Fun Ideas To Keep Your Children Busy During A Sleepover

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Kids love having sleepovers! Parents, on the other hand, might wonder how to keep a group of kids busy for several hours. The key to a successful sleepover is having a mix of high-energy and low-key activities along with plenty of fun food and snacks!

Activities will vary based on the age group of the kids but this list will get you started with 20 fun ideas to keep kids busy at a sleepover.

1. Organize A Scavenger Hunt

A great way to keep kids occupied is to have a scavenger hunt. These can be done indoors or outdoors and can be customized for children of any age. You can even design a scavenger hunt around a specific theme like nature or have all of the items start with the same letter or be the same color.

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The first thing you’ll need to do is make a list of the items that children have to find. For younger kids, it can be helpful to put a picture of the item beside the word. How many items you have on the scavenger hunt will depend on the age of the kids–try 10 to 12 for young children and 20 to 25 for older children and teens.

There are three ways to complete scavenger hunts. One is to have children physically collect the items and bring them back to you–this works best with small items of course! You can also just have them check items off the list. Lastly, you can have kids take a photo of each item that they find–this is ideal for an outdoor scavenger hunt or a hunt with larger items.

2. Set Up A Ninja Obstacle Course

This activity will depend on how much space you have but is generally best for younger kids. The idea is to set up an obstacle course that kids have to maneuver through–it’s a great way to burn off some energy and can be done indoors or out.

Indoor obstacle courses can make use of open spaces such as hallways. Use tape to create an obstacle they have to crawl through without touching it. You can also line up chairs for kids to crawl under, pillows for them to jump from one to the other, or pylons for them to weave through.

A fun way to add to your obstacle course is to include activity stations after every obstacle. For example, you may have a card that says “Do five jumping jacks,” or “Hula hoop for 30 seconds.” These activities add to the physical exercise and make for extra fun in your obstacle course. Be sure to provide snacks after this activity as kids will be hungry!

3. Minute To Win It Games

These fast-paced games are perfect for groups of children and can add some excitement to any sleepover. They are designed to be played in about a minute as the name suggests and most can be done with items that you have around the house or that you can pick up at the dollar store. 

A fun one for all ages is played with small round candies such as Skittles, Smarties, or M;Ms. Each child gets two bowls, one empty and one filled with 25 candies, and a straw.

Kids use the straw to suck up one candy at a time and move it to the other bowl–the first person to fill up their empty bowl is the winner. Everyone loves this game because they get to eat the candy at the end of it!

4. Get Creative With A Craft

Craft activities can be customized to suit whatever age of kids you have at your sleepover. These are perfect activities for when the weather outside is bad or when the kids need a quieter activity to settle them down. You can find tons of craft supplies at the dollar store that can be used for all sorts of activities.

Younger kids will enjoy painting, cut and paste crafts, and or using large beads to make friendship bracelets for everyone. Older children and teens can try sculpting with clay, making collages, or textile work like felt creations.

5. Have A Fashion Show

If you have a group of kids that love to dress up, this can be a fun activity and works well with young kids as well as teens. For younger children, they can make use of a dress-up bin.

Teens often like going through their friend’s closet and trying on other clothes–you can even set up a mini runway for them to walk down to show off their outfits. Add in some makeup and hairstyling and teens will have a blast.

6. Celebrate Color With Tye-dye T-shirts

Another creative activity that can be done with all ages is making tye-dye t-shirts. You can pick up inexpensive white shirts at a craft supply store or dollar store to use for this activity.

You’ll want to start this activity early so that the shirts have time to dry overnight. Watch kids use their imaginations to come up with different patterns and color designs for their shirts!

7. Put On A Talent Show

Set up a stage in your basement or living room and have kids show off their special talents! Many kids will be able to come up with their own ideas, such as singing their favorite song and dancing.

You can always suggest activities if some children have a hard time thinking of a talent. Some ideas include performing a magic trick, reciting a poem, playing a musical instrument, or telling a joke.

8. Relax With a Board Game

Board games have come a long way over the years, with all sorts of new versions of old classics and unique games to choose from.

Select a game that is age-appropriate for your group of children and choose from either a cooperative or competitive game. You can find options that take as little as 15 minutes or games that can continue for several hours. 

