7 Ideas for Easy Indoor Fun

by Amber Strocel*

It’s the height of summer and I’m trying to get out and enjoy it as much as I can with the kids. We visit the beach and the water park, eat veggies from our garden and eat meals outside. But sometimes you need a break from all that fun in the sun. And sometimes the weather forces a break with a rainy day.

One thing I’ve discovered as a mom is that fun with kids doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Fancy toys are lovely, but a lot of the time the kids would rather play with the box they came in. So here are my cheap and easy suggestions for entertaining the kids indoors.

1. Build a fort. If you have a couch, some chairs and couple of blankets you can build a fort. Everyday activities are just that much more fun when you’re in a fort. And fort-building is not only fun, it also gives your kids a chance to let their inner architects and engineers loose as they build.

2. Find a button. My mom taught me this game when I was a kid and I loved it. One person hides a button (or other small-ish object) somewhere in the house. Then, as the other people search, the hider lets them know how close they are by telling them if they are “hot” or “cold”. My 5-year-old daughter could play this game for hours.

3. Play with water in the tub. Kids in bathing suits, a bathtub, a few toys and washcloths, and a bucket of soapy water make for tons of fun. The tub is a great place for messy play, because clean-up is so easy. In fact, with this activity, you may even be able to get your kids to clean your tub for you. Win-win!

4. Make up a story. My 5-year-old and I like to come up with stories together. I provide the bare bones structure: “Once upon a time there was a ________ named _______.” Then she fills in the blanks using her imagination. I love seeing how creative and funny she can be. And she loves that every story somehow involves a trip to Disneyland.

5. Do a puzzle. We have acquired a lot of hand-me-down puzzles. But even if you have to buy your own, you can often find them for next to nothing at a thrift store. I love puzzles because they’re quiet, they’re absorbing, and they’re not sticky. Is it OK to admit that I really don’t like sticky?

Doing a puzzle

6. Cook together. They say that kids are more willing to eat food they’ve helped prepare, and they’re right. Even really young children can pour, help with stirring or grease a pan. If it’s really hot out you might not feel like turning on your oven, but there are plenty of no-cook foods you can make together. Salad, sandwiches and fruit skewers are three easy, kid-friendly hits at my house.

7. Throw a dance party. There is no more sure-fire way to turn my mood around than great music. Tasks that I don’t want to do, like washing the dishes, are suddenly more fun when I’m bopping to the tunes. Kids are the same way. When I play their favorite music, they can’t keep from singing and dancing along. And thank you to the wonder of internet radio, it’s free and available around the clock.

What about you? How do you keep your kids entertained when you’re stuck indoors? Please share your ideas!

Written by 5 Minutes for Mom Contributing Editor, Amber Strocel. Check out her blog, Strocel.com.

Email Author    |    Website About Amber Strocel*

Amber is a crunchy granola mom of two, a suburban superstar and an incorrigible dreamer. She spends her days trying to organize chaos, and eating chocolate on the sly. You can read about her daily adventures on her blog at Strocel.com or check out her quest to help other moms live with intention at Crafting my Life.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristy July 31, 2010 at 12:19 am

These are great ideas! And now two of my girls are old enough that they can make cookies all by themselves, except for putting them in the oven. It is so rewarding for me to make my kids happy by letting them bake and then I get to eat the cookies! :) Along with the bathtub suggestion, I pull a chair up to the sink, fill the sink with water, throw in a couple of measuring spoons and cups and let my two year old have at it! He can spend an hour pouring water in and out of cups and spoons!


2 Amber Strocel August 1, 2010 at 12:04 am

Mmm, cookies! I can’t wait until my own kids are old enough to bake for me. :)


3 sidra tauseef August 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

great ideas. i love to spend time with my three kids, aged 7, 6 and 4, browsing through photo albums of past vacations. this way we relive all the fun we had. Another activity my kids always enjoy is modelling with clay. It can be a little messy, but a great relaxing excercise. i also have a big carton of used gift paper, old magazines and other scrap placed under their bed. They love to recycle these into pretty art projects.


4 Amber Strocel August 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm

That’s a great idea, with the gift paper and magazines. I know my 5-year-old would LOVE something like that!


5 Frank Adams August 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Great ideas to have fun indoors while its raining outside. We do get a lot of rain nowadays and it is interesting to note how kids were disappointed. While indoors my wife and kids always do a dance party and the kids love it. It makes me feel happy seeing them and join them once in a while.


6 Amy from Paperlicious August 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

One of our faves is to make “binoculars” out of toilet paper rolls and then I spread out their stuffed animals and we go on “safari.” Also fun to find animals in a dark closet with a flashlight.


7 Amber Strocel August 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm

There is NO end to the fun kids can have with old toilet paper rolls, in my experience!


8 MomsMakeMoney August 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm

The number 4 idea: Make Up a Story reminds me of these books I used to have as a kid, and they would have the story already made with the fill in the blanks. I can’t remember the name of them…maybe “mad libs” or something. We used them all the time!


9 justaub August 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm

2. Find the Button reminds me of a favorite children’s novel, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (I think it was this book???). The mother would hide several buttons throughout the parlor and her daughters would clean until they found all the buttons…always stuck in my mind as clever.

Thanks for the ideas…for my babies, I like to let them fingerpaint on paper while sitting inside a smallish blow up pool in the kitchen. Easy to corral them and easy cleanup.


10 Daffy August 13, 2010 at 8:34 am

Great ideas!! my son is 20 months,I going to try out everything here…Thanks for sharing.


11 ada456 August 14, 2010 at 5:07 am



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13 Mamapumpkin August 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Great ideas! I was lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it!) that my elder daughter (now 5) started reading really early and so a lot of indoor time is spent reading independently which left me to get on with chores. She’d come to ask me meaning of words but other than that, we usually did a lot of adult-chore like things, like laundry and dishes and cooking and cleaning. I managed to get her to help and be involved by making a story out of everything. I find that kids will find anything FUN as long as a story is weaved through the process. However, you’ve got to be creative and it takes up just as much energy from the adult!!!


14 EduFunToys August 18, 2010 at 1:59 am

Some really kickin’ ideas. I especially love “Build a fort” and “Throw a dance party.” Definitely, cheap, fun entertainment that kids can get wrapped up with for hours.


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