When rain or snow puts a damper on playing outside and cabin fever is driving everyone bonkers, these quick play-and-pretend ideas will keep kids occupied and happy for hours: Put on a Show With Homemade Puppets We've all created puppets out of cotton socks, paper bags, markers, and a handful of buttons. But kids can get really creative with a cool grab-bag of puppetry accessories that you gather and store in a special Puppet Box. As you're cleaning the house or shopping at grocery, thrift, or dollar stores, keep an eye out for fun adornments for homemade puppets. Collect and buy: glitter, dried beans, sequins, tinsel, pipe cleaners, string, ribbons, yarn, buttons and appliques, holiday decorations, stickers, seashells, etc. (beware of small objects, though, that could pose a choking hazard for small children). Also keep your Puppet Box stocked with must-have items like glue, scissors, washable markers, Popsicle sticks, and a needle and thread (when sewing, supervise young kids or do sewing projects yourself). Also, keep a few small cardboard boxes — folded and flattened for easy storage — to cut out and color for nifty background scenes and props. Build a Fort Get out some old sheets, blankets, or comforters and drape them over the living or dining room furniture. (Be extra careful around breakable and valuable items.) Use ribbons from your sewing kit, or hair scrunchies and hair ties to secure the bottoms of the fabrics to chairs and tables. Have kids create a secret password that allows outsiders (e.g., Mom and Dad, siblings) into the private hideaway. Give your kid a battery-operated camping lantern, sleeping bags, camping-themed books, and flashlights for that added outdoorsy appeal. Create a Rainy-Day Dress-Up Chest Keep an eye out for interesting old clothes items and accessories around the house, on discount racks, and at dollar stores or thrift shops. Stock up on scarves, funky hats (cowboy hats, sombreros, team baseball caps, construction hard hats, etc.), costume jewelry, shoes (adults' and kids'), shirts (oversized white shirts for doctors' lab coats, Hawaiian shirts for a luau, etc.), dresses, skirts, and jackets. Collect any piece of clothing or accessory that could lend itself to make-believe. Put the items in a sturdy plastic storage bin or cardboard box. Then pull out the dress-up chest for plenty of imagination-powered entertainment during rainy or super-snowy days. Make Thank-You Gifts Kids often like to thank their caregivers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, babysitters, neighbors, and childcare workers. Bake a few batches of cookies that your child can lovingly decorate and wrap with colored plastic wrap and ribbons; or create thank-you cards on regular old printer paper or construction paper. Add special glued-on adornments like family photos, ribbons, glitter, and buttons (again, beware of small objects that could pose choking hazards for babies and toddlers). Help improve kids' spelling and letter identification skills by letting them type and print out their own messages in fancy fonts on the computer. Instead of doing crafts just to get through the day, this project will help kids feel like their time and efforts are being spent on a greater purpose — giving to someone they care about. Back to Articles Related Articles All About Your Senses: Experiments to Try Need a science project, or just looking for something fun to do? These experiments reveal the way your body works. Check with a grown-up first because some will require help from an adult. Read More Are Video Games Bad for Me? You love your video games, but how much is too much? Find out in this article for kids. Read More Toddlers: Learning by Playing It might look like just child's play, but toddlers are hard at work learning important physical skills as they gain muscle control, balance, and coordination. Read More Rainy Day Fun You wake up and the weather is all wet. What are you going to do today? Here are four ideas to try when it's raining cats and dogs. Read More Road Trip Boredom Busters Road trips can be fun and educational with just a little planning and preparation. Here are some ideas to get your family revved up for a trip long on smiles and short on frustration. Read More Road Trip Fun Are you ready for a road trip? Find out how to pass the time in this article for kids. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.