88 fun things to do with your kids when you’re stuck indoors, that don’t require electricity


It’s that time of year.  Snow, cold, sleet, slush.  Even in Atlanta.  What do you do with your kids when you’re stuck indoors?  Sure, you could let them watch TV, or hand them a tablet.  But, what it you want to do something with your kid?  What if the power is out?  Or maybe you’d like them to unplug for a bit, and have some old fashioned fun.

Here’s a list of 88 fun things to do with your kids when you’re stuck inside. Some are old classics, some are new. Some are high energy, movement ideas, and some are more quiet and calm. Try to switch it up a bit, and go with what feels right for your kid’s energy level.

  1. Build a fort:  make a fort in your living room using sheets, blankets, chairs, tables, sofa, pillows. They can fill it with stuffed animals, if they need company or guards.
  2. Stack cups:  all you need is a bunch of paper/plastic cups. Turn them upside down, and make a row. Now, make another row on top. Can you build a wall? A pyramid? A tower? Take a picture when it gets really tall, because it goes down fast! Apparently, this is now an actual sport.
  3. Play Cat’s Cradle:  you’ll need some string, about 3-4 feet long.
  4. Play cards:  Crazy Eights, Go Fish.
  5. Make a Cootie Catcher:  need paper and markers.
  6. Read. Make a cozy nest of pillows and blankets and read aloud to your kids. Read together, taking turns.
  7. Have a pillow fight. (Watch the lamps.)
  8. Draw:  paper, pencils, crayons. Hang the masterpieces on the fridge.
  9. Play Don’t-Let-The-Balloon-Touch-The-Ground:  just need a balloon. Blow it up, then bump and whack it to each other, but, don’t EVER let it hit the ground! Try not to hit each other…
  10. Make paper airplanes. Whose can fly the farthest?
  11. Learn how to hand whistle. See how good you can get.
  12. Ninja contests: who can get from point A to point B without being spotted? Sneaky stuff here. Play some Kevin MacLeod to get in the mood.
  13. Lava contest: who can get from point A to point B without stepping in the hot lava? The floor is the lava, so we’re talking furniture climbing, and a few strategically placed pillows on the floor.
  14. Learn how to talk pig latin: Take the first letter of a word, add “ay” to it, then put it on the end and start with the rest of the word. Utpay ownday that ookiephay…
  15. Practice hanging spoons from your noses.
  16. Make snowflakes out of paper.
  17. Play Spoons: You need a deck (or 2) of cards, and a spoon for everyone. Sit around a table, laying the spoons in a row in the middle of the table. Now take 1 spoon away, so you are 1 spoon short. Deal everyone 4 cards. The dealer places the remaining cards facedown on the table.  She starts the game by taking the first card and looking at it, decides whether to keep it or discard it. If she keeps it, then she takes a different card from her hand and passes it to the person on her left; if she doesn’t want it, she just puts the card on the table by the person on her left. You are only allowed to have 4 cards in your hand. The goal is to get 4 matching cards. The first person to get 4 matching card quietly, sneakily takes 1 of the spoons, without saying anything. Everyone else has to grab a spoon of their own. The last person gets no spoon, so they lose. (Typically, when we play, we play with a word, like “P-I-G”, so the first time you lose it’s “P”, the second time it’s “I”, etc. then, if anyone hits PIG, the game’s over.  See how fast you can go. See how long it takes for people to notice a spoon is missing. If you want, you don’t have to do the “PIG”, just keep playing as long as you want.)
  18. Make origami.
  19. Play a clapping, slapping hand rhyme game:  like pattycake. Or Miss Mary Mack.
  20. Practice flipping quarters off your elbow. How many quarters can you flip and catch? Also know as quarter snatching.
  21. Play Flinch, also known as Slaps: 2 person game. Hold both your hands, palms up, in front of you. Other person holds his hands, palm down, about an inch above yours. Challenge: Can you slap the backs of his hands? As you try to slap his hands, he will quickly move his hands out of the way. If you slap successfully, change places. Feel free to try to fake out.
  22. Have a staring contest.
  23. Play Hide and Seek.
  24. Play Sardines.  (Apparently, older kids like to play this at WalMartAnd Target. Who knew.)
  25. Play Hot and Cold: hide something. As they look for it, tell them if they are “hot” (close by) or “cold” (far away).
  26. Try to stand on your head. Use a pillow and lean against a wall. It’s not cheating.
  27. Play I Spy. Pick an item in the room, and tell everyone the color. “I spy something red!” Everyone else has to guess what it is. Whoever guesses correctly gets to be the next Spy. Make sure everyone gets a turn.
  28. Make a snake with your hands.  Scary!
  29. Group storytelling: Make up a story, going around in a circle, where everyone takes a turn saying 3 words.
  30. Have a campout. Indoors. Set up your sleeping bags and pillows around a central “campfire”. Sleep in your living room for the night.
  31. Make a Rube Goldberg contraption.
  32. Play Rock, Paper, Scissors.
  33. Create a pile of pillows on the floor. Jump off the sofa, onto the pile. No headfirst jumps, please.
