20 Fun Indoor Games and Activities for Kids

Break out these creative indoor play ideas for kids if you're cooped up at home. All you'll need are a few simple, inexpensive supplies.

One universal truth about raising kids is that at some point you will hear a chorus of "I'm bored!" from your adorable little ones. But don't worry; with a little planning, you can have a bunch of fun games and activities on hand. If you're stuck at home with an icky bug or can't go outside because of the weather, there is always something fun to do inside, and the best part is that it won't cost you much time or money.

We've rounded up 20 games and activities that you and your kids will love to play again and again.

Marshmallow Tinkertoys

A bag of marshmallows and some thin pretzel sticks are all you need to build anything from the perfect puffy pal to a 3-D house. Your child's imagination can take off. For a bit of a challenge try creating shapes like a ball or a tower. You can see if your structure is strong enough to hold a small toy. The best part? You can eat your creation when you're done!

Family-Photo Bingo

Improve your child's memory and help them learn who's who in your family tree with this photo game. Take nine family photos and arrange them into rows of three, then give your child nine playing cards or checkers pieces to serve as bingo chips. When someone calls out the name of a relative, your toddler covers the photo with the card. Whoever gets three in a row wins.

Sugar-Cookie Pizzas

Even the most domestically challenged chef can pull off this sweet and simple project. Slice several thick cookies from a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Gently flatten them on a cookie sheet to widen them, then bake, and cool for about 10 minutes. Next, your little bakers can decorate their pies with strawberry jam or red icing for sauce, shredded coconut for cheese, and red M&M's for pepperoni.

Mailbox Greetings

Haul out the craft supplies and set up a home Hallmark business. First, your toddler creates the card with stickers, glitter, cut-out magazine photos, or whatever else they like. Then ask them what they want to say to the recipient, and help them write it inside. Grab an envelope and a stamp and get the card ready to send in the mail.

Signature Storytelling

This is a great trick to give new life to old stories. Start reading one of your child's favorite books. When you get to a critical point in the action, challenge your child to take charge of the tale and add their own twist. For example, if you're reading Cinderella and the mean stepsisters have torn up her dress, ask your child, ″What would you do if someone did that to you? Should Cinderella just run away and cry, or should she do something else?″ It teaches kids to think on their toes.

DIY Sensory Table

Remember the slimy excitement of sifting your hands through a bucket of spooky eyeballs (peeled grapes) at the local haunted house? This activity offers the same thrills without the nightmares. Fill a series of bowls or washing basins full of textured objects such as peeled grapes, pre-cooked spaghetti, steel-wool pads, cornstarch, dry beans, etc. Blindfold your child, have them sift their hands through the mystery items, and describe their feelings. Then challenge your kiddo to guess the object.

Bowl-a-Rama

You won't need to rent funky-smelling shoes to play this game. Grab six empty plastic water bottles, a liter size is the best. Set them up in a triangular shape then, a few paces away, place a piece of tape or use chalk to draw a line on the floor to mark where to stand to bowl. Using a tennis ball (or some other small ball), have your child launch their ball and see how many pins they can knock down. For an added challenge, try adding a little water to the bottles to give them some weight.

Disco Down

Disco will never get old, especially when you have kids! Grab a bunch of flashlights, and put on some dancing music—we suggest the Bee Gees and Abba, of course. Start moving and grooving to the beat, and let the flashing lights create a funky disco ball effect. Try Googling old-school dance moves like the Hustle, the YMCA, the Funky Chicken, and the Robot.

Barbie Beach Party

Grab a collection of bikini-clad Barbies, beach towels (washcloths), sunscreen (baby lotion), and perhaps a yacht or two (some Tupperware), and head for some fun in the tub. Hint: most Barbies dig the diving board (faucet). Sunglasses and a tropical beverage (iced juice in a sippy cup) make the experience tantamount to a holiday in St. Tropez.

Mini Car Wash

Gather up your child's fleet of cars, trucks, and spaceships for a detailing job that'll put your local garage to shame. Load them all into the tub and give them a cleaning with plant sprayers and empty squeeze bottles.

Pirate Play

With this super simple and fun afternoon activity, your little pirate will love hunting for treasure. Take a pile of small toys and wrap them individually with tin foil then hide them around your house. Give your child a flashlight and a paper bag and have them search for the buries silver. Want to extend the playtime? Try rearing the edges of a paper bag and have your child create a treasure map with stickers and crayons.

Masking-Tape Marvels

Who would have thought a humble roll of masking tape could provide so much fun? Make a hopscotch pattern or mock balance beam on the living room floor. Or have your child color pieces of tape with markers and use them to ″design″ their own T-shirt. Another fun idea is the invisible dollhouse. Lay out a ″floor plan" on the rug with the tape, and furnish the house with doll furniture and small toys.

Indoor Picnic

Change things up by serving lunch outside of the kitchen. First, grab your basket (you don't need a real picnic basket—a laundry basket will do) and assemble some picnicky foods that the kids can ″pack" themselves—juice boxes, water bottles, packets of raisins, string cheese, paper plates, napkins. While the kids are busy filling the basket, spread a blanket in the family room and put together some sandwiches. Then unpack your picnic and watch the lunch disappear.

Movie Time

At some point, even the most creative parent will have to resort to some good old TV time. Keep a hidden stash of DVDs you only pull out during cruddy weather, so rainy-day television is truly a treat. Add an extra layer of fun making movie-themed snacks and then piling up together on the couch.

Build It Together

An inexpensive activity is to build something out of wood. Many building supply chain stores (think Lowes and Home Depot) sell cheap kid's kits like wooden birdhouses and race cars. You can even grab small packs of balsa wood and a hot glue gun for very little money and store them away for a rainy day. Then, when the opportunity strikes, pull out your project and get building.

Slow-Motion Tag

OK, so running in the house probably isn't the wisest suggestion. But if you need to get some wiggles out, this game is a great way to get everyone moving without the risk of bonking into furniture and getting hurt. Play a classic game of tag but with a twist: everyone has to move super slow. To make it even more fun, tickle your kids when you tag them.

Family Cozy Time

Sometimes the best activity is the one that doesn't require anything at all. Grab your favorite pillows, blankets, and stuffies, and create a cozy nest on the couch or in bed. Add a pile of books, and you've got the ingredients for some cozy family time.

Mailing Hugs

This is a fantastic activity when your child misses someone special like a grandparent. Grab a giant piece of newsprint or roll of craft paper—the blank side of old wrapping paper works perfectly too. Lay it flat on the floor and have your child lie on top of it with their arms out. Take a marker, trace their head, shoulders, arms, and torso, and then let your child color in their shape. Once you're finished, you will have a colorful hug! Gently fold or roll your child's hug, place it in a mailing tube or envelope, and send it off in the mail.

Shadow Puppets

Kids are natural storytellers, which makes shadow puppets the perfect game to play when you're stuck inside. Grab a flashlight, point it at a wall or door, and have your child make silly shapes with their hands to create shadowy creatures. If your kids are feeling crafty, cut shapes like animals, cars, people, buildings, etc., out of paper or cardboard then tape them to a chopstick or pencil. Now you have props!

Pillow Fort

You can never go wrong by turning your couch into a massive pillow fort. Grab some cushions, pillows, and a blanket, and have your child be the architect and create different styles of forts. To make it more fun, add flashlights, stuffed animals, and some books to turn the fort into a cozy nook.

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