Whether the temperatures have dropped and it's too cold outside to play, or it's just a good day (or night) for staying home, there are plenty of ways to have fun in the great indoors. If you're staying inside with your family, you can still make the day exciting, keep kids entertained, and maybe even teach them something new with these indoor family activities.
Set Up an At-Home Drive-In Movie
All you need is a white wall or a bedsheet, and a projector, and you're all set to bring the feeling of the drive-ins indoors. Play your favorite movie, gather all of your preferred snacks, and flood the couch/floor with blankets and pillows.
Create Cardboard Robots
Transform yourselves into robots by decorating cardboard boxes with markers and construction paper. Cut holes for your mouths and even carve other shapes into the boxes to create armor and more accessories.
Get creative with slime by mixing glue, contact solution, and baking soda together. Add in food coloring, glitter, confetti, or water beads to make it your own.
Build a Volcano
Science can be exciting, especially when there's a volcano involved. Decorate a water bottle together with paint or construction paper to make it look like a volcano. Then, mix together baking soda and vinegar to make the volcano explode.
Put on a Play
Write a skit with your kids, or challenge them to write scenes of their own. Then, come together and perform each other's creations. You can even dress the part.
Make Rock Candy
Sugar, water, and food coloring are all it takes to make rock candy. Well, that and a bit of patience. Allow your mixture to sit for six to seven days and then you can cure the whole family's sweet tooth.
Create a Lava Lamp
Gather water, vegetable oil, food coloring, and an Alka-seltzer tablet. Combine the liquid elements in a water bottle or jar first and then drop the tablet in to see the lamp come to life.
Make a Home Video
This can be documentary-style, where you and your family interview one another about themselves or your family history, or you can reenact a scene from your favorite movies, or even record an original skit that you came up with together.
Play Real-Life Clue
Bring the game Clue to real-life by staging a pretend crime scene, leaving clues, and solving the mystery of who done it. You can even dress up and create your own characters.
Make Rice Krispie Treats
Mix together butter, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies to make a homemade snack. Decorate them with frosting and candy, or try to see who can build the coolest Rice Krispies creation.
Try Jumbo Paint by Numbers
Print out a large paint by numbers sheet, draw your own, or tape several small ones together. Make it big enough to cover the kitchen table or floor, and get creative together.
Take some time and make a summer favorite the old-fashioned way. Combine water, lemon juice, and sugar to make homemade lemonade. Add crushed strawberries to give it a twist.
Do Blackout Poetry
Take pages from a newspaper or old book, and a marker, and show your kids how you can completely change the words on a page by blacking out some words, and then rearranging those that are left. See who can make the best joke or poem.
Make a Galaxy
Color and cut out stars from craft paper and use wooden balls to create planets, and paint them with glow-in-the-dark paint. Hang them from the ceiling with a string or tape them up flat. Move them into different shapes to teach your kids about astronomy.
Create a Flour Ornament
Use flour, salt, and water to make a dough. Mold it into a flat circle and make a handprint, or sculpt it into whatever shape you desire, and then bake it. Your ornament will come out of the oven like a ceramic one. Paint and decorate it to make it your own.
Bake a Family Recipe
Break into your old family cookbooks and find a recipe that you remember from your childhood - maybe one that was passed down from your grandparents. Work together to add the ingredients and share a unique part of your family history.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
Making homemade ice cream doesn't have to be difficult. In fact, you can make it in a plastic bag. Combine half and half, sugar, and vanilla extract in one resealable bag, and combine ice and salt in a smaller one. Put the smaller bag inside of the bag with the half and half and shake it until the ingredients have frozen. Then enjoy!
Explore a Virtual Museum
Several museums from around the world have created virtual tours of their archives. You and your family can explore interactive exhibits from Washington, D.C., London, Brazil, and Paris, all from the comfort of your home.
Play The Floor Is Lava
Pretend that the floor is lava and that you can't touch it without getting burned. Use pillows, blankets, and other items to make it from place to place. You can even make it a race.
