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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?
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”.
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!)
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!
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!)
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!
Although we may hunt for things all the time (hello keys, wallet, phone!), your kids don’t always get the same chance at discovery. So set them up with a hunt all their own with these incredibly creative ideas:
Lego Color Hunt: You have to try this one, it is a kid-favorite and super easy to execute. Select 4 pieces of colored construction paper and then collect 10 Lego pieces that match each one (ie. 10 yellow Lego pieces for a yellow piece of paper). Now hide all of the Lego pieces in one room/area of your house and lay out the colored paper on a table or the floor nearby. Start the clock and have your kid(s) start hunting.
Once they’ve found a Lego, they need to return it to the piece of paper that matches in color. See how long it takes them to find them all (tell them there’s 10 of each color so they can count to see if they’re missing any themselves), and then re-hide so they can try and get a lower time. (editor’s note: for my 2 older kids I hid 5 Duplo Legos and 5 regular Legos of each color and then assigned them a size — that way they each had the opportunity to find the same amount…and big brother couldn’t sweep them all up leaving little sis with nothing!)
Once they’ve had enough of the game, challenge them to have a little quiet time and make a cool rainbow structure out of the Legos (while Mom drinks a cup of coffee…score!)
Puzzle Piece Hunt: This is a genius idea courtesy of No Time For Flash Cards. Hide all the pieces of a wooden board puzzle and have your child search for them – returning each piece to the board as they go. This game gets them moving, and their brain working at the same time, and kids love having a goal to complete. They’ll beg you to hide them again!
Paint Chip Color Hunt: Pick up some brightly colored paint chips from your local hardware store and ask your kids to find items that match each color as closely as possible (again, keep a timer going so they quicken their pace). Don’t have Paint Chips? Use colored construction paper instead like Simple Play Ideas!
ABC Hunt: Have your kids go around the house with a basket, collecting items that start with each letter of the alphabet (A for apple, B for Barbie, C for Crayola, etc) – give them a checklist to mark off each one as they go. Time them so they run!
Scavenger Hunt: Use this Scavenger Hunt Printable from Living and Life Designed to send your kids on a fun hunt around the house collecting various items that you’ve listed. Make it fun by including specific things like “your favorite bath toy” or “a pink sock” to more general categories like “something that begins with the letter T”. And yes, set that timer!
Flash Light Scavenger Hunt: If you have a room that can get sufficiently dark by turning off the lights and closing the blinds, send your kids on a Flash Light Scavenger Hunt where they have to find certain hidden items in the dark using a flashlight. Kids go crazy for this one! (via Hands On As We Grow)
MAZE + OBSTACLE COURSE
These incredible ideas for making your own DIY maze or obstacle course will test your child’s strategic skills while getting their heart pumping.
Mission Impossible Obstacle Maze: Using either Crepe Paper or Flag Tape (held in place with Painter’s Tape), create an intricate maze in a hallway for your kids to navigate their bodies through. Put the tape up high and down low, forcing them to step over and crawl under at various points. The only problem with this one is that once you make it, your kids will constantly be begging you to make another! (Idea via Brassy Apple)
Life-size Book Maze: This creative idea from Preschool Powol Packets uses books (but other household items: clothing, brooms, and sports equipment like bats and sticks would all work well) to create a large scale maze that will challenge your kids to find their way out. Once they have the hang of it, have them crawl, hop, or walk backwards through it! This one is great for preschoolers to work on their spatial awareness and problem solving skills – in addition to getting them up and moving.
Obstacle Course: This tried-and-true idea is always a huge hit with kids, and can be made different every time so it never gets old. Make sure to create an engaging course that includes a variety of motions (jumping, crawling, balancing, etc.) and uses a large area. Have your kids help make the course (which is half the fun!) using some of these creative ideas:
Hula hoops to jump through
Line of tape to balance on
Couch cushions to hop between
Table to crawl under
Blanket over 2 chairs to crab walk through
Tupperware containers to hurdle over
Stuffed animals to roll over
Plastic cups to run around
We love that obstacle courses are great for kids of all ages to participate in – the younger tots enjoy just being able to complete all the obstacles, while older kids can race against each other or the clock. You could even have them attempt it balancing a bean bag or stuffed animal on their head, or with 1 hand behind their back.
Take 10 minutes to set-up a super engaging course, and you’ll benefit from happy, worn-out kids.
USE YOUR GARAGE
Sometimes the most obvious ideas don’t dawn on you until it’s too late. If you have a garage, why not move out your car and let your kids go wild in the open (but covered) space. Depending on its size, they could use their scooters, bikes and other outdoor ride-on toys, or play a game of tag, catch, soccer or street hockey. The best part about this is that your kids really feel like they’re getting outdoor play time, and are getting some fresh (well, fresh-er) air at the same time.
