Easy Indoor Activities to Keep Kids Happy and Parents Sane

I know, it’s only January and you’ve already seen enough Play-Doh, blocks, and toy cars to last you the next six months. You’ve turned on more DVDs than you’d care to admit, and you’ve been known to lock yourself in the bathroom just for five minutes of quiet. What is a parent to do? Try these fun activities that will break up the days the little, and hopefully give you a little more sanity to make it through the winter!

1. Balloon Toss
Note: Always supervise children when playing with balloons. This is a better activity for children over age three, as balloons can pose a choking hazard for small children if accidentally popped.
My little one LOVES this game. It will keep her occupied for an hour. Which, in kid time is roughly the equivalent of two years. All you do is blow up a balloon, and hit it back and forth like a volleyball. This game teaches hand-eye coordination and is also just plain fun!

2. Scavenger Hunt
This breaks up the day a little, and provides a little treat for your child at the end. First, send your child into the other room while you write out clues on small strips of paper. For a smaller child, the clues should be simple such as “Check the place you sit while eating dinner” (dining room chair). For an older child, you can do more complex clues like “Go to the cabinet where we store the NaCl” (in the kitchen cabinet that houses the salt).
Do several clues (I do four or five), with a different strip of paper in each clue location. At the end of the scavenger hunt, hide a small treat or snack as the “treasure”.

3. Indoor Picnic
Play fun summertime music (think ukulele) and lay out a blanket on the carpet for lunch. Serve a picnic lunch such as tuna, egg salad, or BBQ chicken sandwiches, pasta salad, potato salad, fresh fruit (if you can find it), and popsicles or ice cream for dessert.

4. Board Game Bonanza
Okay, okay, I’m not going to say Candy Land. (Though we do play it daily here.) But, there are lots of board games that keep little ones amused and have an educational bonus as well. Some of our favorites here are:
Sequence for Kids. Teaches pattern recognition and logic.
Let’s Go Fishin’. Teaches hand-eye coordination.
Chutes and Ladders, Memory, and obviously Candy Land are old stand-bys as well. Hasbro offers printable coupons every few months for these games. I was able to score Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land for $2 each after pairing coupons with a sale!
A deck of cards can help your child learn numbers and shapes, and you can play Go Fish with a regular deck of cards.

5. Make Your Own Band
Don’t try this if you already have a headache, but you can make lots of musical instruments at home!
To make a guitar, wrap rubber bands around a shoebox.
To make a tambourine, staple together two paper plates and hole-punch the edges. Hang jingle bells using string or ribbon.
Make a xylophone by filling glasses with differing amounts of water. Gently tap a spoon on the glasses to create different pitches.
Create cymbals out of pot lids.
Make a drum by using an old oatmeal tub or a tupperware set, and use a wooden spoon for the drumstick.
Create your own maracas by filling old plastic water bottles with rice or dried beans.

Don’t forget to look through our collection of art projects as well!

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3 thoughts on “Easy Indoor Activities to Keep Kids Happy and Parents Sane

  1. Following on the make-a-band idea…at one point last winter I got so desperate that I duct-taped a coffee can full of beans together and let my preschool sidekick roll it down the stairs. I probably should have used rice, in retrospect, but it entertained him for a good hour.

    Stopping over from Show-And-Share Saturday.

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