It may be that you are stuck at home with a sick child, or just spending some indoor time for a while. Either way make the most of this time for indoor games, and indoor activities for kids are great for facilitating kids’ development and for enhancing the skills that underpin literacy, numeracy and other school based learning.
Here are a few indoor activities for kids
Drawing is an old classic for all ages, and is fantastic for sparking kids imaginations and keeping them entertained for hours. Whether they are drawing up their own thoughts or you’ve given them a theme, a piece of paper and a bunch of different drawing tools can provide some peace and quiet.
Kids can use plain paper, coloured paper, big butchers paper or smaller pieces of paper and some pencils, texta’s, crayons, pastels or even chalk on black paper to create their very own piece of art. Not only does this give them something to do, it’s fantastic for visual skills, eye-hand coordination, imagination and developing basic skills such as pencil grip.
Another classic that requires attention to detail and engagement is colouring in. Old-fashioned colouring books can be picked up from almost any shop for a bargain, or you can even jump onto google and find a bunch of great templates.
There is a colouring in out for there for all interests and themes such as TV shows, characters, professions, animals, vehicles, general objects and everything in between. Like drawing, there is a large variety of drawing tools like coloured pencils, fine tip or thick felt markers, crayons, pastels or even water colour paints.
Aside from the entertainment it provides, it develops fine motor control and pencil grip.
Cutting up old magazines and gluing
Magazines are a common household item, and once they have been read they tend to end up in the bin or collecting dust on the coffee table but they are a fantastic resource for kids. Provide children with some old magazines, plain paper, scissors and glue and there imaginations will run wild. You could let children create whatever there hearts desire, or you could provide them a theme or topic.
This theme or topic can provide a good conversation starter regarding many things such as healthy foods, different cultures or places in the world. As much fun as this activity is, it will also help develop visual scanning, scissor skills and general fine motor skills.
Play dough is a sensory activity enjoyed by children of all ages (and possibly adults too). Its texture and versatility provides a long list of ways that it can be used, kids can be moulding people, characters, animals or creating homes, buildings or outdoor flora and fauna or it can be used in a more educational way.
There are many templates online that can be printed for students to mould numbers, shapes, letters or words to develop their numeracy and literacy skills. Its great for fine motor strength and control, and keeping your little ones entertained. Here is a great recipe for silky play dough.
Old wedding dresses, work uniforms, terrible clothes from the eighties or cheap costumes from shops provide a whole world of imaginative play. Kids love to dress up and pretend they are in another world, whether that’s pretending to run a café, flying to the moon or being a fire fighter that saves the day. We have Book Week ideas here.
If you don’t have any laying around your home, you can pick up some great dress-ups from op shops. This activity sparks the imagination and develops social skills.
Building blocks can come in a variety of types, such as lego, plastic, wooden, juplo and can be from small to large sized. Kids can use their imaginations and build all sorts of scenarios like a house, a shopping centre, a farm, towns or anything they can dream. Its great for 3D visualisation, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Board games or card games
Board games are a common household item, and if not – can be picked up from your local department store for fairly budget friendly. Classics such as snakes and ladders, checkers, four in a row, guess who or more modern games like tumbling monkeys, pie face or junior monopoly can provide family fun every day of the week.
Card games such as snap, go fish or uno are also fantastic. These are great for encouraging turn taking, following rules and building resilience. We wrote about our favourite travel & card games with links of where to buy them cheap.
Simple jewellery making can be another fantastic indoor activity to keep the kids entertained. It allows them to identify colours, create patterns, practice planning and exercise their imagination.
You can purchase larger beads and shoe laces for those who are just beginning and work towards smaller beads with finer string to really practice that fine motor co-ordination.
Just like cutting up old magazines and gluing them, kids can do something similar with household and outdoor materials. It’s a fun activity where you can go for a nature walk or go through the home recycling to find materials that can be cut and glued to make a collage.
This is a great activity that can have kids outdoors or indoors, exploring nature or recyclable materials and being creative. It is ideal for building tactile tolerances and fine motor skills.
Word searches are fantastic as an indoor activity, they can be done at the kitchen table or curled up on the lounge. You can buy a word search book that is kid friendly from many department and cheap stores, or you can print them right from the comfort of your own home.
These word searches can be topic or theme specific, or you could personalise your own online. These are great for visual skills such as figure ground (seeing things in a busy background) and closure (seeing wholeness in words and pictures, visual scanning and spelling.
Hang man is another classic that can provide fun for the whole family. It allows the kids to select words that are related to topics that they are interested in, practice spelling skills, visual skills and recalling letters and sounds.
It can be played by good old fashioned paper and pen, on a whiteboard, chalkboard or there are even technology apps that have been developed that allow you to play via computers or tablet devices.
Join the dots
Join the dots is a great activity for kids that can be done on paper or on technological devices via apps that have been developed. There are many options online available for free to print.
There is a join the dot for all ages and ability levels, with some just being joining the black dots for the lower ability levels and some requiring joining via order of numbers or alphabet. For the older kids, you can find some that require them to solve mathematic sums or word problems in order to join the dots. Once they have joined all the dots, they can then colour it in.
This activity helps with integrating visual and motor skills that are vital for handwriting and closure.
Books & reading
Who doesn’t love a good book, they are perfect for all ages and a great opportunity to bond with your kids. Picture books are fantastic for those of the younger ages (and older too), and with the amazing variety of books that cover all different topics and have beautiful illustrations, you will be spoilt with choice.
There are also some great chapter books that children of all ages love, this provides a story that can be read regularly in the home. Its safe to say that with the range of fiction and non-fiction books available, there is bound to be a book that your child will enjoy.
Remember – ‘a little and often’ and ‘don’t make it a chore’ are the key to developing reading skills, particularly for children who find it difficult. Read a list of our favourite bedtime stories.
And last, but certainly not least….
Jigsaw puzzles are suitable for children of all ages and ability levels. You can find jigsaw puzzles that are based on different scenarios and interests and puzzles that consist of minimal and large pieces, to many and smaller pieces.
This provides hours of engagement and concentration. It’s an activity that is very much understated and under rated for developing visual skills (scanning, closure, figure-ground, discrimination, position in space), planning, problem solving and perseverance!
Other indoor activities for kids
Electronic games on devices such as computers and i-pads do have a place also but most apps are not as effective at developing the fine motor and writing skills which children need for independence with daily activities and for building success at school. A balance between the more conventional and the more contemporary activities is important.
Parents play a key role in helping to develop the foundation skills that underpin school based learning. Fine motor, visual processing and social-emotional skills impact on literacy, numeracy and other school based learning and are just some of the skill areas that can be easily developed through thoughtful indoor play.