20 hands-on activities to keep kids busy

Looking for cool activities to entertain kids and get through the next few weeks? With schools unexpectedly closed due to the coronavirus, there are many hours to fill. So, we headed to the Kidsburgh Maker Monday archive to find some of our favorite projects. Most supplies can be found in your pantry, recycle box or craft bin.

Just follow the links on each activity for complete step-by-step instructions.

1. Forky Knifey Family

“Trash?” That single line says so much.

Like many fans who saw “Toy Story 4,” we rushed home and tore through our maker bins to find the supplies we needed to recreate Forky and Knifey. Between our craft supplies and the kitchen junk drawer, we built Forky (why isn’t he called Sporky?) and his new friend Knifey. We had so much fun laughing while putting them together, it seemed a great idea to share.

2. Mad Scientist Color Wheel

Pre-K kids will have fun learning about colors with this STEAM project. They will love watching the Mad Scientist Color Wheel draw from primary colors — red, blue and yellow — to create secondary colors of orange, green and purple. The bent wicks between each glass give a sense of a laboratory setting, adding to the cool factor. Little ones will love doing all the steps themselves.

3. Paper Beads

You can make stylish Paper Beads in a multitude of colors and patterns with simple steps and easily accessible materials. These paper beads help develop small motor skills, promote problem-solving, and provide a creative outlet for budding artists and crafters.

4. Balloon-Powered Racers

These Balloon-Powered Racers score big with our handy maker kids. They’re fun to build and cool to race in competition with friends. This STEM activity is a simple way to illustrate Newton’s Third Law of Motion: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When the pressured air escapes from the balloon, the opposite reaction sends the race car flying across the floor. It’s not very different from the science that NASA uses to send rockets into outer space.

5. Bubble Prints

This activity combines a kid’s love of blowing bubbles with a creative edge. These bright Bubble Prints will look great tacked onto the refrigerator. Once they are dry, use them as stationary for a note to Grandma. They can also make a cool background for an outer-space illustration or under-the-sea drawing.

6. Ping Pong Ball Popper

This project is a blast to make and fun to play with, too. You can create lots of group games with the Ping Pong Ball Popper. Line up friends and see whose ball can shoot the farthest or highest. Take target practice across the yard and record your results. Don’t be surprised if grownups want to play, too.

7. Cardboard Tube Houses

Homes with maker kids are guaranteed to have a bin filled with cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet paper rolls. You never know when you need them! Like today, for example. This project is all about creating Cardboard Tube Houses. Give kids the basic tools and they will surprise you with the many ideas they come up with.

8. Dino Skeletons

Junior paleontologists will have fun constructing Dino Skeletons. To make this activity even more fun, click onto the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s website to get a look at the real-life dino bones.

9. Recycled Bag Jump Rope

This project gives a lesson in re-using and re-purposing objects that end up getting tossed. Our Recycled Bag Jump Rope is a fun activity in itself. Jumping rope is a terrific outlet for burning energy and keeping fit. The rope can be made as long or as short as it needs to be.

10. Play-Doh Maze

Maker Monday loves to challenge kids. This Play-Doh Maze makes the grade. This fun STEM project gives kids a chance to engineer the problem solving it takes to design. Then, they need to use their dexterity to send a pompom through the twists and turns from beginning to end.

11. Balloon Tennis

When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to bring sports indoors. Balloon Tennis is just the cure kids need to get active and have fun. Paper plates, paint stirring sticks and a glue gun are all you need to make your tennis rackets.

12. Marble Run

Here’s a new way to play with marbles and experiment with gravity. Kids can create a Paper Plate Marble Run with a few simple supplies. This STEM construction project will challenge their engineering skills while considering how speed changes with the degree of the slope.

13. Clothespin Puppets

Clothespin Puppets bring silly fun to those all-important engineering problem-solving skills. It’s a blast to set kids up with an idea and supplies and let them loose to create!

14. Blooming Water Lilies

These Blooming Water Lilies are cool to make. Place them in a shallow bowl of water and watch them open right before your eyes.

15. Coffee Filter Ballerinas

This project veers toward the cultural scene with graceful dancers made from the most simple supplies. These Coffee Filter Ballerinas are a fun exercise in crafting, mixing colors and working those fine motor skills.


16. Olympic Luge Racers

Is anything more exhilarating than lying facedown on a skeleton luge, traveling downhill at crazy speeds? That’s why our Olympic Luge Racers have such excited looks on their faces, screaming all the way.

17. Foam Prints

Printmaking at home can be a fun STEAM activity using a few basic supplies and a whole bunch of creativity. To make these Foam Prints, we used inexpensive Styrofoam plates. These prints can be cool pieces of art on their own, or they can be sent as handcrafted greeting cards.

18. Super Spinner

This cool Super Spinner is fun to make and to play with. The inexpensive activity still packs a wow factor. It’s interesting to see how different designs and colors look once the disc begins spinning.

19. Bouncing Bubbles

Kids love Bouncing Bubbles on their hands like slow-motion jugglers. You’ll be amazed at how long those bubbles last.

20. Amazing Milk Experiment

Science and beauty combine in the Amazing Milk Experiment. Little kids will find their giggles watching the moving colors swirl across the milk. Older kids might find the science lesson behind the experiment more fascinating.

Looking for more? Head to the Kidsburgh Activities page for the complete Maker Monday collection.