In a world of technology, it becomes all too easy to sit your kiddo in front of a TV or tablet so you can get stuff done, especially on these long winter breaks. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. It happens to everyone.
But if you’ve come across this article hoping to find some activities for your children to play actively instead of one that requires WiFi, you’re in luck. Here are 50 different fun games for kids that you can play to keep them happy and active while staying indoors.
I Spy is a game for younger kids, although you can add challenges to make it entertaining for older kids. One person chooses an object within eyesight and says, “I spy with my little eye, something…red!”
The other players have to look around the room and guess what the “red” object is. Whoever guesses correctly chooses the next thing. With smaller children, you can pick something in a particular shape as well, which will not only keep them occupied and interested, but they’ll also be learning.
Guess What’s In the Box
Guess What’s In the Box is another game that is fun for smaller children. Find random objects throughout the house and put them in a box (shoebox works, but any plastic storage container works, too.)
Put a towel over the box and have the kids reach in and pick one object. Using their skill of deduction, they try to figure out what the item is without looking at it.
What!? Let them blow bubbles inside the house? Outrageous! Okay, I know that your heart just leaped into your throat, but hear me out. I’m not telling you to hand your kids a bottle of bubbles and leave the room.
Have them sit at the dining room table and have a little fun. Supervised play is the only way this ends well, so if you can’t sit down and blow bubbles with them, it may not be the best choice. But, honestly, who couldn’t use a few more bubbles to brighten up their day?
Keep the Balloon Up
You’re smiling, aren’t you? You are having a flashback to a time when you played Keep the Balloon Up. And why is that? Because it’s a classic, that’s why. If you need instructions, they are relatively easy to follow.
Find a balloon, blow it up, tie it off, hit it into the air, and keep it off the ground. There are no points, but if you want to make them up, go for it. There is only one official rule in this game, and that is to keep the balloon up. Kids love it, parents love it, so it’s a win-win.
Simon Says is fun because it gives you the chance to try and “get” your kids. If and when you do, they have the best time and then they get to try it on you. The rules are simple.
Start out by telling them to do something with their bodies, beginning with the words “Simon says.” For example, “Simon says stand on one leg.” Occasionally, give them a command without saying “Simon says” first.
If they follow the instructions, they are out. They are only supposed to follow the lead person if that person starts the command with “Simon Says.” You can always change “Simon” into the name of whoever is in charge, but if your kids already know it as, “Simon Says,” you may have a mutiny.
Hide and Seek
For children who are smaller, keep this game contained in an individual room. For older kids, let them roam the house for 15 minutes trying to find the other players. Make sure everyone knows what the boundaries of the game are, whether it’s “You have to stay inside the house,” or “Anywhere except the garage.”
A fun variation is to play in the dark where it is more difficult to find one another. You can also play tag as well, meaning if you’re about to be caught, you can run off to find another hiding place.
Creating a fun scavenger hunt involves a little bit of recon on your part, but it’s worth it. First, find objects around the house that you want your kids to search for, then get out a few pieces of paper and a writing utensil. (Look, you’re already having a scavenger hunt of your own.)
If your list of items is long, you can type them out and print for each kiddo. Otherwise, handwriting works just as well. If you are planning on hiding the objects in challenging places, you can add little hints next to each item on the list.
As you hide the articles, make sure you write where you put them. Not being able to find one isn’t as bad as forgetting the location of an Easter egg, but making a list ahead of time saves you time in the end.
You can also change the game into a treasure hunt by adding clever clues to each item that leads them to the next one.
Hide the Thimble
I’m surprised I didn’t mention this one earlier, as I have very fond memories of playing it with my siblings on rainy days. One player has the thimble (or whatever item you’ve chosen as the thimble.)
All of the other players hide in a room where they can’t peek. The hider has a certain amount of time to hide the thimble “within eyesight” in the chosen area. It can’t be hidden under anything or in any place where those searching would have to touch or move anything with their hands.
