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It is that time of year again. Yes, holiday season, but also winter, when getting time outside with your busy toddler may be few and far between. Days are shorter and nights are even longer especially if you have been cooped up in the house looking at the same walls, toys, and CocoMelon Netflix series all day. Indoor play for kids, especially during the winter months, is bound to happen, so start your planning now and have items on hand to bust out any activity at a moment’s notice.
If you are not the craft mom, or the imaginary play mom, or whatever mom you don’t even really want to be, put that all aside. Getting creative comes naturally to some people and others just have to Google and hope for the best. The cozy sock, hot chocolate, warm fire on a gray cold day is not going to be on your child’s top 10 list of things to do. Instead, gather all the things and make sure you have at least three to four activities worth of items to get you through the day. Here are 15 ideas for indoor play for kids when going outside isn’t an option.
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15 Ideas for Indoor Play For Kids
Indoor play for kids is a must for your busy toddler and having a good list of activities on hand is a great tool for any parent. Whether they are on their third meltdown of the day, dinner needs to be made, running circles around the house becomes boring, or even when they are just picking at their sibling for no good reason, these activities are easy to set up, clean up and leaves you with a happy kid. Having several of these activities and their supplies ready to go will give everyone options. Options for your little one to choose an activity and options for the parent to rotate or even set up multiple stations if needed.
1. Rice Bins. Everyone probably has rice in their pantry, but if you don’t this is a staple you will want to keep on hand. You will need a plastic storage container with lid (size is up to you), long grain rice, food coloring (if desired), measuring cups, scoops, alphabet letters or any kind of small toy you can bury, and they can find. If you dare to dye the rice different colors, awesome, but if you also just want to keep it simple white rice, that’s great too. Pour the rice into the bin then you are ready to get started! Get creative and start scooping and seeking.
2. Pom Pom Bins. Indoor play for kids should always include pom poms. They come in all shades of colors and are just so much fun with their fuzzy range of sizes. You can add Poms to your rice bins as an option or create a bin just out of poms and a few extra goodies and see where the fun goes. Pour the pom poms into your bin with a set of tongs, cupcake tins, plastic bottles, or anything your little one can stuff them into, and be amazed at how long this can keep them entertained.
3. Water Bins. While water might sound scary to use for indoor play for kids in the winter, get creative because kids love to splash and play in water. Not to mention you don’t have to physically go to a store for purchase. Put on their bathing suits and take the bin and put it in the bathtub, or use your tub as your bin. A mid-day tub activity will totally throw your little one off and add some much-needed excitement to the cold winter days. After you have your water in place, raid your kitchen for anything to scoop, pour, suction, or squeeze.
4. Sand Bins. If you are a parent that hates the beach because of the sand, let that go because you will probably have a kid that loves to play in the sand. The one rule for these bins is to keep the sand dry for easy cleanup. The rules of the indoor sand bin is that no water is allowed. After that let their sand loving hearts go to town. You can buy sand from most craft stores, hardware stores, or even have it delivered from Amazon. This is a great bin for trucks, cars, building tracks, or even sandcastles! If you can’t be at the beach, bring the beach to you. Try kinetic sand for an awesome sensory experience and easier cleanup.
5. Mud Bins. To keep this one clean and safe, make your mud so there is no question if some accidentally gets into their mouth. This mud recipe contains cocoa powder, corn starch, oats and water. All you need to do is measure out each ingredient, mix and add to the bin. This would be a great bin to add in some animals and trucks keeping one side higher with mud sloping into water on the other side. Your kids will dive into this bin because let’s be honest, they love getting messy. Sit back and watch their imaginations soar.
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Arts & Crafts Activities
1. Stamps. There are so many ways to make or purchase stamps, but if you love easy DIY stamp ideas start saving your wine corks. Wine corks could be good and plentiful in your house, or you might need to start recruiting friends to give you theirs. These easy to make stamps using wine corks are such a great use. Hot glue four corks together for a flower effect or secure small foam shapes to one side and Voila, you have fun stamps to start your art project. If you are unsure what to use for ink, you can try paint dabbers, an ink pad, or even brush on some finger paint.
