Stuck Inside- Ideas To Keep Kids Entertained And Moving

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It’s way too hot to go outside. Add that to the smoke and ash from the Holy Fire and it equals too many days inside for this family. As much as we love making frozen treats, reading a good book, having a popcorn movie party, or playing a great board game, before long my kids get wiggly, distracted, and it devolves into wrestling matches and bickering.

The bottom line is my kids need to run, jump, swim and move! When the weather doesn’t cooperate, we have to get creative and find new ways to get some exercise and not destroy the entire house.

DANCE PARTY/ FREEZE DANCE

This is a favorite in our house. We tend to start with some of our favorite music and just be as silly and crazy as the music moves us.  This is a no judgment zone and I have taught my kids all of the classics: the Kid and Play, Roger Rabbit, the MC Hammer, the swim, the Freddy, the sprinkler, the lawnmower, catching a fish, and the shopping cart.  They have created their own classic moves and it is always a blast.  

After they start to slow down or get distracted, we transition to freeze dance. Everyone takes a turn being the Freeze Master. They hold my phone and pause the music whenever the moment moves them. At that point, anyone who moves after the music stops is out.  At our house, if someone is still moving we all just point at them and continue playing. 

HOT LAVA

Our house is well lived in. My husband and I have agreed to not have nice things until our youngest graduates from college because our kids are destructive.  We prefer to think they are trying to quality test the durability of every item we own in our house. Either way, we are happy to sacrifice our decorative couch pillows for some peace and indoor exercise.

The game is the floor/ carpet is lava and the pillows are heat protected bases protecting you from the burning lava. The kids hop from pillow to pillow trying not to fall in “the lava”.  You can use towels, washcloths or any other item if you don’t want to use your couch pillows. **Please be careful.  If you put pillows or small towels on tile or wood floor, it may cause the pillows/ towels to slip if your child lands on it the wrong way.  So please take proper safety precautions. 

Mild Idea- Have your kids help you create shapes on the floor (circle, square, triangle, etc) with the pillows.  Jump around the shape until you see the excitement wane and go onto to build the next shape with pillows.

Medium Idea- Challenge them to create a pathway from one destination to another.  For example, our kids love to create a path of pillows from the couch in our living room to the stairs in our entry, around our kitchen, or to the front door.  They try to hop along and not “fall in the lava”!

Spicy Idea- We pick a challenge, as discussed in the medium idea, and the kids have to work together to build their pillow path of safety.  Let them put the pillows where they think they should go without any adult help, and they have to figure out and adjust as the game is played. If any part of their body slips off the pillows at any time, we clean up all of the pillows and they have to start all over again. I love this because they have to develop teamwork and problem-solving skills.

Fiesta Idea- We are dancing fools in this house.  So add a dance party or a game of freeze dance to any of the ideas above and you will find yourself in the middle of a lava party

RED LIGHT/GREEN LIGHT- HALLWAY EDITION

We are lucky and have a great long hallway that goes from our front door to our back door. It is the perfect place for a great game of red light/ green light. For those who may not be familiar with this old school favorite, one person is the caller. All the other players line up at the starting point and the caller stands at the finish line. When the caller says green light all of the players can (walk quickly if indoors) until the caller says red light. Anyone who does not freeze when red light has been called, has to go back to the starting point and start again. The first player to cross the finish line becomes the next caller. You can also just take turns letting each child be the caller or have the adult be the permanent caller. 

If walking gets boring change it up.  Instead, race to the finish line crawling, walking backwards, skipping, walking side-ways, slithering like a snake, etc

FOLLOW THE LEADER- INSIDE/ HALLWAY EDITION

Another throwback game from my childhood. Each child takes a turn, I usually do 3 minutes each, being the leader. Everyone else has to do whatever the leader does while walking in a line. We like to make it silly. So in addition to jumping jacks, push-ups, and skipping, we like to throw in classic dance moves like the sprinkler, move and sound like animals, talking in funny voices and singing.

