20 Amazing Indoor Activities for Kids' Rainy-Day Fun
About This Event
While we all love getting fresh air and sunshine, sometimes you get stuck inside. Whether it’s due to bad weather, an unexpected school closure, or some other reason, once you’re indoors, your kids can get cabin fever quickly if you’re not prepared. That's why it's always good to have a stash of indoor activities for kids at the ready.
We’ve corralled our list of favorite inside kids’ activities as a starting point. Go through the suggestions, get inspired, and buy all the necessary components so that when the clouds roll in, you’re ready to go.
As we put this list together, we tried to round up indoor activities for every type of kid. If they’re artsy, we have DIY projects and crafts. Do they like cooking? We have both easy savory recipes and desserts (and, bonus, you also get to eat whatever they whip up). For a bit of a mental boost, we have our favorite puzzles and games, too. And, when those are all exhausted, there’s nothing wrong with hunkering down with a good book, movie, or TV show.
DIY Your Own Masterpieces
Time to bring out all your markers, glue, paint, paper places, and whatever other odds and ends you have around the house and let the kids go to town. When you're done, take the 2D works of art and hang them from string or baker's twine with clothespins, display the 3D works on shelves, and host your own pop-up art gallery.
Break out the Board Games
It's the oldest idea in the book, but if you really want some screen-free family time, old-fashioned board games still do the trick. Get your competitive spirit up and get ready to play.
See the Good Housekeeping Institute's picks for best family board games »
Bake and Decorate
Indoor days are the perfect time to try and get creative in the kitchen. Whip up some kind of make-your-own dessert bar by putting out toppings (frosting, sprinkles, M&Ms, etc.) that kids can add to either a cupcake or ice cream sundae.
Have a Dance Party
Hey, they need to move their little bodies even if they can't go to the playground. Choose a playlist together, blast the music, and let them shake the sillies out.
Bring the Outdoors In
Whether it's forts made of blankets and pillows or pop-up tents, you can approximate the camping experience without having to deal with mosquitoes or mud. Don't forget to make s'mores (or at least pretend to make s'mores with Fisher-Price's pretend camping set).
Leave out a Jigsaw Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles are great because everyone can do them on their own schedules — just leave one out on the table, and the family can float by and try to fit in a few new pieces whenever they have a few minutes to spare. Plus, studies show that puzzles improve collaboration and cooperation skills.
Do a Science Experiment
You can do a ton of at-home science experiments with very little prep and set-up, often with items you can just grab from around the house. For example, if you sit a "cloud" of shaving cream on top of a jar of water, then add drops of blue water one-at-a-time, when the "cloud" becomes saturated, you get blue rain — and the water cycle in a jar.
Go on a Hunt
It's easy to rig up an indoor finding game. You could come up with scavenger hunt-style list of items your child has to find all over the house, or put together a series of clues that lead to one big prize at the end. On Etsy, you can find customizable clue cards that you fill in and print yourself.
Give Each Other Makeovers
Take out your old makeup, nail polishes, and hairbrushes, and "experiment" with a new style. If you really want a laugh, take a page from the internet and do it ... without looking! (Search for "blindfolded makeup challenge" for examples of the hilarious results.)
Attempt a Tricky Brain Teaser
Otherwise known as indoor activities that make kids go, "Hmmm." You can buy a book of kids' brain teasers to keep in a drawer and deploy as needed, or try to untangle some of the trickiest problems that have made their way around the internet.
Read out Loud
We think of reading as a solitary pursuit, but the truth is some kids never get too old to find pleasure in being read to. Whether it's the Runaway Bunny or Lord of the Rings, snuggle up on the couch together for a read-a-thon.
Or Just Listen
If you don't have the time to read out loud to your own kids, let someone else do it for you with a great audiobook. Harry Potter narrator Jim Dale probably does a better job of coming up a different voice for each character than you could, anyway. Podcasts work, too!
Write an Old-Fashioned Letter
The art of letter-writing is a dying one, but you can keep it going a little longer by encouraging your kids to send a message to a loved one. (Little ones can do postcards or draw in a greeting card.) They might even get the thrill of receiving something back!
Play Would You Rather?
Come up with some tough this-or-that questions: Would you rather have super speed or super strength? Would you rather dance in front of a crowd or sing in front of a crowd? Write them down on some paper, draw a question from the jar, and take turns answering honestly.
Host an Open Mic Night
It doesn't matter if you have an official karaoke machine or not. All that matters is you can hit the high notes when it counts. So, what's your go-to, belt-it-out-to-the-rafters song?
Top Your Own Pizza
Get everyone involved in dinner-making by setting out personal pizza dough for each member of the family. Everyone gets to add their own toppings! Bonus: You won't have kids turning up their noses and saying, "yuck" about the meal you've made.
Try Fashion Design
Stencils, paint, solid tees — and go! You can tie-dye, use spin art, buy chalkboard shirts, or use fabric markers, but whatever you do, be prepared to wear your creation the next day. (Tote bags also work.)
Do Mad Libs or Other Word Games
It's crazy to think that Mad Libs have been around since the '50s, and kids still get a kick out of them. If you don't feel like stocking up on Mad Libs books, you can also play some kind of "exquisite corpse" game: The first person writes an opening sentence to a story. The next player adds the second sentence. The third person adds the next line, but is only allowed to see the second player's sentence. And so it goes, with each player adding a line while only looking at one preceding sentence, until the final story — which usually makes no sense — is read out loud.
Make a Sensory Bin
Fill a bin with rice and other treasures, plus a few toys, and you have yourself an instant hit with the little ones. Kids can scoop and pour the rice or dig through to find the prizes you've hidden (in this example, they had fake bugs, a magnifying glass, and tweezers to "collect" them). Just be warned that you'll probably have to vacuum after.
Movies and TV Shows
Sure, if you're worried about screen time, movies and TV shows are always a last resort. But if you're stuck indoors for an extended period of time, at point you're going to want to get something accomplished. Make every second of screen time count by making sure you're choosing the best kids' TV shows and movies available.
We won't tell if you surrender your phone for a little while, too. But rather than scrolling through Instagram, give them an app tailor-made for their age and grade and maybe they'll learn something.