Family Things To Do

Indoor games the kids will love

Indoor games
Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Find time for fun with the family with these great indoor games.

Getting out and about with your family is all very well, but it takes a lot of effort and sometimes, let’s be honest, you just can’t be bothered. Maybe it’s grey and dank outside, perhaps you’re worn out with racing around or maybe you just need to keep a grip on your finances.

A day indoors need not mean a day free of fun. In fact, for family bonding, a day at home, with no outside distractions, can be better than anything else – providing everyone remains amused.

Here are a few indoor games young kids will love:

Get out a cardboard box 

There’s good reason people often joke about kids playing more with the packaging than with the toy.

A day at home is a day to embrace the kids’ natural urge to get creative with cardboard boxes. Save some up in the garage or loft and on a day at home drag them out. It’ll be even better if there’s still a bit of bubble wrap inside.

The kids can draw on them, build a fort out of the big ones, make junk models out of the small ones, squash them down by leaping on them – the options are endless.

Make it into a game: For older children make it into a game by setting a specific task and adding a stop watch, such as ‘make a car in ten minutes’, ‘who can get their box the flattest in three minutes?’. Let your imagination run as wild as theirs will.

Have bathtime in the middle of the day

How often do you crawl your way to the end of the day and rush through the bathtime routine in a desperate bid to finally grab those few minutes of solitude before you hit the sack yourself?

Kids love a good wallow in the tub, playing with bubbles, bath toys or being set free with bath crayons, but time restrictions and pure exhaustion mean there are times where we as parents cut it short.

A day at home is the day to make bath time an activity all of its own and allow as much time as it takes for them to get bored.

Make it into a game: Turn it into a game by drawing mazes on the side of the bath in one colour and getting the kids to draw the path to the end. Sneak in a bit of education with a game of hangman or a few sums – you’ll be amazed what even a reluctant learner will become engaged in when it is presented in a new format. If you’re really feeling game, arm them with a water shooter and let them soak you. The sound of their laughter will be absolutely worth it. You can also set up some targets like light plastic cups to shoot down.

Make potions in the kitchen

Mixing and pouring are incredibly attractive activities for children and they love the chance to grab a load of ingredients from the cupboards and stir them all up freestyle, in true George’s Marvellous Medicine fashion. 

Add in some food colouring, nice smelly food flavours like vanilla essence and use cheap basics like rice and pasta. 

Make it into a science lesson with a classic bicarbonate of soda and vinegar volcano, make your own playdough or revert to baking.

Make it into a game: Each choose an ingredient and guess what will happen when you add it to the mix. Award points for the most accurate guesses or lay out the same quantities of each ingredient in front of each person and challenge everyone to mix them in differing amounts. Then vote for the best- and worst-looking results.

Make an obstacle course 

Here’s the time to pull all the cushions off the sofa, repurpose your dining room chairs, grab some spare sheets and start having fun.

Help the kids to do some forward rolls and even a headstand or two on the cushions, lay the sheet between the chairs to make a tunnel, roll a towel to make a makeshift ‘beam’.

While you’re at it, if you have an A-frame clothes airer, throw a sheet across it and make a den.

Make it into a game: If the kids get bored of just playing with all their new equipment lay it all out as an obstacle course and, either, time the kids as they make their way through it or challenge them to complete each obstacle without any errors – such as not stepping off the beam. You’ll all have even more fun if you have a go too.

Enjoy all the old favourites

There’s a reason traditional party games have stood the test of time – kids love them and they’re great fun.

Musical statues, hide and seek, bashing about balloons, marble runs (homemade out of kitchen roll tubes or bought), skittles (made out of plastic bottles filled with a little sand, rice or water if you don’t have any), charades and treasure hunts never get old.

For quieter fun dust off the puzzles and board games. 

Sneak into the garden 

OK, it’s not exactly an indoor activity if you’re stepping outside the back door, but even on a day where you don’t want to face the rest of the world there’s fun to be had in the solitude of your own garden – even when the weather is rough. 

Rainy day activities are often best enjoyed close to home where you can get warm and dry straight away afterwards.

Jump in puddles, grab some pots and pans from the kitchen and listen to the different sounds the rain makes as it hits them or do some mud painting.

Make it into a game: How high or far can you make the splashes from the puddle go? Come on mums and dads, you have an advantage here – it’s your time to shine.