It’s a look-only game. When the other players are released, they can look anywhere within the area, while the hider calls out whether they are “warm,” meaning closer to the thimble, or “cold” meaning they are getting further away. Try saying things like, “Your right arm is so hot, it’s going to catch on fire!”
Duck, Duck, Goose!
This game needs a minimum of 6 players. Everyone sits in a circle with one player, the Goose, standing up on the outside of that circle. The Goose walks around the circle, and each time he touches the next person’s head, he says, “duck.” “Duck, duck, duck, duck…”
At some point (hopefully not too long, as some kids think it’s hilarious to keep “ducking”), the Goose will touch someone’s head and yell, “Goose!” The standing Goose (stay with me here) runs around the circle and tries to get into the “new” goose’s spot before the new Goose can stand up, run around and tag the old Goose.
If the former Goose gets to the place and sits down before getting tagged, he becomes a duck, and the new Goose starts over again. If the new Goose tags the old Goose, he stays a Goose and tries a second time.
Indoor Obstacle Course
This game is as fun as it sounds and requires some prep work as well as some clean-up. You’ll need a large area, preferably one with couches and chairs already available.
You can also have it set up throughout several rooms if that’s easier in regards to putting objects back where they belong. Here are several ideas from which you can choose.
- Crawl under or over a row of chairs
- Throw a bean bag (or rolled up sock) into a laundry basket
- Jump into and out of a hula hoop a certain amount of times
- Put tape in a straight line and have the kids treat it like a balance beam
- Put a broom or long stick across the backs of two chairs and have the kids either crawl under it or do the limbo
- Pillow tunnels
- Pillow islands – have the kids jump from one to another avoiding the lava
- You can have them complete part of the course doing specific exercises that are fun for their age, such as frog hops, or jumping jacks.
- Add a hopscotch section with tape.
The sky’s the limit on this one. A fun way to set it up would be to do it after the kids are in bed, so they come downstairs and are either completely confused or out of their mind with excitement. Once you create it, the course will keep them busy all day long, even after they’ve run through it a few times.
If you don’t have this game on hand, that’s alright. It’s not difficult to create one from household items as long as you have construction paper, scissors, and tape.
Creating your own game allows you to make it how you want, such as creating shapes as well as colors, so your kids are learning while they’re having fun. Make sure you tape the shapes to the floor to keep them from sliding as you play.
Rock Paper Scissors
This game is great by itself and for deciding whose turn it is. You can have the kids play just for the heck of it or turn it into a tournament and keep score.
Find some empty water bottles, or some plastic cups and start bowling.
Dominoes are great for kids who want to play the game and for kids who want to set them up and send them toppling. You don’t even need real dominoes to play, just find them online and print them off.
You can’t topple paper dominoes so you’d need an actual set for that, but they aren’t costly and add a lot of fun to days when you’re stuck inside.
You need to have marbles for this game, specifically one bigger marble for each kid playing the game. Make sure you put them away where the kids can’t find them after the game is over. The big marbles always get lost first, despite their size.
Make a circle 3 feet wide out of tape or string. Put 3-5 marbles per player near the center of the ring. Each player takes a turn, with their hands outside of the circle, flicking their big marble with their thumb towards the other marbles.
If they knock some marbles out of the loop, they get to keep them and go again. If they miss, they leave their big marble there until it is their turn again. The winner is whoever has the most amount of marbles at the end.
This game is excellent for road trips as well as indoors. One player chooses a person, place, or thing. The other players only ask “yes” or “no” questions to figure out what it is. They get 20 questions to ask. The player who correctly guesses gets to choose the next person, place, or thing. If no one guesses in time, the original player gets to pick something else and go again.
Board games are such a fun way to interact with others, whether it’s you and your kids, or even older kids in a youth group. Some are simple, and others take a little more concentration. Whatever your case may be, there are several games for kids for you to check out.
