Stuck inside with your kids? Desperate for indoor activities and games for your kids to keep them active?
You’re in the right place. This is a list of tonnes of creative active indoor activities that will help your kids burn off all of that energy, help them feel better, and de-stress.
Why Is Being Active Important for Kids?
Being active is vital for all of us, but kids especially need to keep moving. Exercise is essential for children’s growth and development in a number of ways:
- Reduces stress
- Improves mood
- Boosts confidence
- Helps kids learn and focus
- Keeps weight in balance
- Vital for the growth and development of healthy bones, muscles, and joints
- Improves sleep and makes getting to sleep easier
- Increases balance, flexibility, and agility
- Improves posture
There are many medical reasons for kids to keep fit too. Kids who exercise benefit from:
- Reduced risk of asthma
- Less chance of having flat feet
- Stronger joints to prevent injuries like sprains
- Reduced risk of high blood pressure
- Less chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease
- Better ability to have fun and play with friends, increasing social life
Getting Active Through Exercise Games
Prentiss Rhodes, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Master Trainer, Certified Personal Trainer provides the following advice on using play for exercise.
- Game play allows children to have an outlet for their active imaginations. They get to express their creativity and develop their problem solving skills. Play is also necessary to work out situations that they encounter on a daily basis. It gives them a way to safely interact with the world and work out these different themes without the threat of harsh judgement.
- Fitness, for children especially, is an important part of brain development. Evidence suggests that having kids participate in sports or other athletic activities (i.e. dance, unstructured play/rough housing) can have a positive effect on their cognitive abilities including improving attention span, memory, learning, and pattern recognition. Not to mention, fitness and the physical attributes that come with it can have a profound effect on the confidence and self-esteem of the child.
- For the parent, engaging in play with their kids is important, because as the saying goes “The kids are watching.” Children will model their behaviors and habits (good and bad) after their parents, so engaging in activities like physical play, fitness, and other activities such as cooking, reading, and board game play are important for leading by example and developing important bonds.
How Can a Kid Get Fit?
Kids can get fit from outdoor or indoor activities that require them to move their bodies with games, active play, and more structured workouts. At least 60 minutes of activity per day is ideal and up to three hours per day is even better.
Kids and teens should participate in activities that strengthen their muscles and bones at least three days per week.
In my experience, kids love to perform “grown-up” fitness workouts and movements like push-ups, pull-ups, and squats.
The types of workouts and indoor activities that kids can do include:
- Circuit training for kids
- Aerobic exercises for kids
- Exercise videos for toddlers to teens
- Stretching exercises for kids
- Kid’s yoga
- Core strengthening exercises for kids
All of these can be done in a structured way or through free-play indoor activities and work on three key aspects of kid’s fitness:
Keep in mind that kids don’t have to get all of their active time done at once. Multiple spurts through the day is fine and much more typical of how kids behave.
How to Motivate Kids to Exercise
- Block Your Time: It is critical for all of us to delineate a specific block of time each day to exercising our bodies, not just our minds. For kids you can call this recess, PE, exercise time, gym time or whatever you think might help them to motivate. Regardless of what you call it, kids need to focus one or two consistent time blocks per day dedicated to physical activity. Depending on the child, that might be one good hour-long block per day. Younger children will probably do better with a couple of 30-minute blocks or perhaps even more frequent shorter blocks. The time, however, should be written on the schedule, and regardless of the activity they choose, your mornings or afternoons can focus on this outlet.
- Meet at a dedicated spot: “Ok kids its 10:30 lets hit the kitchen for our morning exercise circuit!”
- Mix it up! God knows it’s groundhog day. I am going to give a couple of suggestions for activities to do, but no matter what add variety to the project.
- Get outside: Our government has given us recommendations for social distancing, but not limited our ability to go outside and go for a walk. Clearing the mind in some fresh air regardless of the outside activity will make a world of difference.
- Do your activities together! If you can’t do the exercises yourself how can you expect your kids to do them.
- When it comes to promoting physical activity for kids, the focus should be on an overall healthier lifestyle. Working to increase their physical activity by building healthy and active habits.
- Find some simple ways the whole family can be more active and let your kid choose. Set a goal for how often you want to do it and track your progress together.
- Connect small rewards to each milestone to help support their habit-building through small incentives that decrease or are removed over time.
Need motivation for yourself? Read my tips on fitness motivation!
How to Limit kids’ Sedentary Behaviour
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time and encouraging indoor activities with the following techniques:
- Don’t let screen time interfere with getting enough activity or sleep. Limit time spent on video games, TV, social media, and video games.
