Need ideas for indoor fun, with kids stuck in the house and spending hours on screens? Remote learning is definitely our friend at the moment, don’t get us wrong, but brain breaks are especially important when these young minds don’t have as much social stimulation throughout the day. Here are some super fun ways you can get recess in without even going outside!
Note: originally published in spring 2020. Still useful in the fall — and the winter!
Indoor fun: Ages 4 and younger
Balloon Games. The possibilities are endless! Play “don’t let the balloon touch the floor,” or have little ones put a balloon between their legs and have them do the “penguin waddle” around the room. Use a balloon to practice balance; how long can they keep a balloon balanced on their head, or on their fingertips with one foot in the air? Play balloon hockey, using a paper towel roll as a stick and a laundry basket as the goal. Or, use two paper plates as rackets and play balloon tennis. Score!
Animal Yoga Poses. Have little ones make up their own animal movements and simply hold the pose. What does a crouching tiger do with its body? Hold it! How about a flying bird? Hold still, now! Also teach them more traditional poses like Cobra, Cat/Cow, and Downward Facing Dog. Don’t know any poses? Here are some good ones.
Follow the Line. You just need a jump rope and a ball (small to medium) to do this activity. Lay out the jump rope on the floor in a straight line. Can your child move the ball across the rope with their hand? How about with their foot? Their elbow? Their nose? Explore gross-motor movement using various parts, and get the giggles out, too.
Dance the Wiggles Out. Your one-stop-shop for (free) kids’ dance tunes. Songs like Clapping Machine, Icky Sticky Bubble Gum, and many that have a move-and-freeze function are linked here for easy access. Press “play” any time the kids are feeling stir crazy but can’t get outside.
Indoor fun: Ages 5-9
Uno Movement Game. Got a deck of Uno cards? Who doesn’t, right? Give each color a movement, like red = hop or blue = twirl, and each time someone draws a card they should do that movement. Draw a blue 2, do two twirls! Draw a red 10? You guessed it; ten hops!
Indoor Beach Ball Games. From gross motor practice to letter recognition to teamwork, playing with a beach ball in the house provides endless opportunity for fun, and even learning. Toss the beach ball on top of a blanket and see how long you can make it stay, play beach basketball with a laundry basket, write prompts on the ball such as “bark like a dog” for when someone catches it, or make up your own games!
Obstacle Course. Use things you have around the house, like pillows, toys, masking tape, and whatever else, to build the course. Have the kids run around the kitchen island, jump over trucks or dolls, maneuver around a Lego tower- the options are plentiful, and the movement is abundant!
Hallway Hopscotch. Use painter’s tape (masking tape is fine if you have carpet) to create a grid on the floor. Younger kids can practice making numbers with the tape. Then, hop around to your heart’s content!
Paint Footprints. Wrap feet in bubble or plastic wrap, and lay out a long piece of butcher paper, or even flattened, cut out paper grocery bags, and break out the paint! Obviously, do this in a space you don’t mind getting messy, like the garage.
Indoor fun: Ages 10 and older
Create an indoor “Boot Camp.” Run up and down the stairs, use soup cans to do bicep curls, do 20 sit ups, then 20 push ups, then 20 jumping jacks, repeat! Kids love competition, so make it a race and see who has the best time.
Build a fort. Have bigger kids build a living room fort for their younger siblings, cousins, etc. The younger kiddos get to be the “client,” and the older are the “designers.” Would the clients like a cozy reading nook? A secret passageway? A sky light? Practice teamwork to get the job done, then crawl around and play all day.
The Floor is Lava. Really for any age, this one will get them moving. Jump around the house on furniture, pillows, blankets, whatever you want to lay out. Any time someone touches the floor, they’ve hit lava and they’re out.
Sock Skating. Put on some slippery socks and take to the wood floors with some slide moves. Kids can choreograph dances and other cool moves and perform for you and each other.
Crab Soccer. This one can be played indoors or outdoors, and is sure to get a laugh. Divide people into two teams and create goals in the playing space. Everyone must play in the “crab position” (knees and hips up, hands and feet for walking) for the whole game, and only use feet to kick the ball. The team to score the most goals wins!