Build a Lending Library
This can be done with wood, cardboard, or any other material you choose. Decorate it however you want, fill it with books you want to get rid of, and then set it in front of your house so that others can find their next great read.
Make a Compost Bin
Teach your kids about food waste and being mindful of the earth while making a compost bin for the family. Take a plastic tub, make some ventilation holes, then fill it with dirt and food scraps and keep it moistened.
Give Family Makeovers
Take turns giving each of your family members a makeover by picking out their clothes and doing their hair and makeup. At the end, put on a fashion show.
Get Wild With an Indoor Safari
Have someone sit in a rolling chair and be the tourist and have someone behind the chair to push and steer it as the driver. Use the animal sounds on Google to click through and see what animals you will encounter. The safari ride may even have quick turns and spins to avoid some of the animals.
Do Family Face Painting
Set out a variety of face paints and glitter and get creative. Have family members paint each other's faces, or have everyone paint their own and crown a winner for different categories.
Create a Virtual Rollercoaster
Find a swivel chair and place it in front of the TV, and then find a YouTube video of a virtual rollercoaster ride. Have one person sit in the chair as the rider and have one stand behind to add the twists, bumps, and spins.
Write a Song
If your family is musical, or even likes musicals, try writing a song together. Have each person write a line and then use household items to make the rhythm.
Teach your kids about how things grow by choosing seeds for flowers or vegetables you like. Take an old egg carton, fill the slots with soil, plant your seeds, and then water them. You can check each day to see how much they have sprouted.
Gather paints and new or old ceramic pots and get painting. See who can make the most creative pot or the silliest. If you plant seedlings, you can transfer them into these pots when they get bigger.
Tape a paper to the wall and have one member of your family standing in front of it facing either right or left. Turn off the lights in the room and have a flashlight shining toward the paper. Trace the outline of the shadow to capture their silhouette. Cut out the tracing and paint it black.
Make a Coin Bank
Take a jar or small cardboard box and turn it into a coin bank by cutting a hole in the top and decorating it with paint, paper, glitter, and any other crafting components you have around the house. Collect spare change in the bank to enjoy for a rainy day.
Make a Countdown Chain
Cut up strips of paper into long, thin rectangles, and then secure them into circles using tape. Maybe a big holiday is coming up, or someone's birthday is right around the corner. Make a chain as long as the number of days until the special event, and have fun taking one slip of paper off each day as it gets closer.
Create Your Own Children's Book
Whether your family really likes The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you can take those stories and personalize them. Come together to draw your version of the Hungry Caterpillar and have it eat your own favorite snacks.
Write a Gratitude List
Teach your kids about mindfulness and gratitude with this exercise. Have everyone take a pencil and a piece of paper and write down what they are thankful for. After you have finished, encourage everyone to share something from their list.
Make Greeting Cards
Break out the construction paper, markers, and stickers and make homemade greeting cards together. These can be for birthdays, holidays, or just to send to friends and family to let them know you are thinking of them.
Have a Movie Marathon
For a laid-back activity, host a movie marathon. Pick a family favorite series, like Harry Potter or Hunger Games, and see how many you can get through on your day in.
Build Your Own Snow Globe
Take a mason jar and glue a small toy to the inside of the lid. Fill the jar with water, add in confetti or glitter, and then screw the lid on. Shake up your jar and see your snow globe come to life.
Have an Indoor Swap Meet
Have everyone pick things from their rooms that they no longer want and are thinking of getting rid of. Then, have them set up their items in different areas of the house and explore the items and see if you want to swap for any. All items that aren't swapped can be donated afterward.
Build a Reading Corner
Take a quiet corner of your house, maybe in a part of the living room, office, or den, and turn it into a reading nook. Decorate it, bring in nice lighting for reading, and have plenty of blankets, pillows, and cushions to keep yourselves comfy. Having a nice reading space may encourage your kids to take up the activity more often.
