Stuck at home now that the school’s have all closed down and in need of some indoor activities for your loved ones to do without automatically resorting to screen time?
Then you have come to the right place!
Here are several easy to do indoor projects that will inspire you to design interactive activities for your children to do that will stem off boredom and encourage fun.
Toddlers and babies can be entertained with just about anything but they are also not exactly known for their long attention spans. The trick to keeping them engaged in the activities is to rotate them fairly often with plenty of breaks and snacks in between.
Technique: Each indoor activity can be tailored to your child’s developmental ability with just a little creativity. The age guidelines are only a suggestion. No one knows your child as well as you do but be vigilant with toddlers and babies around small items or water.
To avoid an activity becoming stagnant I recommend five to fifteen-minute play sessions with breaks in between. I have tried to include tips to increase learning and development cleverly disguised as fun play with Mom or Dad. Don’t be afraid to encourage independent play when possible, you will be surprised at how ingenious they can be all on their own!
Plastic Containers, Plates or Utensils
Sitting Confidently – 3 years old
Grab all your plastic kitchen containers, plates and utensils and dump them on the ground. Yes, all of them. Now, hear me out before you call me crazy. This is a really easy way to give them something new to explore without spending any money and it gives you a chance to go through your kitchen and organize some cabinets while you’re stuck in the house.
Take everything down and place it on the floor and sit crisscross applesauce together. Then, stack towers as high as you can and encourage them to knock them over. You can also grab small toys and watch them transfer each one from container to container while you practice counting out loud together.
We cant forget about your older toddlers. They would love a chance to use the kitchen for some quality pretend play! Have them set the table and let then pretend to cook and serve you a meal. When you’re finished they can even clean up and put away the dishes. This is a creative way to teach them how to prepare, cook and clean up after meals. And while you’re there you can organize your stash and toss any containers or lids that no longer have a matching pair. Always take advantage of those opportunities to organize an area.
Sitting confidently – 18 months
Another easy way to occupy your baby while inside requires items you have around the house! Simply emptying a space in the closet for the sake of entertainment. Reach for your washcloth stash and dump them all on the floor. Let your baby feel the material between their fingers or play peek a boo together. While you’re playing together discuss how soft or rough the material is and point out the color or patterns you see on them.
Please watch your children around any amount of water.
Backyard Water Play
Crawling – 3 years
We’re getting messy again but honestly, that’s half the fun. And on the plus side, we will probably tucker them out enough to get a good nap in.
Gather any supplies you might need such as, plastic drinking cups, containers, measuring cups, water toys, or watering cans. Basically, whatever you have around the house that would be fun to play with in the water.
If you have a backyard with a patio, a nice grassy area or dirt (if you’re feeling brave) then head outside with your supplies and prepare for a wet afternoon. Also, If it’s too cold to go outside or you don’t have an appropriate area to play in they can always head inside to the tub or shower.
TIP: Not only is it fun to pour water from container to container but it also helps with hand-eye coordination and encourages math and science skills.
Indoor Sensory Play
12 months – 3 years
It’s so easy to grab things around the house to create a fun sensory bins for your toddler to play with.
Any rice on hand? You can create beautiful rainbow rice which encourages them to practice scooping and pouring into a container.
Another fine motor skills activity that children love is placing small pom pom balls in containers like an old egg cartoon.
All you really need to make a perfect in home sensory bin are different texture materials and a container to hold them in. I really loved filling a small bin with water and giving my sun foam letters to swish and dunk in the water. He quickly explored other areas of play by chewing and tossing the letters and enjoyed playing for much longer than I thought he would.
Indoor Gross Motor Games
Red Light Green Light
What’s the Time Mr. Crocodile?
Hide and Seek
Try modifying these games to work indoors if you don’t have access to a backyard or outdoor area. So instead of running full speed, have them crawl backwards on their hands and knees. When playing hide and seek make the kids search for a flag hidden inside the house instead of simply from each other.
TIP: Switching between tasks, especially for your younger children, keeps them from becoming bored or overstimulated. Be prepared to be on your feet a little more but try to take breaks when you can.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Depending your child’s developmental level you can tailor any activity to their ability with just a little tweaking. In fact, the older children can help the younger ones figure out their clues or puzzle. So, I just love that this activity provides an opportunity for bonding and teamwork.
Putting a scavenger hunt together is easier than you think. When the children that I nanny were younger, I simply wrote the location of the next clue on a bag and asked them to practice reading it aloud.
Now that they are older I have taken to coming up with fun riddles that lead them to their final destination. I particularly like the idea of including a portion of larger puzzle in each bag so they are required to put the puzzle together at the end as a final challenge. Not only does it improve their problem-solving skills it also keeps them occupied for just a little bit longer.
Indoor Obstacle Course
An obstacle course throughout the house is a fun and ingenious way to get the kids moving when you can’t leave the house! Look around your house and you will start to see items that would make a great obstacle course. In the past, I have used pillows on the floor in a zig-zag pattern, balls and laundry baskets for shooting practice, benches they need to crawl over and brooms the have to duck under. You can even have an older child spin around in circles and walk backward to the finish line.
Toddlers can crawl over pillows while older children have to hop over them with their feet together. Try to get the kids to encourage each other and work as a team rather than compete against one another. There’s always time for friendly competition but depending on the nature of your children a fight over something being “Not fair” could ruin a fun activity real fast.
