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.
40 Indoor Activities for Kids to Beat the Winter Boredom Blues
Rain, rain, go away…
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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 Over the Board or Online
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, and if your child doesn’t have an opponent at home, they can always play a bot or an anonymous peer of equal skill level on chesskid.com.
4. Visit a Children’s 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 with an Online Class
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. Looking for an introduction to cooking that’s a little more structured? Try one of these awesome and affordable online classes from Outschool that feature live guided instruction.
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. Fortunately, nationwide chains like Bowlero often have some kind of deal on offer.
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 and if you have a YMCA membership, it’s a no-brainer to hit up the pool. That said, a quick Google search should let you know of other options depending on where you live.
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. (We’re big fans of Sky Zone—a paradise for energetic kids that has locations all over the country.)
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. If your child is in need of inspiration, check out some of the neat ideas over at Artful Parent.
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
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. Tune Into an Online Yoga Class
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, follow one of these seriously cool tutorials on SplashLearn (Color foam! Dancing raisins!) or score one of these science kits for kids to 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.
31. Tackle a Perler Bead DIY Project
You and your child will be amazed by what you can make with perler beads. You can find easy to follow tutorials for Pinterest-worthy decorative bowls, colorful frames for mirrors, keychains, coasters and more here.
Renew your child’s interest in their snoozy home life by handing them a disposable camera (or your phone) and presenting them with a photography challenge. Write out a list of items they have to find and photograph indoors (i.e., something living, a favorite decoration, a person cooking, something red, etc.)
Dominos give kids a spectacular show of cause and effect in action and making domino art is an exercise in both creativity and patience. (SO much patience.) Introduce your child to the incredible designs of Lily Hevesh and chances are they will be inspired to tackle a grand project that will keep them occupied all day, whilst giving their fine motor skills and frustration tolerance a major boost.
In the same vein as domino art, stick bombs are a visual spectacle that will delight kids of all ages (and adult, too). They’re relatively easy to assemble with nothing more than craft sticks and the end result is a display of kinetic chains that will elicit oohs and ahhs from everyone. You can find some very impressive examples and guided tutorials on the YouTube page of Kinetic King.
35. Build a Fairy House
Captivate your kid’s imagination with a DIY polymer clay project that will keep little hands busy, while inspiring their creativity. Whimsical storytelling goes hand in hand with this project and, while some adult assistance will likely be needed, the end result is a truly magical addition to the home or garden. Plus, this parent-child project is fairly easy to accomplish with some help from the excellent tutorial available at Happiness is Homemade.
Head to Rookie Parenting for another exciting craft stick project that involves making homemade paddle boats that are powered by rubber bands. The activity teaches kids about energy conversion in a fun, hands-on way and there’s also water play involved, which only adds to the entertainment.
Enlist a discontented tween or teen in this DIY bath bomb making project, courtesy of A Beautiful Mess. Once the craft is complete, kids can treat themselves to a day of pampering—beginning with a luxurious bath that puts the sweet-smelling homemade product to good use.
This popsicle stick trivia game from Dream a Little Bigger is a perfect boredom buster for kids of all ages. The tutorial includes a printable with over 200 different kid-friendly trivia prompts and the activity is a rousing way for siblings or families to spend some time when stuck indoors on a rainy day.
The creative geniuses over at Design Improvised have a brilliant idea for banishing the boredom blues. Next time your kid says they're bored, just ask them what they wish they could be doing if they could do anything in the world; then, hand them a whole lot of clothespins and put them to work creating this awesome bucket list wreath.
40. DIY Paper Chain Wall Art
Older kids can spruce up their bedroom with this clever and budget-friendly project from The House That Lars Built, which yields a very aesthetically-pleasing piece of wall art. Only a few materials are required (a wooden dowel, hot glue gun, glue stick and colorful construction paper) and the process is highly customizable, so there’s plenty of room for creativity, too. Plus, when the work is done, all your teen’s friends will be seriously impressed.