- Children aged 2 -5 should limit screen time to 1 hour per day or less.
- Kids under a year and a half should really only use screens for keeping in touch with family (such as video chatting)
- Monitor what your children are exposed to and choose educational, quality games and programs.
- Don’t have screens in your kids’ bedrooms.
- Avoid having screens on at mealtimes. (read more about the benefits of that in these healthy eating tips)
Active Indoor Activities
Circuit Training for Kids
These indoor activities are from Dr. Dorf.
- Pick 4-6 exercises and create an exercise circuit.
- Complete 3 or 4 reps of each exercise to complete the workout.
- A total workout should take 20-40 minutes.
Aerobic Exercise Circuit
- 0-3 min: jog around the house
- 3-6 min: jump rope (real or mimed)
- 6-7 min: burpees
- 7-8 min: step up and down stairs (two at a time for bigger kids)
- 8-9 min: rest
- Complete three times
Other ideas include adding in any exercise equipment you may have such as an exercise bike or treadmill. “One of my kids thrives on the stationary bike. The other one needs to be bribed, but it’s worth it,” says Dr. Dorf.
Len Saunders, 40 year veteran PE teacher and author provides this idea:
- Make up a list of exercises such as push-ups, jumping jacks, jumping rope and hula hoop.
- When a commercial or ad on YouTube starts, perform one exercise for the entire time.
- Next break, move to the next exercise.
- Feel free to join! Be a good role model!
Here are some more ideas from Len:
Fitness Scavenger Hunt: Hide envelopes in your home. Inside the envelopes are specific fitness challenges such as doing 5 pushup or doing 10 jumping jacks….be as creative as you want. Have your children search the house (safely) and look for the envelopes. When they find one, they must open it, fulfill the challenge inside, then search for more envelopes. Whoever finds the most envelopes can put the new fitness challenges in them for the next day.
Make an exercise video: So often, we see experts sharing exercise videos online. How about a family make their own exercise video…starring you? This could be a fun initiative for a family, but at the same time, getting some physical activity.
Create a monthly health calendar: Create a monthly calendar where each day has some health or fitness suggestions. For example, on May 1, do 10 jumping jacks. On May 2, each 5 fruits or veggies…etc. Then, follow your guidelines for the whole month.
Fun Exercises For Kids
The following exercise games come from Dave Barth, the summer camp director and CEO at Run for Fun Camps. Run For Fun is now offering free “recess” programming online
Rock-Paper-Scissors with a fitness twist:
- One member of the family is the lead rock-paper-scissor head honcho for the first three rounds.
- Everyone else goes up against this person. So if Mom is elected to be the first leader of the rock paper scissors game all other members of the family would go up against mom.
- If you are defeated by mom you have to do 10 of each exercise, if you tie you have to do 5 of each exercise and if you win, sit back and relax.
- After three to five rounds let another family member take the lead.
Ideas for exercises:
- Star Jumps
- Jumping Jacks
- Skip for height
- Skip for distance
- Run to the refrigerator and back
- Go touch your bed and come on back etc.
The person in charge of the round gets to be the one coming up with the exercise.
**Bonus points: You can add up how many times you win in total to have an ultimate winner if you would like
- You have a narrator, most likely an adult to start. After the narrator lists each suggestion participants have 5-10 seconds to follow the narrators lead.
- Tsunami – A big wave is coming, you have 5-10 seconds to get off the ground. Go stand on a couch, sit on a chair etc.
- Boogie Man – You must be hidden from the narrator where they can not see you in plain sight
- Tea Party – everyone gather around and come sip some tea in a circle and talk about the. day
- Funky Chicken– Best funky chicken next to the narrator.
The narrator can then try to trick participants. If you want to get super fancy you can go to other rooms of your house to mix it up and keep the game going.
We normally like to play where everyone stays in the game, but you can also play with elimination so that members of the family get out when the task is not done quick enough or correctly.
Number Recognition Beanbag Toss
The following is a fun game from Sarah – an Early Years Teacher specialising in early child development and blogger over at Arthur Wears, a parenting and play based learning blog.
- Use a numbered beanbag or a numbered ball and challenge your child to throw and catch.
- Upon catching the ball or beanbag, see if they can recognise and name the number, and then complete this number of star jumps.