Every child LOVES making forts. While younger children may need more assistance, let your older kids take over and watch what they come up with. This is a classic because all you need are some blankets and a little creativity to turn your home into a secret lair.
Letters or Pictures to a Nursing Home
I love the thought of our children reaching out to people in a loving manner and brightening their day. Writing a letter to a nursing home is a sweet gesture that teaches empathy and promotes letter writing skills. Such a multifaceted activity!
There are several benefits in this activity past learning how to write. You can teach an older child how to write and address a letter while your younger child can send a picture instead. Not only are they working on their fine motor skills by writing or coloring. They’re also learning about empathy and doing something for others.
Floor is Lava
This classic game has been around forever but is still tons of fun! The concept is simple try to avoid touching the floor at all costs. So, pillows, blankets, chairs and couches are all fair play just don’t touch the bare floor!
To tailor this to a younger child’s ability, just lay colorful cloth down on the ground and have them hop from one to another casually mentioning which color they should jump to next. This increases gross motor skills and also teaches them to identify colors.
Indoor Imaginative Play
I can still remember, to this day, the fun I had at a friends house playing “store” with her and her two sisters. They had set up several shops out of each of their rooms and we then took turns pretending to shop and buy different items with pretend money.
Playing grocery is just the beginning of it. You can have the children write and perform their own play or act out stories in one of their favorite books. Encourage them to dig through their dress up clothes and create interesting characters to act out and explore.
Backyard and Indoor Arts and Crafts
Having a creative outlet while cooped up inside is another way for children to pass the time while out of school. Depending on their age there are so many different ways for them to express themselves artistically.
Younger children can grasp crayons and scribble. Once they stop putting things in their mouths than non toxic finger paints are fun and engaging. Everyone likes making a mess, right?
With older children you can get a bit more creative.
Gather up all the broken or old crayons you have and ask the children to peel off the paper. Break them into smaller sizes and bake them in the oven. This is a wonderful way to keep little hands busy and distracted.
One of my all time favorite activities that I’ve done with the children is a nature walk were we gathered small stones, sticks, leaves or flowers and carried them home in buckets. If you don’t want to or can’t go for a walk than maybe you can go in the backyard and gather what you need.
Now that the supplies are gathered, head inside and grab some card stock, poster board, or construction paper, really anything around the house that’s strong enough to glue the nature items to it and not fall apart.
Now sit back and watch them create art!
Indoor Dart Gun Shooting Range
Gather up all your Nerf guns and darts because it’s time for some target practice. Encourage the kids to get involved setting up the targets. All it takes is a little ingenuity on their part and you can spend an entire afternoon having fun together.
Some Ideas To Inspire You
Set up barriers around the house to stand behind while dodging on coming darts.
Create targets with items around the house by attaching string or crepe paper to balloons and dangling them from doorways or the ceiling. To make it interesting place numbers on them for a points system.
Set up boxes around the house and affix toilet paper rolls to them. Place small balls on top of each roll and encourage the children to knock them off with a dart. It’s also fun to knock toys down so set up army figures or small action figures and let the kids take aim.
Cereal box cardboard is super thin and easy to cut so they make the perfect handmade targets. Cut out circles from cereal boxes and flip inside out. Draw targets on them and attach straws to the back. Pull the string through the straws and hang them from the ceiling or door frames.
You can turn your entire home into an obstacle course and really have fun with it. Have them start at one end of the course and run through dodging darts from you or another member of the family.
Themed End of the Week Indoor Party
An end of the week party is a great way to extend an activity over multiple days. It not only builds excitement but also gives them something to do every day of the week leading up to the party if you space it just right.
First, gather everyone together and talk about possible themes for your at home weekend party as early as possible. This ensures you have enough time to for planning. The kids and I have had Ninja Turtle, robot, Avengers and even Harry Potter parties! Anything that gets their creative juices flowing and makes them want to be involved.
Start by creating special decorations to hang around the room on one day and then plan a food menu the next and the create some games the day after that… Even if it’s just 30 minutes planning for the party itt’s still 30 mins they were focused on something constructive.
On the day of the party have the kids hang their decorations around the house and set the table for lunch. Set out the games and don’t forget to have have fun! And since no celebration is complete without a dance party, pull out your favorite dance playlist and let it all out! This is a really fantastic way to get rid of some energy while still having a good time.
Suggested indoor games to play
Balloon paddles with paper plates This is super fun to do! Hand children their own paper plate to create their team colors or decorate however they want. Take a wooden spoon and tape it to the plate to create a paddle. Blow up balloons and watch the kids knock them back and forth. I’m a firm believer in siblings working together, rather than competing, so I usually ask them to see how long they can keep the balloon in the air if they work together.
Balloon Games While you have the balloons out there are so many activities you can do with them. Blow some up and have the kids try and walk with them between their legs. Pull out markers have everyone draw faces on them or balance a balloon on a spoon and try to do a relay race.
Now for my favorite part, the food! Plan to cook a meal together that’s tailored to your children’s age group. Maybe home made pizzas or quesadillas? Follow up by baking or decorating cookies and include the children as much as possible to keep them engaged in the activity.
Now that everyone has admired their decorations, enjoyed their homemade games and eaten their homemade lunch it’s time for an indoor dance party. Lay out some blankets to double as a dance stage and put on your favorite songs. Freeze dance, monkey-see monkey-do and free style are all awesome games to play while dancing.
Have any clever ideas to keep our kids entertained while school is closed and they’re home all day? Let me know below!