Although we may hunt for things all the time (hello keys, wallet, phone!), your kids don’t always get the same chance at discovery. So set them up with a hunt all their own with these incredibly creative ideas:
Lego Color Hunt: You have to try this one, it is a kid-favorite and super easy to execute. Select 4 pieces of colored construction paper and then collect 10 Lego pieces that match each one (ie. 10 yellow Lego pieces for a yellow piece of paper). Now hide all of the Lego pieces in one room/area of your house and layout the colored paper on a table or the floor nearby. Start the clock and have your kid(s) start hunting.
Once they’ve found a Lego, they need to return it to the piece of paper that matches in color. See how long it takes them to find them all (tell them there’s 10 of each color so they can count to see if they’re missing any themselves), and then re-hide so they can try and get a lower time. (editor’s note: for my 2 older kids I hid 5 Duplo Legos and 5 regular Legos of each color and then assigned them a size — that way they each had the opportunity to find the same amount…and big brother couldn’t sweep them all up leaving little sis with nothing!)
Once they’ve had enough of the game, challenge them to have a little quiet time and make a cool rainbow structure out of the Legos (while Mom drinks a cup of coffee…score!)
Puzzle Piece Hunt: This is a genius idea courtesy of No Time For Flash Cards. Hide all the pieces of a wooden board puzzle and have your child search for them – returning each piece to the board as they go. This game gets them moving, and their brain working at the same time, and kids love having a goal to complete. They’ll beg you to hide them again!
Paint Chip Color Hunt: Pick up some brightly colored paint chips from your local hardware store and ask your kids to find items that match each color as closely as possible (again, keep a timer going so they quicken their pace).
ABC Hunt: Have your kids go around the house with a basket, collecting items that start with each letter of the alphabet (A for apple, B for Barbie, C for Crayola, etc) – give them a checklist to mark off each one as they go. Time them so they run!
Scavenger Hunt: Use this Scavenger Hunt Printable from Living and Life Designed to send your kids on a fun hunt around the house collecting various items that you’ve listed. Make it fun by including specific things like “your favorite bath toy” or “a pink sock” to more general categories like “something that begins with the letter T”. And yes, set that timer!
Flash Light Scavenger Hunt: If you have a room that can get sufficiently dark by turning off the lights and closing the blinds, send your kids on a Flash Light Scavenger Hunt where they have to find certain hidden items in the dark using a flashlight. Kids go crazy for this one! (via Hands On As We Grow)
MAZE + OBSTACLE COURSE
These incredible ideas for making your own DIY maze or obstacle course will test your child’s strategic skills while getting their heart pumping.
Mission Impossible Obstacle Maze: Using either Crepe Paper or Flag Tape (held in place with Painter’s Tape), create an intricate maze in a hallway for your kids to navigate their bodies through. Put the tape up high and down low, forcing them to step over and crawl under at various points. The only problem with this one is that once you make it, your kids will constantly be begging you to make another! (Idea via Brassy Apple)
Life-size Book Maze: This creative idea from Preschool Powol Packets uses books (but other household items: clothing, brooms, and sports equipment like bats and sticks would all work well) to create a large scale maze that will challenge your kids to find their way out. Once they have the hang of it, have them crawl, hop, or walk backwards through it! This one is great for preschoolers to work on their spatial awareness and problem-solving skills – in addition to getting them up and moving.
Obstacle Course: This tried-and-true idea is always a huge hit with kids, and can be made different every time so it never gets old. Make sure to create an engaging course that includes a variety of motions (jumping, crawling, balancing, etc.) and uses a large area. Have your kids help make the course (which is half the fun!) using some of these creative ideas:
- Hula hoops to jump through
- Line of tape to balance on
- Couch cushions to hop between
- Table to crawl under
- Blanket over 2 chairs to crab walkthrough
- Tupperware containers to hurdle over
- Stuffed animals to roll over
- Plastic cups to run around
We love that obstacle courses are great for kids of all ages to participate in – the younger tots enjoy just being able to complete all the obstacles, while older kids can race against each other or the clock. You could even have them attempt it balancing a bean bag or stuffed animal on their head, or with 1 hand behind their back.
Take 10 minutes to set-up a super engaging course, and you’ll benefit from happy, worn-out kids.
Use your garage
Sometimes the most obvious ideas don’t dawn on you until it’s too late. If you have a garage, why not move out your car and let your kids go wild in the open (but covered) space. Depending on its size, they could use their scooters, bikes and other outdoor ride-on toys, or play a game of tag, catch, soccer or street hockey. The best part about this is that your kids really feel like they’re getting outdoor playtime, and are getting some fresh (well, fresh-er) air at the same time.
Bring outdoor toys inside
If using your garage isn’t a viable option (where are all the hoarders at?!), then consider bringing some of your child’s outdoor toys inside. These can be smaller items like jump ropes and softballs, or larger items like scooters, ride-on, and our all-time favorite fold-up slide.
Another way to bring the outdoors in is to adapt your child’s favorite outdoor sports games to be indoor friendly. Try out these variations for plenty of sweaty fun:
Basketball: If you have a Little Tikes basketball hoop or an over-the-door one, then you’re all set to play with a soft foam ball. But no worries if you don’t, just grab some laundry baskets or beach buckets and place them on the floor, stairs or hang from a door handle or hook. Make-shift your own balls with a wad of newspaper, bean bags, soft toys or rolled-up socks.