“Physical development underpins all other areas of learning within the foundation stage and is a really important part of the curriculum. From working on the gross motor skills to build up chest and arm muscles as a pre-requisite to writing, to using ‘active’ learning as a tool for engagement – young children have an intense need to move as their muscles and bodies develop, and so planning in active activities is important,” says Sarah. Here’s another exercise game to try.
- Use Velcro spots on a carpet, or silicone/rubber spots or painter’s tape on a hard floor and add numbers, letters or phonics sounds to the individual dots.
- Using a stop watch, shout out a number or a sound and challenge your child to run from their current position and stand on the new sound.
- For an increased challenge, can they spell a word by running from letter to letter?
Here’s a video example of the beanbag game and other fun and active indoor activities from Sarah.
The following games are from Prentiss Rhodes, CPT
“For all of the suggestions below, I’ll provide a basic structure, but you’ll have to provide your imagination to make the game come to life. You’ll find that after a few times, you’ll come up with many creative variations (that I’d like to see as well!)”
Players: 2 – As many players as possible (AMPAP)
Equipment: Open space such as the basement or living room, obstacles (cones, pillows, etc.) 15-minute time limit.
- Players run around their course.
- In order to tag a free player, the player who is “it” must position their body in front of the free player (face to face) as yell “Tag!”
- The player who was tagged must do an activity of the “It” player’s choice i.e. squats, push-ups.
- Once the tagged player has completed the exercise, he/she is now “it” and play resumes. Continue until time has expired.
Animal Freeze Tag
- Everything is the same as Freeze Tag.
- In this variation, players will move around their course like various animals (Monkey, Crabs, tigers, frogs, alligators, etc.)
- Note: All players move around the course as the animal chosen by the “It” player.
Animal Charades/ Dance Party
Equipment: Music playlist of choice, speakers, open space, timer, note cards
- The players write the names of animals on note cards and place in a deck.
- One player is the actor/dancer, the others are watchers. The actor will pick a note card from the shuffled deck.
- The actor has one minute to get the watchers to guess the name of the animal that is being imitated.
- If the animal is guessed, the players switch roles and continue play.
- If the correct animal is not guessed, the actor must do 10 repetitions of an exercise of the watchers’ choice.
Pet Tug and Keep-away
The goal of this game is to play keep-away with your pet’s favorite tug toy.
- Start tugging with the dog. If you’re able to take the toy away, play keep away.
- Let your pet win a couple of rounds of tug and chase them to get them involved in keep-away as well.
- You must have an energetic, cooperative dog for the game to work.
I’m an avid martial artist so one of the games that I like to play with my dog is “sparring”.
- I get my dog going by tapping him gently on his shoulder or hind quarters. Then I do all my martial footwork drill trying to navigate around my dog.
- I also do blended play where I get on the floor and play like a dog as well doing “dog wrestling.”
- Note: With children it is important that you have a great relationship with the dog and you establish earlier and often what appropriate play is like with the dog (i.e. do not pull ears or tail, and no hitting).
- You must also understand the dog’s cues when it is finished playing and everyone can have fun.
This awesome collection of indoor activities, sports, and games for kids
is from former teacher and founder of Starlux Games, Judd King.
Create an Indoor Treasure Hunt
With a little bit of prep work, this activity will keep your kids occupied for a good deal of time while also having them up and moving around the house. Just create a scavenger hunt style treasure map, hide some special prizes, tokens or treats around the house and set them off on a good old fashioned mystery.
Strike Up a Game of Balloon Ping Pong (No Ping Pong Table Necessary!)
Grab a ping pong paddle or even a wooden spoon, blow up a few balloons and find anything that will work as a virtual ping pong table—you don’t even need a real table, a line in the floor will work just fine. Serve the balloon back and forth without letting it touch the floor. You won’t believe the fun and exercise you’ll get trying to keep the balloon in the air.
Dance Party Freeze Game
Turn up your favorite music, keep the volume control in hand, and instruct the kids to boogie down until the music stops and then freeze. When the music starts again, you move to the beat. Dancing is a great way to brush off the winter blues and get the whole family moving.
Build with Cardboard Boxes
Nothing beats boredom like kids with cardboard boxes. Gather up your extra cardboard boxes left over from the holidays or check with a local big box warehouse or furniture store. They typically have extra-large appliance boxes they are more than happy to give away. You only need to provide them with scissors, masking or duct tape, markers and time to build a rocket ship, club house, fire truck or anything their imagination can dream up.
