1. Muffin-Pan Table Tennis
Where to play: Kitchen island, dining room, or kitchen table
What you need: One muffin pan and one table-tennis ball for each player; enough pennies to place one in each muffin cup.
Participants: One or two children
How to play: Have kids bounce or gently toss their ball into cups containing pennies. Kids retrieve the penny in the cup the ball lands in. Help them count the pennies, and let them keep the ones they win.
2. Balloon Kickball
Where to play: Family room or great room
What you need: Balloons of different colors, paper plates (optional)
Participants: One or many—the more the merrier
How to play: Designate end zones and inflate the balloons. Assign one color to each player. All together or one at a time, players kick balloons from one end zone to the other. To increase the challenge, use paper plates as swatters to urge these airy and errant spheres on their way. Everyone laughs. Everyone wins.
3. Find Puffin
Where to play: Any room or closet
What you need: Puffin (that is, your child’s favorite stuffed animal!)
Participants: You, your child, and Puffin
How to play: Hide Puffin. Have your child find it. Offer hints such as “You’re getting warmer” or “You’re getting colder.” When your child finds Puffin, hide it again.
4. Write with Cereal
Where to play: Kitchen table
What you need: Plain white paper (8½- by 11-inches), white household glue, a pencil, dry cereal
Participants: One or more children
How to play: Write each child’s name on a piece of paper. Help her trace each letter with glue and then stick dry cereal on the glue. Proudly display the art.
5. World’s Quickest Treasure Hunt
Where to play: Front lawn or backyard
What you need: A small paper bag for each player
Participants: Any number of kids or adults
How to play: Hand out bags. Have kids gather and stash sticks, stones, leaves, blades of grass, dandelions, and so on. (You decide the list, but limit it to five items.) The game ends when each child gathers all the items, it’s time for carpool, the laundry is ready for folding, or you have to leave for work!