For kids, the loss of power can be frightening and exciting at the same time. I can remember outages as a kid and it meant flashlights, forts, and games. I was oblivious to the cause of the power outage and found plenty of things to do. Today, however, kids may need a little help with self-directed activities. Know what I mean? So, once the power goes out, so does the WiFi and the world collapses and a black hole sucks the life out of everyone in the house.
Sound about right?
If you’re over thirty you’ll likely remember those “non-screen” days. Think back to your childhood and put those memories into action. For example, just recently, my 10-year-old was building a domino chain in our family room when I got home from work. Well, I had to jump in, and after a few hours, we had ramps, tennis balls, and books aiding our Rube Goldberg style domino chains that were racing off in many directions. My daughter loved it, and so did I.
So, the next time you have a power outage this list will help keep your kids occupied, take you on a journey to your childhood, and just possibly give your kids some ideas that self-directed ‘non-screen’ play can be a lot of fun.
Let’s take a look. . .
List of 50+ Things To Do With Kids During a Power Outage:
This classic game is really fun and easy for kids of all ages to learn. The rounds don’t take too long but last long enough to make some time fly by. You’ll be surprised that they’ll want to play a few rounds! This game is really affordable.
If the game of dominos isn’t going to work for your family then how about a domino chain? Stack them in cool designs and have fun knocking them over. Try different heights and get creative.
Paper Airplane Contest
- Coolest Design.
- Distance Competition. Find a long hallway or take it outside. Test your engineering skills and see what design can go the distance!
- Largest Airplane. Get out that newspaper and see how big you can go.
- Target Practice. Set up a pyramid of empty cans/bottles and see if you can knock them over with your plane. Create a point system for each can/bottle and see who can accumulate the most points.
- Read in a tent
- Read in bed
- Read under your bed
- Read in your closet
- Read with someone in your family
- Read by flashlight
- Read in your pajamas
- Read in a place you’ve never read before
- Read in a fort you make
- Read under a table
- Read in mom & dad’s bed
- Read in a chair
- Read with a hat on
- Read in the kitchen
- Read in your brother or sister’s room
- Read in your favorite spot
- Read by a window
- Read on the patio or deck
- Read on a swing
- Read in the grass
- Read in the garage
- Read with mom and/or dad
- Read with your pet
- Read upside down
- Read lying on the floor
- Read in the bathroom
Treasure/Scavenger Hunt 1
This is good when your supplies aren’t in one spot. Let everyone contribute by finding emergency essentials.
- Portable batteries
- First Aid Kit
Treasure/Scavenger Hunt 2
The kids may not be excited about the first hunt, and they’ll finish pretty quick. Here is a second hunt for fun. One way to stretch this game out is to give them one item at a time. With multiple kids just give them a different item so they’re separated and not fighting over the one blue sock on the list.
- blue sock
- something with the letter “T” on it
- something with the letter “K” on it
- something made of wood
- something that is cold
- dryer lint
- a hat
- three pennies
- one slipper
- one glove
- a ball
- a hand-drawn picture of yourself! Yikes, you better get drawing!
- a crayon
- an eraser
- a piece of tin foil
- a tissue / unused 🙂
- a belt
- a book
- a rubber band
- a paper clip
- something with your name on it
- something red
- a hug from mom or dad
This is a great reward game. Maybe save this one when you feel the mood is changing. We’re a family that can make smores at the drop of a dime. It’s just one thing we keep in stock. Nothing will put a smile on a kid’s face than a Smore over the fireplace during a power outage.
Puzzle by Lantern or Flashlight
This is a great option that can last all day. You don’t need to finish the puzzle all at once. Maybe come back to it once in a while to break up the monotony.
House of Cards
Maybe award points for the most creative house or bonus points for each level built.
- Go Fish. Take a deck of cards and deal five cards to each player. If you have 2-3 players then deal seven cards. Place the remaining cards in a pile in the middle of all players. This becomes the “pool”. The first player will ask another random player if they have a specific card. For example “do you have any 5’s?” Players must give all cards that match the request. If a player doesn’t have a match they say “Go Fish”. The player requesting the card draws one card from the “pool” and places it in their hand of cards. If the player is lucky and draws the requested number (in this example a 5) they have a successful match. Matched cards are placed to the side in a pile. A pile must contain at least two cards of the same value. If a player gets a matching card (from either another player or the pool) they can continue their turn by asking random players for cards that match their hand of cards. If no match is achieved during a round the next player takes a turn. Once a player has no more cards in hand — they’re declared the winner.
