Last year I could not catch a break from my three boys getting sick. Just when one was feeling better, the other went down. We were one more trip away from having a parking spot with our name on it at the Doctor’s office. Routines take a big turn when toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids get sick, and I needed a few sick-day activities for kids to keep up my sleeve. With everything going around, I figured you might need them too.
RELATED: This collection of quiet time toys for kids also makes a good backup plan when your child stays home for the day. (or week!)
What I know about sick days at home
One of the hardest parts about having a sick kid (or multiple) at home is keeping them occupied while staying low-key so their bodies can rest and heal. As enjoyable as it is, we can all deal with only so many episodes of Bluey. So when restlessness sets in, it’s important to have a go-to list of easy and calming sick day activities for toddlers, preschools, and big kids too!
But first, here are a few things I’ve come to be okay with about sick days:
- It is okay to stay in my pajamas all day.
- My child does not need endless activities.
- The house will be a mess.
So, if you struggle to find easy activities for your sick kid once they move from sleeping on the couch to jumping on the cushions, I got you! In this blog post, I will share our favorite go-to sick day activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids.
I also added one store-bought activity for each age group. Some days we just want to pull out something new rather than create an activity for our child.
Empower your child with skills to thrive.
24 low-prep activities and relatable conversation starters that equip kids for life.
- Order the easy-to-follow activity cards.
- Build the foundation for social-emotional learning.
- Notice a shift in self-confidence and self-regulation as you and your child implement what you practice.
The 411 about sick kids
The pandemic has changed so much about how we handle germs, especially with our kids. Part of caring for your sick child might mean keeping them home for a couple of extra days to ensure they are symptom-free before returning to school or playing with their friends.
The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses that a children’s immune system, overall health, and wellness depend greatly on three simple healthy habits:
Germs, especially toddler germs, are inevitable. Even if you’re doing everything to keep your family healthy, sickness always finds its way in.
So when you find yourself stuck at home with your child, stir crazy, and Googling “things to do with sick kids at home,” know that you are not alone and the struggle is real. Having a solid list of indoor games to keep everyone occupied and having fun is a must when you’re hunkered down!
What comes after TV?
Watching shows can be great for sick kids at first. It is calming, and children can watch some excellent shows at home. But once you and your kid have hit a limit on laying on the couch, and the stir-craziness sets in, everyone wants to play some.
It’s important to find activities that are:
- Laid back
- Low key
- Not physical
- Stimulating the brain
- Quiet activities
No-setup, easy-to-grab independent sick day activities:
- Audiobook – we LOVE listening to any of these classic calming stories during quiet time or while we play
- Building – helps kids relax and be creative
- Puzzles – challenges kid’s ability to focus and problem solve
- Reading – so important to building letter and sound recognition
- Sticker activities – great activity to develop matching and sorting skills
Sick activities for TODDLERS
We all know toddlers can be a lot to manage. Sick toddlers can be a lot MORE to manage. But it doesn’t have to feel so hard on you! Choosing sick day activities for toddlers that are engaging, calming, and simple to set up is best.
If you want to keep a book of toddler activities handy, I created these activity cards.
These are some of our favorite sick day activities for toddlers:
- Cardboard Stuffed Animal House – Toddler Approved
- Color Caves – Days with Grey
- Duplo Color Matching Activity for Toddlers – Happy Tot Self
- Fly in your Shapes – Days with Grey
- Glue the Colored Noodles – Days With Grey
- Primary Color Hunt and Sort – Days with Grey
- Sticker Match – Days With Grey
- Toddler Tape Roads – Days with Grey
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Jumbo Nuts and Bolts
Add these in the tub with your toddler as they try and feel better. It is not specifically a bath toy, but one we toss in regularly.
Sick Activities for PRESCHOOLERS
Keeping your preschooler home from school when they are sick can be tough. Offering your sick preschooler activities that involve sorting, building, and creativity are great options to keep them entertained!
If you want to keep a collection of preschool activities handy for sick days, I created this PDF bundle to keep everything you need in your back pocket.
Check out these great low-key sick day activities to keep your preschooler occupied:
- Alphabet Ice Sensory Play – Days with Grey
- Cut the Playdough – Days With Grey
- Easy Winter Art Project – Days with Grey
- Kinetic Sand Activities – Days with Grey
- Pom Pom Preschool Measurement Sensory Bin – Days With Grey
- Note Puzzles – Happily Ever Mom
- Race Car Letters – Days with Grey
- Will it Stick? – Days with Grey
Amazing Mazes Book
Here is a fun book for preschoolers to work in to help you catch your breath in between temp checks.
Sick activities for BIG KIDS
It’s tough when your big kids are home sick. Especially since they are used to learning and being constantly stimulated at school with friends. It can be helpful to offer them some fun and laid-back building, art, math, and logic activities and games to keep them occupied.
If you want to keep a book of activities handy for sick days, I created big kid activity cards.
Try these easy-going yet stimulating sick day activities for older kids (6+):
- Domino Addition Track – Days with Grey
- Grids for Kids – Days with Grey
- Kindergarten Shape Build – Days with Grey
- Make a Plant Maze – Days with Grey
- 25 Sight Word Activities – Days With Grey
- Sensory Bins for Big Kids – Sara J Creations
- Simple Rainbow Weaving for Kids – Days with Grey
- Watercolor Painting for Kids – Days With Grey
- What Can You Make With 100 Legos – Days With Grey
Totally Awesome Mazes and Puzzles
My Kindergartener loves this maze book. It makes a terrific quiet time activity when he begins to feel better but not quite ready to head back to school.
Looking for more activity ideas?
- 25+ Cutting Activities for Preschoolers
- 30+ Preschool Scavenger Hunts
- 50 Math Activities for Preschoolers
- Alphabet Toys for Kids
Sick days are tough on everyone!
Being stuck at home with sick kids is not easy. Watching movies on the couch can be cozy and nice at first. But after a few hours (or a few days) everyone can get a little (or a lot) stir-crazy. Having some low-key sick day activities on hand to keep your child occupied will help the time pass until they feel like themselves again.
Next time you have sick kids at home, try some easy and calming sick day activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids.
And as cliche, as it sounds, don’t forget to take care of yourself too!
You can do all kinds of sick day activities with your toddler. Snuggling, watching movies, puzzles, sensory play, reading, and coloring are all easy and low-key ideas to keep your sick kid happy when they don’t feel good.
Being stuck at home with a sick kid is so hard. You can feel trapped, bored, and exhausted by taking care of your child. Be gentle with yourself and adjust your expectations.
Don’t worry about entertaining your sick kid when they are home. Let their bodies rest, heal and recover. You can mix up the options throughout the day to help keep them from getting too stir-crazy.