So, it's wet outside and your kids are restless. Or, maybe that crisp autumn air is preventing your kids from staying outside too long without getting the sniffles. What on Earth can you do to entertain them and get them to behave? Well, you could always turn on the TV or give them access to their tablets or gaming consoles. But what if you could engage them, encourage learning and creativity, and bring the whole family together for safe, fun activities within your own four walls? That's right, these 17 activities won't require you to spend money and they're so fun that everyone is sure to enjoy them!
17 Baking fun
Kids love their sweets. If your kid has a sweet tooth, give them the opportunity to make their own sweet treat and explore their inner chef. They'd be overjoyed if you dusted off that old Easy-Bake Oven in your attic (or bought a new one for them).
When baking with kids, give them choices of flavor or colors. Kids love having a say in the things they eat! Once they've decided, it's time to get rollin'! You can make cupcakes, brownies, muffins, biscuits, crepes, pancakes, or whatever else comes to mind! There are great tutorials on YouTube when it comes to baking. So, you can get a ton of ideas there. If your kid likes to create a mess, go for more simple fun. Have them roll out the dough and press with the cookie cutter. Make mud pie or a safe, egg-free cookie dough for them to dig into! Sometimes a mess is worth the fun!
16 Treasure hunt
We all know the concept of treasure hunts. From pirate-themed movies to Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer, we have learned that there can be adventure just around the corner! Now, apply this concept in your own home. All you need is some paper and different random items in your home to use as clues. You can even use a shape, color, phrase, or riddle on sheets of paper to lead the way. These clues can lead to a location or to an idea, like in Blue's Clues, when Blue is trying to tell Steve what he wants to do. The possibilities are endless!
You can even create a pirate's map to lead the way or say things like, "getting warmer," when they are getting near. To make it educational, you can make math equation clues or write down anything you think is important for them to learn. If you want your kids to be more active, make them do a physical activity like jumping or doing the twist in order to "unlock" the clue.
15 Blanket fort
If your child is afraid of storms, comfort him or her with this luxurious blanket fort. You can teach your kid how to build a tent and spend precious time together in this safe haven you built together! Using sheer blankets and fairy lights will create an air of fantasy and a warm, starry night within the home. It's a perfect contrast to a storm. If you'd like, use thicker blankets and comforters to make a cozy, bed-like fort in which to watch movies, play games, or just talk and tell stories. It's literally what you make it! And it's just a great (and simple) way to get close with your family and build memories.
14 Pillow fort
Want a simpler fort? Try a pillow fort! This is incredibly fun, as it allows your child to imagine being his or her own "king of the castle." Your kid can allow safe passage to whomever he or she chooses (perhaps they can create a password that people need to guess correctly before entering). They can also open and shut pillow doors and windows, and crawl from section to section of their make-believe fortress. This is a fun way to make your kids feel safe and use their imagination to make their fort into any structure their minds can think of! Get in on the action and explore your child's imagination. You never know what stories and adventures your kid will invent for you both!
13 Indoor camp
Oh no, has the rain kept your family from camping? Who needs the great outdoors when you can transform your home into a camper's paradise? To do this, you'll need to assemble your tent, gather your child's favorite toys, and add some twinkle lights to your indoor plants. Then, light some candles and dim the lights. You can tell ghost stories and microwave some s'mores, just like you would on a real camping trip. Or, cook hot dogs on the stove and pop some popcorn.
You can even pretend you are on a safari! Is that really your pet cat or could it be a lion? Add some Velcro to toys and to a long stick, then go fishing from your couch! Watch a forest-themed film like The Lion King, The Jungle Book, or Pocahontas. Sing along to "Hakuna Matata" while your spouse plays guitar. There's so much to do when you use your imagination!
12 Board games
There's nothing wrong with some traditional, family game nights. If anything, these classic games have been bringing families together for decades! You can teach your kids how to play the classic games you grew up with or discover new games. To jump start your memory on some of the oldies but goodies, there's Yahtzee, Checkers, Chess, Dominos, and Bingo. For classic board games, there's Life, Shoots and Ladders, Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, and many, many more. You can even do a trivia board game like Trivial Pursuit or Cranium. You can even find board games that are Disney-themed. These days, there's literally something for everyone. Not only will you have hours of fun, but playing board games also teaches your kids valuable things like teamwork and problem-solving.
11 Video games
If you don't think your kids will go for a board game, maybe a good middle ground would be to play a video game with them. Hey, it's better to spend the time doing something together, rather than having everyone isolated to their own spaces. If video games seem too sedentary for you, try a Wii or Xbox Kinect game (which requires you to move around) or play the new Pokémon GO app with your kids so they can "Catch 'em all" safely and with adult supervision.
If your kid is more on the creative side of the spectrum, you can play Minecraft or Terrarium. If your kid is musically-inclined, play Guitar Hero (a musical trivia game), or Dance Dance Revolution. There's something for everyone online and on new game consoles. You can even play the classics and introduce your children to the fun of your youth.
Nothing is more classic than a game of hide-and-go-seek! Everyone knows how to play it because practically every child has played it. You can make your own rules, create your own characters, and take this game to the next level! Play humans versus zombies and try to hide from the brain eaters. Or, pretend to be Batman battling the Joker, leaving jokes to indicate your location. You could also play an indoor game of Manhunt. Ask your child (or children) what they want to do. The possibilities are endless! With so many ways to play, this classic is certainly one to revamp for your family! Seriously, have you ever met a kid that hated playing this game?
