5 open source activities for kids to try this weekend

These open source boredom busters will keep kids of all ages busy having fun.
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Family learning and reading together at night in a room


During the last six months or so, my family and I have enjoyed a slower pace of life. With few museums and parks open, we’ve stayed safer at home together or going on outdoor excursions. My young children are pretty good at creating their imaginary worlds where they could play for hours. I think they are adapting to this new normal better than I am to tell you the truth. However, there will be weekends when we have all run out of ideas. Luckily, Opensource.com is chock full of boredom-busters for kids of all ages. In this article, I rounded up a few of our more recent open source activities for kids. 

Create coloring book pages with Jupyter

My toddler uses crayons, markers, pencils, or any other writing utensil available on every sheet of paper in the house. Being surrounded by original artwork is fabulous, but he is running out of coloring page designs! With Jupyter, you can have an endless supply of coloring sheets at the ready for kids. Browse Creative Commons for images and use the magic of Python and Jupyter to turn them into one-of-a-kind coloring pages.

Go to an open source scavenger hunt

When I was a kid, my brother and I each had a massive map of the United States on our bedroom wall. Each time we visited a new state, we highlighted it on our map. Since he is a few years older than me, I was continually playing catch-up, but eventually we evened the tally. This early exposure cultivated a lifelong interest in maps for both of us. These days, we can access and contribute to maps right from the palm of our hands with OpenStreetMap. The StreetComplete mobile app makes it possible to find and complete quests the whole family can enjoy together. Go on a scavenger hunt while helping out your community!

Build a video game to learn Python

Seasoned educators know that the best way to teach a new subject is to turn it into a game. Author Moshe Zadka is one of those educators. He designed a Jupyter Notebook to teach people Python by making an interactive game. With Python and Git installed on your computer, you and your child can follow the steps in his tutorial. By the end, you will be having so much fun playing a penguin video game! 

[Read next: Programmable tanks and Raspberry Pi: Try these kid tech projects]

Experiment with open source robotics

Last fall, author Jess Weichler shared a list of her favorite maker gifts for kids and teens. It featured Hummingbird, an open source robotics kit ideal for kids ages eight and up. Since it supports several popular programming languages, kids can have fun practicing their coding skills. Hummingbird is compatible with Linux, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, and iOS.

Play with virtual LEGOs

Have you ever stepped on a rogue LEGO brick? It’s a pain one never forgets. I love watching my daughter build cars, ice cream stands, and castles with her LEGO bricks. Our household’s cardinal rule is to keep LEGO bricks off the floor. This is easier said than done! Playing with virtual LEGOs is a much safer route to take. Seth Kenlon’s tutorial walks LEGO lovers through using open source tools to build and play with virtual bricks.

How have you been keeping yourself and the young people around you entertained? Share your ideas in the comments.


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Lauren is the managing editor for Opensource.com. When she's not organizing the editorial calendar or digging into the data, she can be found going on adventures with her family and German shepherd rescue dog, Quailford. She is passionate about spreading awareness of how open source technology and principles can be applied to areas outside the tech industry such as education and government.


TuxPaint can provide endless hours of fun for children ages 3 to 6 (and older). At the public library where I work, when I hear a 3 year old gurgling with delight, I know already what is on their computer screen. It's TuxPaint.

Runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows. Download the TuxPaint Config file to make sure TuxPaint is running full screen on your monitor. Search YouTube for TuxPaint videos.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.