Design an Indoor Hopscotch
Hand your kids some construction paper or printer paper and have them make their own hopscotch grid. Once finished, tape each piece to the floor to prevent slipping and use a sock in place of a rock. Encourage them to build the grid bigger than the standard 10 squares while still being able to keep up the game.
Build a Tent or Fort
Gather up the blankets and sheets and start building an imaginary world. There will be energy exerted and story lines developed to create hours of fun for children of all ages.
Jump to Cushion Island
You may not typically love your sofa cushions spread out across the living floor, but there’s no time like winter to break your own rules! Let your kiddos spread out the cushions on the floor and designate them as islands your child must travel between. Pretend there are sharks and other sea creatures on the floor between the cushions so they really don’t want to fall in!
Hide and Seek for the Win
You enjoyed a good game of Hide and Seek when you were a kid and my guess is your kids still love it too. Never underestimate how much fun a game of Hide and Seek is in your own home or how much your kids will get a kick out of finding great places to hide in their own house. Now, start counting to 40!
Casidy Marks, work at home dad with two young boys, and multi American Ninja Warrior competitor, recommends his favourite indoor activities —obstacle courses!
He gives the following advice for setting up your own obstacle course:
The trick is to just get creative with items you have laying around. We like to act like the floor is lava so tip toeing around on different things without touching the ground is always fun. This is an example of one we might set up.
- We would start with a snail ride (or any riding toy) over to a pillow.
- From the pillow, you have to jump over a stack of books onto another pillow and then climb onto the couch.
- After crawling to the other side of the couch, you step down onto another pillow and climb over the bean bag chair into a tunnel that leads to the trampoline for a victory bounce!
- This is a simple example and there is plenty of room to get more creative if you want to add to the complexity. Maybe have a puzzle half way through that has to be solved or throw a ball that has to be dodged or caught.
The following ideas were provided to us from Meghan Kennihan, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, USATF Run Coach, RRCA Run Coach, and USA Cycling Coach.
Quarantine Kid Fitness
Kids' Fitness Programs and Books
Online Kids’ Fitness Programs
- Run For Fun Camps Virtual Programs:
“Virtual recess is a live interactive experience where kids can participate in fitness related games that include scavenger hunts, riddles and more that get them moving around the house in a fun and safe way. Our team realized that we wanted to offer play and fitness to elementary aged youth as a way for kids to play and connect.”
Since closing their doors, the California kids gym ramped up their online efforts, providing tons of FREE virtual classes to keep kids energized, engaged and educated 🙂
Children can learn everything from handstands and cartwheels to break dancing and proper stretching in the comfort of their own homes.
Online Yoga For Kids
Doreen Foxwell from The Children’s School of Yoga says that “yoga has so many wonderful ways that it can help a child to stay fit and well indoors or out.
Each child benefits in a different way based on their own individual needs..For ie: A child with ADD or ADHD benefits by learning how to self regulate their behaviors and actions through yoga breaths and meditations.
An everyday child may benefit from increasing their lung capacity for participating in team sports. A toddler benefits differently than a teen. Toddlers are learning balance skills while teens need to work on flexibility from being in school all day or sitting too much..
The beauty of yoga is that it can be done anywhere. Indoors, outdoors. At school. At home. In a studio. Virtually…
Yoga poses benefit a child’s body inside and out by building flexibility, improving balance skills, building muscular strength.
Yoga breathing techniques combined with poses help to balance a child’s nervous system, improve circulation, and increases the benefits of an individual pose.
Additional benefits of practicing yoga is the ability to stay calm during chaos. It helps calm a child’s fight or flight response. It allows a child to act instead of reacting.
Practicing Yoga allows a child to learn mindfulness meditations that they can use during their school days, activities and later into their adult life, work life, and family life.”
A simple Yoga sequence that children can do at home
Tree to Mountain or Mountain to tree pose: These are “Grounding Poses” Which is a good thing in yoga. Grounding means you feel connected to the Earth and in control.
Mountain Pose is simply standing tall with your arms down by your side. Straight legs and arms. Close your eyes for a moment and breathe..
Tree pose is leaving one leg planted in the ground or straight while the other leg bends at the knee and the sole of the foot of the bent leg rests on the inside of the standing leg.
Your hands can stretch and reach overhead or have your palms pressed together overhead or in front of your heart. Switch sides..
Cosmic Kids Yoga
Super popular and exuberant yoga programming for kids, Cosmic Yoga is a great choice for kids who need a lot of stimulation to hold their attention.
Cosmic Yoga is fun and upbeat. It might be too much for kids with ASD or sensitivity disorders who are easily overly stimulated. In that case, The Children’s School of Yoga is a better bet for your child.
