30 Ways For Kids to Use Up Energy Without Leaving the House
An active child is a wonderful thing . . . that is, unless they're stuck inside. Pent-up energy is frustrating for kids and exhausting for parents. With Summer winding down, more time inside is inevitable, but this year, we're going to be prepared — and so are you! These 30 indoor activities aren't just boredom-busters; they're also guaranteed to expend some of that restless energy that you know your kids are full of. Just put away your breakables, and get started!
Rearrange the Kids' Rooms
Channel your inner interior designer, and get the whole family involved in "Project Room Makeover." Tackle a DIY design project, spruce things up with updated bedding or some fun new accent pieces, or reconfigure the room's layout for an updated look.
Make Elephant Feet (and Have a Slow-Paced Race)
Pull out those empty tin cans and create something that gets kids moving like these elephant feet. If you have several cans stored up, get multiple kids on their feet and have elephant races across the room!
Make Paper-Bag Puppets
These can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be, and the beauty of paper-bag puppets is that you really don't need any fancy supplies other than staples (this part's just for the parents, of course). Check out Martha Stewart's tutorial on how to make these adorable animal puppets. Source: Martha Stewart
Make Life-Size Paper Dolls
Forget little dress-up paper dolls that can easily be lost after use; go big with life-size versions that your tot can play with day after day. We can't think of a toddler who wouldn't get a kick out of decorating a life-size version of themselves (and full-body coloring requires some serious movement!). Source: Hazelnutt House
There's nothing more classic than a game of hide-and-seek, but playing in the great indoors is much less stressful on Mom and Dad (fewer places to hide!). It also helps young tots learn the concept of object permanence. We recommend getting in on the action and hiding yourself. You'll love seeing the smile on your kids' faces when they find you! Source: Flickr user ian munroe
Fill the Sink With Bubbles
Fill up a sink with water and bubbles, grab a stool, and watch your tot be amused for hours. Even better? Give her a few plastic cups, spoons, and measuring cups to play with in the bubbles, and she'll have an absolute blast. Source: Flickr user koka_sexton
Write, Direct, and Produce a "TV Show"
Encourage creativity by challenging the kiddos to create their own TV show or movie. If they're too young to do it on their own, then offer your assistance with the camera when it comes to "lights, camera, action" time. Whether or not their pilot gets picked up, the results are sure to entertain.
Have a Dance Party
Crank up your tot's favorite tunes, and get your respective grooves on. It's a full-family workout (without feeling like one)! Source: Flickr user Devon D'Ewart
Go Camping . . . Without Leaving the House
Pitch a tent or two in the middle of the house, and re-create an authentic camping experience — whatever the weather. Source: Flickr user Matt Freed
Put your kids' sorting skills to work and have them reorganize their bookshelves by color, genre, or size. You can also use this as an opportunity to get rid of any books that they're through with. Donate those that are still in decent shape, and toss the books that have been overloved.
Sort Through Old Toys and Plan a Garage Sale
Use the promise of an upcoming garage sale as motivation to get the kids to sort through their old toys. Have them propose prices for each of the items they're giving up, and discuss what you'll do with the (eventual) profits. You may want to consider making a donation to a charity of the kids' choice to make the project especially meaningful.
Washi-Tape Car Track
This ingenious use of washi tape offers hours of open-ended fun. Add a few different tapes to the floor and let your little speed racer get to work with his cars or trains — in no time, he'll have the coolest car play mat on the block! Source: Le Jardin de Juliette
Pull out all the play clothes, along with some of Mom's high heels, Dad's old sporting equipment, and whatever else you can find, and let your little kids create the craziest outfits they can imagine. And if you have a handyman or woman on the premises, then dare them to build this adorable dress-up storage container. Source: Ana White
Whip Out the Swiffer
We're not exactly sure why little kids think that Swiffers are so much fun, but they seem to have a cult following amongst the 4-and-under set. We'll never turn down a helping hand when it comes to housework!
Put on a Fashion Show
Let your little ones (boys and girls are both invited!) strut their stuff. Make a runway out of kraft paper or a rug runner, and get the music pumping. Give points for the best runway walk and the most creative outfits!
Croon to Karaoke
If you have a karaoke machine or your cable provider offers a karaoke channel (it sounds silly, but many of them do — pay your "On Demand" section a visit and check), then unleash your inner rock stars and start singing!
Turn out the lights and get little ones in on a game of old-school flashtag fun!
Make Your Own Play-Dough
It's easy, requires only household ingredients, and takes just 10 minutes. Gather flour, water, cream of tartar, salt, vegetable oil, and food coloring (get the exact recipe here), and in just a few minutes, you'll have long-lasting, nontoxic, homemade play-dough!
Build a Fort or Tent
For some good, old-fashioned fun, hit the linen closet and construct a fort or tent with sheets and pillows. The process of creating the hideaway is only the beginning; once they're done with the hard work, playtime can begin! Photo: Lisa Horten
Pretend-Gardening For Tots
There's not a lot of gardening to be done on a rainy day, but start laying the groundwork by helping your tot make an indoor garden. Dye rice in different colors and create an "indoor sandbox" of sorts for your kiddo to play with. Source: Share & Remember
Who Needs a Pool to Go Swimming?
Gear the kids up in goggles and a swimsuit for some splish-splash time in the tub. Not only is it a fun activity, but the kids will also be squeaky-clean afterward. Source: Flickr user bengrey
Toss glow sticks into the bathtub and let little kids go wild! Source: Dirt and Boogers
Create an Art Gallery
Take a cue from The Style Files, and put the kids' original artwork on display. If you have an excessive amount of old paintings and drawings, then use this as an opportunity to have them sort through and organize the keepers vs. those that they (and you!) can do without.