Family Games

13 Soothing Sick Day Activities for Kids

By: Highlights Editorial
Sick little boy in bed under a blanket blowing his nose.
Ages 3+
Critical Thinking
Fine Motor Skills
Social Emotional

Facing a long day with an under-the-weather kiddo? Be prepared with lots of ideas to stay busy, yet quiet enough to heal. Whether your kiddo is fighting a fever, on the rebound from a stomach bug or just too stuffed up to go to school, it’s no fun being stuck at home. 

Perk up your sick child with these 13 soothing sick day activities to help bring back a smile (without causing too much excitement).

Present a present with a twist.

Assemble a box of dollar-store oddities well before you need it. When illness strikes, let your child select without peeking one item every one to two hours. Then challenge your child to invent an interesting new game or find a new use for these dollar-store presents. Let your child explain the concoction and go again.

Get messy (within reason).

Help your under-the-weather kid design a work of art on a large flat surface. Supply shaving cream to spread, cornmeal or rice to run fingers through or let your child pound it out with cooked noodles or gelatin, without worrying about the mess. Use this recipe to make homemade clay to give your child hours of quiet and soothing play. 

Arrange a soothing soak while the sun is still out.

Let your child relax in some warm water well before bedtime. Fill the tub with toys and bubbles and let your child play until their fingers wrinkle up. Create a calming, spa-like feel with candles (placed out of reach, of course), soft music and warmed-up towels from the dryer. If your child declines the bath, let your child scrub toys instead.

Invite the patient to play doctor.

With a toy medical kit, or even household items and tons of imagination, your pre-med preschooler can check and cure stuffed animals, superheroes or Mom and Dad. When it’s your turn to be the patient, pretend you’ve grown an extra nose or you turned purple with giant green polka dots. Better yet, paint them on.

Make refrigerator art.

Gather new and no longer fun refrigerator magnets and toss them in a bucket. Place your child on a blanket on the kitchen floor. Show your child how to use the different colors and different shaped magnets, including large plastic clips and some that look like food, to decorate the fridge and design a unique creation. Have your child pose alongside their sick-day masterpiece. Take pictures and share online with the hashtag #MyHighlightsKid.

Couch-surf in comfort.

Keep little fingers busy but bodies resting with activities your kid can do on a bed, on the sofa or in a blanket fort on the floor. Use a bed tray or lap desk if you have one, or a plastic serving tray or a clipboard if you don’t. Then tempt your child to create pictures, designs and figures with markers, paper, yarn, ribbon, stickers, Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, tape and glue.

Stroll down memory lane.

Cuddle up and page through old photo albums, or digital files and videos. Giggles are guaranteed as your preschooler sees gooey baby grins, or what Daddy looked like in high school. Hop on a video chat with relatives so everyone can view pics together and share stories.

Color away the sick day blues.

Fancy coloring and activity books are made for sick days! You can even find books designed for parent/child pairs to complete together. Stuck at home without any good coloring books? Download Highlights printable coloring pages you can print instantly. And then, once your child is well again, pick up an activity book and a new pack of markers and stash them away for the next sick day.

Serve tea and sympathy.

Offer a soothing herbal tea is perfect for sniffles, sore throats and upset tummies in a pretty cup, just to make sick-day sipping a little more special. The same goes for soup in a rarely used bowl or toast on a special-occasion plate.

Tell a story.

When he’s under the weather, your child might be more receptive to read aloud even if he’s too old for them when he’s feeling well. An old favorite might lull your child into a nap, while a new adventure will help pass the day more quickly. If your kid prefers some headphone time, download an audio book from your library.

Play “I Spy!” with a twist.

Give your child a clear plastic bottle, a bunch of dry rice or beans or tiny craft pompoms and a few little trinkets, such as fancy buttons, small pencil erasers, googly eyes from the craft bin and any tiny toy that can fit into the bottle. Show your child how to layer in the base filling (the rice, beans, or pompoms; use a funnel for the rice) and occasionally tuck in one of the surprises. Fill the bottle most of the way and cap tightly. Then challenge each other to shake, rattle and roll the bottle and spy the goodies. Or check out 31 more crafty ideas here!

Dealer’s choice.

Grab a deck of cards and teach your child a few games, from War to Go Fish to Rummy or even solitaire. Real cards like these are way more satisfying than the virtual ones you use on your phone!

Give your child a screen, guilt free.

Today of all days, stretch your screen-time limits and let your child watch a movie (or two), try out a new TV show or download a fun new iPad app. After all, many of them are stealthily skill building, so your child can have a brain workout while resting physically.

Designed for young creators, inventors and doers, our activity craft kits include all the supplies needed to create paintings, sticker art and even the solar system! There’s a world of possibilities in our kids craft kits — just add imagination!

Author Photo
By: Highlights Editorial