When you’re stuck inside with your kids – maybe the weather is bad, they’re sick or worse, you’re sick – and they begin to get stir crazy and are bouncing off the walls, pull out these genius inside activities to entertain kids. Fun, energy-busting, simple and classic games for high-energy kids when you’re indoors.
NEW: Giant list of 98 kid-approved indoor activities you can find & print here plus a school break & sample plan if you’re experiencing school closures and extended breaks at this time.
After a long summer feeling water-logged from all the hours spent at the pool, and nearly suffering third-degree burns on the back of my legs each time I sit on the scalding seats in my car… I welcome the rain and drop in temperature.
To be more precise, I’m practically begging for colder weather.
When the leaves start turning, it’s a welcome change… except for the enormous 2-foot tall leaf piles on my lawn someone needs to bag up, of course.
But then, the change of seasons also triggers alarm bells.
Major alarm bells.
Fall signals the hours of daylight available to send the kids outside to run circles around the backyard like little crazies, have bike races and kick the soccer ball around – all in an attempt to wear themselves out – are suddenly gone.
The colder months and shorter days of sunshine means that I am – along with three high-energy and extremely active kids – inside more hours than anyone is happy with.
Yes, we still get out of the house for school, trips and activities, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans.
After nine years of staying indoors during bad weather, snow storms and blizzards, rainy weather, sick and pajama days… these are my 20 Best Activities to Entertain Active Kids.
They work like magic on the days when we can’t venture outside and need to burn some pent-up energy.
If You’re Curious or Looking for a Screen-Free Activity Plan…
THE BEST INSIDE ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
- Utilize Garage Space. This is my most favorite way to give the kids space so they can REALLY get active. Move the cars out of the garage and let your kids ride their bikes, roller-skate, dribble basketballs and run around. They can play four square, draw with chalk, tag, play catch and so many more options. The space a garage gives you is a total sanity saver!
- Hopscotch will have your kids jumping and moving and burning energy. (That’s the point, right?) You can make your own hopscotch with tape on the floor or you can keep this hopscotch mat in your closet to pull out as a cold-weather back-up.
- Scavenger Hunt. Use this (fill in) Scavenger Hunt Printable to send your kids on a 20-minute hunt around the house collecting unique and fun items for a prize or special treat.
- Indoor Basketball. We used to have an over-the-door basketball hoop but the kids weren’t coordinated or big enough yet to make it in the hoop which was pretty frustrating for them (it worked great for my husband though.) Instead, we created our own indoor basketball game at floor-level that the LOVE.Here’s how you do it.Use three low laundry bins, boxes or baskets and set them in a line. Assign a value to each container – the closest container is the least amount of points and the container furthest away has the most value. Each kid gets three throws to make it into the basket and then rotate turns.
- Bring Your Outside Toys Inside. My kids LOVE their outside toys and when I buy them, I always have the thought in the back of my mind – can this be moved indoors?In the colder months where we live, I wash them down and bring them inside for the kids to play with. This climbing gym is a huge hit all year round and our slide has provided years of fun and the kids haven’t outgrown it yet. Another one of the kid’s favorite toys for indoors and out is this roller coaster (if you have the room for it) and a mini trampoline like this one.At one point, we also had an inflatable bouncy house (this one actually) because it was big enough for the kids to play and small enough to inflate in our basement.
- Create an Obstacle Course in your living room or playroom with pillows, couch cushions, and other equipment. Build the obstacle course so your kids have to climb, roll, jump, hop, crawl and bear crawl through. The more obstacles, the better!
- There are a million ways to Build A Fort – with couch cushions, under a table covered in sheets and blankets, with a build-a-fort kit (this one is pretty neat), between bunk beds and chairs and random pieces of furniture you have around your home. The imagination and teamwork that goes into fort-building is the best part.
- Bath time is a favorite part of the day in our house. The kids literally make dibs on who gets to take a bath first, so when we’re stuck inside, I can put the kids in a bath for 30-minutes and they’ll be completely happy and content. When I want to mix it up, we have Glow in the Dark Bath Time or mix up a slime bath (which actually cleans up really easily and is non-toxic.) I break open the glow sticks, toss a few in a couple plastic bottles as well as in the water and turn off the lights for them to go nuts.
- Red-Light, Green-Light. The game that never gets old and my kids go wild for it every time. Sometimes we play backwards, doing a bear crawl, rolling, on tip toes, hopping like a bunny rabbit or slithering like a snake to make it interesting.
- Hide-and-Seek, is another great game option. When my kids were little, they would hide in the same spot… every time… over and over, so fair warning that this may be best for kids over the age of four if you want to have a true game of hide-and-seek. (Though it is completely and totally enjoyable to watch your daughter hide under a blanket on the couch every time.)
- Build-A-Thon with Cardboard Boxes. If you have extra boxes around – although they’re super easy to find locally at appliance stores and among neighbors – having a build-a-thon is a great creative time killer to build with your kids fun things like a house, fort, pirate ship, cabin, boat, and so on. Building is only half the fun, don’t forget to break out the crayons, markers, paint and stickers and decorate too.
- Have a Dance Party. Crank up the tunes and dance it out! If you want to mix it up, pull the curtains closed, shut the shades, switch off the lights and have a glow stick dance party. I personally love glow stick dance parties because no one can see my terrible dance moves.
- Twister. Play a game of twister – and if you don’t have the game, make your own with tape on the floor or if you have giant rolls of paper, your kids can color the circles and then play on their creation. Looking for another board game, check these good ones out.
- Create an Activity Cube. Like a giant dice, roll this cube to see what activity they get to do. Great for themes to mix it up as well. For example, some themes may include Exercise, Animals, Characters, Language, Truth or Dare.For example: A kid’s exercise cube may include 20 jumping jack, running in place for 30 seconds, hob like a bunny 15 times, plank hold for 15 seconds, 10 pushups, and 15 sit-ups. Kids can take turn rolling the activity cube to find out what’s next.
- Balloon Tennis or Soccer. Blow up a couple balloons and push the furniture to the walls so the kids can kick the balloons around for a fun game of soccer, or use paper-plate paddles for tennis to bounce it back and forth.
- Balancing Activities. Not only are balancing activities a ton of fun, but they’re stellar for development. Tape a line on the floor and let your kids walk on it, tape a maze or shapes, have them balance on a spot on the floor on one foot, or tip toes. Do you have anything in your house that could work as a balance beam? Try that out too!
- Simon Says. If your kids are high-energy like mine are, I like to incorporate exercise into what Simon Says. If they’re learning a foreign language, try to do it in that language to make a learning opportunity out of it.
- Bring The Snow Inside. Prep your space first by setting out a bunch of towels on the floor, head outside to haul in a bucket (I like to use clear plastic bins) of snow and dig into the kitchen supplies drawer for spatulas and measuring cups for them to play with.Be sure to put mittens on because inevitably they want to dig their hands in. One extra idea is to use food coloring and let the kids mix and swirl the snow around the make artful creations. Throw in tractors, cars, dolls and other toys too.
- Construct a Race Track and Race Cars. Using tape, pool noodles, cardboard, paper… anything, have your kids make a race track and then race their cars on their own constructed track for a little friendly competition.
- Indoor Camp Out. Set up the tent, bring out the sleeping bags and let the kids have an Indoor Camp Out right in your living room, playroom or even in their own rooms. We have a small two person tent (this exact one) just for this purpose and can easily put it together in about 2 minutes and take it down just as easily.