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A simple roll of low-tack Painter’s tape (like this one for delicate surfaces) will be your new best friend once you try these genius ideas that get kids exerting their energy in all sorts of creative ways.
(editor’s note: just bringing out the roll of tape got Ooos and Ahhs from my kids – these activities were extremely well received and have now been added to my Boredom Buster bag of tricks!)
Tape Shape Game: Use this tape to put a variety of shapes, letters and/or numbers on your floor. Have your child stand on their favorite one then give them instructions to follow that will lead them to their next destination (for example: “bear crawl to the square”, “hop like a Frog to the T”, “Run to the rectangle”). We love that this game from Toddler Approved keeps your child moving, but also helps them learn their shapes, letters and numbers!
Tape Lines: Make 5–10 separate lines of tape, each about a foot apart, on your floor or carpet. Label the first one the “start” line and then give your kids simple instructions:
Long Jump: See how many lines they can jump over. Have them try and beat their best score each time. Experiment with arm swinging vs. arms behind their backs.
Run ‘n’ Jump: Now let them take a running start and see if they can jump even further!
Long Jump Backwards: Increase the difficulty by performing the tasks jumping backwards.
Hop: How far can they jump on one leg?
Reach ‘n’ Stretch: How far can their leg reach with one foot on the “start” line?
Create a Race-Car Track: Use your painter’s tape (or opt for this super cool race-track tape) to make a huge road system for your kids’ matchbox cars. Think outside the box and have the track scale furniture and other obstacles (just make sure it’s something you don’t mind toy vehicles being “driven” over). The key to making it active is to make it large-scale, so they are engaging their core muscles while crawling all over. (Pic via PopSugar and Pinterest — source unknown)
You can even make it super-sized for ride-on vehicles like the pics here from Hands On As We Grow.
RELATED: For our top tested picks for indoor ride-on toys see The Best Indoor Gross Motor Toys For Active Kids (To Get That Energy Out!)
Hopscotch: Make a simple hopscotch “board” and your kids will think it’s just the coolest thing that it’s inside! (pic via Brit+co)
Number Squares: Make a large square with your tape and then divide it into 9 or more small squares, marking random numbers in each one. Now ask your child to perform a specific movement to get to the next number like “jump to 10”, “zoom to 3”, “slither to 67”.
Has your child ever received a balloon at a birthday party and been totally enamored by it? Take that fascination to the next level by adding in a few “rules” and they’ll be happily moving around developing their gross motor skills while burning off some of that rambunctious energy.
Try some of our favourite balloon games and always keep a few handy to pull out when the going gets tough.
**Just a reminder that pieces of burst balloons can be a serious choking hazard, so if you have younger kids, make sure they are supervised during these activities at all times**
Don’t Let The Balloon Touch The Ground: This is the classic game that kids fall for every time. The rules are simple – hit the balloon up in the air but don’t let it touch the ground. To make it more challenging for older kids, have them juggle more than 1 balloon, or tie one hand behind their back. Time them to see how long they can do it for, or if you have multiple kids, have them count how many times they can hit it back and forth…then see if they can beat their time or score! This game is great for improving arm strength and hand-eye coordination.
Try adding stuffed animals to the mix for extra fun. Have your child pick their favorite stuffy and hold it in their hand so it is essentially the one hitting the balloon. You’d be surprised how this one simple variation can boost their engagement even further!
Penguin Waddle: Place a balloon between your child’s knees and have them waddle across the room without dropping it. Make it more challenging for older kids by having them go around a few obstacles. If they drop it, they have to go back to the start.
For multiple kids, have them play as a team with the balloon placed between their hips. Once they get the hang of it, get out your timer to see how fast they can do it.
Balloon Taps: Hang a balloon by a string from your doorway so it is a few inches higher than your child’s arm reach. Then challenge them to try and tap it with their hand. Count how many they can do in a row without missing (this gets tiring very quickly!). Up the ante by seeing if they can jump and touch the balloon with the top of their head!
Balloon Blow: Set up a “course” and see if your child can blow a balloon all the way to the finish line. They’ll have to do lots of army crawls working their upper body and core strength along the way.
Backhand Balloon Balance: Challenge your kids to balance a balloon on the back of their hand, and see how long they can do it before it falls to the ground. You’d be surprised how much they will move around with this one!
Balloon Paddle Ball: Use a fly swatter, tennis/badminton racket or make your own paddle using a paper plate and over-sized popsicle stick (or use a paint stir stick or plastic spoon), then use it to play the games above.
These paddles are also fun for balancing your balloon. Have your kids try to keep their balloon on the paddle as they navigate through obstacles or run around the house. Not as easy as it sounds!
Balloon Foot Balance: For a real challenge, have your kids lie on the ground with their legs up in the air and try and balance the balloon on their feet. It’s not an easy task and requires a lot of concentration. It’s also a great core workout!
Balloon Volleyball: Make a “net” by tying a piece of string between 2 chairs and then have your child hit the balloon back and forth by running from one side to the other, trying to keep it off the floor. If you have 2 or more kids, have them hit it over the net as many times as they can without it falling.
Balloon Hockey: Use a small kiddy hockey stick or make your own out of cardboard (see full tutorial on Creative Connections For Kids) to navigate a balloon into a net (use a laundry basket or box on its side if you don’t have any smaller ones to bring indoors).
FUN/SILLY MOVING GAMES
Just a warning – you’re going to have a hard time deciding which of these fun (and often giggle-fit-inducing) games to play first. They’re so entertaining that you’ll be wanting to join in too!