BRING OUTDOOR TOYS INSIDE
If using your garage isn’t a viable option (where are all the hoarders at?!), then consider bringing some of your child’s outdoor toys inside. These can be smaller items like jump ropes and soft balls, or larger items like scooters, ride-ons and our all-time favorite fold-up slide (editor’s note: this slide has been in and out of my house for years – it fits in our playroom in the winter and is used with a stuffed animal landing pit and in obstacle courses. It then goes outside in the summer as a fun slide into our blow-up pool!)
Another way to bring the outdoors in, is to adapt your child’s favorite outdoor sports games to be indoor friendly. Try out these variations for plenty of sweaty fun:
Basketball: If you have a Little Tikes basketball hoop or an over-the-door one, then you’re all set to play with a soft foam ball. But no worries if you don’t, just grab some laundry baskets or beach buckets and place them on the floor, stairs or hang from a door handle or hook. Make-shift your own balls with a wad of newspaper, bean bags, soft toys or rolled-up socks.
Play a game of HORSE or see who can make the farthest shot. Set-up lines of tape to see how many shots they can make from each one. Or set a timer for 1 minute and challenge them to make as many baskets as they can (running to retrieve the ball after each missed shot!).
Figure Skating: Clear an area on your floor (you can even “rope” off an actual “rink” if you’d like), grab you hat and mittens, and pretend you’re gliding across the ice. There’s several fun ways to make it feel as real as possible:
Use dryer sheets — they provide just the right amount of slide and won’t scratch your floors!
Paper Plate Skating from Hands On As We Grow: Simply grab 2 paper plates, step on them with bare feet (they’ll “stick” better) and then slide away.
Put a pair of wool-like mittens on your feet (kids think this is pretty silly which adds to the fun)
Construct wax paper booties using string or tape
Save old tissue boxes and kids can simply place their feet through the opening!
Lacrosse: Lacosse is a tough sport to safely practice inside, unless you have this genius training device. The CradleBaby is a regulation Lacrosse ball with a tether strap that attaches to the head of a Lacrosse stick. So your child can practice their stick skills all over the house without creating any damage!
Bowling: Set up your bowling “lane” with some painter’s tape and use plastic bottles or cups for pins. Use any type of ball to bowl, attempting to knock down as many pins as possible. Keep track of the score, or simply aim to knock them all down in one turn. Create a plastic cup pyramid to up the fun-factor even more.
Soccer: Bring outdoor nets inside, or set up a goal using 2 cones (or plastic cups), a chair (score by getting it through the legs) or a simple piece of tape. Use any soft ball, or a super fun gliding ball like this one!
Mini Golf: If you already have mini-golf putters, all you’ll need are a few “holes” to start your round of golf. Tape some plastic cups lying on their side to the ground, or create tunnels with pieces of construction paper. If you don’t have putters, use long rolls of wrapping paper, hockey sticks, or pool noodles!
This won’t be a problem for most kids, as drama is often a skill that is practiced daily (whether they realize it or not!). Have your kids channel that drama in these exciting activities that will also reduce their restless energy.
Movement Charades: Pretend to be your favorite animal, superhero or sports player by imitating their signature moves (no sounds allowed!). The rest of the players try and guess who they are – the first one to do so correctly, gets a point. If your kids have trouble thinking on the spot, write down some suggestions and place them in a hat to draw from when it’s their turn
Create a Show: Invite your kids to create their very own play (you’ll provide the audience!). The only catch is that they have to create it around an active prompt you give them – this could be a sport, activity (karate, dance, gymnastics) or our personal favorite, a Circus Show full of juggling (attempts at least) and jumping through hoops. Once they’re ready to perform, video tape it so it feels like a real production (plus kids love to watch themselves on tape so you’ll get a moment of rest while the replay airs).
Put on a Fashion Show: Kids love to dress-up, and this idea brings that love to the next level. Create a long runway out of tape or kraft paper and invite your fashionistas to perform their best walk while you pump the music. You can play the judge awarding points for style, creativity and their overall strut.
Choreograph a Routine: If your child is into dance, theatre or just loves to be the star of the show, challenge them to choreograph a one minute solo routine that they’ll have to perform in front of their loyal fans (ahem, you). Not only does this get kids thinking creatively and working independently (aka Mom gets a break), it also gets their blood flowing as they practice over and over again until it’s just right.
Exercise your child’s body and mind with these active imaginative games.
Snowball Fight: Create an indoor snow fight by creating your own snowballs with scrunched up pieces of newspaper, or buy a fun indoor snowball fight kit like this one. Make your own fort to take cover in between throws. This is a kid-favorite and they burn a ton of energy ducking and darting out of the way of incoming blizzards.
