20 Creative Indoor Play Activities

Ugggh…..  Is it just me, or has this heat been BRUTAL lately?  Every time my kiddos utter the “o-word” {you know – OUTSIDE!}, I cringe with desperation.  During the daylight hours, I seriously sweat just looking out the window.  And then in the evening, the mosquitoes are in total attack mode and eat us up from head to toe!  So this week, I decided to get creative to see what we could do INSIDE instead.  Oh, and my goal was to just use things we have around the house and not spend a dime.  And guess what?  Mission accomplished.  We all had a BLAST!   Now, I am here to help you beat the heat with 20 creative indoor play activities too…

20 Creative Indoor Play Activities

Get Colorful

There are few things that scream summertime more than lots of vibrant colors.  And if you have little ones like me, what a great skill to teach too!  These four activities are super simple, dirt cheap, and will definitely brighten your day!

  • Tinted Shaving Cream :: My kiddos LOVE playing with shaving cream…even more so when I tint it their favorite color using a few drops of food coloring.  Just be warned – it WILL dye your skin, your clothes, and even your carpet.  So I always suggest stripping down to the skivvies and doing it on tile just to be safe!
  • Colored Water :: Y’all.  Who knew that water and a few drops of food coloring could provide so. much. fun?!?  Just mix it together in a large bowl or plastic container {once again, in undies and on the tile}, throw in some water droppers, small cups, and measuring spoons, then let them go to town!
  • Kool-Aid Dyed Rice :: Another fun sensory activity!  To make the dyed rice, just throw all of these things in a large plastic storage bag in the following order – 1 c. white rice, 1 t. rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 t. Kool-Aid powder.  Shake like mad, pour it onto a tray to dry overnight, and voila!  It is ready to be put into a large bowl with a few small cups and toys for those tiny fingers to enjoy!
  • Mix It Up! :: I know, I know.  There are lots of you cringing out there at this one, but I cannot emphasize enough the learning that comes along with letting kiddos get creative and mix up those colors.  Try it with the tinted shaving cream, colored water, paint…play dough?!?!  Then, be sure to get in there with them and talk about all of the changes you observe.

Bring the Outdoors In

Outdoor toys are a big time favorite in this household, and I hate that I keep finding myself saying “no” when they ask to play with them.  But when it is a million and one degrees outside, it is hard to muster up the energy to head outdoors.  So what’s the next best thing?  Bringing the toys inside for some indoor play!

  • Slide ::  Hands down, one of our favorite toys to bring indoors – and I love that that the opportunities with it are pretty much endless!  Try having truck races, rolling different sized balls down the slide, holding different inertia experiments.  Or…you can take a cue from my one year old, and just slide!
  • Hula Hoops :: If you have a large open space in your house, then bring those hula hoops indoors and get to moving!  Turn on some music and try hula hooping on different parts of your body, hold them in the air and let your kiddos jump through them, lay them on the floor and toss balls or bean bags into them.  Get creative and have fun!
  • Ride-In / Ride-On Toys :: If your kids are like mine, then they will FREAK if you drag their favorite ride-on toy indoors.  Tell them it is a special occasion, to be safe and not crash too much, and then let them have a ball.  The squeals of fun will be worth the few dings you may get on the walls!
  • Create Your Own! :: It is amazing what you can do with a roll of painters tape and a large empty floor space!  Make your own hopscotch, create a roadway, design an obstacle course – the sky…or should I say floor…is the limit!

