Thanks to the combination of record lows this winter, the Internet, and Xbox, the art of making up your own indoor fun is an art that’s almost lost on today’s kids. Almost — but not quite. For creative parents who want to show their kids that there’s plenty of fun to be had inside without electronic stimulation, here are twelve suggestions for indoor games parents, kids, and siblings can enjoy together.
1. Indoor HORSE
Who says basketball can only be played outside? Use a Nerf ball and a desk basketball hoop, or, if you don’t have that on-hand, use a couple of rolled up socks and a bucket to get a competitive game of horse going inside.
2. Classic board games
Cold winter days when you and your kids are snowed in are a great opportunity to introduce them to board games that haven’t lost their appeal even generations later. Battleship, Monopoly, Risk, Life, Sorry!, and Clue are just a few of the games you may have played as a kid that are still just as fun today.
3. Turn a board game into a live-action game
Monopoly, as a board game, is one way to teach kids about money and investing; what about turning something like Monopoly into a live action game? You can turn different parts of the house into “properties” that belong to various kids and adults, then use the Monopoly money to have everyone playing pay for things like “groceries,” “rent,” and so forth. Think of it as the game of “house” with an added economic component.
4. Teach your kids card games
Card games — the old-fashioned kind, not the comic book store kind — have also been entertaining kids and adults for generations. Take a cold day as an opportunity to teach your kids Rummy, War, Slap Jack, Uno, or Go Fish.
5. Hide ‘n seek
When they hide, your kids have to think outside the box and get creative. When you hide, your kids have to use their problem-solving skills and patience to figure out where you might be.
6. Simon Says
Like hide ‘n seek, Simon Says is a classic, electronics-free game that kids love and that makes them exercise their minds and their listening skills.
7. Puppet shows
Kids who are a little bit older but not yet pre-teens will love putting together a puppet show. Use old socks and make sock puppets, or use paper bags, construction paper, and markers to decorate puppet characters. Then help the kids come up with a storyline for their puppet show. Although puppet shows are fun for one parent and one child, they’re even more fun when you have lots of kids participating, such as at a birthday party or sleepover. For bonus points, film the show and help the kids edit it into a puppet movie.
8. Air raid, flood
This is another game that’s great to play with multiple kids involved. Everyone starts by jogging in place — this is “flood” mode. When the leader calls out “air raid,” the participants have to get belly-down on the ground. When the leader calls “flood” again, they get up and run in place. The fun part is when the leader tries to trick the participants, such as by calling out “flood” but pointing at the ground. Anyone who gets into “air raid” position is “out.” The last person standing gets to be the leader for the next round. This is a great game to ensure physical activity and help prevent restlessness from being indoors all day.
9. Pictionary and charades
Charades is one of those old party games that’s never completely lost its appeal. Pictionary, besides being the name of a television game show from the ’90s, is charades with drawings instead of gestures. All you need for charades is your body and something to keep time; all you need for pictionary is a drawing pad and a timer.
10. Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt takes a little bit more advanced preparation on the part of the adult or adults who are organizing it. You’ll need to write clues that provide a challenge but that aren’t too hard for young minds. End your scavenger hunt by having the kids find some big prize that they can enjoy, like a special treat or a new toy.
11. Psychic scavenger hunt
The “psychic” scavenger hunt provides a twist on the classic scavenger hunt idea. The person leading the hunt thinks up of five to ten items in the house that he or she wants the other participants to find. Everyone has two or three minutes to run around the house gathering the items that they think might be on the list. For every item they get right, they get a point. Whoever guesses the most items gets to be the next psychic hunt leader.
12. Foot-and-balloon volleyball
Most ball games cannot be played inside the house. Putting together kids under eighteen and flying balls is usually just asking for trouble. However, foot-and-balloon volleyball is a “ball game” that is also very unlikely to knock over any lamps or cause any head injuries. Start by tying a string between two points, like a doorway or two pieces of sturdy furniture. Next, blow up a balloon to serve as the volleyball. Kids and/or parents take off their shoes and get into “crab-walk” position. They volley the balloon back and forth over the string. When it touches the ground on your side, your opponent scores a point.
This list of a dozen fun indoor activities just scratches the surface of what a creative parent can do with his or her kids indoors. Do you have your own favorite “rainy day” or “polar vortex” indoor games? Share them in the comments section below.