When kids are stuck inside, it’s difficult to keep them amused and active. Try some of these boredom busters that quash the dreaded cries of “I’m bored” and boost the body and mind at the same time.
The kids may have just returned to school, but the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting less active fun-friendly. It’s only a matter of time before you hear the dreaded, “I’m bored,” so how do you keep the kids healthy, active, and engaged when you’re stuck inside?
Recommended activity levels
The Canadian guidelines advocate preschoolers have a minimum 180 minutes of physical activity spread throughout the day, and children between 5 and 17 should have 60 minutes per day, including aerobic exercise, with muscle and bone strengthening activities added at least three times a week.
This doesn’t have to be organized sports or a solid block of activity. As long as they’re up and moving energetically about with purpose, it counts as activity. And getting the kids up and moving around for 15 minutes at a time every hour can easily add up to their 180 minutes.
For older children, it’s easy to count a sport or a class that’s physical, like dance, as activity, but don’t be so sure. In an average hour-long session, your child could be spending time sitting or standing at the sidelines, listening to a coach or watching demonstrations.
Benefits of physical activity
By encouraging physical activity, you’re setting your children up with healthy habits for life. Not only will they build a stronger cardiovascular system, and strengthen their muscle and bone structures, but they’ll also have a more robust immune system and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.
Children who are more active also display greater confidence and a more positive outlook on life. They have been shown to suffer from lower levels of anxiety and depression, an increased ability to concentrate, and have a tendency to do better at school.
There are many ways to get those kids active when you’re stuck indoors—no expensive equipment needed. You could try any one of these fun activities our family uses, or make up your own. The only limit is your imagination, and how much noise and laughter you can take from your children!
Games you played
- blowing and chasing bubbles
- Simon Says (fantastic for getting the little ones up and moving)
- musical chairs (can be played with cushions on the floor)
- “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” (active and educational for toddlers)
- indoor hopscotch (use masking tape to create the grid)
Get your children lying on their backs and get them to move their legs in the air as if they were cycling. In the same position, get them to scissor their legs and lift cans of beans or vegetables as weights. Finally, pile some pillows on the floor and lay across them, then “swim” through the air. Challenge your child to do each activity for as long as they can.
Playmobil hide & seek
Hide as many Playmobil figures as you like around the house and send the kids off to find them. Every time they find a person, they have to run back to a “home,” place the figure there, and run off to find the next.
Take some wool, yarn, or twine and tie it around the leg of a chair. Go to town threading, twisting, and tying it around furniture and doorways, then get your little “spiders” to crawl up and over and through.
Timed scavenger hunt
Make a list of items for your child to find, but make it a challenge. Use descriptions like “something with polka dots” or “a book with an elephant in it.” See who can find the most items in a set time, or, if you hide multiple items under the same category, see who can find one of each item the fastest.
While playing music, have everyone dance, but call out moves like “touch your toes” or “make circles with your arms.” Then turn the music off suddenly and have everyone stand as still as a statue. Repeat until everyone’s either tired out—or giggling too hard to look like a statue!
How do I cross?
Make up as many ways as you can to cross the room: on hands and knees, using two pieces of paper as stepping stones, carrying each other, etc. This one is excellent for getting those brains firing.
Hot potato—balloon edition
Blow up a balloon and have kids pass it back and forth without using their hands. The balloon is not allowed to touch the floor, the ceiling, or the furniture. This is a lot harder than it sounds!
Tidy room Olympics
Make tidying up fun by turning it into a series of games. Can you throw the stuffies into their box from the doorway, garbage into the wastebasket, or laundry into the hamper? What is the highest shelf you can reach to put books on, etc.
Ask your child to teach you some moves they’ve learned. It could be how to pass a ball in soccer, how to place your feet in ballet, or anything they like. Swap and teach them a yoga pose you know or a dance move. This activity is great for communicating and getting closer to your child.
Teach your little ones to crabwalk, then challenge them to go across the room with different items balanced on their belly.
Put the active in inactive fun
We keep a drawstring bag full of cards with activities written on them such as “10 star jumps” or “Do a crazy 1 minute dance.” When we play board games we incorporate the cards. For example, every time you get a piece home or get sent back to the beginning in Sorry, you take a card and do the activity.
Paper ball tag
Tag in the house can be a disaster, but lightly scrunch up some paper into a ball and throw it to “tag” someone and you have all the same fun without the physical contact.