Let the little ones hammer golf tees into Styrofoam or saw cereal boxes with a butter knife. These are immensely satisfying for some reason.
Give them a deck of cards and ask them to sort them-either in two stacks of red and black, or by suit, or by number.
Make a tent with a sheet over a table, or stand two chairs back to back, but about three feet apart- spread a tent or bedspread over them. This is GREAT fun!
Have them roll out peanut butter balls made from peanut butter, powdered milk and a bit of honey. When you make bread, make a bit of extra dough for them to play with.
I have cut out some cardboard fish the night before, attached paperclips to their noses, tied a magnet on a string to a wooden spoon and let the little ones go fishing. Index cards, old gift cards, or the sides of old packages of cereal, crackers, corn starch, etc can be used for cutting the fish.
Bowling- give them a ball and some bottles to knock down with it- 2 liter soda bottles, bottles of shampoo or dishsoap, toilet paper tubes, whatever.
Have them vacuum (they don’t really get anything done,but love to push the thing around)
Let them dust by putting an old unmatched sock over their hands and wiping down the bookshelves.
Give them a small squirt bottle of water and a sponge and ask them to wipe door knobs or light switches.
Let them help water plants by giving them a small cream pitcher (I bought a metal one from a thrift shop, restaurant supply stores carry them) and telling them only one of those filled with water per plant- or give them a 1/4 cup measuring cup with the same directions.
Count the change in my purse
sort Grandma’s buttonbox
color on one of the big packing boxes we often had leftover from a move, or bring boxes home from the grocery store for that purpose.
Bring up a word program and let them type away on the computer. mine love to type on the computer.
I’ve also made small slides by turning our dining room chairs upside down- they slide down the backs of the chairs. Our chairs are nothing fancy, just plain kitchen chairs with straight backs covered in ugly vinyl.
Get a rebounder.
Use masking tape to make a hopscotch pattern on the floor. For very young children, make a square and they jump from one corner to the other. You can also make a system of roads for matchbox cars using masking tape and the hall floor- or a cardboard box you cut open and lay flat.
I’ve given them a flashlight and sent them to explore my closet (high adventure, and more than a little risky, if you’ve seen my closet,you’d realize;-D).