Sticky Spider Web: Use painter’s tape to make a web-like design on a doorway opening (idea via Hands On As We Grow). Give your kids some newspaper to scrunch up and throw up at the web. Or get creative and use other light-weight objects like balloons. Have them count how many objects stick versus how many don’t for extra learning points.
Sticky Note Wall Bop: Attach 26 sticky notes to the back of a door and write a different letter on each one (in random order). Make a “start” line a few feet away from the door (more if you have older kids), and have your child stand behind it with a soft ball, bean bag, stuffed animal or pair of rolled up socks. Now instruct them to throw their object to try and hit the “A” or the “T”. Players with more advanced aim and spelling skills can try and hit all the letters in specific words (to make it even tougher, if they miss one of the letters, have them start all over again!).
Alternatively, write different point values on each sticky and give your child 10 throws. For each target they hit, mark down the number of points. At the end of the round, tally up to crown a winner (or if playing solo, have them try and beat their previous score). (editor’s note: make sure your kids are retrieving their throwing object themselves…running and bending down to pick it up over and over again is all part of the exercise!)
Floor Bop: Take Wall Bop to the floor. Instead of aiming up high, your kids will now have to toss an object to land on pieces of paper on the floor. The same rules as above can apply.
Color Toss: Similar to Floor Bop, but with this game you’ll tape colored pieces of construction paper to the floor. Create your own point system where you get 1 point if you land a bean bag on any paper, but 5 points if you land on a paper that matches the bean bag color.
You can also use these colored “mats” to instruct your child to do fun tasks such as “bounce like a bunny to green”, “tiptoe to yellow” and “high knees to red”.
Ping Pong Ball Catch: Get out those plastic red Solo cups and a few ping pong balls (or any small object that will fit in the cup) and have your kids toss the ball to a partner and try and catch it in the cup. Start out close together and then keep taking a step backwards to increase the challenge. For a single-player, they can simply throw the ball in the air and try and catch it.
Alligator Alley: One of our favorite go-to inside games of all time. Simply scatter some “islands” or “boats” across the floor (use pillows, stuffed animals, books, etc) and then have your kids jump from one to the next without falling into the “water” and risk being eaten by a hungry alligator. Bonus points if Mom plays said hungry alligator and chomps after them when they stumble!
Crab Walk: Teach your child how to do the crab walk, then see how fast they can scurry across the room. Have races with siblings (or yourself!) and then increase the level of difficulty by having them balance a stuffed animal on their stomach. If it falls, they have to scramble back to the beginning and start again!
Cotton-Ball Crawl: This Cotton-Ball Crawl game (via Parenting) is tons of fun and involves moving a pile of cotton balls from one room to another using a spoon. The feather-weight cotton balls make it easy to fly off if they don’t balance it just right!
ABC Exercise Cards: Download these fun printable cards from Home School Share which outline an active task for each letter of the alphabet. Have your child do all the ones that make up their name, or simply pick at random. In addition to getting in some healthy physical movement, they’ll also be learning their letters!
Indoor Croquet: Make your own indoor croquet course using toilet paper rolls or pieces of construction paper (via Toddler Approved). Amp up the activity by writing active tasks on each “tunnel” that need to be completed once your ball makes it through like “do 15 jumping jacks as fast as you can” or “go run up and down the stairs 2 times”.
Movement Chain: You need at least 2 players for this interactive game where the first person starts by performing a certain movement – this could be something simple like jumping 2 times, or more complex like holding a plank for 30 seconds. The next person has to perform the first movement, and then add on another, forming a chain. The following person does the previous 2 movements, plus adds their own. You continue in this fashion until the chain sequence is broken (usually forgotten!) and then that person is out. The last one standing is the winner.
The Potato Drop: (via Parenting) is another one of our favorites because kids think it is good ol’ silly fun (we do too). Have all participants place a potato between their knees and race to a finish line where they have to drop it into a designated bowl or bucket. If the potato is dropped, or if hands touch it, they have to go back to the start and try again. (editor’s note: this is actually a great party game for big groups of kids – split them up into 2 teams and relay race to see which one can get all their potatoes into the bucket first!)
Mirror, Mirror: Stand face to face with your child, about a foot apart, and have them attempt to copy all your movements. Reach up and stretch to the sky. Do 10 jumping jacks. Run in place. Act like a monkey. Make it fun and you’ll both be working up a sweat in no time. Then switch roles and copy your child – they won’t be able to hold back the laughter (and neither will you!).
Airplane Landing: Make paper airplanes and throw them. The catch? You have to collect it and bring it back to the start line without walking – this could be running, hopping, skipping, twirling, crawling…let them get creative!
Crib Mattress Slide: This is another one of our go-to activities when we’re stuck inside – it’s super simple but kids think it is a riot! Take a crib mattress and prop it up on a bed or soft chair so it creates a slide to the ground. Now your kids can climb on up and slide down over and over again (just make sure you keep a hand on it at the top so it doesn’t slip down).
Pillow Case Race: On hardwood or tile floors, sit on a pillow case (or a t‑shirt) and use your arms and legs to scoot around a “race” course.
Target Practice: Set up some targets (empty water bottles or paper towel rolls work great) and have your kids try and knock them down with Nerf guns or throwing soft objects. The exercise comes in when they have to keep going back and forth between retrieving their objects and the start line.
Wiggle Jar: Print out these inventive activity cards from Home School Share and place them in a jar for whenever your child needs to let the “wiggles” out. These cards are packed with great movements and silly actions like “pretend you’re in a band for 2 minutes: play the instrument of your choice” and “push the wall (hold it up) for 30 seconds”. Discard the few cards that have outdoor activities for when you’re truly stuck inside!