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt: Hide a bear (or other stuffed animal) somewhere in your house and have your child find it (use “hot” or “cold” for younger kids who may need a bit of direction). Bonus points if you read the book first.
MUSICAL + DANCE
Time to pull out your best ‘90s dance moves and crank up the music. With these games your kids will forget all about the rain or snow outside, and instead they’ll dance up a storm of their very own.
Dance Party: Turn on the high-energy music and have a dance off! Make sure you have a large open space (clear of toys to trip on) and twirl, twist and shimmy your way around the room. Add in musical instruments or turn off the lights and break out some glow-sticks to prolong the party.
Freeze Dance: Add-in a game to your dance party where one person stops the music and everyone else must instantly freeze. If you catch someone moving, they’re out. The last one standing (or dancing in this case), wins.
Musical Letters: Make pieces of paper with big letters on them and spread them around the room. Play some music while they dance and then stop it and call out one of the letters. They have to immediately find the letter and sit down on it. If they pick the wrong one, have them do 15 jumping jacks (or whatever age appropriate movement you decide). Scale this activity to fit the level of your child – use colors, numbers or sight words to make it easier or harder. (Idea via Let Kids Be Kids)
Let’s face it, most kids would love to sit in front of their iPad on a rainy day for hours on end, but an explosion of pent-up energy at bedtime is not exactly our idea of fun. Instead, turn their “device” time into exercising fun by turning on some kid-friendly YouTube Exercise Videos.
Some of our favorite YouTube channels and videos for getting your kids up and moving include:
GoNoodle: This channel provides the greatest variety of get-you-moving videos for kids. Do a little exploring and you’re bound to find the perfect one for your kids (editor’s note: a current favorite in our household is this one from Trolls)
Whip/Nae Nae Elementary Cardio Workout: This genius cardio version of the popular Whip/Nae Nae moves performed by elementary school kids incorporates jumping jacks, lunges and push-ups in a workout that’s so fun, kids won’t even realize they’re working out.
Koo Koo Kanga Roo: If you can get past the kitchy mustache and fanny pack on this dynamic duo, you kids will be totally intrigued by Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s dance-a-long songs, including our favorite Dinosaur Stomp.
Learning Station: This channel boasts “healthy music for a child’s heart, body and mind”, offering educational videos with lots of active participation geared towards toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged kids. Some of our top selections: “Move and Freeze” and “Shake Your Sillies Out”.
Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel: Jack Hartmann is another great channel with lots of videos to explore, and features educational themes (learn counting, numbers and more!) with dance and movement. Check out the short Brain Breaks and Physical Education songs, plus our favorites “Animals in Action” and “Top Dog”.
Move To Learn Channel: Pair educational songs with easy-to-follow exercise moves, and you’ve got engaged kids burning tons of energy. We love “King Shapes” for youngers kids and “Football Fractions” for slightly older kids (especially those sports-obsessed!).
Saskia’s Dansschool: This incredible dance school in The Netherlands films their talented dancers performing high-energy dances to popular songs. Head to their “Kids Dances” section for choreographed routines danced by a group of skilled kids to hits from the likes of Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake and Meghan Trainer. These videos have millions of likes on YoutTube and your kids will love playing them over and over again to pick up all the moves (plus many of them even have their own choreography step-by-step tutorial videos!).
GROOV3Dance Channel: Professional dancer/choreographer Benjamin Allen leads this series of “how to dance” videos, and we think their mini workouts that last 3–5 minutes are perfect for kids – they feature hit songs and are all high-energy and super engaging. These are perfect for grade schoolers and tweens who want to learn some killer dance moves!
Make sure you check out the “Forget You” CeeLo choregraphed dance which features child dancers.
Just Dance Kids: Simply search for “Just Dance Kids” on YouTube and it will pull up a whole selection of video routines pulled from the Wii U games. They feature great music that will make you want to jump in there and try to perform all the moves alongside your kids!
Cosmic Kids Yoga: This channel includes a huge collection of videos that focus on yoga and mindfulness wrapped in fun, interactive adventures – building kids’ strength, balance and confidence.
Steve Songs “Let’s Move”: You can’t go wrong with anything from Steve Songs, and this song (as cheesy as it may be) prompts kids to “get up, get up” and certainly has the right message with its “let’s move” chorus. It’s super catchy (just try and get it out of your head!) and kids think it’s silly fun.
Fit Factor Kids Exercise: Kids seem to love this fun 5‑minute exercise routine led by a teenage girl who demonstrates a variety of different animal movements. Try it with yours!
Vacuum, Sweep or Swiffer: Open up your cleaning closet and have your child pick their favorite tool. The Swiffer always seems to be a highly coveted item, and having them work their push/pull muscles while cleaning the house is a winning combination for all.
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!