9 Indoor toss games
Toss is normally an outside game, but thanks to game developers and our own imaginations, toss can be played pretty much anywhere (and in a variety of ways). Design Dazzle had a brilliant idea to put glow sticks in water bottles and throw glow stick necklaces at them. Isn't that cool? This is something you can have a lot of fun with indoors. And if you don't feel like making your own toss game, there are many options to buy online and in stores. For instance, there's the bean bag toss, the ring toss, and the tick-tac-toe themed bean bag toss. Toss is no longer an outdoor game for kids parties and carnivals. Your kids will be happy for the opportunity to throw things inside the house with parental supervision (especially things that glow).
8 Improvised games
Don't have a lot of options in your house? Anyone can play charades! It's a great way to unleash your silly side and make your whole family laugh. After all, isn't laughter the best medicine? If you have a smartphone, try downloading some of their trivia apps. There are a few (like Heads Up!) where you have to act out or ask questions regarding a certain topic on the phone app. A family member will have to guess the person, place or thing that you're giving them the clue to. You can also have a laugh playing Pictionary, if you'd prefer to draw. The same rules apply, but you have a physical timer, cards to select from, and you have to draw out the word instead of acting it out or asking questions. There are so many ways you can play charades nowadays!
Think playing house is just for girls? Think again. Anyone can play house and there is no wrong way to play it! Girls can hammer plastic nails into plastic holes, boys can cook and clean, and vice versa. If you want a creative, low-cost way to play house, allow your child to create his or her own house! It can be anything he or she wants: a rocket ship, a castle, a dome, a box, or a tree! You can build it together out of cardboard and paint it however you like. You can even help them to build furniture and accessories for their new residence. This totally beats spending hundreds of dollars on a new toy house from the store. And it's yet another way to think outside the box, by using a box!
6 Movie night
Remember when Blockbuster was a huge, nation-wide sensation? Everyone would crowd in there on Friday night to find movies to watch over the weekend. Now we have things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Crackle, and movies on-demand. With so many ways to watch, you are sure to find something age-appropriate that you'll all love! Just try to be mindful about what each person in your family might want to watch and find something you can all agree on. If that doesn't seem to be possible, take turns selecting a movie. Either way, kid-friendly movies are now just a click away! So, this won't even require leaving your living room sofa. Actually, you do have to get up to pop some popcorn (or grab a bag of chips).
5 Science experiments
Kids in the '90s learned from Bill Nye that science can be really cool. Invoke the lessons from Bill Nye and Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus and make science experiments at home. There are many to choose from that are safe, affordable, and very fun for kids. For instance, did you know that you could make a putty that melts in your hand when you stop moving it around? Even cooler, it glows in the dark! What is this sorcery? Surprisingly, it's just made from a potato! The King of Random shows you how to make it in his infamous YouTube video. He also has a video on how to make instant ice. If your kids are fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, then they will certainly enjoy this scientific way to perform "water bending."
A New Zealand site called Science Kids also has a collection of fun science experiments you can perform with your kids. Another way to introduce your kids to the magic of science is to teach them how to wow their friends with "magic tricks" and teach them the science behind them. Funology has a collection of illusions and tricks that are more science than superstition. And let's not forget the amazing walking water, which includes both the moving of liquids and fun with bright colors!
4 Exercise marathon
Want your kids to stay active? Instead of lounging about or doing an activity that requires you to remain stationary, get your body moving and join encourage active play. How? Well, you can exercise with your kids. It doesn't have to be anything intense, either. You can do yoga, pilates, dance, or something as simple as hula hooping together.
If your kids are competitive, make exercising more fun by turning it into a playful competition. Split your family into teams or make it a person versus person event. Set up different activities and obstacles and have yourself a family exercise marathon in your own house! Why wait for the weather to clear up when you can have so much fun inside? This is a great way to teach your children perseverance, teamwork, and how much fun exercise can be!
Storytelling is such an important activity that has been passed down throughout the ages. It spreads ideas, languages, historical information, and most importantly, imagination! Get your children to appreciate the art of storytelling by sharing some of your own with them. It can be as silly or realistic as you choose. It can include life lessons or funny jokes and fables to make your kids laugh. It can be anything you want it to be! This is a perfect opportunity to also allow yourself to be silly and imaginative. Being an adult doesn't mean you have to be serious all the time.
You can share in the joy of reading together, as well. Read them a story if you can't come up with something yourself. You can read it together or take turns. Exposing your children to books at an early age is so powerful and can help your child in the classroom and in life. What a wonderful pastime to share!
2 DIY crafts
Is your kid a lover of the arts? Does he or she find creativity in everything they see? If so, make your rainy day into a day for creating beautiful artwork that your child can hang up proudly or actually use! It's Always Autumn has some wonderful ideas for DIY crafts that can be used as decoration, games, and much more! For instance, they have easy knitting activities to introduce your child to making garments and blankets, simple obstacle courses made with crepe paper, and even Kool-Aid modeling clay!
If you're looking for a myriad of crafts for any time of year, the perfect place to find them is at Free Kids' Crafts, with 365 crafts a year! They have amazing ideas such as DIY emoji pillows, light bulb air balloons, and tealight lighthouses!
Throughout the years, you and your family will create a vast supply of memories. Capture them in photographs and collect them in scrapbooks to relive these memories for years to come! Have your children add their personal touch with their own artwork, color choices, funky patterns, and photo placement. This is a perfect opportunity to personalize your past for the eyes of future generations. It's a calming, fun, creative activity for rainy days or just for the sake of nostalgia.
Creating new memories doesn't have to happen outside of the home in expensive, exotic locations or on special occasions. Celebrate every day you have together, rain or shine. Hopefully, these activities can bring your family closer together and help you break free from monotony. The indoors is not off-limit for fun. Let your inner child run free and explore what is possible in the great indoors!