Games for sick kids stuck in bed

Games for Kids in Bed: ESL Activities for Bedbound Children

a photo of an ill young boy cuddling in bed with his teddy bear and bandages on his head

Do you have a child who is sick and need ideas for games for kids stuck in bed? If so, learning languages is the perfect activity for a child who might be in bed for a long time.

When I was younger, I had a Walkman I took everywhere with me. I listened to Alice Im Wunderland (Alice in Wonderland) on repeat in German. Even as an adult, I can sing most of those German songs by heart.

My own young daughter will happily listen to the Frozen song track in Spanish on repeat if she is sick in bed. If you have a young child in bed with the flu or, god forbid, a long-term illness, language activities are a fun way to keep them entertained and learning.

Learning a New Language while Bed-bound

a young woman listening to headphones while lying in bed with her eyes closed

English Language Games for Kids in Bed

Here are some language games that your students in bed can play.

Make a collage from English language Magazines.  

First, try making a collage together. Write some words of basic vocabulary on slips of paper. Put them in a hat. Both of you pull out a word. Then, make a collage about that word. It is like a visual mindmap. Cut pictures out of old magazines and paste them onto computer paper. Don’t forget to let your child help you hang them up on the wall when you are done! For more advanced kids, or even teens, consider sentence prompts such as “my dream job” or “my life goals” and on

Play salon

Then, consider playing hair or nails along and learn colors. Paint your child’s toenails or fingernails while learning the names of the colors. Teach kids Roy G. Biv to learn the order of the colors in the rainbow. Make sure you let them paint your toenails, too!

Play soccer with some crumpled paper. football on the bed.  

Also, you can play soccer. That’s right, bed soccer! Make a sheet, like BINGO board, with English Sight Words or their English vocabulary from school. To get a goal, they need to flick (kick) their “soccer ball” of paper onto the paper. Take turns.

Write English words as back messages.  

Another option is a very simple game I would play while waiting for my turn during ballet recitals. I have many fond memories of playing this game with the other girls in my ballet class. I guess it worked especially well because we were wearing leotards. Have one person write a message on the second person’s back with his finger.  Then, the second person’s goal is to try and guess the message the first person wrote.  Switch and repeat.,


Then, try Pictionary. One player begins with your child draws a picture of a word(s) they pull from a hat. You have to guess the word (or basic idea of the word) within the allotted time limit.
Take turns. If you guess correctly, you receive a point. If your child guesses correctly,they win a point.

Guess Who/What

Or, pay Guess Who/What. It is a great game if you have English flashcards with pictures on one side. Shuffle the cards and have the child pick a card. They don’t get to look at it! They have to tape it to their forehead. This is half of the fun. Then, they have a list of questions they can ask you as prompts to practice asking “how____?” “why____?” “when_____?” “what _____?” and so on. Write down prompts to help them, such as “How do I move?”. They have to guess

Thumb wrestle

Also, you can thumb wrestle and teach them this simple song “one, two, three four, I declare a thumby war. Five, six, seven, eight, thumby wars are really great!” It is a fun way to practice counting for very beginner English learners.

Make Paper Dolls

In addition, you can make some paper dolls in bed together. Fold paper and cut out a paperdoll string. Then, label the clothes with their English names and this is a great way to practice clothing vocabulary: pants, shirt, hat, shoes, and so on.

English Workbooks and Coloring and Stickers

Finally, this one is self-explanatory. Give your child some workbooks! There are lots of fun English activity books. Often, they are sold as activity books for kids on long flights. Pack as if you are going on a plane trip. Snack on nuts, pretend you’re in a plane and do some plane activity books.

two hands holding paper dolls strung together between them in the sunshine

English Lullabies for Children

And, of course, let your little learner get lots of sleep. Play English songs for them to help lull them to sleep. Lullabies are part of our universal language. Make a lovely playlist of English language lullabies for them. Diversify and use Irish, British, Australian, Welsh songs, too. This is a great way to expand your child’s language comprehension and get them comfortable listening to make accents while learning about cultures around the world.

Finally, you can use Spotify to make a playlist, or just press play on a Youtube kids playlist and let your child enjoy a nap while falling asleep and learning a new language.

Lovely lullabies for kids

a boy sleeping in bed next to medication

English Goodnight Kids Books

Consider reading some great goodnight books together in English, too.

Thank You and Good Night

If this post gave you some good ideas, check my other posts out.

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Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL
Ingrid Maria Pimsner, MA, BA, TEFL

Ingrid Maria Pimsner has been teaching for over a decade in various universities, nonprofits, and private academies. She has taught English as a Second Language for Lutheran Children & Family Service, Nationalities Service Center, Lernstudio Barbarossa Berlin-Tegel, and more. In addition to her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certification, she holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a MA from Maryland Institute College of Art.