Get Creative With Collages
Gather old magazines, newspapers, and books from around the house and cut out pictures/words from them that your family may want to use in their collage. Then, use construction paper and glue to create your masterpieces.
Sculpt With Clay
This can be done with polymer clay, DIY flour dough clay, or even play-dough. Sculpt figurines, magnets, or ornaments and see what your family can come up with.
Make Tie-Dye T-Shirts
Take a white t-shirt, or any old t-shirt of a light color, and pinch sections of it and tie the material together with rubber bands. After your t-shirt is covered in rubber band sections, color all of them using sharpie markers, and then spray them with rubbing alcohol. Let them dry for a few days and then take off the rubber bands to see what tie-dye patterns you have created.
Play Laundry Basketball
If you have active kids but need to keep the activity contained while playing inside, suggest laundry basketball. Set up the laundry hamper on one side of the room, have the family gather their dirty clothes, and see who can make the most baskets with their balled-up clothing.
Put Together a T-Shirt Quilt
Gather old t-shirts from your family - they can be plain, or have a design on them, or maybe they don't fit them anymore, but they like the shirt. Cut the arms and neck off of the shirts so that they look like squares, and then sew them together to make a quilt. For a no-sew quilt, cut strips into the square t-shirts on all sides, and then tie them together.
Build a Fort City
One fort is fun, but a whole fort city is better. Work together to turn a whole room or the whole house into a giant city made from separate forts. You could also have each family member create one building for the city, then explore them together.
Create a Family Bucket List
You might have individual goals, but this is a great time to make family goals. Find a creative way to keep track of all the things you agree you want to do as a family at some point in your lives.
Do Yoga Together
Family yoga can be more fun than doing it yourself. You can use books or online videos to learn new yoga moves or copy a yoga routine. Don some comfy clothes and find a towel to serve as each person's yoga mat. YouTube shows like Cosmic Kids Yoga are great for families with kids of all ages.
Race Office Chairs
Use office chairs or other furniture with wheels as vehicles to race around the house. You can work in teams where one person pushes the other, or let everyone figure out how to move fast on their own.
Fans of Harry Potter will be familiar with the broom-riding sport of Quidditch. You'll need two teams and each person needs a broom or something like a broom to ride for the duration of the game. Each team should have a series of goals set up that are each worth a different point value. In this version, you'll just need one ball and you have to pass it to teammates by throwing the ball to each other and throwing it into the opponent's goals.
Make a Sensory Board
Take a piece of cardboard or foam and find items from around your house that have different textures. This can be anything from cotton balls, to macaroni noodles, to bottle caps. Glue them to the board and explore the different textures. Sensory boards have been found to help calm anxiety.
Do a Floor Puzzle
If you have a large puzzle, it can be a fun indoor activity to do with your family. Clear a space on your floor, maybe set down a blanket to keep your puzzle pieces together, and then start building. Try taking turns placing pieces.
Make a Family Scrapbook
Find pictures of your family, gather paper, glue, and stickers, and build your scrapbook. This can help you keep all of your favorite memories in one place and also help your kids get creative.
Try Indoor Camping
Clear space in the living room, set up a tent, roll out the sleeping bags and have an indoor camping trip for the weekend. Roast marshmallows and hot dogs on the stove, and tell ghost stories at night.
Play Balloon Volleyball
Separate your family into teams, blow up one or more balloons to use as your volleyballs, and then have a competition to see who can keep the balloon in the air the longest as you pass it back and forth.
Make Toilet Paper Clothing
Have one person be the model and one person be the designer. If you have enough people, you can split your family into two teams of two. Each person gets one roll of toilet paper and a piece of tape to work with to design an outfit for their model. See what wacky ideas you come up with and choose a winner.
Have an Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Hide items around your house, make a list of clues or challenges your family must face in order to find the items, and see who is first to collect them all.
