Easy Indoor Fun for Cooped Up Kids: An Extreme List

Schools are closed. Hooray. As great as it is to get outside and play, there are still many more hours of the day to fill.  Indoor fun is part of a creative mom’s repertoire.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative mom, we’ve got the ideas for you! I’ve gleaned a wealth my own and of other people’s great ideas for indoor fun for when it’s just too cold to go outside, or for when you’ve already been outside playing long enough!

Get Active

Buy a small exercise trampoline and let your kiddos burn off some steam indoors by jumping. All of my kids vie for a turn on it though, so be warned you may want several.  I use it for low impact on my knees exercise while watching semi-educational YouTube videos. We store it on its side in our keeping room, which isn’t ideal, but keeps it handy. A portable trampoline is nice as it is lightweight, can be moved throughout the house, and easily stored in a garage or basement.
Have a dance party.  Turn that music up and move your bodies.  We’re huge fans of musical theater tunes, but it doesn’t matter what you’re listening to. For maximum indoor winter fun, please sing along and show your kids how to be uninhibited and brave. If anyone has any tips to stop my kids from yelling “Hey Alexa!” and changing songs midway through though, please be my guest! It drives me crazy!
Set up an indoor race track If you’re like me at all, you have loads of black construction paper left over. Cut strips and instruct the kids to tape it to the floor to make roads for their cars, or dinosaurs, or themselves.Indoor winter fun can look like simply taping paper together too. Just let them at it and see what they come up with!
Exercise with a Youtuber like The Fitness Marshall. It’s so great that we live in the world of media. I had to check out DVDs at the library for my oldest kids to learn ballet or juggling.  Now we can just have a video to learn anything we want in a few seconds!Move all of the cars out of the garage and play ball!

  • Bring a small basketball hoop in
  • Set up a small trampoline
  • Have a rousing soccer game
  • Play Quidditch on broom sticks (see if maybe they’ll sweep too while they’re at it)
  • Let them rollerblade
  • Encourage them to joust with pool noodles
  • Set up putt putt with solo cups 
  • Play croquet with taped paper wickets
  • Tour your garage and challenge yourself to put an indoor twist on the fun items you already have. A little imagination goes a long way, and kids beating cabin fever saves your sanity, too!

Get Creative

Grab some old magazines, a few kid-friendly scissors, construction paper, and glue to make winter-theme collages. It’s always fun to see what kids create!

Throw some water beads in the tub, turn on the water, and watch them grow! Let your kids wear their swimsuits as they enjoy the sensory fun of playing in a tub filled with squishy, bouncy, marble-sized beads. (A little goes a long way — one $11 package will yield gallons of beads; hopefully enough to last all winter.)

Want a mom-approved way for your kids to entertain themselves? Get a large roll of drawing paper (you can find them from the Quad City Times), provide some crayons or markers, and sit back and relax. (Until they start fighting over that one color of marker… I can’t help you there)

Not a fan of supervising messy craft projects at home? Check out one of the fun, unique classes at the Figge and or the Family Museum and do some creative play with clay with zero mess.  Your kids are sure to love  creating their own unique project with clay

Build a living room fort.  Haul out the blanket, afghans, tables and chairs and rig up your very own secret hideaway living room fort.   Pro- tip: Get some huge clips from Amazon to make the fort building easier and more fun.  You can get lighter weight ones which will work, but we’ve found you want these bad boys to clamp the blankets to the dining room chairs with true staying power. The other ones pop off too easily. 

We’ve even set up the camping tent in the living room for a few days to make things a little more interesting. You could even go so far as to build a pretend fire (use paper towel tubes or brown rolled up paper for logs, yellow and red scarves, socks, or paper for the flames, tape balled up paper to sticks from the yard), make s’mores in the oven, eat hot dogs off of sticks, and make living room camping a real indoor winter fun adventure!living room camping indoors

Create a hammock out of your dining room table and a sheet. Tie a large sheet all the way around your table so the knot is on top. Your kids will love to nestle in and read. 

Give the kids a skein of cheap yarn and let them create an obstacle course. Or drag it around the house Perseus and the Minotaur style. They might discover new ways of cleaning up by putting all of their toys on leashes. Pro tip: Just keep them away from the scissors. Ask me how I know.

indoor winter fun make a maze of yarn

Putting yourself in a dungeon made of yarn is a fun way to spend some indoor time in the winter.

Catch up on your crafts.  

  • Make snowmen from baby puffs containers
  •  Have an older sibling create a baby bowling game for the younger ones.
  •  Play dough It’s fun to make and fun to play with. 
  • Glitter jars.  We call ours calm down jars, which helps, unless someone chucks one off of the bunk bed and you did not choose sturdy enough jars. Pro tip: choose sturdy jars.
  • Pro tip: stock up on basic supplies while the weather is decent so that you’re set when you’re stuck at home and have plenty to keep you all occupied. The Dollar Tree is a wealth of inexpensive craft supplies. 

Get gardening.

