glue or glitter.
  4. Entertaining.  Must take longer than 30 seconds.  🙂  An hour would be great.  Even better if it holds their attention longer, but it can’t be too complicated or tedious.
  5. Quiet.  Well, a girl can hope…

Here is what we’ve done so far:

  1. Paint!  The kids got washable paints for Christmas and I already had a set of watercolors and lots of cheap brushes.  They spent well over an hour producing various works of art, borrowing ideas from each other.  I cut a large trash bag in half and taped it to the table, so cleanup was easy.  I also made them all agree beforehand that they would do the cleanup themselves to my satisfaction or we would never paint again in my house.  🙂
  2. Paper airplanes!  I didn’t think of this myself, but it was great!  The paper was free, and the airplanes are relatively safe projectiles for indoor use.  If they’re going to throw things in my house, I’m glad it’s paper.  There is lots of room for creativity and extended play with minimal mess.
  3. Play store.  I think that’s what they were doing, because I found handwritten “checks” and “money” on the makeshift desks when they were done.  At any rate, they were quiet and occupied for quite a while.  Our little ones also love to play school, although that might not hold the same charm for my nephews who attend private school.

Ideas I’d like to try:

  1. Breadmaking.  I could give each child his/her own lump of dough to shape and bake.
  2. Paper plate masks.  They could follow up by actually wearing the masks in their games.
  3. Hide & seek.  Our kids have discovered some fun and fabulous hiding places in our new house, and the fun could start all over again with a few new players.
  4. Origami lessons.  Kaitlyn feels confident she could keep them all engaged long enough to finish one or more simple shapes.  Boats or hats would be a good start, or the Big Mouth Puppet that Becca demo’ed in a video tutorial so many years ago.
  5. Pop-ups.  This is Kaitlyn’s idea, too.  I think she wants to cut a very basic pop-up design (1 for each child) that the kids could then color in and play with.
  6. Play dough.  We could try an edible recipe, or just do the traditional salt dough.  Cooked recipes make an especially soft, pliant dough that is fun to work with.  Messy, but it should clean up easily if we keep it away from the living room rugs.

What else would you suggest?


Update on Caine:

His oxygen was decreased from 12 liters/minute down to 6 liters yesterday, but his breathing became labored so he’s holding steady now at 7 liters.  He will need to get down to 2 liters before they move him out of the PICU into the regular pediatric ward, but he’s well on his way.

Last night and today he became much more active and alert, and is very smiley for his mom.

He also enjoyed Grandma’s visit today.

We think he was getting very tired from working so hard to breathe, and is finally feeling better because he’s not expending so much energy just to stay alive.  He is also receiving 2 ounces of mom’s milk every 2 hours via a tube, so he’s a much happier little man.

The next step is to decrease his oxygen enough to allow him to move to the pediatric ward and begin nursing again.  Thanks again to all who are continuing to pray for this precious little boy.


  1. Monique W says:

    My older girls 7 and 5 love it when I draw them up a scanvenger hunt. Very simple things, but a little bit tricky at the same time. EG: a picture of my car number plate, a tap (they have to figure out which tap), a brick in the fence, a blemish on the wall, a flower on a bush. It way take 10 minutes of your own time but it is worth it. I just draw simple sketches with a pencil and then give them the sheet (to share) and a marker and they have to find the object, tick it off and write where they found it. We don outdoor ones for nice days and indoor ones for wet days

  2. Blow up some balloons. See how long everyone can keep them off the ground. If they are a little older, divide into 2 teams. Sit everyone on the floor and put up a net (or string) and have them play “indoor volleyball” with the balloon as the ball. The older kids have to keep their bottoms on the floor. This is not always quiet but it will use up lots of energy without making a mess. Bring out the Legos. Ask them to build the most fabulous car or house or spaceship or animal. I can handle noise better than mess. I think this is why God gave me my boys first and then my girls.

  3. playsilks? shall I send you a few for review?

  4. Get a stack of magazines, catalogs, flyers, etc. anything with pictures. Set older kids to cut out pictures, and the younger ones to make collages out of them with glue sticks (might be venturing into messy here, but no messier than paint!).

    Puppet shows: again, the bigs can entertain the littles with this, and have fun coming up with plots together. Don’t need puppets, any toys will do!

    Got any board games?

  5. I thought of you when I saw this. Perhaps the older kids could make the activities for the younger ones. 🙂

  6. Stump Akinator at! He’ll ask questions and figure out your character- any character in books, movies, history, etc., real or not, human or not.

Don't just think it: say it!

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