2. Homemade Play Dough. Indoor play for kids that doesn’t include play dough might not even be considered an indoor activity. Just kidding, but seriously have you ever looked up the ingredients. There are a lot of chemicals but supposedly it is non-toxic. Does that even make sense? Making your own play dough is pretty easy and contains 6 simple ingredients. The fun can be in rolling it out and using cookie cutters to create fun prints, using play dough for science activities, using it to stick other items in such as pipe cleaners, tooth picks or any noddle of choice. There are so many fun play dough ideas just using what you have on hand.
3. Pasta Play. Doing fun activities that also work fine motor skills is a major plus. Having all sorts of pasta types, sizes and even colors can keep your little one happy and content for longer than you might think. Stack them, string them, or even eat them. Pasta is also a great addition to any sensory bin or used in conjunction with play dough, pipe cleaners, string, or any other creative item you can think of.
4. Painting. Finger painting is not only great for development but also makes great indoor play for kids that will have them using all sorts of their creative energy. If messy projects are not for you, then painting might not be on your list of activities to keep on hand. But if you are wanting to do something a little different to break up the day and have some fun, let’s dive in! It is paint, so let’s be honest there will be a mess so here are some simple tips to make finger painting fun with your little one while not stressing over the mess.
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Energy Releasing Activities
1. Dance Party. What kid doesn’t love music? Throw on their favorite tunes, whether that is Kidz Bop, throwback to the ’70s and ’80s, or even adding in some fun swing music. Whatever genre of music you choose, make it special by having some simple decorations on hand to add a little extra glitz and glam. Turn up the dance party by adding in games with the music, such as freeze dance, the limbo or a simple partner dance off with their favorite stuffed animal of choice. The music will keep them moving while the games keep them busy.
2. Walk On Pillows. This game might already be on your list, but if it is not make sure to add it. As simple as this sounds it is actually a ton of fun. Grab as many cushions you can find in all shapes and sizes. The more you have the more you can do. All you need to do is line them up in a row or spread them out safely for short distance jumping and have your little one start cruising away. Adding this indoor play for kids is a great way to work their gross motor skills while using muscles they might not use every day and having a blast doing so.
3. Hide-And-Seek. This classic activity has not only been around for ages, but also has so many developmental benefits for your kiddo. You can make this game as challenging or as easy as you like and your child will be working on their self-control, their memory, their flexible thinking and so much more. Ready or not, here we come!
4. Simon Says. This energy releasing game has one simple rule to follow, there is only one Simon who gives commands, but there can be an endless number of others to play the game. That’s what makes this game so great. Simon has a lot of fun commands, but don’t be fooled when Simon doesn’t say. This is another great activity to add in lots of bouncing, walking, running, skipping and hopping. A great energy release that is sure to get lots of smiles and giggles on any cold, dreary, or snowy day.
5. Balloon Games. If you are looking for an activity with minimum prep and easy to clean up, this indoor play for kids game using balloons will be right up your alley. Balloons bring such joy to any child’s face no matter if it is a simple solid color or bold and bright design. Some activity ideas could include balloon tennis, catching a balloon in a funnel, relay races or jumping balloon game. Balloons are fun for everyone no matter what age you may be.
6. Obstacle Course. Your indoor play for kids games must include an obstacle course and can be as competitive or as easy going as you would like. The great thing about obstacle courses is that you just need everyday items that you can find all over your house. Some examples are blankets, pillows, couch cushions, benches, chairs, jump ropes or just any item you think might be great for your obstacle. These are great ways to be creative with your little one and also a fun way to incorporate your child’s specific interests into the planning process.
There will always be days throughout the year where going outside just isn’t an option. No need to dread having to stay indoors when there are so many great options right in your very own home. It might take a little thinking and creativity, but being indoors can release just as much energy for your little one as running around outside, they might just be working different muscles. Now that we have armed you with 15 indoor play for kids games and ideas, go and conquer.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on Designing Indoor Play For Kids Indoor Play with 3 Sprouts.
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