Candy Land is a straightforward game and is fun for all ages. Instead of rolling dice or reading instructions on a card, you flip over cards with colors and pictures on them. You move your piece to the corresponding spot on the board.
The character cards send you to where the characters are on the board, which is good if you flip a figure in front of your game piece, but bad if the character is far behind your game piece, sending you back quite a few spaces.
Sorry! is for kids a few years older than the Candy Land age group, only because it takes some strategy and reading. On the other hand, you can always read the cards to your younger kids and have fun anyway.
Each player gets four game pieces in their “Home.” They have to flip a one or a two to move from Home onto the board. Then, following the cards flipped, each player takes turns moving counterclockwise around the board and into their Safety Zone.
Once all four pieces are all the way around, you win. The tricky part comes when players flip over cards such as “Move four spaces backward” or “Switch Places with an Opponent.” As long as you are on the board and out of the “Safety Zone” you are vulnerable.
If anyone lands on your square, they take your place and send your piece back to Home. When they send you packing, they get to say, “Sorry!” even though we all know they’re not sorry at all.
Chutes and Ladders
Also known as Snakes and Ladders, this game is similar to Candy Land in regards to skill level, although a dice is used instead of colored cards. Each player takes a turn, rolling the dice and moving the correct amount of spaces.
If you land on a ladder, you can climb up, bypassing other spaces. If you land on a slide or a snake, you slide down. Some ladders and snakes are small, and others are big.
There’s nothing better than watching a player who is very far ahead get close to the end and have to slide all the way down again. It adds a level of difficulty and makes the games last longer as well.
Pictionary is fun for all levels, but especially for older kids. There are several ways to play, even if you don’t have the board game itself.
The board game comes with paper, pencils, and objects to draw. Break into teams, then place your game piece on the board. As you move around the board, your pieces will land on a square telling you what type of object to draw, such as person, place, or animal.
As the player draws, a timer ticks away, and their team has to guess what they are drawing. If the board piece lands on “All Play,” all teams must draw the same thing at the same time.
Whoever guesses first gets the next turn. That is helpful sometimes because if you can’t figure out what your partner is drawing, you can use the artwork of other players to get more detail.
If you don’t have the board game, you can use cards from other games and draw those objects instead. In a pinch, balderdash cards, as well as the red cards from Apples to Apples, works as well.
Apples to Apples
This game is fun, although I would suggest the Juniors version for kids, just because the full version has people and events they wouldn’t know. Each player gets seven “thing” cards.
Taking turns, each player flips over a “description” card. The other players have to throw one of their cards they think matches that description card.
The “it” player chooses which card they think works the best and the owner of that card gets the point. They keep the “thing” card, and whoever has the most amount of cards at the end wins the game.
Checkers is fun for kids of all ages, although it only works with two players. If you’ve got more than that, you can always set up a “Whoever wins plays the next person” rule.
Each person has either red or black pieces on the checkerboard. Players can only move forward diagonally one space at a time. If your opponent’s piece is in front of yours and there is a space behind them, you can “jump” over them and take that piece, working your way across the board.
When you get to the last row on their side of the board, you can double up your pieces and are free to move backward and forwards across the board, rounding up any last pieces of your opponent.
The game is complete when one of the players has all of the pieces of their opponent. Checkers is a great game for teaching strategy to kids. They have to anticipate where to move for defense and offense.
Card games are fun for staying at home, or when you’re on a ferry or a train. Anywhere that has a table will work, although there are some games where a table is not necessary.
War is a simple, yet entertaining game that can last hours. It works best with two to three players, but there is no specific rule. Deal out all cards from the deck to the players.
Each player shows a card in the middle. Whoever has the highest card wins the other cards. If there are two identical cards, they have a “War.” You put three cards from your hand face down and flip the fourth card face up.
Whoever has the highest card wins all of the cards. The player that has the entire deck in their hand at the end wins the game. One game can last a long time, but it’s also fun to play multiple times.