- Crazy Eights. Take a deck of cards and deal five cards to each player. If you have 2-3 players then deal seven cards. Place the remaining cards in a pile in the middle of all players. Turn the top car over so it is ‘face up’. Players now take turns discarding the cards in their hand that match the number or suit of the top card. If you can’t match the number or suit the player can 1) draw a card from the cards ‘face down’, or 2) play an 8 if you have it. If you draw from the cards ‘face down”‘, you must continue to draw cards until you have a match of number or suit — or an 8. When you play an 8, you can decide what the next suit should be — forcing the next player to match that number or suit. To win you must empty your hand of all cards. You then get points for any cards your opponents still hold. Card values are their face value for number cards, 10 points for face cards, and 50 points for 8’s. You can create any point system, but you can play to 250, 350, 500.
- War. Usually played by two players. Deal the cards evenly between the two players until both players hold an equal number of cards (1/2 the deck). On the count of three, both players throw down their top card in-between both players — ‘face up’. The winner of that battle is the player with the higher card. The winner takes the two cards and places them at the bottom of their own pile of cards. If the two cards match in value — throw down another card each until a winner is declared. The winner picks up all cards after winning a battle. Eventually, one player will hold all 52 cards from their battles and be declared the winner of the ‘war’!
- Old Maid. The goal of this game is to make pairs out of the deck of cards. To start, remove any random card. This prevents that card from having a pair, which then becomes the ‘Old Maid’ card. The dealer will deal all cards in the deck to the players. You could hold more cards than another player, which is fine. Players then look at their hand of cards and begin to make pairs to discard. Only pairs — not three of a kind! Match your reds (i.e. 4 of Hearts with 4 of Diamonds) and match your blacks (i.e. Jack of Spades and Jack of Clubs). Once all pairs are laid down, each player will have un-matched cards remaining in their hand. The dealer starts by fanning out his/her cards (don’t show the value) to the person to their left. That player can choose one card and see if they can now make another pair. If so, they make the pair and discard them. This player now fans our their cards to the player to their left and one card is chosen. This process is repeated until all pairs are made and one person is stuck with the one card that can’t be paired. This person is declared the “Old Maid”.
- Memory. The goal of this game is to accumulate matched cards. The player with the most matched cards wins. Some playing cards are made specifically for the game of memory; however, a standard deck of cards works as well. Place all cards ‘face down’ on a table. For younger kids, you can limit the number of cards to make it a bit easier. Just make sure you have pairs first. Then, take turns flipping over one card and see if you can find the matching card. If you find a match, then place your pair off to the side and take another turn. If you don’t find a match, then turn them ‘face down’ again. Remember where they are for your next turn. One variation for kids who may get frustrated is to allow them to pair suits instead of numbers. Just set up the deck first to ensure you have the ability to pair all cards.
- Pig or Spoons. Grab some spoons from the drawer, but you’ll need one less spoon than you have players. For example, with five players — grab four spoons. With three players — grab two spoons. Position the spoons in the middle of all players with the handles facing the players so they can easily grab a spoon. The dealer deals four cards to each player and places the remaining cards in the middle of all players. Your goal is to get 4-of-a-kind (all four aces, all four jacks, all four sevens, etc.) Once you have 4-of-a-kind you can yell “SPOONS” and grab one of the spoons. To begin play, the dealer picks up the top card of the remaining cards in the center. He/she is now holding five cards and must make a decision of which card he/she will discard. That discarded card must be picked up by the player to the left of the dealer. That player makes a decision on which card he/she will discard to their left. A player cannot hold more than 5 cards at a time. So, act quickly as this game can move fast! The final player makes a discard into a new ‘discard’ pile and the dealer then draws the next card from the original deck and the round continues. If all cards from the original deck are used, the dealer can begin to use the discard pile to continue the game. The remaining players compete for the remaining spoons. The player without a spoon at the end of the game is eliminated. You can start over, or one variation is the eliminated player remains out of the game while the finalists compete during the next round. Remember to remove a spoon if you choose this variation. One way to score is to award the letter “S” to a winner. For each win, a player collects the next letter in the word SPOONS. So, after six wins a player can be declared the game winner. The variation of PIG is a shorter word so the game doesn’t last as long 🙂
Grab those dress-up costumes and have some fun. Our kids have always loved to put on performances. Let them script their performance or have them act out a favorite scene and have everyone guess the performance:
- Act out your favorite scene from a movie
- Act out your favorite scene from a book
- Act out a story with all the items from Treasure/Scavenger Hunt 2
- Act out a story with a dog, a horse, a kite, a ballet slipper, a cardboard box, and a bike.
