OK, so. Here we are: no school for quite a while. This has all happened very quickly, and unless you were able to sneak in a quick Amazon order of a dozen new games and toys, you may be wracking your brain for how to keep everyone busy. Which is why I've rounded up 10 simple indoor games to keep your kids entertained and active. Most of these are super easy and require very little in the way of materials — they just need a bit of imagination, and maybe an extra dose of patience from mom and dad.
Yes, there is going to be lots of inevitable screentime right now, and I don't think anyone should beat themselves up about that. We are all in a tight spot, and will be doing the best we can. But really — even though they'd never admit it — most kids do eventually get bored of screens, and want something more interactive and engaging. And of course, they need to keep those little bodies up and busy, lest they be running circles around the living room at 11 p.m.
There's no way around the fact that everyone is going to be a bit stir crazy right now. Especially as we practice social distancing, and spend so much time indoors. But keeping the kids playing and laughing and distracted will help everyone in the house feel a bit better, including you.
1. Tape, tape, & more tape can create perfect games for kids.
There's a lot you can do with tape. Just make sure it's painter's tape or masking tape — something that is gentle on your floor. You can tape various shapes to the floor, like a square or circle, then direct the kids to walk from shape to shape in a funny or different way. (For example, bear walk to the triangle. Crawl like a snail to the square, etc.) You can also stretch the tape across a narrow hallway and create a Mission Impossible-style obstacle course for them to crawl through. Or maybe create a "track" for cars to follow. In short: go crazy with the tape.
2. Play a pretend game like "Welcome to the hotel!"
I play this with my nieces and nephews and they absolutely love it. Basically, grab a couple of carry-on suitcases and pretend your house or apartment is a hotel. The kids can have fun "packing" a bag, putting on some "travel clothes," and then checking in. They can craft numbers for the doors of rooms, and take turns being the guest while someone else is the manager and someone else is the bellhop who carries the bags. Once someone has checked in, they can order room service and perhaps dine on some delicious rice cakes or a serving of Goldfish crackers.
3. Photography shows and pretend art galleries are simple enough indoor games.
Another super simple idea, though you need a working printer. For this, give the kids a phone or camera and invite them to take "artistic" photos of things around the house. Encourage them to take pictures of things they maybe wouldn't have noticed before, like the laundry detergent or the cat's paws. Once they're finished, print out their photos and tape them to a "gallery" wall. Have everyone in the house come to the "art gallery opening" to admire the photos and discuss. For added fun, have everyone dress up for the show, and give them a small cup of juice to sip. Fancy!
4. Bowling with cups is always an indoor game win.
Have a stack of Solo cups sitting around somewhere? Well, set those babies up in a pyramid at the end of a hallway, grab a soft ball of some kind, and now you have your own makeshift bowling alley. This would also work with some old water bottles. (Sadly, this bowling alley probably doesn't serve beer. At least not until the kids are in bed...)
5. An indoor treasure hunt is perfect for cabin fever kids.
Take a small box and wrap it in aluminum foil or some shiny wrapping paper to make a "treasure box." Inside you could hide a few pieces of candy, $5, or just a small treat of some kind. Then craft a simple treasure map with clues directing the kids around the house to find the hidden treasure. If you want to give the game an added bit of pirate flair, make the kids pirate patches from some string and bits of fabric or felt. Or maxi pads. #desperatetimesdesperatemeasures
6. A sheet parachute is a fun indoor activity even the smallest kids can do.
Grab a sheet and a couple of small stuffed animals. If you happen to have some balloons, even better! Have everyone grab a corner of the sheet and bop the balloons and animals into the air, trying to keep them from flying off. Little ones tend to find this quite exciting, while older kids of course will try to send the stuffed animals shooting through the ceiling.
7. Freeze Dance is the ultimate indoor activity.
Like musical chairs, but a little less annoying. Ask the kids to pick a song (my own son tends to favor the Mendes/Cabello duet "Senorita"), then get them dancing before switching the song off at random. Whoever is still moving is "it," and they get to be the one to control switching off the song for the next round. Lo, the anticipation.
8. Pin the nose on YOU is the indoor game to make your kids laugh.
This is pin-the-tail on the donkey, but with a silly twist to make the kiddos laugh. Again, you'd need a printer, unless you already have a large photo of your face you don't mind destroying. Just take a large picture of your own face, then cut the nose off. Tape the pic to the wall, then blindfold the kids, spin 'em around, and have them attempt to pin your nose back on. For added silliness, you could print or draw a bunch of different animal noses for them to tape to your face. This is sure to bring the lols. (Or cause nightmares about a nose-less mom.)
9. Fashion show is the perfect indoor game to have kids clean their closet.
Go through your closet and pull out a bunch of old clothes and shoes you don't mind the kids playing with. Then set up a "runway." Maybe by using some masking tape? Put on some music and have the kids parade down the runway sharing their different ensembles. Be sure to have some fun music blasting and you can play photographer, snapping shots of all of their cutting edge styles. If you have an iPhone, you can easily play the pics back for the kids in a slideshow, which they are sure to love.
10. A pretend film festival will unleash your kid's creativity.
OK so this one also utilizes a phone, but it's also a great way to get the kids to use their imaginations, and to keep them busy for a big chunk of time. Help them come up with a script. It can be as simple or complex as they like, depending on the kid's age. They can star in the movie, or you can, or their Minecraft toys or Barbies can. (To make it even easier, you could make it a music video and just have the kids dance or do whatever to a song they enjoy.) Gather up the necessary "costumes" and props, and make your own short film. Later, you can have a special screening of the movie for the whole family, complete with popcorn.
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