Play a game of HORSE or see who can make the farthest shot. Set-up lines of tape to see how many shots they can make from each one. Or set a timer for 1 minute and challenge them to make as many baskets as they can (running to retrieve the ball after each missed shot!).
Figure Skating: Clear an area on your floor (you can even “rope” off an actual “rink” if you’d like), grab you hat and mittens, and pretend you’re gliding across the ice. There are several fun ways to make it feel as real as possible:
- Use dryer sheets — they provide just the right amount of slide and won’t scratch your floors!
- Paper Plate Skating from Hands On As We Grow: Simply grab 2 paper plates, step on them with bare feet (they’ll “stick” better) and then slide away.
- Put a pair of wool-like mittens on your feet (kids think this is pretty silly which adds to the fun)
- Construct wax paper booties using string or tape
- Save old tissue boxes and kids can simply place their feet through the opening!
Lacrosse: Lacosse is a tough sport to safely practice inside unless you have this genius training device. The CradleBaby is a regulation Lacrosse ball with a tether strap that attaches to the head of a Lacrosse stick. So your child can practice their stick skills all over the house without creating any damage!
Bowling: Set up your bowling “lane” with some painter’s tape and use plastic bottles or cups for pins. Use any type of ball to bowl, attempting to knock down as many pins as possible. Keep track of the score, or simply aim to knock them all down in one turn. Create a plastic cup pyramid to up the fun-factor even more.
Soccer: Bring outdoor nets inside, or set up a goal using 2 cones (or plastic cups), a chair (score by getting it through the legs) or a simple piece of tape. Use any softball,
Mini Golf: If you already have mini-golf putters, all you’ll need are a few “holes” to start your round of golf. Tape some plastic cups lying on their side to the ground, or create tunnels with pieces of construction paper. If you don’t have putters, use long rolls of wrapping paper, hockey sticks, or pool noodles!
Hockey: Create your own version of indoor hockey using balloons and pool noodles for young kids,
Classic Games + Activities
Some games are classics for a reason: they’re just simple good ol’ fun. These ones are our favorites, updated for modern indoor play:
Egg ‘n’ Spoon Race: Grab a spoon and any small round object that will fit on top (or if you’re brave and have easy-to-clean floors, go ahead and use a real egg!). Create a course for your child to navigate through and see if they can do it without dropping it off the spoon. Once they’ve got the hang of it, go for speed!
“Potato Sack” Race: Update this classic by using pillowcases! Have your kids step in and hold it up around their waist, then hop to the finish. So simple, but they will be laughing like crazy and getting crazily tired all at once.
3‑Legged Race: Tie your kids’ outside ankles together with something soft and stretchy like a long ski sock, PJ pants or bandage wrap. Now they’ll have to work as a team to coordinate their movements to get from point A to point B. This is one of our favorites because it not only builds gross motor coordination but is great for sibling bonding too!
Wheelbarrow Puzzle Walk: Take your average Wheelbarrow race to the next level by having your child complete a puzzle in this brilliant idea from Stir The Wonder. Set-up a wooden puzzle board and scatter the pieces around a room. Grab your child’s ankles (or hips to make it a bit easier for little ones) and hold them up so they can walk on their hands to collect them. They have to bring each piece back 1‑by‑1 and fit it into the board until the puzzle is complete. (editor’s note: this is one of my kids’ favorites and is great for upper body strengthening!)
Hula Hoop: If you have a Hula Hoop, now is the perfect time to dust it off and bring it back to life. Make it fresh by turning it into a game like who can do the most circles around their waist, arm or ankle. Try rolling it back and forth between 2 people, or see if your child can put some backspin on it and make it return to themselves. For little ones, put it on the floor and practice jumping in/out, side-to-side or have them pick it up and use it as a steering wheel to drive an imaginary car all around the house!
Jumping Limbo: Do the Limbo in reverse: instead of going under, have your kids jump over! Using something flexible like a stretchy exercise band, crepe paper or jump rope, have 2 people hold it (or attach it to something on one side) and start it on the ground. Have your kids run in a circle and then jump over it. After a few successful jumps, raise it an inch or two. Keep raising it until they can’t jump any higher!
Red-Light, Green-Light (Purple Light?!) Do your kids go nutty for this game every single time like ours? We like to add in a few different colored lights as the game goes on to keep it interesting:
- Yellow Light: Slow crawl on the ground
- Green Light: Jump like a frog
- Blue Light: Try and touch the sky
- Purple Light: Do a silly dance
Hide-and-Seek: Make it more active by having them hide on different levels of your house every time, that way they’re going up and down stairs every few minutes. Or, have the player that is found first perform a “penalty” that can include classic exercises like jumping jacks, burpees or sit-ups!
Simon Says: Get your child on board to play a game of Simon Says and they’ll do whatever active motions you dream up. But make sure you still make them a little silly – think animal movements, dramatic actions and anything on one foot.
Twister: Get in a good stretch by playing a game of twister. Don’t have the game? Make your own by taping construction paper circles on the floor.
Bubbles! We’ve never met a child that doesn’t get excited about bubbles. Blow some with a wand and challenge your kids to pop them all before they touch the ground, prompting lots of jumping and diving. Better yet, create your own Bubble Machine with a fan! (via Kids Activities Blog)
Parachute: Grab a bed sheet and get your whole family involved – everyone taking a side and rapidly moving your arms up and down. Put some small balls or balloons on top and try and fling them off. Kids love this one!