7 Indoor Winter Playtime Ideas for Active Kids

posted: 02/03/16
by: Blythe Copeland
Asian Chinese little girl playing on the slide

When you're stuck inside the house on long, cold winter days, having active kids in your family can make the time go even more slowly. Make it easy for them to jump, hop, climb, and balance inside with these playtime activities -- and work up the energy to join them, so you can get some exercise, too.

1. Hopscotch

Hopscotch is a classic outdoor game that's easy to bring inside -- either with a pre-made mat or set of squares, or with a simple DIY version. Lay out numbered squares of construction paper to create your board, or sketch the outline on a flattened cardboard box or piece of butcher paper. Another idea: Cut out shapes in different colors for a modified version that helps kids reinforce preschool learning lessons while they're working off their extra energy.

2. Mini Trampoline

If you have the space for a small trampoline (with a safety bar kids can hold on to) then it's a simple way for kids to get some exercise when it's too cold to go outside. Have them jump while watching television or listening to their favorite music, or suggest different games they can play while jumping -- like playing Simon Says or practicing letters and counting.

3. Outdoor Toys Inside

Your basement doesn't have to be fully finished to be a great play space for active kids in the winter: As long as it's clean, dry, and free of anything dangerous -- like your husband's woodworking tools or an unsteady shelf of paint cans -- it's an ideal place for kids to work off some energy. Hang a swing from a sturdy rafter to bring back memories of summer at the playground; layer the floor with gym mats and set up your toddler's outdoor slide or climbing structure; or put small tricycles and ride-on toys down there for kids to have their own races. (Of course you can do all this in a finished basement, too, but a furniture-free space will give kids plenty of room to run around.)

4. Balance Beam or Board

Balance beams aren't just for gymnasts: Putting a low one in your playroom helps kids of all ages develop their balance and dexterity (while acting as an excellent tool for imaginative play). Don't have room for a long beam? Try a smaller balance board, and encourage kids to pretend they are surfing or skateboarding as they try to stay standing.

5. DIY Ball Pit

Create your own at-home ball pit with a kid-size plastic or inflatable swimming pool, or an old portable crib (as long as your kids still meet the weight limits). Just fill it with inexpensive plastic balls and let them crawl around, recreating their favorite part of your local fast food restaurant playground -- with a lot less junk food and germs.

6. Stacked Boxes

Frugal Fun 4 Boys has several ideas for entertaining active toddlers inside -- including this Ninja Kick game. Collect cardboard boxes in a variety of sizes from around the house -- you can duct tape them to make them a little tougher if your kids are especially rough -- and see how high you can stack them. Then let the kids take turns kicking the tower down with their best karate moves for a game that's a combination of motor skill development, stacking practice, and movement.

7. Hallway Maze

Inspired by the laser-light mazes of action films like Mission Impossible, setting up a hallway maze with your kids is a project that will keep them occupied while they help with the prep and then try to make it through the maze. Use streamers, string, or tape strung across the hallway at alternating angles to create an obstacle course for your kids to climb through -- and be sure to leave a treat at the end for when they've reached their goal.

A photo posted by @ejfailes on