  34. Play Boxes: get some paper and a pencil. Make a grid of dots. Take turns making a line between any 2 dots horizontally or vertically (no diagonal). If you complete a box when it’s your turn, you get to write your initial in the box, and it’s yours. If you make a box, you get another turn to add line. Sometimes you can make a lot of boxes. If you can’t make a new box, then your turn is over. Continue until grid is all boxes. Count up each person’s boxes. Whoever gets the most wins!
  35. Play Charades. Act out a word, with no talking. Everyone else tries to guess what the word is. (One of my kids acted out the word “vacuum”; took us forever to figure out that one…)
  36. Play Hangman.
  37. Make smores in your fireplace.
  38. Thumb wrestle.
  39. Spin around in circles. Until you are so dizzy you can’t stand up. (Be careful.)
  40. Build Legos.
  41. Bounce on the bed.
  42. Take a magnifying glass around your house and look at things.
  43. Play Tic Tac Toe.
  44. Make popcorn. On the stove. Put enough kernels in to just cover the bottom of a good sized pot. Add a tablespoon or 2 of canola oil. Put a lid on. Turn the burner on medium high/high. Keep the pot moving back and forth on the burner. After a while, you’ll hear popping. When the popping slows, and pretty much stops, immediately dump out into a large metal or glass bowl. Toss ¼ cup butter in the pot to melt. Pour over the hot popcorn. Salt as desired. Yummy.
  45. Play Duck, Duck, Goose.
  46. Play Run and Tickle. You sit in the middle of the floor, cross-legged, 1 hand to each side, about shoulder height. The kids have to run circles around you, slapping each of your hands as they pass by. If they linger too long, they get grabbed, and get a light tickle. Then you release them, and they start running again.
  47. Play Which Hand Is It In?
  48. Play Hot Potato.
  49. Have a fingernail painting party.
  50. Play a board game: Hungry, Hungry Hippos, chess, checkers, Qwirkle, Candyland, HedBanz, Blokus, Connect Four. Let your kids choose the games.
  51. Play with Hot Wheels cars. Make a city map, using an old sheet and crayons.
  52. Create an indoor obstacle course.
  53. Play Red Light, Green Light.
  54. Pretend to be dinosaurs.
  55. Play Ring-Around-The-Rosy.
  56. Play Coin Toss. Get a handful of pennies and a bunch of plastic containers. Group the containers up in front of a wall. Lay a piece of string down for the throwing line. Take turns tossing the coins into the containers, standing at the line. Whoever gets the most in wins! Little people get the throwing line moved closer, and big people get the line moved back. You can also have wide mouth containers worth 1 point, and narrower mouth containers worth 5 points.
  57. Have a stuffed animal tea party. Or a stuffed animal pretzel-cheese stick-juice party.
  58. Pull out your pots and pans, and lids, and wooden spoons. Have a percussion session (You might need ear plugs for this one.)
  59. Teach your kids how to braid. Make friendship bracelets.
  60. Paint.
  61. If it’s dark out, make shadow puppets on the wall with a flashlight.
  62. Make ninja stars out of origami. Or Post-It notes.
  63. Play with PlayDoh or clay.
  64. Have a dance party. Take turns picking the songs.
  65. Water play: spread an old shower curtain on the floor, and cover it with a towel. Put down a dishpan half full of warm water. Set out plastic cups, containers, measuring spoons/cups, and a sponge. Stir in a little dish soap, if you like. Or, let your kid play in the kitchen sink instead.
  66. Do a puzzle.
  67. Have a Nerf gun fight.
  68. Make a snack together. Peanut butter toast with banana slices for eyes and raisins for the mouth.
  69. Sing together.
  70. Slide down the stairs together, on your butts. (Be careful.)
  71. Play with blocks. Can you build a tower? How high? Talk about the importance of starting with a good base.
  72. Make a city out of your pantry: Build with cans and boxes.
  73. Give your kid a holepunch, and some colored paper.
  74. Look at family photos together.
  75. Make a collage out of old magazines. This involves tearing, cutting, pasting.
  76. String macaroni:  take a shoelace, and string some elbow macaroni on it. Tie it into a necklace.
  77. Give your kid a big cardboard box. The bigger, the better.
  78. Play dress up.
  79. Push the kids around the house in empty laundry hampers.
  80. Make a paper bag mask. Cut out holes for eyes, color the bag, glue on yarn or paper for hair, ears, nose, etc. (Or write “I am not famous” on it…)
  81. Make pudding. Bonus: you get a tasty snack later.
  82. Make a guitar out of a shoebox and 8 rubber bands of different sizes.
  83. Got a magnet? Try out different items from around the house. What sticks to the magnet?
  84. Give your kid 1 hour of your complete attention and conversation.
  85. Take a bath. Give your kid some bath toys: a piece of aluminum foil, a piece of paper, an ice cube, plastic containers, a sponge. Some wooden blocks, some plastic blocks. What floats? What doesn’t? Take a bubble bath. (Note: Don’t EVER leave your little person in the tub alone. Plan to be in the room with them.)  Build Legos in the bath tub.
  86. Draw funny faces on your hands. Or fingers. Or toes.
  87. Blow bubbles. Indoors.
  88. Interview your kid. What are their favorite foods, toys, TV shows, places?  Snap a photo. Save these memories forever. Kids grow up so fast.

What are your favorite things to do when you’re all stuck inside?

Photo: by williamhomes.



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