A young girl playing hide and go seek under the table

Keep Kids Active Indoors With These DIY Games

Finding new ways to keep children entertained indoors — especially during the winter months — can be challenging. These activity suggestions will not only keep your children busy, but they’ll learn new physical skills, motor skills and problem solving along the way.

Fun Indoor Activities

You don’t need an elaborate list of supplies to keep your child active inside – these fun age-appropriate indoor activities for children all use items you likely already have in your house!

  • Toddler playing with soap bubbleBlow bubbles – Let your child try to clap her hands to pop them.
  • Set up an obstacle course together – Set up chairs to crawl under, pillows to crawl over, a cardboard box to tunnel through, or a doorway for stomach slides.
  • Go bowling in your hallway – Use toilet paper rolls or empty water bottles. Roll a small ball and knock them down.
  • Make up dances to music – It doesn’t have to be structured; just select a few songs and start dancing! Use scarves or ribbon sticks and move them around to the music.

Make Your Own DIY Equipment

We know the word “equipment” sounds intense, but these do-it-yourself ideas are surprisingly simple and easy to construct. They’ll promote physical activity all year long since they can be used indoors and outside. Plus, they can be personalized for each child by selecting different ribbon colors, fabric swatches, paint colors, etc.

  • Streamer Sticks – Streamer sticks will inspire your children to get up, run and make different pathways in the air, especially when they hear music! These are so easy to make – just have your child help you glue or tape pieces of crepe paper streamer to one end of a paint stick.
  • Milk Jug “Scoops” – Children can practice catching and throwing bean bags (or a ball) using scoops! These fun toys help children develop hand-eye coordination. You can make these by upcycling milk jugs – all you need is a pair of scissors.
  • Bean BagsThose milk jug scoops will be a lot more fun with bean bags to toss back and forth. Make several in less than an hour with this tutorial – no sewing required.
  • Balance BeamsHelp your child practice balance and agility with her own balance beam! You can purchase balance beams online or make your own using this tutorial.
  • Launch Boards – Children can practice catching by launching small bean bags or balls off the launch board using their weight to activate it. Use these instructions to build your own; while we don’t recommend allowing your child to assist with the assembly, they can help check items off the supply list at the store beforehand!

Materials:

  • Plywood (¼ to ½ inch thick)
  • Dowel stick (5 inches long; 1 ½-inch diameter)
  • Glue
  • Screws
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint (optional)

Directions:

  • Cut a piece of plywood to be 30 inches long and 5 inches wide.  
  • Seven inches from one end of the plywood, attach the dowel stick with glue and screws.  
  • Use sandpaper to smooth the board as needed.
  • Have children help paint and decorate the launch board.  

See diagrams and finished product images here.

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About the Author

Dr. Steve Sanders is a university professor and author who is nationally recognized for his work in early childhood physical education. Steve helps teachers provide high-quality physical education instruction that encourages a lifetime of active living. Additionally, he assisted in the development of the Primrose Schools Thumbs Up!® program and has worked with groups like Sesame Street Healthy Hearts to design physical skills development programs for children across the nation.