With fewer opportunities to get out when the weather is a little inclement – or if you’re stuck indoors because you’re isolating – you’re probably searching for inspiration to spend some time helping your children learn, grow and use their imagination.
Getting creative isn’t just good for the little ones either. Sure it can encourage their mental and physical development, increase their concentration and boost social skills, but it also has great perks for you. Studies have shown that among other benefits it increases your happiness and decreases your chance of dementia
Why Indoor Activities Matter
As we know, being active in any way is good for us all – but having a variety of indoors activities provide a different set of stimulus for growing minds and bodies. Whereas outdoor activities tend to lend themselves to being more physical in nature, indoor activities are a chance for the brain to get involved, sparking those problem-solving muscles and providing the opportunity to showcase their creative talents via drawing, board-games or other fun pursuits! In fact – studies have demonstrated drawing isn’t just for fun – you are 45% more likely to remember something if you draw it, rather than just writing it down.
We covered some ideas last year and have put our heads together for some more ideas to help keep little hands and brains occupied, your mind ticking over, and spend some quality time together.
Get those pencil cases out
You could start by taking a leaf out of school / nursery. Ask them what their favourite animal is, get creative with items in that recycle bin and host your own version of Blue Peter. Make a Pom Pom Bird, paint a picture or pull out the playdough and create your own little creatures. Just remember to buy the pipe-cleaners and sticky-back-plastic ahead of time!
Put on your own TV Show or Play
Speaking of Blue Peter – if your children are anything like mine, they love dressing up. The weirder the better. Encourage them to think of a story, some characters and a name and then act it out with you. You could combine this with something like a scavenger hunt (more below) – maybe their fairy-saur needs to find 5 toys – and they can be the star in their own show. Alternatively, encourage them to put on a play for you – then they can wear multiple costumes
Optional – get a big box and make it look like a TV set from olden times* and you can film it so it looks like they’re actually IN the Tv.
Build a world with blocks
The Community was unanimous in its praise for building. Grab the bucket of Lego (or Duplo or similar) and create a city, build a tower, or finish a forest. Creating worlds using blocks, whether basic wooden ones or lego kits encourages imagination and boosts fine motor skills, problem-solving and critical thinking skills among other benefits
This is a good thing to do before another activity – especially if you’re baking – as you can then have something to look forward to once its ready!
There are a multitude of tasty, easy to make, recipes out there which you and the little bean(s) can have fun making together. The messier the better! Maybe you’d like flapjacks, or muffins, or perhaps you could make a lunch-time pizza.
Have an indoor Treasure Hunt / Hide and Seek
Kids love putting things where they shouldn’t be. My son particularly enjoys putting dirty washing in cupboards. Why not use this innate desire to put things in odd places by playing a few games of hide and seek and discover their favourite hiding spots? For older children, add a new layer of interest by having an indoor treasure hunt – either with sweets, or perhaps with balloons or other colourful objects. With a bit of prep, you could even write clues and have them work their grey matter at the same time.
Create your own remote
For a bit of fun, make a remote with all the things you have to ask of them on a regular basis – and / or another one with all the things they’d like. They can then use the remote to get a glass of Ribena, watch a favourite TV show, or enjoy a snack. Make sure they know that it can only be used once in the morning and in the afternoon as it needs charging after that! (wink)
Play a board game
A good go-to at any time of year – best Family Board games if you’re looking for new additions. They are something that’s different every time, fun for all the family and boosts cognition and creativity and helps pass the time in a fun and enjoyable fashion.
Create your own Carnival
If you fancy being a bit, well, fancy – and want to spend more time – you could create your own indoor versions of popular carnival games. Create fun hoops to throw balls through by colouring in and hanging up paper plates, create your own mini pool and catch fish, or create your own indoor skittles.
And don’t forget the cleaning
Finally – bookmark some time to tidy up! It’s important to make children feel involved in what you’re doing from a young age – and helping them understand the importance of tidying up after themselves helps teach them responsibility and valuable skills they’ll take into later life. It also means they’ll see Tidying and cleaning less as a punishment, which is a good thing!
What are the best activities to do with younger (2 – 5) kids indoors?
Activities that boost cognitive abilities and motor skills are the ones to aim for. Board games building, painting and creative skills or flash-cards. Cooking or putting on a play are also excellent ways of spending time with a younger child. An indoor Treasure Hunt can be a lot of fun if they like searching for something.
What are the best activities to do with older (6-10) kids indoors?
Think about science experiments, making slime, or a more involved version of making your own tv series / play. Creating your own carnival can be particularly exciting as the older kids will be more inclined (and have the attention span) to want to create more elements of the carnival (think skittles, build-your-own World’s Strongest Man).
Build a Lego city and go deeper into world-building lore. In fact, all the activities suggested above can be made more advanced to cater for older kids.