Learn how to activity block and add structure and variety to your days with this free printable activity blocking worksheet and simple daily schedule for kids. Perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and beyond!
Kids climbing the furniture? The walls? Ours too.
Things sure have changed fast the last couple of weeks. It feels like the novel coronavirus went from something in the news to being in our backyards almost overnight.
As a result, our usual daily routines with kids —which are built around school and work, extracurricular activities, play dates, and community events— have come to a standstill.
With millions of kids out of school, and parents either unable to go to work or having to work from home, life looks dramatically different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social distancing is a crucial and necessary step in slowing the spread of this deadly virus, but as a mom of two young kids, the thought of hunkering down for weeks —possibly even months— is overwhelming.
I know I am not alone, though. And friends, neither are you.
So, what do we do all day at home with our kids? And how do we stay sane and get a little work done in the meantime?
The answer to that is a simple schedule, a daily routine that’s structured but flexible — and of course a little extra creativity, positivity, and teamwork.
How to Make a Simple Daily Schedule for Kids
First, brainstorm activities by block.
Just a few days into hunkering down, I was already struggling to come up with activities on the fly. So, I brain-dumped every activity I could think of onto a piece of paper and then organized them into blocks. The blocks serve as a framework that add both structure and variety to our schedule, as well as a running list of activities for us to choose from.
Your blocks may look different, but these are the ones I’m using to build our kids’ daily schedule at home:
Things still need to get done around the house, and with everyone at home pitching in has never been more important. The good news is, young kids love helping.
Some ways toddlers and young kids can help at home include:
- Watering and/or repotting plants
- Loading and unloading the dishwasher and washer/dryer
- Choosing their clothes for the next day
- Swapping out batteries in their favorite toys
- Decluttering a few toys in exchange for a new one
- Wiping fingerprints off of windows and appliances
- Tidying up at certain times during the day
- Cleaning and organizing a kitchen drawer
Physical activity is as important for physical health as it is mental health, especially in times like these. We try to get everyone moving twice a day —in the morning and afternoon— even if it’s just for 20-30 minutes.
Here are some ideas to expend lots of physical energy:
- Neighborhood scavenger hunts
- Sledding/snow tubing
- Nature walks
- Kid-friendly “workouts” like this one
- Jumping on a mattress on the floor
- Dance parties
- Obstacle courses
- Games like Simon says, hide-and-seek, or tag
- Scooter boards
From pretend play to arts and crafts, there are lots of ways for toddlers and young kids to create. Here are some of our favorites:
- Water colors
- Finger painting
- Sidewalk chalk
- Simple Pinterest crafts
- Face painting
- Kinetic sand
- Pretend play
- Costume-making (paper crowns, play silk capes, etc…)
With many restaurants closed or offering take-out only, chances are you’re eating at home a lot more than usual. I know we are, so I’m using this as an opportunity to get my kids in the kitchen each day. The mess is worth the time it kills — plus we all enjoy eating the results!
Here are some things you can make together:
- Baked goods like cookies, muffins, or our very favorite banana bread
- Homemade popsicles
- Sandwiches or roll-ups for lunch
- Picnic meals with finger-foods, either to take outside or eat on a blanket indoors
- Breakfast foods like waffles, pancakes, and overnight oats
Learning activities are a great way to incorporate education and a little downtime into everyone’s day:
- Board games and card games
- Activity worksheets
- Educational games or apps
- Story podcasts or videos
- Educational videos or podcasts like the Curious Kid Podcast
Littles love to build — not to mention it’s a great opportunity for independent play. Some of our favorite building activities include:
- LEGOs & DUPLO blocks
- Wood blocks
- Cardboard box creations
I’m adding fresh ideas to our list every day, but here’s a look at our blocks and some of the activities I’m using to create our daily schedules at the moment.
Choose 1-2 activities from every block for your daily schedule.
Once you’ve got your activities sorted into blocks, it’s easy to create a simple daily schedule. Just pick one or two activities from each! I find we have more than enough to fill our day, especially once meals, snacks, naps, and bedtime routines are factored in.
I organized our blocks in a way that works for our family most days. I’ve found it’s generally easier to get the kids to help in the morning while they’re fresh, so I put the HELP block towards the top. I also usually schedule the quieter LEARN activities around nap time in case our oldest doesn’t nap.
With a 2- and a 4-year-old, time-based schedules a little too rigid for us to follow at this point, so ours is usually organized by morning and afternoon activities. The beauty of this simple schedule printable is you can be as detailed, or not, as you like!
In a few weeks, I’m hoping we might not need this as much, but until then feel free to use this activity blocking worksheet and printable daily schedule as a blueprint to structure your days at home with the kids.
I hope this helps your little family as much as it has ours. Stay healthy and sane, friends! We’ve got this. 👊