Mumbler has some great ideas for fun indoor activities to keep the little ones busy, meaning you can have some fun at home, especially on a rainy day!
Trying to stay active when stuck indoors can be tricky, use these tips to keep moving:
1) Build A Den
I loved this as a child. Get out some sheets and create a fabulous den behind the sofa or between some chairs. Fill with all kinds of things to keep them busy… Lego, reading and drawing activities, a torch, dress up clothes, snacks, books, CDs….
2) Mud Pies and Puddle Jumping
Okay not strictly indoors, but the good thing about rain is that it leaves behind lots of puddles for the kids to splash in. They can take toy boats to sail in the puddles or make mud pies. If it’s too windy to get outside try creating an indoor puddle jumping activity for little ones by sticking paper ‘puddles’ to the floor for them to jump between. It’ll keep them moving and using their imagination. If you are heading outside the Nature Detectives website has some fun activity ideas!
3) Hide And Seek
Always a good, easy game. I find that if you start the kids off hunting for you at the top of the house you have just enough time to make a quick cup of tea for yourself in the kitchen before they ‘find you’.
4) Laser Beams
Stick some cotton or string in a zig zag pattern across the hall or landing to create ‘laser beams’ the kids have to climb through without touching to win some treasure on the other side. Yes, of course you have to have a go first to show them how it’s done!
5) Indoor Olympics
You’ll need a score card and at least 7 really stupid events. One of our lovely Mumbler’s house favours the standing jump, the cushion balance and the ever popular, who can make a chocolate button last the longest on their tongue. Let us know what you like….
6) Do a Treasure Hunt around the house
Standard Treasure Hunt – I love doing these for my kids, they take a bit of planning but keep them busy for ages. I usually do a themed one at Easter and Christmas where I write clues and put little treats and they find their way around the house collecting them. An easier way is to just hide things to find, some ideas are –
Hide a series of their small toys around the house and let them hunt for them. We usually use small teddies, dolls or toy cars.
Hide some chocolate coins around the house, make sure you find them all (we once found a very old coin down the back of the settee!)
Create some pictures of household items and place them in the next item, so they have to follow the trail of items around the house such as in the washing machine, in the bath etc
Micro Treasure Hunt (not recommended for under 3 years old) – Give your children a tiny box like a matchbox, or a little Tupperware container, then tell them to fill it with as many tiny items as they can. Example of items are Lego pieces, marbles, paperclips, beads, pennies, tiny toys. The person who fits the most in their box is the winner.
For more ideas on how to create a treasure or scavenger hunt, take a look here.
How about getting creative? There are lots of ways to be creative with things you can find at home:
7) Build a fairy garden
You will need a box or large dish, soil, grass seed, modelling clay, coloured stones, shell, sticks and some string…. Fill the dish with damp soil and lay out a path with stones. Decide which bits are grass and soil, then sprinkle the grass seeds. Perhaps use a shell as a pond…then let your imagination run wild. Model toadstools, make bridges from sticks, perhaps blue stones for a river? Use lolly pop sticks, coloured paper and glitter to make fairies.
8) Make Lolly Stick People
My kids love using lolly sticks to make people at this time of year, if they make fairies and princesses they can live in the garden above! It’s really easy and lots of fun. All you need are some lolly sticks, glue, paper and pens. We also use cotton wool, which is a big hit, plastic eyes (but could draw on) and some pipe cleaners for decoration.
9) Make Your Own Invisible Ink
Write secret messages to each other in invisible ink. When the ink dries you can heat it over a light bulb (adult supervision required) to reveal your message.
What you’ll need:
Half a lemon, Water, Spoon, Bowl, Cotton bud, White paper, Lamp or another light bulb.
What to do:
Squeeze some lemon juice into the bowl and add a few drops of water.
Mix the water and lemon juice with the spoon.
Dip the cotton bud into the mixture and write a message onto the white paper.
Wait for the juice to dry so it becomes completely invisible.
