Two young girls lying in a fort made of blankets in their home

Six Indoor Activities to Keep Children Active This Winter

When the temperatures drop and outdoor play is not an option, ensuring your little one gets enough physical activity every day can be a challenge. It is so important for children to get plenty of physical movement daily in order to be healthy in body and mind. We all know how frustrating it can be as adults to spend days and nights cooped up inside during the winter, and cabin fever has an even more drastic impact on children.

When young children don’t get a chance to move their bodies, they get cranky and often act out. Not to mention they don’t get the physical activity they need to stay healthy. This winter, keep some of these creative ideas in your back pocket for indoor activities that get kids moving:

1. Build a fort: Enlist your child to help you gather all the pillows and blankets he can find from around the house while you set up the fort “walls” with a table and chairs. Get creative and ask him to help you fill in the walls with cushions from the couch, blankets and other soft items. Between racing around to find and haul all of the materials for the fort and the physical challenge of building it, your little guy will exert plenty of energy and be ready to snuggle up for a story and nap inside his masterpiece. 

2. Boogie time: Have a dance party with your child! Find some fun, upbeat music, turn up the volume and move your bodies together. You can play a game of FREEZE with the remote in hand. Tell your child when the music stops, you both stop and freeze; when the music starts again, you move to the beat. Not only will your child (and you) get some healthy body movement, but it’s good practice in following directions AND bonding time.

3. Cotton ball races: Use two cotton balls to do a fun race with your child. In a wide open space, create a finish line several feet away. Get down on your bellies and, without using your hands, blow your cotton balls to the finish line while scooting along the floor. This game helps children realize the power of deep breathing and full exhales while providing healthy movement and some friendly competition.

4. Sock toss: Create a fun game with a laundry basket and a pile of balled-up socks. Place the laundry basket at a challenging but reasonable distance from your child and have her try to toss the socks into the basket. For every “basket” she makes, provide a celebratory round of applause. When she misses, cheer her on with encouraging words like, “Keep trying!” and “You can do it!” This game is a good way to get children to move their bodies and hone hand-eye coordination.

5. Velcro darts: Make your own dart board using a felt-covered board and Velcro tape. Wrap more Velcro around several ping pong balls and have your child try to throw the balls onto the dart board. Much like the sock toss, this is a fun way to get children to move, develop aim and focus skills, and experience your encouragement.

6. Bake a cake: Set up a special baking station with a stool for your child. Let him crack the eggs (always a favorite for children), pour the measured ingredients into the bowl, and stir the batter by hand. Once the cake is baked and cooled, let him spread the icing. This experience teaches children step by step sequencing, cause and effect, and gives them an opportunity to flex gross and small motor skills.

Now, it’s your turn! What are some ideas you have for helping your child stay moving and entertained when you’re cooped up this winter?

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About the Author

Lynn Louise Wonders, MA, LPC, RPT-S is an early childhood development and parenting expert. She offers private coaching and consultation for parents throughout the U.S. She is a well-known professional in the field of play therapy, providing training, supervision and mentoring to child therapists world-wide having practiced for more than 15 years in schools, child development centers and through her private practice.