When my daughters were part of the under 6 crowd, I put "day brighteners" around the house. The kids would "discover" these little activities and start exploring. This definitely helped me get through some of the bad days, the endless days, when the clock seems to be broken or someone wasn't feeling great. Just adjust the activities for the age group you target. Most of these work if your kids are a bit under the weather, as the fun is fairly tame.
ANIMAL PARADE: [photo above] Everyone goes around the house gathering up ALL stuffed animals and bring them into a room with a large rug. Make a big deal of placing around the rug, facing the center. You can put them in rainbow order, or put similar animals together (i.e. frogs with lizards). Then sit in the middle and read a story to the animals. Another idea is to put the stuffed animals on the stairs in rainbow order. All of the red animals together, all of the orange, etc. It also makes a cool photo. Categorizing the animals is fun and creates lots of laughter.
BACKWARDS DAY: When the kids wake up, give them their bath, put clothing on backwards, have dinner for breakfast, breakfast for dinner, you get the idea.
DANCE: Put on halloween costumes or dress-up stuff, move the furniture back to make a dance floor, and put on music.
RETRO TV: Movie services like NETFLIX have classic TV shows - or you can TIVO them - my kids love The Brady Bunch, I Love Lucy, Gilligan's Island and The Jetsons. Lot's of tame comedy and sight gags.
MINI-CITY: Take a big piece of postal paper or the inside of a large cardboard box and draw simple roads, trees and buildings. The kids can draw flowers and grass and other decorations. Drive matchbox cars through the city. You can add traffic lights or stop signs made of cardboard.
BOX FANTASY: Start a little story where your kids are playing and they find a room full of boxes. They take turns "opening" them and saying what is inside. When it's your turn, use a lot of detail. For example, "Suzi opened a red shiny box with a silver ribbon and looked inside... and the box was full of white, fluffy feathers."
RAINBOW PETALS: If your garden is in bloom, take little baskets and collect flowers, flower petals, and leaves. Glue to paper to make rainbow collages. Add glitter to the glue if you dare. Or gather acorns and twigs and flowers and make FIMO Fossils.
TOY REVOLUTION: Set up intriguing play "centers" to attract curiosity. Group toys that are not typically together. Set out puzzles on a table with some pieces already placed. A pile of black paper with neon pastels.
LEGO TRAFFIC JAM: Create a pretend downtown with legos and cardboard. Put little cars, airplanes, vechicles in the city and make an organized traffic jam. Put cardboard "traffic lights" and arrange the cars going in different directions. When the traffic light changes, move all of the cars!
CLEAN THE PORCH: Put on bathing suits and get buckets, rags, brushes and spray bottles. Add warm bubbly water and baby shampoo to the buckets and spray bottles. Get to work! And it's all about the process, not how clean the porch turns out. A perfect time to blow soap bubbles and turn on the sprinkler and run through with an umbrella.
COUCH BASKETBALL: Literally, with baskets. Gather up about 10 baskets, large plastic bowls and buckets. Take all of the pillows off your couch and put the baskets, bowls and buckets on the couch and on the floor below the couch. Get soft balls or bean bags or small stuffed animals and throw these underhand into the baskets. The more balls moving at the same time the better. When all of the balls are in a container or nearby, sing, "ball collection, ball collection" to whatever tune you like, while counting the number of balls that went in. The score is for the entire group combined.
MAKE AN "ALL ABOUT ME" BOARD: An inspiring collage of things that make your child smile. Instructions at Make an "All About Me" Board.
TOILET PAPER TOWERS: This is a classic, best when you return from the market with multi-dozen packages. Take out all of the paper (it's not a chore if you are preparing for a game!) and stack it into towers, and roll a big beach ball or basketball for hall bowling. See how many rolls your kids can stack before the stack falls down. There are some fuzzies that fall from the rolls, so use a wood or tile floor or something easy to vacuum.