When you are ready to read your secret message or show it to someone else, heat the paper by holding it close to a light bulb.
10) Junk Modelling
This requires nothing other than a pile of recycling – boxes, plastic containers etc – and some glue or tape and paint (depending on how much mess you’re willing to create). This is an easy one, let the kids make anything they want from the materials available.
11) Fluffy Paintings
If you have these two ‘ingredients’ then I definitely suggest making this. Adding food colouring is optional. This mixture will dry to become soft and fluffy to the touch. A really good recipe is
3+ cups of shaving cream (foam not gel)
1 cup flour
1 cup white PVA glue
Food colouring or paint
Ziploc-style sandwich bags
Sturdy paper or board (poster board, tag board, cardboard, watercolour paper, or paper plates)
Measure out all the ingredients, except for any colouring, into a large mixing bowl.
Mix the shaving cream, flour and glue together without over mixing (you want to keep the air bubbles in the shaving cream).
Divide the white puffy paint mixture between 3 to 4 small bowls and add a few squirts of food colouring or paint to each bowl, stirring in, but again being careful not to over mix.
Spoon the puffy paint into sandwich bags. Seal each bag (add duct tape as well to help keep it closed if your kids are extra vigorous squeezers), then cut a small corner off.
Squeeze the foam paint through the small hole on to your paper or board, making puffy lines, dots, and designs as desired.
Let dry overnight. You’ll notice the foam paint gets even puffier over time then sets, but is still puffy to the touch even after it dries.
12) Card Making
There’s always an occasion on the horizon, someone’s birthday, anniversary, valentines, easter, a christening or wedding, Plenty of opportunity to make cards and no harm in making a few “just in case” to save any last minute panic.
13) Make a Suncatcher
(Ready for when the sun comes back out)
Cut out a shape from the middle of a piece of paper or card – an egg shape is the easiest. Then tear lots of strips of tissue paper. Glue around the edge of your shape and start placing the tissue paper in strips across your shape. Make sure they overlap because you don’t want any gaps.
Once you have everything in position, paint a thin layer of PVA glue over the top to secure the tissue paper in place (adult supervision is definitely required here because you could end up with your sun catchers stuck to your table). Hang to dry and when completely dry, cut out and hang in the window.
14) Paint Rocks
Dig out those rocks you collected from the beach and decorate them, you can use poster paint, acrylic paint, acrylic paint pens, or even sharpies to decorate rocks. If you don’t have any rocks to hand, they can actually be purchased online. Once dry, varnish and hide them in your neighbourhood (when it has stopped raining) for other people to find. Or place them in your garden as decoration.
15) Build A Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower
This activity can be as complex as you want. The basic idea is to build a tower using just a few marshmallows, 20 sticks of dry spaghetti and some tape. This is a good activity to keep older kids entertained and you can always use any left over marshmallows in hot chocolate when they’re finished.
16) Make musical instruments
Get noisy and creative! With bottles / containers / boxes / rice / pasta you can quite easily make something, not necessarily in tune but to provide lots of fun
17) Google ‘How To Draw…’
Use Google Search and learn how to draw your children’s favourite animal, car, character, just type in ‘How to Draw a fairy’ or ‘dinosaur’ or whatever the favourite thing of the moment is, and lots of tutorials should pop up with kids friendly instructions on how to draw that particular items. There are also lots of printable sheets available that give you step by step instructions for drawing your favourite animals, characters, vehicles etc.
18) Make a Geometric Painting
Use low tack masking tape if using on paper. Lay masking tape at angles on a piece of paper or a blank canvas, make sure each piece goes from one side of the paper to the other, and that they all overlap to create lots of geometric shapes. Then paint all the gaps with different colours. When the paint is dry, gently peel off the masking tape to reveal a perfect piece of wall art. Kids can really get creative with this idea, especially if you let them decide where the masking tape is positioned. Older kids can draw doodles in the gaps instead of painting which could keep them busy for hours.
