Gentle Activities for Sick Children

When the kids are sick and really need to rest, boredom can set in quickly! Between the necessary naps, these activities will keep the kids occupied without them leaving their sickbed, and all the while keeping the noise level down and energy levels restrained.

Here are our picks for gentle activities for sick children.

1. TV and DVDs

When the kids are sick this is your screen-time free pass! Let them watch their favourite show or movie from their sick bed or rugged up on the couch. It’s the perfect wind-down after one of our other activities (and a sanity-saver for their carer!).

2. Story time

Read a favourite story together, or pop on an audio book if their eyes are too tired.

3. Make a blanket fort

Creat a blanket fort with copious amounts of snuggly throws and pillows, pop in a torch, some books and snuggly toys and they will have their very own hideaway while still resting.

4. Play hospital

Dolls, action figures and stuffed animals make great patients. You can also use this time to help explain to your child what has made them ill, and how they can get better.

5. Break out the photo albums

One of my kids’ favourite things is seeing old photos of family members and pets and hearing stories about them so break out the photo albums (or open your online photo album) and explore some memories together.

6. Take one baking tray

The trouble with playing games in bed is that pieces tend to get lost which leads to tired, headachey, frustration. So it’s magnets to the rescue! Take a clean baking tray and use magnetic letters to spell out words, or fridge magnets to create a story. Play games like, “how many animals can you spell out that start with the letter T?” Or spell out answers for rounds of eye spy (sneaky learning involved!).

You can also play a memory game. Pop a few small household items or toys on the baking sheet (more for older kids) and let the child view them for 10 seconds. Then cover then up with a tea-towel, surreptiously remove one or two items, uncover the sheet again, and see if they can pick what’s missing.

7. Picnics and tea parties

The good thing about pretend tea parties is that they’re a great way to get much needed liquids into a patient. Use twirly straws and funky cups to serve up some sneaky hydration. Or spread a blanket out on the lounge floor, invite a few teddies along, and have a picnic inside.

8. Activity sheets

Go old school with some activities on paper. Try colouring-in, mazes, and dot-to-dots.

9. Get knotted!

Try some simple threading, lacing, or knitting activities to keep their fingers and minds busy – they may even learn a new skill. If your own creative skills need some fine-tuning, grab a how-to video from YouTube.

10. Cards

Simple card games are a great way to keep the kids occupied when you need just a short activity. For older kids, let them explore some card tricks on YouTube and see if they can fool you!

11. Papercrafts

Whether they want to create a fleet of paper aeroplanes or learn some origami skills, creating with paper is an easy and fulfilling activity. Try some coloured paper or wrapping paper for a colourful effect. Or simply write a letter to a friend or family member.

12. Get creative

Here’s a few simple craft ideas that can generate some quiet activity:

13. Play a game

Hangman, tic tac toe, or battleships are simple and quick enough to be played between sleeps and sneezes. Alphabet sequence games (like the one below) can be played without any accessories and are perfect for sharing a giggle.

14. Tell jokes

Laughter really is the best medicine, so break out your best, lames, or funnies jokes!

What activities do you rely on when the kids are ill?

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her world julieWritten by Julie Scanlon

Julie is Editor for Kidspot NZ and our MVP. Her hobbies include laughing uncontrollably at her own jokes, annoying her family by asking questions about movie plots, and never taking anything too seriously. She speaks a little Spanish and a lot of Yorkshire. 

Favourite motto to live by: “It ain’t nothing but a thing”


  1. candyjanenz 03/08/2019 at 4:02 pm

    It is so hard when your cihldren are sick (especially if the parents are too). These are great ideas and I love the looking through the photo album one as is so easy to do. These ideas are also great for rainy day activities.

  2. Alezandra 02/08/2019 at 10:53 pm

    Love this list. And the photo album idea is a good one, we have a scrap book though which had some of the artworks that my son has done during his time at Playcentre, trips we’ve taken etc. The threading activities are cool too. So many options but my lil one loves books so a cuddle with books are our go-to.

  3. MuddledUpMolly 30/07/2019 at 9:49 pm

    Some of these simple activities are a great reminder to me of fun things to do with our kids, not just when they’re sick. Of course it depends on the severity of the illness and the age of the children but this year has been a rough one already for illness so no doubt some of these activities will come in handy soon.

  4. SarahBlair 25/07/2019 at 2:30 pm

    My son had his tonsils a few weeks ago so we spent a lot of time reading stories, colouring in and watching movies. He also enjoyed playing the iPad (surprise, surprise!) Ther are a lot of good ideas here that I will keep in mind for next time one of the kids is feeling under the weather!

  5. Mands1980 15/07/2019 at 5:30 pm

    Wow so many cool ideas of course it depends how sick your child is it they can doo these things. With so many things to choose from there will be something for every child. I always let them sleep on the couch with there pillow and a blanket and watch some tv programs. Thanks for all these ideas I will be taking them all on board.

  6. Bevik1971 12/07/2019 at 10:31 am

    All really great ideas! It is difficult when kids are sick as they tend to get bored, even though they are feeling yuck they still need the attention (just like us I guess!!). Some TV or DVD’s are ok but I don’t like our daughter to use this too often. We play board games and snuggle on the couch with blankets when she is sick 🙂

    • Micht 19/07/2019 at 12:24 pm

      Love the baking tray idea as well as the lacing idea.. i know my girls would enjoy it… we have really been hit hard with sickness this year and it seems to be sticking. Watching movies has been an option and dominoes, an old game but the kids catch on fast and seem to love playing.. a game called chicken foot/mexican dominoes requires a double six dominoe pack from the warehouse and is just $6. So a good price and endless fun when stuck in bed..

  7. Jen_Wiig 08/07/2019 at 10:01 pm

    Love some of these game ideas, the baking paper one super cool , my soon to start school little man would enjoy this and learning through play..perfect!!
    I’ll be first to admit TV/DVD is my first go to or letting them play on their phones for awhile. Building forts is a fav past time for us so while sick makes even more sense so can just snuggle down all together and not worry about them being too far away if particularly crook.

    • Shorrty4life1 18/07/2019 at 8:32 pm

      It just so happens the last couple days my children have been sick with tummy bugs. So what we’ve done for sick time entertainment is watched movies and chill time in mums bed. It’s been thee best actually as we’ve been so busy these school holidays it was like our slow down and chill way of someone telling us we need it. Loving the ideas on this article for things that we can do while we have sick children.

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