It’s frigid outside and your trusted lineup of family-friendly activities is letting you down like a fair-weather friend. Time to call in the cavalry—and our list of the very best indoor activities for kids is here to help you regroup. From day trips to indoor destinations (think: the library, aquarium and museum), to process art projects and STEM activities that kids can enjoy without leaving home, consider this your winter survival guide.
30 Indoor Activities for Kids to Beat the Winter Boredom Blues
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1. Build a Fort
Here, a tried-and-true STEM activity in which kids use whatever they find around the house to construct a secret hideout that (blessedly) doesn’t have to stand up to the elements. Or if you’d rather those little rascals leave your sofa cushions alone, buy them a ready-to-build fort instead.
2. Go to the Library
Aside from providing a warm and inviting place to snuggle up with a good book, libraries also host a range of kid-friendly special events, including read-alouds, sing-a-longs, STEM workshops and even the occasional movie showing. Best of all, participation is pretty much always free.
3. Play Chess
Memory, perspective, focus, and creativity are among the many skills that get a boost from this age-old and always fresh game of strategy. Plus, it’s a challenge for kids of all ages that’s just plain fun. This chess set is particularly popular with kids ages 7 and up.
4. Visit a Museum
Museums are great places to while away the daytime hours while soaking up some culture, no matter the season. Children’s museums, in particular, are veritable amusement parks with loads of built-in learning—so if you have one nearby, we strongly suggest paying it a visit.
5. Learn to Cook
In case you missed it, there’s a whole world of kid-friendly cooking content available for free on YouTube. Have your idle offspring tune in, so they can enjoy some hands-on, creative fun in the kitchen and you might even be rewarded with a delicious meal you didn’t have to make.
6. Go Bowling
When it comes to family-friendly indoor recreation, a day at the lanes is hard to beat. That said, bowling can be a tad pricey, so you’d be wise to take advantage of deals and specials whenever possible.
7. Read a Book
At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s no better way to unlock the imagination (and boost literacy) than by cozying up with a good book. Got a joker on your hands? Check out our pick of the funniest books for kids.
8. Hit Up an Indoor Swimming Pool
The weather outside might be frightful, but a day spent splashing around at a heated indoor pool is always delightful.
9. Go to a Trampoline Park
There’s nothing worse than a day spent inside with a stir-crazy kid who’s bouncing off the walls…unless, that is, you’re at a trampoline park watching the craziness from the sidelines; then, it’s just a win.
10. Have an Indoor Picnic
You and your kid don’t need to wait for a beautiful, sunny day to enjoy a casual picnic together. Just throw down a blanket in your living room, invite some of your child’s friends (stuffed or real) and check out these indoor picnic ideas to make it an extra special dining experience.
11. Try Window Painting
Try this genius idea, courtesy of What We Do Daily, and mix a small amount of dish detergent with tempera paint to create a washable medium that kids can apply to windows for an art project that boasts the added novelty of feeling forbidden.
12. Learn Origami
Prepare to be amazed by what your kid can create with a square piece of paper and a good YouTube tutorial.
13. Practice Magic Tricks
You might need to invest in a magic set for this one, but the learning process is fun for kids of all (or most) ages and the tricks are pretty darn neat.
14. Start Indoor Gardening
Have your child start an indoor herb garden with this nifty grow kit or score a root vue farm that allows your kid to start a root vegetable garden from seed without ever stepping outside. Either way, it’s a rewarding process with a pretty tasty end result.
15. Make a Collage
Set your kid up with a stack of old magazines and a blank piece of paper for a process art project that hones scissor skills, encourages creativity and teaches some foundational artistic concepts, like composition and patternmaking.
16. Do a Puzzle
Research shows that jigsaw puzzles have considerable cognitive benefits for folks of all ages; they’re also a fun and relaxing form of solo entertainment for restless kids on a rainy day. These puzzles for kids should keep 'em occupied.
17. Make Paper Airplanes
Hand your kid a stack of printer paper and an instruction book like this one for hours of independent STEM play and a crash course in aerodynamics.
18. Have an Indoor Scavenger Hunt
This one is pretty straightforward, friends—just put together a random object search for your kid and she’ll be more than happy to play along.
19. Make Fibonacci Art
Introduce your (slightly older) child to the intersection of math and aesthetics with a Fibonacci art project. Not sure what we’re talking about? You can learn more about this seriously cool technique and see it in action here.
20. Build an Obstacle Course
Your kid is already climbing all over the furniture, so why not make it a more purposeful activity by adding foam blocks, pillows and hula hoops to the mix and laying down some rules of play?
21. Have a Fashion Show
Because your pint-sized fashionista has discovered new and bizarre ways to wear every single item in the dress-up bin, and is just dying to strut her stuff.
22. Visit the Aquarium
Take your child to learn about marine life at the local aquarium and you’ll both be rewarded with an educational experience that takes place in a truly serene and magical setting.
23. Watch a Movie
When it comes to rainy day activities, a movie is kind of a no-brainer. The hard part is finding a flick that the whole fam can agree on, but we have a roundup that can help with that.
24. Tie-dye T-shirts
Kids of all ages (and even teens!) will have a blast making original tie-dye creations—and all you need is a basic kit and some old white tees to make it happen. Groovy.
25. Have a Pillow Fight
Suggest a good-natured pillow fight before relations between stir-crazy siblings start to deteriorate into a less wholesome form of combat.
26. Do Yoga
Yoga is an excellent way for kids to practice gross motor skills and burn off energy while harnessing their inner calm. (Seriously, calm is in there somewhere.) Check out these toddler-friendly online yoga classes and you’ll see what we mean.
27. Build with Legos
Just make sure something actually gets built or the soles of your feet will be paying the price for your kid’s lack of commitment until you crack down on clean-up time. (Psst: You can't go wrong with any of these best-selling Lego kits.)
28. Play Charades
It’s a popular party game for kids and adults alike. Plus, miming is a mess-free activity that requires no special materials or supplies…so, yeah, what’s not to love?
29. Do a Science Experiment
Psst: If you don’t have any experiments at the ready, these science kits for kids will help you get started.
30. Go Indoor Rock Climbing
Indoor rock climbing is a ton of fun for the whole family, and a great workout, too. Head to your local wall or for littles, create your own climbing station at home.