19) Use up Old Magazines
There are quite a few things you can create from cutting our pictures and photos from magazines:
Make a collage – cut out the pictures and assemble them on a new piece of paper, then stick in position
Expand an image – cut out a picture and stick it in the centre of a blank page. Then let the kids use their imagination to finish off the picture.
Create weird characters from cutting up pictures or people and animals – they could end up with a zebra’s head, a person’s body and frog’s legs.
20) Print and Paint with Household Items
Use household items as printers to make abstract art. We like to use sponges, potato mashers, spatulas, plastic cups, forks, and no forgetting the good old fashioned potato– they all create different effects when dipped in a plate full of paint and dabbed onto paper. I recommend using a roll of wallpaper and lots of protective sheeting on the floor or table. For older kids, once the painting is dry, they can cut out shapes and create a new piece of art in the form of a collage.
21) Wallpaper Drawing/Painting
One of my favourites is to get a roll of cheap wallpaper/lining paper (or any leftovers you have) and roll it out across your floor. Give the kids their pens/pencils/crayons and let them all fill in a section with their drawings. This is a great way for them all to do something together but not get (too much) in each other’s way. Sometimes its good to have a theme, the last time we did it, our theme was aliens and it was great to see what weird and wonderful creatures and spaceships the kids came up with.
Younger (and often older) children love Sensory Play, here are some ideas:
22) Make Your Own Scented Playdough
Henry and Eliza’s Granny June has an excellent play dough recipe which is fun to make and never fails to provide amusement on a rainy afternoon! It is also in the recipe section of the website.
1 cup plain flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 tbs cooking oil
2 tsp cream tarter (available from most supermarkets or online)
Few drops of food colouring
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional but it makes the play dough smell nice!)
Mix flour, salt and cream tarter then put into a large saucepan with the water and the food colouring (and vanilla essence if using)
Stir over a medium heat until the dough thickens and forms a ball. Allow to cool, and then knead until smooth.
Store in an airtight container (a Ziploc bag with the air pressed out is good).
You can also leave the play dough to set, or bake in a low heated oven, then painted and use as ornaments.
NB: We have been advised that homemade play dough is a potential danger to household pets and must be kept safely out of their reach at all times.
23) Dry Messy Play
Kids love making a mess, and you can give them 30 minutes of fun by using dry goods from your kitchen cupboards. Grab a tray and pour some dry rice or pasta shapes onto it. Then give them some toy cups, bowls, and spoons and let them play. You can also fill a bowl with rice and hide toys in it for them to find – my son used to love digging out his toy cars.
Another favourite is coloured rice –
Pour some dry rice into a lidded container. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar and a few drops of food colouring, put the lid on and shake until the rice is coated. Spread out on a tray to dry. Try it with different colours to get multicoloured rice. Obviously coloured rice is so much more exciting than plain white rice. The good thing about this is that it’s all dry so despite the mess it can easily be cleared up and won’t cause any permanent mess/damage/stains.
24) Wet Messy Play
Make Oobleck (if you don’t mind them getting really messy). Mix 2 parts cornflower with 1 part water and stir until it forms a runny liquid, then pour it into a large container. Use spoons and cups to see how it changes from solid to liquid and back again. You can also add a few drops of food colouring. Make sure you lay plenty of dust sheets on the floor or table to protect any surfaces from drips or splats.
I think every child loves slime. We have tried countless different recipes from washing detergent, laundry starch, contact lens solution, cornflour; all with varying rates of success. However, we now have the perfect solution, you can buy a product called Elmers Magical Liquid (costs around £5 online or in places like Hobbycraft), and all you need to do is add a few drops of this to some PVA glue and mix together, and it creates good slime.
The good thing about this is that it’s 100% safe for kids, you only need 2 ingredients and you can make it in small quantities. To colour the slime, you can just add a drop or two of paint to the glue before you start. I found that you need quite a lot of the Elmer’s liquid to make sure the slime isn’t too sticky.
