Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Easy indoor fun with kids: 18 inside activities and close-to-home excursions

Boredom busters for a cold weather day

Not that kids mind the wet weather –  in fact, it can be a struggle to get them to wear a jacket – but when the day is cold or rainy or both, it’s good to have plenty of ideas for indoor activities, so we’ve put together more than 15 “fun-things-to-do-inside,” from simple science and games at home to inexpensive (or free) outings around the Puget Sound region.


Indoor Activities: At-Home Fun

Between naps, exhausting school schedules and traffic,  sometimes you want to find good times at home. Here are some entertaining and easy experiments, games and quiet activities when you need fresh ideas for fun.


Easy Science Experiments

Cloudy Ways – Make a cloud in a jar with simple items from around the house. Playdough to Plato offers an in-depth tutorial on cloud making. Simply put, you’ll need a glass jar with a lid, matches, hot water and ice to make some clouds.


Catapult! – Make a marshmallow catapult using the tutorial from It’s Always Autumn. This experiment is easy enough for kids as young as four to do but entertaining enough to keep the older ones engaged. This is another project that shouldn’t require a trip to the store. You’ll need marshmallows (or another light, soft object), a thin rubber band, a plastic spoon, bamboo skewers, and masking tape. Once you’ve built the catapult using It’s Always Autumn’s instructions, teach your kids about gravity and how objects are projected through the air. Ask them to watch how the marshmallow always falls to the ground and explain how gravity keeps us grounded to the earth and not floating in space. When kids use the catapult, it shows them how a projectile responds to gravity.


Magic Plant Absorption – Learn how plants absorb water with food coloring and cabbage leaves. This simple experiment is super fun! Take four jars of water and add a few drops of food coloring. Next, take four cabbage leaves or flowers and put them in the water stem first. The colored water will quickly travel up the leaves for an exciting color transformation. This experiment shows how plants absorb water throughout their entire system from the roots, stems, and leaves. As the food-colored water creeps through the plant, ask your child how they think water absorption works. Share with them how root systems pull water and nutrients from the soil and deliver them through the plants to help them grow.


Indoor activities: Active Games 

Hallway Maze – Use crepe paper, yarn or painter’s tape to create a maze in your hallway. Have the kids help string the crepe paper before encouraging a game of Ninja Spy or Mission Impossible! This easy activity might keep your kids entertained for hours.


Ring Toss – Use simple paper plates and a leftover paper towel roll to create a fun ring toss. Cut out the center from paper plates and have your kids paint them with bright colors, stickers and other fun decorations. Take another plate and glue or tape the inner paper towel roll to the center. Set up the ring toss and see who can get the most rings on the tube.


DIY Light Tunnel – Dig out those Christmas tree lights for this fun treat (if you’ve managed to put them away since the holidays!) Grab a large cardboard box and poke holes in one or both sides of the box while opening the ends up to create a tunnel. You can do a random pattern or be more deliberate in your work. Push the lights into each one once you have all the holes poked. Your kids might have to fight off the adults in the house for time in this magical tunnel!


Indoor Activities: Quiet time

Epic Art Session – Roll out some butcher paper on the floor and have the kids go to town. Give them crayons, pencils, and markers, and watch their artistic sensibilities open up with a giant canvas.


Snowflakes – Coffee filters or tissue paper make great snowflakes. Fold the filter in half and in half again until you have a thin sliver of paper. Then, start cutting the design.


Sensory Treasure Hunt – Sensory bins can be a great quiet activity. Fill a bin with small toys from around the house. Then cover them with dried beans, rice or oatmeal. Kids love hunting for items; this activity will provide hours of quiet play.


Indoor activities: Inexpensive & off-the-beaten-path outings 

When the kids are bouncing off the walls, and you decide to venture out, here are a few outings that offer a new view, challenge, lesson, and maybe all three.


Field Trip Fun

Ride the (Light) Rails – Take the Light Rail from one of its many stations in Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport. The kids will be thrilled by the ride while you enjoy sipping a coffee. Once at the airport, take some time to appreciate the art visible before security before jumping back on the Light Rail for a ride back to the city.


Explore Uwajimaya  – Head to Uwajimaya in the International District for a fun shopping trip. The flagship store has everything from interesting fruits and vegetables to delicacies from Asian countries and great seafood options. Browse among the aisles to check out unique snacks, manga and Hello Kitty! products. Head to Papa Beard for cream puffs or to snag a bubble tea. See Field Tripping with the Fam at Asian Megastore

Take an extended tour around the CID and so much more about Asian cultures.


From Rain into Drinking Water – Nestled above Rattlesnake Lake, the Cedar River Watershed Education Center in North Bend is located in a beautiful setting and has interactive exhibits about how rain becomes our drinking water.


Interactive Environmental Education at Lewis Creek Park.  Explore the interactive environmental educational displays and games at Lewis Creek Park Visitor Center in Lakewood.  There are movies, scavenger hunts, and information on hiking trails at the center, along with dress-up gear, nature books, animal pelts, and species identification cards.


There Be Gold! – Visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park  in Pioneer Square to learn all about Seattle’s role in this historical time. This small park is entirely indoors with two floors of exhibits and offers the opportunity to earn a Junior Ranger Badge!


Indoor Activities: Story Time


Library Storytime – Both King County Libraries and Seattle Public Libraries offer great free programs for kids with music, stories and more. They even offer fun programs for older kids who may no longer be interested in storytime, from knitting clubs to multiplayer Minecraft sessions and homework help. Check out your local branch or take a special trip to the Central Library in downtown Seattle: The  Children’s area is perfect for story times, and the view from the top is spectacular.


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About the Author

Rebecca Mongrain