Each player starts with eight cards. All remaining cards are then placed face down in the middle of the table. Turn the top card face up.
Players discard, in turn, a matching number or suit of the face card. If you cannot match either of those, you can use an eight to change the suit. If you do not have an eight, pick a card from the deck.
Another challenging way to play is to pick up cards from the deck until you can play. That makes your hand much bigger, and you have to work harder to get rid of your cards. The first person to play all of their cards wins.
Uno is very similar to Crazy Eights, but you play with a specific deck of cards that have numbers and colors instead of suits. You also get wild cards that change the color instead of “eights” and cards that make your opponents “draw two” and “draw four” cards.
The Draw Four cards make your opponent draw four cards and lose a turn, then you choose the next color to play. There are also “skip” cards that make your opponent lost their turn.
When a player has two cards left to play, it becomes a challenge. As they play their second to the last card, they have to yell “Uno!” before someone else yells, “Draw Two!” If they’re too slow, they have to draw two more cards.
If they win, they still have one more card they need to play. At this time, all of the other players usually turn on them and hit them with a wild card.
Each player gets seven cards and takes turns asking other players if they have specific cards. When you get a pair, put them off to the side. When all of the cards are gone, count up your pairs.
The player who has the most pairs is the winner. A challenging option is to make sets of four, making it more difficult to get all cards in your hand.
Paper games are fun for two to three kids, especially in the car, if you have the right equipment, meaning a hard surface to draw on. Some moms will use a new, small cookie tray because it’s magnetic.
That allows your children to play with magnets on a long trip as well. Outside of the car, you just need a table or hard surface. One way to make these games easier is to print off the sheets for them ahead of time.
Always have some on hand, making the fun last longer, because your kids won’t get tired of writing out the alphabet or forming dots on a page before getting to play.
One player chooses a word or phrase without telling the other players what it is. They create blank spaces for each letter of that word, and the other players guess, letter by letter, trying to figure out the word.
As they play, any letter that is guessed but not in the word gets put in the “no” column, and a body part of a person is drawn. The other players have until the little man is complete and “hanged” to guess the word.
Another way to do it that is less gruesome is to create a little man without the hanging part. You can also use a tally system if you’d like.
Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe is a game that anyone can play. In Great Britain, they call it “Knots and Crosses.” Draw a pound sign or “hashtag” as the cool kids call it these days.
Each player gets x’s or o’s, and take turns filling in the spaces. The first person to get three in a row wins. If no one wins, declare the game a “cat,” although I have no idea why, and start again.
Dots & Boxes
Create a grid made of dots. Each player takes turns adding one single line, either horizontal or vertical between to unjoined dots. The person who completes a “box” gets to initial that box. When the grid is filled up, count your initials. The player with the most amount of boxes wins.
The Alphabet Game
The Alphabet game is another excellent choice for road trips, as well as indoor rainy days. Choose a topic, such as animals, famous people, movies, or household items, etc.
Starting with A, come up with one of those things, and work your way through to Z. Examples would be Aardvark, Bee, Cat, Duck, Egret, Frog, etc.
Pillow forts are the best thing in the world when you’re a kid. Even if you’re at Grandma’s house and she’s asked several times for you not to play with her couch pillows, the pull is strong and very hard to resist.
Make your kid’s day by letting them rearrange your couch cushions into a fort. Bring out blankets and chairs, and make it grand. Once they finish playing, have them put everything back as a game.
You can set a time to see how quickly they can put everything back and then celebrate with a treat or snack.
Crafts are an excellent way to get your kids focused on something other than the fact that they’re stuck inside.
Ice Tower Excavation
Find some colorful objects and freeze them in a long container with water. Give your kids small cups or squeezy bottles and let them spray the frozen tower until they have freed all of the treasures.
Dough or Clay
Everyone one loves Play-Doh or modeling clay. Well, except for moms. Not all moms love Play-Doh or Modeling clay. That being said, buck up for one afternoon and let them go at it. They can play with the sets or just mash around a ball of dough. Either way, they’ll have a blast.