Make Bottle Top Flowers
This is a great way to teach your kids about reusing/recycling material into different creations. Take a soda bottle, and cut off the top about two inches from the hole. Cut slits around the sides to form the petals, and decorate it however you want. Make a hole in the cap for a pipe cleaner to serve as the stem.
Take a Virtual Aquarium Tour
Explore the National Aquarium through a virtual tour with your family. Learn more about dolphins, jellyfish, and sharks along the way.
Make a Secret Book Safe
Find an old chapter book that you thrifted or no longer want and cut a rectangle shape out of the pages from the inside, about one inch from the border. After you remove all the inside pages, glue the outsides of the book to keep the pages together. Let it dry, and you have a secret safe that looks just like a book.
Make Beautiful Book Flowers
If you do the book safe activity, you may wonder what to do with the page scraps you have leftover. You can repurpose the book scraps into flowers by cutting the pages into a variety of petal-shaped sizes. Once you have small, medium, and large petals, use hot glue to start forming the flowers by rolling a small petal into a tube, and gluing petals all around it. Keep adding petals from small to large until you get the size you want, and then curl the ends of the petals with a pencil to make them look more realistic.
Take an Online Wilderness Course
Roots and Shoots, part of the Jane Goodall Institute, has free online courses for kids and families to help people learn more about helping animals and the planet.
Go on a Virtual Road Trip
Explore the beauty of national parks and scenery all across the US with the National Geographic Kids photo library containing images of beautiful and historical aspects of every state.
Set Up a Living Room Obstacle Course
Set up blankets, pillows, and other items to create an obstacle course in the living room after you have cleared the area. Have one person put on a blindfold and one person call out instructions to help the other make it through without looking where they are going.
Make an Audiobook
Read aloud your family's favorite book, or take turns reading lines and pages as a family. Your kids will be able to listen to the story even when you aren't there to read it to them, and, if you record it together, you will be able to listen to their voices when you are away from them as well.
Write a Memoir
Teach your kids about nonfiction writing and the importance of their achievements through learning about memoirs. Have everyone in your family write/draw about their life for a set period of time, and then share what you wrote with each other.
Create Your Own Notebooks
Take as many pieces of construction paper as needed, fold them in half like a hamburger, and hole punch the side with the fold. Take yarn or string and sew the pieces together through the hole punches, and you've made your own notebook for writing and coloring.
Take Virtual Animal Classes
Explore the Virtual Zoo Camp hosted by The Nature Company to learn about different animals as a family.
Play Indoor Hide and Seek
If you have kids who like games that involve some physical activity, there are some that work well indoors. Play hide and seek inside, and change the rules, so seeing someone means they've been found (instead of tagging them) to prevent running indoors.
Have a Picnic Inside
Set out a blanket on the living room floor, and pack a picnic basket just like you would if you were going to the park. Bring sandwiches and snacks, and maybe even open the doors and windows so that you can feel the wind and sun just like you would at a park.
Learn Sign Language
There are websites that offer some free introductory sign language courses, and also several YouTube channels dedicated to helping people learn sign language. Take a class as a family and learn something new together.
Explore Virtual National Park Tours
Take a virtual tour of a National Park with the National Park Foundation. See some of nature's natural wonders up close from the comfort of your living room.
Carve a Watermelon
Pumpkins aren't the only fruits worth carving, especially if it's a warm month and your family is a fan of watermelon. Carve a hole into the top of the watermelon and take out the insides just like you would with a pumpkin. After it's hollow, have your kids draw faces on them and help with the carving process. In the end, you'll have a fruit snack and an awesome watermelon creation.
Find Unlimited Fun With Creative Indoor Family Activities
If you and your family are hoping to stay inside, you can still experience some fun quality time with each other. Taking activities that are usually done outside and finding a way to bring them inside are great ways to make them into new and exciting adventures. Find what your unique family is interested in, from crafts to sports to education. Whether you want to explore a new place or learn something new, there are countless ways to create fun indoor activities for kids.