Trying to entertain my kids at home had been the ultimate challenge this year.
At the start of the pandemic, we focused on outdoor activities during the quarantine. It was Spring, and it was the perfect weather to be outside. Our first quarantine purchase was a small above ground pool. We slowly added a cornhole game, some cones and rings for obstacle courses, and eventually a climbing dome.
When stay at home order was lifted, and outdoor activities slowly begin to pick up, we got hit with fires that created unhealthy air quality throughout California. We have been staying indoors for weeks with very little outside play for the kids.
While school is already virtual (check out ideas for virtual learning here), and most of our days are on the computer, I had to get creative in finding two active kids’ indoor activities. Unfortunately, I can’t play Heads Up 7-up with just two kids.
Here’s a list of activities and resources we have on rotation and used during the many days indoors. Although we are looking forward to being outside as much as possible, these are great activities to have ready for the rainy day weather.
Joey and Addie love to build things. Joey, especially as he’s at a point where he can follow all the visual instructions all by himself. We started with magnet tiles when they were toddlers. They love Legos building new Lego sets and also creating their own with loose pieces.
Instead of just investing in Legos, I found having different types of building sets have kept their interest. They will spend multiple hours throughout the day, switching between different building sets.
With younger kids, their attention span is not very long on one particular thing. Having multiple building sets is like having different classroom stations, where they switch between various activities.
Here are some of the building sets we have and love:
- Legos – they love the sets with instructions, but they also love having loose ones to free build where they use their imagination.
- Magnet Building Tiles – they had these since they were toddlers, and they still love building with it.
- K’nex – these are the new favorites right now. We already have a few boxes worth because they needed more pieces to build different models without breaking it apart after one model. Kid K’nex are for the younger builders.
- HEX VEX Robotics – these are best for older kids. They are a fun way to engage kids in engineering concepts through robotics. I have found a few sets on sale at my local craft stores.
Having various board games and puzzles is a great way to bond and engage as a family on any night and not just a rainy day. We have Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Uno on rotation. These are great for our younger kids to play along.
Joe taught Joey how to play chess. We were not quite sure if Joey was ready because there are quite a few rules to follow. But he slowly picked it up and is constantly asking Joe to play. Addie is not quite ready for it, so she helps dad move the pieces when they play.
Another great game is BINGO! It’s such a classic for all ages. But it is a lot more fun when you play with more people. So when you are stuck indoors, you can host a Zoom Bingo game with some family and friends. You can find instructions here.
Joey and Addie love puzzles. But they do get tired of the same ones after putting them together a few times. They also don’t have the patience for larger puzzles, so we keep a few mini ones on rotation.
For younger kids, pattern blocks are great for shape puzzles. You will usually find these in preschool and lower grade classrooms. They are great for kids to recognized shapes and learn about symmetry and patterns.
Staying Active Indoors
When you are stuck inside for more than a day, the kids get a little wild, and your sanity gets tested. While you can’t play catch or ride a bike indoors, there are ways to burn off the energy stuck in those little bodies.
My kids would much rather be on a tablet or watch tv when stuck inside, so I use it to my advantage. We will play games on our Xbox 360 Kinect that requires whole-body movement and not just working a controller. Kinect Adventures! is the favorite so far. Joey would work up a sweat playing the game.
GoNoodle is a site full of movement and mindfulness videos. They have many creative and fun videos that also incorporate academic concepts. I used many of their videos in the classroom and now with my kids. They also have a Youtube channel to play it on TV for the kids to dance along.
One of our favorite indoor activities is having a dance party! We take turns picking a song and dance and sing along to it together. To make it more fun, set up some party lights to have the ultimate dance party.
Whether it is air quality, heat, or just raining cats and dogs outside that is keeping your kids indoor, this list of indoor activities will keep them entertained. Keep some of these ideas on rotation to prepare for a day or even days indoors.
Got some great indoor activity ideas? Share them with us below.