Families have always had a need for indoor activities for rainy days, babysitters, or family down time, and right now, we need them more than ever. While we adjust to the world that’s being reshaped by COVID-19, in which schools may be closed for a period of time, or summer camps may be cancelled, we’re all spending a lot more time at home.
When your kids are stuck indoors for extended periods of time, you need to find ways to not only keep them busy, but also enrich their learning, cope with whatever situation is keeping you inside, bond as family, and just generally have lots of fun together. Whether it’s a rainy day, or something unprecedented like extended school closures, there is a variety of great indoor activities kids love that you can do right in your living room or kitchen.
We’ve gathered a variety of activities for kids that span these needs—some mimic the classroom experience and are tied to an education area, some are just-for-fun. Most apply to any age group or are easy to tailor up or down as needed, and many can be done by your kids independently while you work.
Tips for engaging kids with indoor activities
- When you’re stuck at home, you can’t go out for supplies. Plan ahead by making a general arts and crafts kit for each child based on what they are interested in. Stock up on board games, puzzles, puzzle books, and school supplies.
- Pick three of your favorite activities for each of your kids and assemble what they need for each of those activities into a kit including instructions. You can quickly set your kids up with these kits if something unexpected comes up.
- Ideally, pick at least two activities for your kits that are independent and do not require your involvement—these will be activities that your kids can really dig into with minimal guidance from you. These are also great for travel.
- If you’re hearing, “I’m bored,” you can even use this list as an activities “menu” and let your kids pick what they’d like to do—offering choices helps eliminate battles! Or, let them choose online classes based on their curiosities.
20 Indoor skill-building activities for kids
Math and science
- Learn the basics of recognizing and counting coins and skip-counting. Use real coins for this activity and once your learner has mastery, build a grocery store and go “shopping” together to practice.
- If you have a child who loves animals, they can learn about a vet’s typical day with a multi week class on veterinary care basics for cats and dogs. All that’s required—a plush animal and a bath towel for following along.
- Basic human anatomy is a great way to hook kinesthetic learners and kids who enjoy movement into science. Once they’ve learned everything from the skeletal system to the lymphatic system, try an activity in the movement section and discuss what their bodies are doing from a scientific standpoint while they move.Explore the solar system through song, satellite photos, and discussion complete with links to follow up activities to do as a family without special equipment.
Art and crafts
- Make masking tape art. Use tape to mask off geometric shapes or lines poster board or large construction paper, then paint each section and pull up the tape when dry to reveal a stained-glass-like effect.
- Save that empty toilet paper roll to help your kids craft! They come in incredibly handy, along with empty paper towel rolls in so many creative art projects. Explore 30 creative art projects for kids to pick your activity by age group.
- Draw. Your home is full of inspiration for your child to work on their drawing skills. Pull out all your fruits and vegetables to inspire kids to draw their food.
Reading and writing
- Create a slang dictionary. Apply parts of speech to words outside of the dictionary. When your child uses language they enjoy and that is connected to the voice of their generation, grammar and dictionaries become much more fun. Build a small book just like a dictionary with a definition, pronunciation, and parts of speech listed. Let them quiz you after you’ve studied.
- Practice writing skills with a collection of writing ideas for kids.
- Engage your child’s critical thinking skills and discuss different forms of media. Find examples of online news, social media posts, and printed news and discuss how they know what is fact or fiction.
- Even though you’re stuck inside you can still get your bodies moving. Have each family member create a playlist and then have a dance off, dance show, or dance party to each playlist.
- Learn a specific dance technique like ballet. Practice using a kitchen chair instead of a ballet barre.
- Hide and seek is a classic game made for indoors and great for young children. To switch it up, play sardines instead where only one person hides and as each family member finds them, they have to join in the hiding spot. It gets pretty comical.
- Older kids can write up a scavenger hunt or other clue hunt to send younger kids around the house on a journey. To make it a little tougher, make each clue a riddle that needs to be solved for the answer.
- Indoor games like board games, cards, and puzzles are great but when you need movement a homemade obstacle course is a lot of fun. If you’ve made a blanket fort, you can make an obstacle course. As long as your kids know what is off limits, this is also something they can set up independently. Record race times if you want to get serious.
- Make butter! Add a pint of heavy cream to a mason jar and shake until the solids separate from the liquids. Squeeze the solids through fine mesh cheesecloth. The solid ball is your fresh butter and the liquid is your fresh buttermilk. Make pancakes together with the buttermilk or incorporate the butter into any number of kid-friendly recipes.
- Create your own pop up restaurant complete with a theme, menu, and chef. This will require parental involvement but everyone will enjoy the final product!
- Baking is a fun indoor activity that requires some supervision but it’s a nice break from screens and very hands on. Plus, kids can share the finished product with family or neighbors.
Coding & Tech
- When you teach kids how to code through a game, it’s much easier to digest the concepts of algorithms and sequencing. This is a great highly independent activity.
- Make a stop motion animation complete with voiceover, title and credits, sounds effects, and theme music using legos, action figures, or other materials. Hold a viewing party with popcorn (ideally in a pillow fort) once your learner completes the class.
Outschool is a marketplace of live online classes for kids (ages 3-18). Learners can safely learn and connect with teachers over live video chat. From math and music to filmmaking, coding, writing, and baking, the small-group online format supports all learner types at any level. Classes start at $10.