Pipe Cleaner Crafts
Clothes Pin Characters
Brown Paper Bag Puppets
This is a great art project that can turn into a puppet show. Use socks if you don’t have brown paper bags.
Pretty simple game. Kids can sit or stand in a circle and toss a ball to each other. A rolled-up sock works as well. There are a few ways to get out:
1. If you drop the ball
2. If you made a bad throw and the other person couldn’t catch it
3. If you talk — that’s why they call it mum-ball 🙂
As you can imagine there are some grey areas on what’s a good throw or a bad throw. Let the kids take some ownership here and decide if s/he made a bad throw or could have caught the ball. Once you’re out you simply watch the game until it ends — then start over.
Make Your Own Twister
If you have the game, great. If not, some painters tape on a carpet can be used to make your own game board.
These classics are very fun for the family. Admittedly, I had never played Clue as a kid. A few years ago we played this as a family on vacation and the kids loved it (ages 15, 13, and 9 at the time). We ended up playing 4-5 times each night over several nights. Most homes have some of those classic games laying around, like:
What else is in the closet?
Don’t have some? Check out this easy recipe.
- 2 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1 cup of hot water
- 2 Tbsp cream of tartar (no worries if you don’t have this). Replace with 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil if you don’t have the cream of tartar.
- Mix all dry ingredients (flour, salt, and cream of tartar)
- Mix together 1 cup of hot water (add food coloring here if you like) and the oil if you’re not using cream of tartar.
- Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir while pouring. Once combined you can knead the product with your hands until fully mixed until it is dough-like. Add flour if the dough is too sticky.
Dig out those crayons! You might just need to use them as candles later!
Shadow Puppet Show
Sock Puppet Show
Take a Nap
Hey, if all else fails. Take a nap and maybe the power is back on when you get up!
Take a Walk
Good to stretch the legs, but also a great way to check on neighbors who are alone or elderly. Provided it isn’t hazardous to be outside. Keep an eye out for downed power lines.
Write a Story
- Alphabet. Pick a letter. How many words can you write down that start with that letter?
Walk your dog
Play with Your Pet
Invent a Board Game
A few sheets of paper make a great board. Use items in the junk drawer and grab some dice from another game. Whola! Make some rules and some fun ‘game cards’ and you’ve just created your own board game. You never know. It just might be the next big thing!
Ever play this one? (i.e. I went on a picnic?). Start with ‘A’ and the first person says “I went on a picnic and I brought an ‘A’pple” The next person uses the letter ‘B’ to say: “I went on a picnic and I brought an ‘A’pple and a ‘B’ike”. With each letter of the alphabet, you need to remember what was previously brought before you name the next item. Can you remember all the items when you get to the letter ‘Z’?
Sock Bomb Fight
Nobody in our house likes to fold socks, but you can turn it into a game. Just roll a pair of socks, which makes a sock bomb. Want more bombs? Fold more socks! Once you have a good number of sock bombs — build a couple of forts and let the game begin. Three hits and you’re out. Make your own rules every time you play.
This has the potential to get out of hand, but if mom and dad are playing/supervising you can make sure a candle or lamp doesn’t get knocked over!
Burp the Alphabet
I know, this is gross but if you have boys — they’ll love this one. Not just for boys though. My 10-year-old daughter loves this one!
Have everyone guess your impersonation. Dress up if it helps!
Sing Your Favorite Song
Make your own singing content with judges and cards. Or, if you’re alone then just practice so you’re ready for the next reality show singing contest.
This has been a family favorite since I was a kid and now my children love playing. Ask your kids something like “who is your mother’s, husband’s, wife’s, daughter’s, aunt’s husband?” Pick any variation based on your family tree and see if they can follow along and name the person.
No Blinking Contest
“1975 Candelaria Drive No-Blinking Champion” right here! Ok, maybe I’m boasting a bit, but this was a favorite game I played with my sisters.
Straight Face Game
This variation of the starring contest/no blinking game. Two people face each other. Each person takes a turn saying ‘one word’ to make the other person laugh. If you laugh at your own word — you lose. Keep taking turns until someone laughs.
HINT for mom & dad: ‘Poop’, ‘Fart’, and ‘Butt’ are winners! Just don’t laugh when you say them or you’re out!
Hide some items in the house and make a treasure map. See if someone else can read the map and find the treasure!
As you can see, with a bit of imagination and some items already lying around the house — you have more ways to keep the kids occupied than you think. Get creative, think like a kid, and remember what you did growing up. There was a time when we didn’t have screens! Remember?
Don’t have the supplies to handles some things on this list? Check out this resources page for a shopping list the next time you’re at the store or shopping online.