9. Have A Spa Day

Older kids and teens will have fun making their own spa products and giving each other makeovers.

There are lots of easy-to-make face masks and hair products that they can try out. Another spa option is to do manicures or pedicures–have a variety of colors of nail polish available and let teens do each other’s nails.

10. Get Loud With Karaoke

Even if you don’t have your own karaoke machine, kids can still have a blast singing along to their favorite songs.

Kids can search up songs on YouTube, where many videos are available with lyrics showing on the screen. Whether they sing individual songs or get together for duets or even a group sing-a-long, this activity is sure to be a hit!

11. Make Individual Pizzas

You’ll need to feed kids dinner so you might as well turn this into an activity everyone can enjoy.

Set up a station in the kitchen so each child has their own space to work–you can use pitas or premade mini pizza dough rounds for the base. Set out a variety of toppings so kids can choose their favorites and let them get to it!

12. Bake And Decorate Cupcakes

Kids and teens will enjoy making this sweet dessert and getting creative with decorating.

If you’re short on time you can always bake the cupcakes ahead of time and just have the kids do the frosting. Piping bags and icing tips are fun to use and you can put out a selection of sprinkles and candy to add on top. 

13. Have A Movie Marathon

After the kids have had plenty of time to burn off some energy, get them settled for a night of movie watching.

Have them choose a series of movies or select a similar theme for each of them. Add some popcorn and drinks and they’ll be busy for several hours! Keep in mind that scary movies might be too much for some younger kids–you don’t want them waking up from nightmares!

14. Have A Dance Party

Children and teens usually love music and dancing, so turn on some tunes and clear the floor for a dance party.

Teens can likely entertain themselves with this activity but for younger kids, you can show them videos of different dances to imitate. Get creative and turn it into a contest–the most unique or outrageous dance move wins!

15. Indulge With A Sundae Bar

What kid doesn’t love ice cream? Keep it simple with vanilla or go all out with several different flavors that children can mix and match.

Set out bowls of toppings like candy, chopped-up chocolate bars, fresh fruit, nuts, and sprinkles. Don’t forget the hot fudge, caramel, and strawberry sauce!

16. Set Up A Fondue Party

Get sophisticated with a fancy fondue party–many kids have never had fondue before so this can be a unique thing to try with your sleepover group.

You can make cheese fondue to serve with bread, crackers, meatballs, raw or roasted vegetables, and fruit like apples and grapes. Of course, most children will prefer the chocolate fondue–try dipping fresh strawberries, marshmallows, licorice, cookies, or graham crackers.

17. Go Outdoors For Flashlight Tag

At the end of the day when the sun has gone down, take the group outside for an exciting game of flashlight tag.

This can be played with any age and any size group–if you have young children playing, just be cautious about them playing in the dark and make sure they know what areas are off-limits.

To play the game, one person starts by being “It,” and they get the flashlight. Give about 30 seconds for all of the other children to hide, then the person who is “It” has to start looking. Once they shine their flashlight on another kid, that person becomes “It” and the game continues for as long as they like!

18. Go Camping

Do you have a big backyard and a tent? Set the kids up for an outdoor camping adventure–grab pillows and sleeping bags and sleep under the sky.

Some children will not have slept outdoors before and may be scared, so make sure they know it’s okay if they want to come inside at any point!

No backyard? Go camping indoors! If you have a large enough area in your living room or basement, you can set up a tent. Otherwise, have the group make a fort out of chairs and blankets.

19. Watch The Stars

Once it’s dark, take the kids outside for a natural light show in the sky. This works best if you live in a rural area where the stars are easier to see.

In the city, light pollution can make it difficult to see the stars. If you’re lucky enough to have a telescope, set it up in the yard so kids can search for constellations. Kids will have a blast and probably learn something about astronomy while they’re at it!

20. Serve A Mid-Morning Brunch

After a busy night of sleepover activities, your group of kids will likely sleep in.

When they wake, get them involved with creating a delicious brunch menu. A classic sleepover brunch idea is to make a pancake or waffle bar. You cook the pancakes and kids have fun topping them with syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit, and whatever other toppings they like.

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