  • I love succulents, but I manage to kill them. Yes. I can kill cactus. This terrarium DIY will be the new secret to my success. I can’t wait to see it brighten up a dreary winter day!
  • Plant seeds of any kind in egg cartons filled with dirt and water faithfully. 
  • Get a small plant the next time you’re at the store and charge your child with taking care of their special baby. They even have unique plants like venus fly traps sometimes which are fascinating. 
  • Put a damp paper towel in a pie plate, cover with wheat grass seeds, cover the pie plate with plastic film, and poke holes in the film. Watch the seeds sprout. 
  • You could get an early start on a potted garden. growing wheatgrass is a fun indoor winter activity

Get in the snow–inside. 

Enjoy the winter weather from your kitchen.   An under the bed type bin is perfect for bringing the snow scene into the house.

  • Use some food coloring to dye the snow different colors… Put the food coloring in ice cube trays with a little water, and give them eye droppers to put on the snow. (You’re doing science!)
  • Put some colored water in a spray bottle and see how creative the kids can get “painting snow.”
  • Bring bowls of snow inside to enjoy some “snow ice cream” by mixing 4 cups of fresh snow, 1 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Make some snow balloons  by filling an uninflated balloon with snow (or water) and food coloring, then putting it outside to freeze again.
  • Break out your girlhood copy of Little House in the Big Woods and make Snow Candy with brown sugar and maple syrup.
  • Make paths through the snow for cars, or marbles, or little people. 
  • Make a snow-cano–the old vinegar and baking soda fun, yeah that.

Get Productive

Sit down at the table with your kids and write thank you notes. Just think of someone who had made an impact in your life and drop them a note.

Clean and organize.  Who says being cooped up indoors can’t be functional?  Snow days always make me want to purge and clean for some reason. Help your children go through their closets and drawers.  Look for clothes and toys that you could donate to local charities or families who could use what you no longer need. You’re teaching important life lessons while you have the kids help you in these tasks. 

I love Kathryn of Do It on a Dime, Cass of ClutterBug, and Jordan from Free Cheap and Fun for motivation on YouTube while I organize. (I feel like I’m friends with these women; does that happen to anyone else?)

Learn something new! We’ve learned to knit, finger knit, crochet, sew, build a cardboard maze, invented games with cereal boxes, made marble runs and more. Think of handcraft or task you’d like to learn, and look up how to do it!

Play board games.  Who doesn’t love board games?  This is also a great way to squeeze in some life lessons on sharing, taking turns, being a good sport, and teamwork!  If the game you chose doesn’t work well, add it to the donate pile. Pro tip: store your games sideways, like books. Trust me. You’ll be amazed. playing board games chutes and ladders fun winter thing to do indoors

Put together puzzles. When I was a kid, we always had a card table set up in the dining room with an ongoing puzzle for the family to snap a few pieces into as they walked by. 

Snuggling under a warm blanket with some good books and hot chocolate is my best remedy for winter weather. Right now I’m reading The Magician’s Nephew to my seven year old.

Get Cooking!

Warm-up in the kitchen! Have the kids help you with whatever you’re doing in the kitchen. Here’s why you absolutely should be teaching them the life skills that go along with cooking and here’s how to make your experiences in the kitchen together successful. 

  • Cheese Tortellini Soup
  • Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
  • Have them help you put together some crockpot meals
  • Make letter pretzels. indoor winter fun girl making letter pretzels at counter
  • My seven year old’s  current specialty is sliced apples sauteed in butter and cinnamon sugar. 
  • Dump and Go recipes
  • Pancakes and eggs are always a good way to start in the kitchen, and are great any time of day
  • Cheeseburger and Fry Casserole *****(Five Stars)
    Brown 2 lbs hamburger. Drain. Add one can each of cheddar cheese and cream of mushroom soup, one packet of onion soup mix. Add a bag or two of frozen snow peas, broccoli, or mixed veggies. Mix well. Place in 13 x 9 pan. Top with fries. Bake at 350º for about an hour–til fries are crispy. Yummy in the tummy. 
  • Get creative at lunchtime.  
    • Make an indoor picnic on the floor
    • Make a muffin-tin lunch.  For some creative ideas, check out muffintinmommy.
    • Use skewers and turn the pieces of a sandwich into a kebab.
    • Have soup, but put it in a mug or thermos instead of a bowl. 
    • Make your basic PB&J, but roll out the bread first with a rolling pin, then instead of topping off the sandwich, roll it up like sushi (or a Swiss Cake Roll)
    • Make your basic PB&J on the rolled flat crescent rolls from a can, roll them up, bake according to directions on the can. 
    • Make walking tacos. You could literally go for a winter walk too while you eat. 
    • Put thin apple slices into your traditional meat and cheese sandwich. My 13 year old invented this and it just ups the ante of your sandwich making game. 
    • Have a charcuterie board (which is a fancy way of saying throw meat, cheese, fruit, and crackers onto a tray).

No matter what you do indoors with your cooped up kids, know that you’re not alone! We’ve got our online Facebook community groups, so reach out and ask other moms what they’re doing to keep sane on these long winter days. We have one for each area of the Quad Cities too, so you can invite someone over to pass the time with and your kids can have indoor winter fun together!Pin it! Easy indoor activities with kids you can do right now!

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