During these difficult times, it can be challenging to find indoor activities that will get your kids' bodies moving and keep their minds busy, so they aren’t constantly asking for screen time to entertain them. Add the fact that the activities need to be easy to do and include items that you already have on hand because retail stores are closed for an undetermined amount of time at the moment, all you may hear is “I’m bored” and "There’s nothing to do!”
“Kids do best with routines, and I think we are seeing a bit of a loss of that now-a-days,” says Gail Bell, co-founder of Parenting Power, a local program with the goal of helping to give parents tools to face everyday challenges. “We are huge fans of can-do lists (rather than to-do lists) where you can list all of the fun activities that you can do when you have some spare time.”
Look no further! Here are 12 simple indoor activities that will keep your kids happy. (Feel free to print this list and hang it on your fridge for easy access!)
1. Pillowcase race. Nothing like a good old-fashioned sack race to get the blood flowing! Bump up the education factor by instructing the kids to race to a paper with a particular number, letter, or color written on it.
2. Tape track. In your largest tile or concrete floored room, put down some painters’ tape as a maze or racetrack. Get the kids to use their brains by making parking stalls or corners of the maze with letters, numbers, or colors in them and telling them to find their way to number three or park the blue car in stall A.
3. Scoop and strut. Put a ball on a spoon or in a measuring cup or cup and have the kids walk, skip, crawl to the other side of the room to place it in the correct color-coded basket or bowl.
4. Tot toss. Throw bean bags into a bin with corresponding colors, numbers, or letters. “Throw a pink bean bag into bin two!”
5. Action alphabet. Write letters (or numbers or colors) on some paper, then place the papers around the room and the possibilities are endless! Dance to the letter A, hop to the color green, twirl to the number four.
6. Erupt in laughter. If you have a few pantry staples (baking soda, vinegar, and food coloring), you can create an exciting erupting volcano that will have your kids asking you to do it again and again.
7. Hands-on. Work together to trace the parts of a child’s body on separate pieces of paper and then put them together like a giant human puzzle.
8. Glitter globe. Put water, food coloring, and sparkles in a jar or resealable bag (tape or glue the lid/seal shut). Let your kid shake and twirl it for tons of fun! (You can also add small plastic toys that will peak out of the color and sparkles).
9. Pillow pile. Find every pillow and cushion in your house, line them up on the floor - that’s it! Kids love to make paths, forts, slides, and pretty much anything else their imaginations can come up with out of pillows and blankets.
10. Pop up. Bubbles don’t have to be used outdoors and if your kids aren’t used to blowing them inside, it’s even more fun! Have them catch bubbles in different sized, shaped, and colored containers for added education value.
11. Budget bowling. If you have paper or plastic cups left over from your kid’s last birthday party, you have an instant and awesome game! Stack the cups on top of each other and knock them down with a ball for tons of fun.
12. String fling. This one takes a bit more time for set-up but can really pay off. Tape some string to the walls throughout your house in a zig-zag pattern and have your kids follow the string from room to room. For an added bonus, put some toys at the end of each colored string for them to find.
Bell says that although activities like the list here can be great to include on a can-do list, it is best to get back to what she calls 'real life parenting.'
Cards, board games, baking, cooking, and word games like I Spy and What Rhymes With ____ are also all great ways to engage your children.
Stacie is a freelance writer and editor and mother of a delightful daughter, five, and silly son, two.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2023 Calgary’s Child