MUSIC PARADE

Bring your own ear plugs! We have a set of kids’ first instruments and we don’t let a silly thing like lack of lessons or rhythm hold us back. I play a mean tambourine and my son on his dollar store guitar will blow you away. But the star of the show is usually the symbols or whoever gets to the ukulele first. We play and march all over the house. In and out of every room (the bathrooms have especially great acoustics), up the stairs and back down (carefully, of course). This can be done with background music or your band can fly solo! If the music moves you take turns making up lyrics to your awesome jams.  And of course be sure everyone gets a turn being the parade leader. 

You don’t have instruments? No problem! Use dolls, dinosaurs, or any toy and put them in a parade. Make them talk and walk. Give them personalities as they wave to the crowds and their many fans as they parade through all of the rooms in your house. Are they shy? Ego maniacs? Have fun with it and the sillier the better.

SIMON/ MOMMY SAYS

When my littles start arguing because the other one looked at them, sat too closely, or is breathing too loudly Simon Says is a perfect distraction to change the mood temperature in the room in as few as five minutes. The game is simple.  Before every instruction, the caller, Simon, has to say, “Simon says…”.  If the direction is started with that phrase, then the players should complete that direction.  If any task is given without first saying, “Simon Says…”, then anyone who completes the task is out.

MATCHBOX CAR RACES

All three of my kids love cars, trucks, construction vehicles, etc.  We take advantage of our long hallway and transform it into a racetrack.  There are two ways our cars compete in these races.

  • Head to Head– This is the standard regular hallway race.  Make sure the kids have enough space so they won’t be bumping into each other or the racing will quickly be eclipsed by fighting.  Our rules are the cars must stay in contact with the ground at all times.  If the car leaves the tile or touches any other car, it is disqualified.  The first car to touch the front door wins.
  • Relay Race– This is a race when each child races one at a time and they all work together on the same team. We usually choose youngest to oldest as the order of our relay race.  My youngest picks his car and races to the front door and back.  He high fives his big brother who takes off and races his car to the door and back.  He high fives his big sister and she is the anchor to finish the race strong for Team Sabo!  We tend to stick to relays on days when the sibling tension is high and competition would likely be anything but friendly.
  • Make Your Own Track– You can use whatever material you have available to create your own original track.  Outside, sidewalk chalk is a perfect medium to create an original track and path for each child to drive their car on.  Inside, that is a personal call.  You can also use painters tape, electric tape, masking tape, or construction paper taped to the floor.  I find it easiest for the kids to work together to create one track, but choose what works best for your kiddos.  I give each child a limited amount of “track”.  The youngest lays it down how/where he wants it.  Then big brother and big sister add to it when it is his/her turn. We continue until we run out of tape, interest, or hallway. Then, the kids take turns racing their car down their track.  

 LIMBO

Grab a broom, mop, or in our case- a palm tree pod and hold it horizontally.  Throw on some of your favorite music and watch your kids throw their heads back as they bend backward and try to walk under your “limbo stick”.  Anyone who falls, hands touch the ground, or any body part touches the stick is out.  In our house, the kids are too little.  Instead of being out, they can try to go under the limbo stick anyway they can without falling, hands touching the ground, or touching the stick. And, eventually, they can try to go under the limbo stick anyway they can without any restrictions.

I hope an idea or two can be useful for your day(s) of cabin fever.  Please let me know if you loved something or have another idea I could use!

 

 

 

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I was a teacher in my previous life and have been married for nine years. We have three littles and I am a stay at home mom. If you were to show up at our house you would likely find yourself in the middle of a dance party or silly contest. Upon entry, you might also be patted down for nuts, dairy, eggs, or any soy products because two of our kids have life-threatening allergies and I like to keep guests on their toes. We love hard and play hard... which explains why there’s usually a pile of laundry and/ or a pile of toys lurking somewhere in our house that we didn’t get to. I constantly struggle to be the mom I should be in my head but am able to joke and laugh at the ridiculousness of this fruitless endeavor, as well.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Love it! Awesome and inclusive ideas that will work at home and on play dates. This will especially come in handy when my little one is bigger next summer.

  2. Some great ideas here, doubly useful for those of us not living in SoCal’s climate paradise. I’m a big fan of dance parties (especially because it yields the opportunity to brainwash my kid about what “good” music is!)

  3. Love these ideas! I appreciate how you’ve come up with various ways to play each game to keep the kids interested and engaged…and moving!

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