Fifty Indoor Play Ideas

This is a list of more than fifty different indoor play ideas for cold, wet winters days. These activities encourage movement and prevent sitting and screen time. They are ideal boredom busters for the winter school holidays.





  1. Grow some seeds, they will be ready to plant in the garden once the weather gets warmer. Swan plant seeds keep children interested all year.
  2. Use bed sheets to build a hut or den under the dining table, clothes rack or large cardboard box
  3. Turn a cardboard box into a car, plane, train, robot, parking garage, house…
  4. Cooking; get the children involved in making lunch and dinner. Items like making pizza dough are easy and cheap and fill in time.
  5. Use yeast to make bread and watch the yeast expand the bread
  6. Crack nuts with a hammer or nutcracker
  7. Indoor window washing can be fun and made into a competition for the cleanest or fastest or dirtiest cloth…
  8. If you have a car shed, set it up as an indoor artist studio for a few days. Add in glitter and other messy items that you don’t want inside the house
  9. Spring clean the toys. Let the children wash dolls, teddy bears and blocks in the bath
  10. Sort toys into themes and give away unwanted toys to charity
  11. Set up an indoor disco. Turn the music up and dance like no one is watching!
  12. Make a dream board or collage. Cut out pictures from magazines and create a collection of pictures that you would like to do one day
  13. Create a puppet show. Make puppets from socks
  14. Make shadow shapes with a torch
  15. Make musical instruments from things in the house e.g. pots and pans and wooden spoons make drum sets
  16. Indoor treasure hunt
  17. Write a letter to a special person, better still decorate a card then write in it
  18. Have a paper aeroplane competition. First, make and decorate the planes
  19. Stick Post-it notes around the house and ask the children to find them
  20. Have an indoor picnic on the floor. Get the children to set it up and pack the picnic basket
  21. Make playdough and /or slime
  22. Have a themed tea party: use teacups, decorate food, fold napkins and invite friends. This could be a teddy bears tea party or a high tea
  23. Set up a Lego challenge or a train set challenge or do a large puzzle together
  24. Build a tower out of blocks or Lego
  25. Create an indoor door scavenger hunt. Make up a list of items, that can be found throughout the house. The children must find and photograph each item on the list!
  26. Put photos into albums and label them
  27. Play dress ups and put on a fashion show
  28. Face painting
  29. Rock painting
  30. Bubble bath fun
  31. Create an indoor obstacle course. Lie the ladder on the floor as a start and go from there
  32. Use masking tape to create games on the floor such as hopscotch, racing tracks for toy cars
  33. Indoor games like ping pong with balloons
  34. Hula hoop competitions
  35. Skittle in the hallway using tennis balls and empty cans
  36. If you have a sewing machine, make a hot water bottle cover or a reusable shopping bag
  37. Make a bird feeder and hang it on a tree outdoors where you can see it from inside
  38. Declutter your draws
  39. Google simple science experiments
  40. Build a bug hotel for the garden
  41. Create a time capsule. This is something great to keep until the 21st birthday celebrations
  42. Create a menu for the week, find recipes to use and make a shopping list of the ingredients needed. Start with one day first so this task isn’t too large.
  43. Have themed dinners and create decorations and set the table to match the theme.
  44. Learn to eat with chopsticks
  45. Create a sleeping area in the lounge. Get the children to set it up, lay out the sleeping bags and let them sleep overnight in the special area
  46. Get the children to write a list of tasks to competed over the weekend and let them decide how these will be achieved
  47. Depending on the age of the child let them be the decision maker for the day
  48. Paint an outdoor pot or tub and plant vegetable plants  in it
  49. Make labels and signs for the vegetable garden
  50. Create new games eg similar to ‘Simon says’; stand like a flamingo on one leg, dance like a monkey, fly like an eagle
  51. Learn to make mum a cup of tea or coffee
  52. Make wax wraps to use instead of plastic wrap (warning speaking from experience this is a messy task and can end up with wax everywhere and it’s hard to clean away. I recommend doing this outside to avoid wax stuck to everything indoors)
  53. Interview grandparents or aunties and uncles and ask them what activities they did to stay active when they were children
  54. Email Alison with more ideas that can be  added to this list

This list has been created by Alison Pask, health promotion manager, Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa, July 2019