David Norec, the author of Exo and Cy shared this helpful information with me about his book and his inspiration for writing it:
“Keeping active physically helps relieve mental and emotional stress during difficult times like we’re enduring right now. Also, the healthier our bodies are, the greater our defenses will be against illnesses.
Physical activity can be fun with creativity and imagination. As a former teacher, I’ve experienced the short attention spans of youngsters. Therefore, engaging in physical activity for 10-15 minutes at a time will keep the little ones interested and away from the “b” word – bored! Also, physical activity can be intertwined with an educational experience like reading a book.
One of the most innovative and creative ways for parents to engage in exercise indoors is reading a book like the one I wrote called The Adventures of Exo and Cy. In this book, kids of all ages get an exercise workout while reading a book. It’s a win-win for the entire family!
In 2013, I lost a brother to diabetes. In 2014, I lost a sister to diabetes. I currently have another sister who has gone blind, undergone an amputation, and needs dialysis 3 times a week.
From these tragedies, I was inspired to write the book. Exo and Cy (exercise) live in O.B. City (obesity).
The mayor of O.B. City is Diane Beeties (diabetes). In this first book, she sends a bully, Chip, and his dog, Nacho (potato chips) to steal everyone’s healthy snacks. As the adventure begins, readers are encouraged to do the same “exocyses” as the characters, thus getting an exercise workout and learning how to stay healthy and eat right.”
Spunky The Monkey is part of the “An Adventure In Exercise” book series by Len Saunders. These books motivate children to read and exercise simultaneously. The book serves 4 main purposes:
- To make reading fun for children
- To encourage children to read
- To make exercise fun for children
- To encourage children to exercise
Children need motivational ways to get active. Many of them spend countless hours involved in technology instead of activity. The “An Adventure In Exercise” book series was designed to motivate young children (ages 2-7) to get off the couch and exercise.
Health and Fitness Apps for Kids
- Fun, safe, and effective exercises for children ranging from 4-12 years of age
- Created to unite fitness and family bonding in the comfort of your own home.
- 10-20 minute classes
- High-energy, functional, bodyweight workouts that you and your kids can experience together.
- From budding athlete to first-time-fitness
- The high-energy, functional, bodyweight workouts are broken down into classes for three age groups:
- The Minis (4-6 years old) led by Blake Shutterly
- The Smalls (7-9 years old) led by Britney Byfield
- The Bigs (10-12 years old) led by Christi Marraccini
Neo is offering a 30 Day Free Access Pass to readers of Radical Strength 🙂
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@JenniferJohncock is keeping her family busy with a solid combo of trying new things, taking virtual field trips to cool places, and keeping her superstars active with DribbleUp! 😄⚽ What are your stay-at-home activities? 🙌 #dribbleup #soccer #socialdistancing #soccertraining #stayhome #stayhealthy #quarantineandchill #staysafe #stayactive #homeworkout
DribbleUp has smart basketballs, soccer balls, and medicine balls. We asked them a few questions to learn more about this super cool sports tech.
Why are structured activity and lessons important for kids?
Young athletes can benefit from guided instruction, practice, feedback, and measured progress. Learning in a structured environment can help give kids the confidence to know their practicing the right things.
How does this product help bridge the gap while kids are unable to get in-person lessons?
Kids have always used DribbleUp products as a way to get in extra practice at-home and hone technical skills that they can apply in real life game scenarios. DribbleUp is a great way for kids to stay active while they’re home and get some daily practice in. Kids are able to learn new skills, practice everyday, and keep track of their progress.
How does building skill and achievement through this product help kids cope with what’s going on right now?
DribbleUp gives kids a chance to tap into a virtual sports community even while they’re isolated at-home away from their team. Many parents are telling us that DribbleUp Live Classes are their child’s favorite activity of the day, they are staying active, and not only keeping their skills up, they are improving everyday! Parents always tell us that they see their kids confidence soar as they learn and perfect new moves
Nick Rizzo recommends this app for helping kids build healthy habits for exercise, nutrition, and hygiene.
The app uses rewards for completing habits and sticking to your goals using an automated health trainer and kid friendly chat stories.
Indoor Activities for Every Kid
Hopefully you’ve found some indoor activities from this collection that will help keep your kids active and fit even when they are stuck inside!
Don’t forget that being a role model is the best way to encourage your kids to stay active.
You can try this 30 Day Fitness Challenge to get started!