Milk Carton Art
Take used milk cartons, wash them out and let your kids paint them as houses. Not only is the painting part fun, but afterward, they get to use them as houses. If you have enough cartons, you can make little towns with each container being a different place.
Kids love to “help” when you bake something. Grab a Funfetti cake or something colorful and have them help you measure the ingredients and mix the batter. For the smaller kids, you can measure and have them dump the ingredients into the bowl.
Make sure you remind them to keep the stirring spoon on the bottom of the bowl to avoid ingredients flying everywhere.
Paint an image of a bare tree or plant on a piece of paper. Give your child glue and a handful of buttons, allowing them to paste the buttons onto the tree as colorful “leaves.” They get to do something fun, and you get a souvenir.
Give your kids a big cardboard box and let them have at it. You can help them make it into a house, adding windows and doors, or just let them play with it. You’ll be amazed at their imagination and what they can create.
Float or Sink?
Find objects around the house. If you haven’t cleaned up from your scavenger hunt yet, use those items. Make sure they are waterproof. Ask your kids if they think each piece will sink or float. After the votes are in, place the object into a container of water and see who is right.
Measure the House
For kids who are learning to use rulers in school, this game is perfect for them. You can easily find a printable online that names random objects that you can locate around the house. Some examples are a window, or sink, or stuffed animal.
Much like a scavenger hunt, your kids go around the house finding these objects and then measure them with a ruler or measuring tape and write the length of each item.
Roll up some socks and find a bucket or clean wastebasket. Take turns shooting into the basket. The person with the most points wins. As the game gets less challenging, have each person take a step back and continue playing.
Place a cup on the floor and sit in a circle around it. Each person takes turns pitching pennies into the container. This game is fun for all ages as long as they are old enough to know not to eat the pennies.
Nerf Target Practice
Place plastic cups on top of each other in a triangle shape and add action figures to the side of each cup top. Use nerf guns to try shooting the characters off of their perch.
Let your kids be animals for an hour. Write the names of different animals and drop them into a bowl. Take turns picking an animal then have the others guess which you chose. For a real challenge, try it without any noises.
Crank up the music and have a dance party with your kids. Find makeshift microphones if you can, but just have fun and shake it!
Since you already have the music on, make it a fun game by placing pillows on the floor in a circle. Have the kids dance around the ring, and when the music stops, they try to get to the nearest available pillow and sit.
Catch with a Catch
Throw a beach ball into the air and try to touch your nose or high five the other players before the ball drops. Write out suggestions before the game starts and have your kids pick some as well. You can choose which to do from a list, or make it random and choose from a bowl.
Roll a Snowman
On a piece of paper, draw six body parts of a snowman, such as a hat, head, middle part of the body, the bottom part of the body, a face, and stick arms. Draw a side of a dice next to each body part.
Have the kids roll the dice, and as they get each part, they get to draw a snowman. It doesn’t have to be a snowman. You can choose different animals or people as well.
Warning: Do not play with real hot potato. Find a ball or object that can be tossed and pretend it’s a hot potato. Choose a specific amount of time that each person can hold on to it and start throwing it underhanded to the other players. If you drop it or make a bad throw, you have to sit out a turn.
Paper Airplane Landing Strip
With tape, mark out points on a line, creating a “landing strip.” Award more points the further down the line they get. Show your kids how to make a paper airplane and have them take turns, trying to earn the most amount of points within a specific amount of tries or time limit.
With tape, create two “race tracks” on the floor. Give your kids a fuzzy pom-pom and a straw. It’s a race to the finish as they blow the pom-pom along the track to beat the other player.
For a more challenging game, add ramps or tunnels to the path. You can even have them create their own track, as long as you make sure they are equidistant.
Using this list of ideas, you should never hear “I’m bored” again. What are your favorite indoor games to play with your kids? Maybe you have some suggestions from your childhood. Please share with us!