Using Laundry Starch (available online in powdered form)
Recipe – 100mls PVA glue, Laundry Starch (1tsp mixed with a small amount of warm water until it resembles milk), and a few small drops of poster paint or food colouring.
Method – put about 100mls of glue into a pot and add a couple of drops of your paint and mix. Prepare the starch solution. Slowly add this to the glue and mix, when the glue starts coming away from the sides of your pot, your slime is almost ready. Keep mixing until it has all come together in a lump which can be picked up.
Tips – If your slime is too sticky, try adding more starch solution. If it is too hard and not very stretchy, add more warm water – it’s trial and error to get the best slime consistency.
Using Contact Lens Solution (must include boric acid which is the active ingredient)
Method – Same as above, put 100mls glue in a pot, add the paint, mix, then slowly add the contact lens solution until your slime starts to form.
Tips – Some people add extra things like shaving foam, baby lotion or glitter to their slime, which gives it different qualities and makes it more interesting for the kids. I prefer to keep things simple, less mess and less expense. Although we did add glitter to this latest batch!
26) Ice Play
Put dinosaurs or small toys into balloons, fill with water, freeze and then let them dig them out or watch them melt to discover what’s in them. We filled some with glitter and sequins, and plants too. You can also use egg shells – if you don’t break them too much when cracking the egg!
27) Do some baking, or use these recipes for some ‘no-bake’ baking:
Easy Rocky Road (no measuring or oven baking required actually)
2 medium sized bars of milk chocolate (we used about 250g of chocolate)
A couple of handfuls of mini marshmallows
6 or 7 digestive biscuits (broken into chunks)
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water (or in the microwave – quicker and easier)
Once the chocolate has melted, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If you think there’s too much chocolate, just add more biscuits or marshmallows.
Pour into a lined baking tray (we used a loaf tin) and level it out, making sure it’s pressed into the corners.
Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set.
Cut into squares and enjoy.
This is the one of the easiest things I have ever made with my kids and the results are usually delicious.
Rice Crispie Buns (also no baking required!)
100g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate
4tbsp golden syrup
100g rice crispies
Break up the chocolate and put into a heat proof bowl along with the butter and golden syrup. Either place the bowl over a pan of boiling water or use the microwave to melt the ingredients together.
Stir until smooth.
Stir in the Rice Crispies until they are all covered with chocolate.
Place some muffin cases into a muffin tin, and put a small amount of mixture into each case (this recipe should make between 12 and 15 buns)
Leave to set, pop in the fridge if you want them to set quicker.
Optional – You can decorate these buns with sprinkles and melted chocolate if you wish for extra tastiness. Because we made these at Easter we added some mini eggs.
Other cool things to do at home:
28) Make an Indoor Racetrack
Use masking tape to make a racing track or road network on your carpet – you can make as many roads and junctions as will fit on your floor. Then the kids can play with their cars and toys on their brand new road map.
29) Create A Time Capsule
Use a Tupperware or old biscuit tin. The children can imagine who might find the time capsule in the future. They can write letters, draw pictures, find photos etc to let this person of the future know all about life as it is now.
30) Home Cinema
Close the curtains, get the dvds out, popcorn a the ready and enjoy some home cinema, with the advantage of being able to press pause for a cuppa / loo break.
31) Teddy bear’s picnic
A nice easy one and one of our favourites. Everyone needs to eat lunch, so throw in a blanket, some teddy bears, some books, and you have yourself a teddy bears picnic!
32) Play with Lego
Lego is always fun, especially if you have a good imagination. We bought a huge tub full of second hand Lego and the children have loved making various creations using all the different blocks. You can set challenges such as be the first one to build a house or who can make the coolest car. You can also create little challenges for them by drawing a series of block patterns on paper and they must reconstruct it with the blocks.
There are also lots of resources and ideas online, here a couple to get you going: