5 indoor activities for kids

We’ve had some really cold days this week. On top of that, we’ve had some sickness which means I can’t take the sick ones outside.

In other words, we’ve been hanging out in our small apartment a lot. And a few kids are getting cabin fever.

The key to staying sane when you can’t get outside to play is to mix up activities, add some creative fun, and when possible, still get them moving.

Here are some of the things we enjoy doing.

1. Homemade play dough.

We enjoy making play dough and honestly it has been ages since I have made a fresh batch. Check out our favorite play dough recipe if you don’t already have one you love.  Stefan has been asking for it, so today we are making it. It will get us through another long day inside. A fresh batch of play dough always entertains my kids for a good long while, and we have  some new cookie cutters that Stefan has been begging to use with play dough.

2. Masking tape.

I’m pretty sure that masking tape is a mom’s best friend. You should never run out. It comes in handy for so many different things. Depending on your space there is a lot you can do with it for indoor play.

  • Making a hopscotch course is a fun way to get them moving a little.
  • Roads. This is our favorite! A new road system circling throughout the house will keep my son entertained for hours. Add some blocks and you can create buildings and landmarks. [Education tip: If your kids are ready for this, this is an excellent way to teach beginning map skills. Create a map for a very easy to get to place that you frequently visit. You can write the names of the streets or locations on the tape and build landmarks with blocks or other objects. This is a very hands-on way for children to begin understanding what exactly a map represents. It also encourages them to pay attention when you are out driving as you have talked about and identified landmarks.]

Those are just a few ideas. There are a host of games you can create with masking tape on the floor. Tic tac toe, Olympic long jump, etc, etc.

3. Paint and crafts.

My kids love to paint. Love it. We have a pretty good system so it is not too much of a mess anymore. They each have t-shirts that they wear only for painting, and I have a plastic table cloth that is used only for painting so my mess is contained. I do have to be present the entire time with this, but it is a fun activity to do together.

A few days ago we had some snow and my son painted this after reading the The Snowy Day.

Most of the time we do free paint though. And while Olivia just mixes up all the colors into a big mess, I am frequently surprised at what Stefan comes up with.

They are also obsessed with glue, tape, and cutting. So pull out the craft stuff and let them go at it!

4. Mountain of pillows

When we are really in need of some movement, we love to pile up all the pillows at the end of the hall. Then we take turns running and jumping on them. This one always gets us laughing a lot. Never underestimate the power of some good fun and laughter in an otherwise dreary day.

5. Cozy reading time.

While we always read a lot, if we’ve had an extra long spell of indoor time making reading extra special is easy to do and brings a lot of excitement. Adding hot chocolate or a treat, and bringing our dolls and stuffed animals for a regular book club is a simple way to make our reading time extra special.
What do you do to keep your kids from going stir crazy when you can’t get outside?


  1. I hope everyone is feeling better! Masking tape is also fun to string around the house to make a spider web…

  2. I LOVE the masking tape idea. My kids are tape fiends, so that would be a great way to “direct” their taping :) My sister-in-law got the kids a karaoke machine for Christmas, and I’ve found that to be fun entertainment (without a mess :). Even without the karaoke, though, they like to put on shows. They’ll gather old clothes for costumes, put together a few songs and (generally) work pretty well as a team putting together their production. Stay warm!

  3. Loved the masking tape idea, Johanna. Never used that one. Some other great indoor diversions include laundry baskets, old boxes that can be turned into houses, and making a collage out of old magazines. Busy hands, happy kids.

    • Oh yes, laundry baskets and boxes! You know, I never have any magazines on hand because I always throw them out, but I really should keep a few for collages…

  4. Good ideas! We have done these, except for the masking tape. We will have to try that! :)

    My girls also like to help cook and be let lose with paper and scissors–the obsession is here, too. Or play in water at the bathroom sink (which has 2 side-by-side sinks). That one makes too much mess, though! :) Painting or other stuff can also be a good opportunity for a middle-of-the-day bathtime, which usually occupies us for a little while. :)

    Sometimes when we really get cabin fever (and can’t go out), Daniel will even have the girls do obstacle courses/races. Burns up some energy and they think it is hilarious!

    Now I have an 8-month-old who needs to burn up energy, too. :) Thankfully we have stairs–he climbed them 5 times yesterday.

    Oh, Stefan’s painting is really good!!

    • Olivia loves sitting in the sink too! What is it with that…and it makes a huge mess. I agree, the painting is usually followed by bath time, but Silas loves dumping water outside the bath, so I usually have a flood in the bathroom by the end.

      The obstacle course is a great idea–though our place is so small the the furniture is already an obstacle course without us even trying. :)

      Way to go Justus climbing up those stairs!

  5. Good advice, Jo! Wish I were home more with my little guy. I would definitely be doing these activities! :o)

  6. Hi, I read your new stuff regularly. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep up the good work!

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