If you’ve been affected by rapidly changing summer plans, you may be wondering how you’re going to keep the kids entertained for another ten weeks – especially if, like many PJ Library families, you’re an apartment dweller without easy access to outdoor spaces. Luckily, our team has curated twelve easy, inexpensive indoor activities—each with a Jewish twist! (And these have been tested and given the thumbs up by busy working parents with kids of varying ages too).
Related: 15 Boredom Busters for Days You’re Stuck Inside
Many of these activities can be done with low to no supervision for older kids, but all of them will be even more fun with the whole family involved.
Related: 12 Fall Activities with a Jewish Twist
Design Your Dream House
Draw or make a model of your ideal home using Lego, blocks, clay cardboard boxes, or anything else you can find in the house. Bonus points for making it a Jewish home: can you add a tiny mezuzah, kiddush cup, or menorah?
Make Challah Together
Start with a basic recipe, then add the most random ingredients you can think of: chocolate chips, sprinkles, Cheetos, dried fruit! Go crazy (or bananas) exploring and experimenting.
Play Dress Up
Younger kids may have costumes (or PJ Library aprons!) around the house, and kids of all ages will fun exploring in your closet. You can dress as famous Jews (Moses? Esther?) and be sure to take pictures of any particularly good costumes so you can recreate them for Purim!
Binge a Podcast
There are a ton of excellent family-friendly podcasts out there; our personal favorite is the award-winning PJ Library podcast, Have I Got a Story for You! You can find suggestions for other kid-friendly podcasts at pjlibrary.org/LISTEN.
Have a Picture Book Party
Send the kids on a hunt around the house to gather up all the picture books they can find. Sort them into different piles (by preference, theme, size, color) and see how many PJ Library books you have. Then get comfy and get reading. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that older kids still enjoy picture books, too!
Declutter and Donate
Give each child a cardboard donation box to decorate with pictures, quotes, or scribbles. Then team up, clean out, and organize each kid's space. Read books about tzedakah, and decide as a family where to make donations and how to do so in a socially-distant way. (With some children--including younger ones--it may be enough to clean up a space together; parting with toys, even ones they don’t use very often, may be too challenging right now.)
Make a Stop Motion Video
Start with this simple guide. Then gather your supplies. You can work with playdough, Lego, or whatever you have around the house. If your kids need inspiration, pick a PJ library book or a story from our podcast.
Play Charades or Pictionary
Did you know that you can play in person or online. Bonus points for Jewish clues, such as “lighting Shabbat candles,” “playing dreidel,” or “building a sukkah.”
Become Junior Master Chefs
Recreate this fun reality show in your home. Divide up into teams of one or more people and agree on ingredients ahead of time. The wackier the better, and this is a great way to use up leftovers and prevent food waste! Add a Jewish twist with ingredients like leftover challah or matzah, canned gefilte fish, or gelt from last Hanukkah.
Set a timer and go to town! You can invite family or friends to watch the fun over Facetime and judge based on creativity and presentation. Want to take things a step further? Raid the pantry to put together “mystery baskets” and play a round of a “Chopped Shabbat” competition together.
Make Your Own Jewish Ritual Objects
Try your hand at DIY-ing a menorah, mezuzah, dreidel, seder plate, or challah cover from supplies you have around the house. You can use clay, Lego, paper plates, cardboard, paint, toilet paper rolls, plastic cups, recycled materials, paint, markers, and stickers.
Recreate a Classic Jewish story
You can write, tell, illustrate, make a diorama, or build it with Lego, blocks, clay, action figures, or stuffed animals. Purim with robots? Hanukkah with aliens? Go wild!
Learn to Knit or Crochet
A kippah or yarmulke is a fun and easy project, and here’s a great video series in a soothing Israeli accent to get you started. (Note: the host of the video calls it “knitting,” but she’s actually crocheting.) Crochet is great for all kids -- it improves fine motor skills and hand eye coordination!
Finally, check out the PJ Library Quarantine Resources page for all of our ideas for keeping kids engaged and entertained indoors!
Download this Mitzvah-a-Day (at home) List for even more activity ideas
About the Author
Carla Naumburg, PhD, LICSW is a clinical social worker, writer, and speaker. She is the author of three parenting books: Ready, Set, Breathe: Practicing Mindfulness with Your Children for Fewer Meltdowns and a More Peaceful Family (New Harbinger, 2015) and Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters (Parallax, 2014), and the bestselling How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids (Workman, 2019). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Mindful Magazine, among other places. Carla lives outside of Boston with her husband, two young daughters, and two totally insane cats.
June 4, 2020