101 Indoor Games and Activities for Kids
It's easy for parents, babysitters, nannies, and kids alike to get cabin fever when they're stuck inside all day. Plan some indoor games and activities to help make the time fly by when you're cooped up.
Education specialist Leah Kyaio tells you not to worry: “Indoor activities are awesome and can be anything from big and elaborate to small and quiet.” For instance, if the kids start to get a little stir crazy, parenting expert and pediatric specialist Jennifer Chung recommends throwing a dance party. “Kids have tons of energy to burn,” she says, “so if the weather is keeping everyone indoors, turn on some music and let them dance it out.” Alternatively, if you need to dial it down, Chung suggests making a fluffy nest of blankets and pillows on the floor and having a little story time. "Playing games as a family builds camaraderie and provides kids with a safe place in which to learn how to win and lose gracefully," according to certified parenting coach Sarah Hamaker.
For more ideas for what you can do during the winter months, here are 101 of our favorite indoor games and activities that are great for kids:
1. Bake and decorate sugar cookies.
2. Set up an indoor hopscotch grid using masking tape.
3. Play a classic game like Old Maid.
4. Make giant crayon cupcake out of old, broken crayons.
5. How well do kids know their favorite foods? Play a game where kids shut their eyes and you feed them mystery foods. Can they guess what they're eating based on flavor?
6. Make greeting cards for loved ones like grandparents.
7. Start a sing-a-long.
8. Have a DIY beauty/spa day, by doing each other's nails and hair. Learn how to whip up homemade body lotion and lip balm.
9. Collect all of your toy cars and have a mini car wash in the sink.
10. Play pick up sticks.
11. Have an indoor picnic for the family room -- everyone can pick out and make a dish.
12. Try a memory game for your picnic like, “in my basket for our picnic I packed …” and then recite the first person’s item and add new ones as you go.
13. Build a homemade telescope using a paper towel roll.
14. Set up a miniature train and village.
15. Build a skyscraper out of blocks or legos.
16. Create a touch-and-feel box by cutting a hole out of an old shoebox and filling it with different items that your child will be able to identify by feel.
17. Blow bubbles that are safe for indoor use.
18. Build a pillow fort.
19. Collect family photos and make an album.
20. Set up a balance beam using masking tape on the floor.
21. Play musical cushions: Like musical chairs, but using cushions spread out on your living room floor.
22. Play Pitching Pennies. Dr. Laurie Zelinger, a board-certified psychologist for children, recommends this game for free family fun. Simply give each child a roll of pennies and place a pot in the center of a table. Have each person in the family step back the same number of steps as their age (for example, a 6-year-old would step back six steps). Then, each player tries to throw their pennies into the pot. The player who can "pitch" the most pennies successfully into the pot wins!
23. Make marshmallow toys using mini-marshmallows and pretzel sticks.
24. Create your own home Twister game using masking tape and colored paper.
25. Sing karaoke.
26. Sit in a circle or around a fire and tell each other ghost stories.
27. Cook a special family dinner.
28. Play hide-and-seek.
29. Make your own bingo cards and play Bingo!
30. Set up an indoor basketball game using a bucket and a rolled up sock.
31. Have a dance party.
32. Try a concentration game by setting up a group of stuffed animals and then taking one away. Then ask your child to guess what’s missing.
33. In a basement or large space, try the crab walk or wheelbarrow.
34. Teach them how to tell a joke.
35. Try some easy kid-friendly yoga stretches.
36. For sports fans, make your own sports triangles using paper and markers.
37. Using string, play Cat’s Cradle.
38. Wash the family dog.
39. Cut up magazines and newspapers and create a collage.
40. Have a pillow fight.
41. Using a broom, try out some limbo.
42. Start a piggy bank or coin collection.
43. Play Go Fish.
44. Dress up in old costumes or create new ones.
45. Make cupcakes for a friend.
46. Set up indoor bowling using empty water bottles and a tennis ball.
47. Create snowflakes out of sheet paper.
48. Make your own lava lamp and make science fun for kids.
49. Plant indoor flower pots or herbs.
50. Play Follow the Leader.
51. Make your own tic-tac-toe or hangman games.
52. Play patty cake.
53. Find a hula hoop and see how long you can keep it going.
54. Make your own bookmarks for story time.
55. Pick favorite animals or people and play the “who am I” or “what is it” guessing game.
56. Get large pieces of paper and trace one another’s bodies on the floor.
57. Play Clue.
58. Build an ocean in your bathtub and fill it with toy boats.
59. Play Pin the Tail on the Donkey.
60. Do some silly shakes when you need to get the energy out.
61. Host your own matinee movie.
62. Play I Doubt It.
63. For older children, try out Cranium.
64. Take turns at playing doctor.
65. Play your favorite rhyming game.
66. Place a balloon between one another’s torsos and see how far you can walk without dropping it.
67. With that balloon, you can also play ‘keep it up.’
68. Write a story together.
69. Pick out your favorite songs and play the music freeze game.
70. Get some exercise and do a few jumping jacks.
71. Play Guess Who.
72. Create your own paper beads out of magazines for a necklace or bracelet.
73. Play I Spy.
74. Set up a stage and hold your own show.
75. Using sheet paper, make an origami fortune teller.
76. Try out Junior Monopoly.
77. Build an indoor mini-golf course using plastic cups set up around your living room.
78. For parties, create noise makers out of empty bottles and beans or rice.
79. Play Duck Duck Goose.
80. Cook breakfast in bed for someone special.
81. Using a bandana, try out Blind Man’s Bluff.
82. Play the clapping game.
83. Make dream catchers out of paper plates and string.
84. Play scrabble or boggle.
85. Set up an indoor obstacle course.
86. Grab a potato from the fridge and play hot potato.
87. Take turns reading to each other -- everyone reads a sentence or a page.
88. Paint or draw a picture on cardboard, cut it in shapes and create your own puzzle.
89. Gather objects from around the house (pots, spoons, paper towel tube, etc.) to make your own musical instruments, and play your favorite songs (ear plugs recommended!).
90. Fill a balloon with a little sand using a funnel and blow it up halfway to make a fun ball to play with.
91. Drag out the costume box and have a fashion photo shoot -- must-haves include feather boas and necklaces.
92. Take the items you found on your last nature walk and use them to create multi-textured art -- glue flowers, sticks and sand to a piece of construction paper.
93. Look up popular YouTube dance videos for kids and follow along with the choreography.
94. Play hand-clapping games and sing along.
95. Cook breakfast (or breakfast for dinner!) and see who can come up with the most creative/yummy spin on your favorite foods -- pancakes shaped like elephants, a peanut butter and jelly omelet, etc.
96. Inspire a future decorator or architect and design a dream house out of clay.
97. Practice chemistry that smells nice by making your own perfume -- you only need three things.
98. Get out the face painting kit and make crazy faces on each other.
99. Try different hair styles on each other.
100. Learn how to sew, and make hats with colorful pompons for yourself.
101. Create colorful bracelets and necklaces for friends and family out of colored thread.
Looking for more activities? Get your kiddos outside with these 101 Outdoor Activities and Games for Kids
Tiffany Smith has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And, as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.