Think Outside the Box Tub

What is one thing a kid likes more than taking baths in the tub?  Playing in it without water!  I can’t tell you how many times I have caught one {or both} of my kids in the tub, fully clothed, playing with tub toys during indoor play time.  Throw in some of these ideas, and it just ups the fun!  {Pssst…the last idea actually does involve water, but I couldn’t pass it up!}

  • Ball Pit :: If you have yet to invest in a few hundred ball pit balls – DO IT!  Seriously, it’s some of the best money I have ever spent, and my kiddos play in our make shift ball pit tub for hours…together…without fighting.  It’s amazing!
  • Noodle Pit :: Same concept, but this time using 6-8 pool noodles cut into about 3″ segments with a serrated or electric knife.  Bonus points if you use lots of different colors, as it makes your whole tub look like it is filled with oversized colorful Cheerios – and then you can add in sorting and counting activities with them on the edge of the tub too!
  • Obstacle Course :: Turn your bathtub into a miniature obstacle course!  My kiddos love to take blocks and Legos in and set up intricate courses.  Once they are content, they drive little Hot Wheels all throughout or my favorite – drop their HEXBUG Nanos in and let them go to town.  The giggles from us all are priceless!
  • Glow in the Dark Bath :: There are a TON of glow in the dark bath pins floating around Pinterest that are completely unsafe and full of chemicals and even broken glass, so I’ll start by saying – DON’T try those!  Instead, try this glowing bath idea using nothing more than a bottle of tonic water added to your usual bathwater, a blacklight {placed safely on the other side of the bathroom}, and a few glow in the dark toys!  {Disclaimer :: I have yet to try this one myself, but it looks super fun – and tonic water is already on my grocery list for this week!}

Use What You’ve Got for Indoor Play

Some days you feel like going all out, other days…well…you just don’t.  I get it!  On those days, just use what’s on hand and a little creativity for some indoor play- and see what you can come up with.  You just might surprise yourself!

  • Ice Cube Trays :: Fine motor skills, sorting, creating patterns…  I am a firm believer that ice cube trays are one of the key materials for great learning.  If you don’t already have a few on hand, spend the few bucks and grab some next time you are at the dollar store!
  • Tupperware :: We ALL have that cabinet overflowing with Tupperware. Next time your kids are at your feet while you’re cooking dinner, open it up and let them go wild.  Encourage them to stack, build, knock down, and do it all again!
  • Q-Tips :: Okay, this one is kind of random, but I know that most households have plenty of q-tips lying around – and they are such a fun little tool for your little ones to use.  Dip them in paint and create some homemade dot art, glue them on paper in different shapes and pictures, just toss a handful on the table and let your imagination run with it.  You will be amazed at how fun they can be!
  • Raid the Cabinets! :: Open up the doors, survey all that you’ve got {or let your children help you – they will SURELY find the good stuff!}, and just see what happens.  It’s no doubt that moms have great ideas, but you know what?  Your kid’s ideas are even better!

Channel the Cold

For those indoor play summer days, there is nothing like daydreaming about the cold winter to come.  Turn down your air conditioner a few degrees, throw on some mittens and a scarf with your shorts and tank top, and channel your inner snowbunny with these fun ideas!

  • Ice Skating :: Got two paper plates?  Awesome.  You can do some ice skating!  Just throw them on the floor {carpet works best}, have your kiddo put one foot on each plate, then teach them how to slide around the room as if you are ice skating.  If you’re feeling really crazy, then turn on some Christmas tunes and have a little skating party!  {Yes, I realize we are in the dog days of summer – that’s what makes it fun!}
  • Snow Ball Fight :: All of that junk mail that floods your mailbox?   Save it for a week, roll each page and each envelope up into a paper ball, and then have a snowball fight right in the middle of your living room floor!  Your kids will think you’re the coolest, and the paper is so lightweight that it shouldn’t break too many valuables.
  • Ice, Ice Baby :: Remember those ice cube trays that I said would come in so handy?  Get them out, put some tiny toys inside {be mindful of choking hazards though}, and then stick them in the freezer overnight.  The next day, let your kiddos practice their excavating skills to see what they can dig – or melt! – out of each cube.
  • Belt it Out! :: When all else fails, turn on that uber-popular movie {Dare I say it?!?  FROZEN!}, dance around the living room, and belt out the lyrics at the top of your lungs.  All together now, “Let it go, let it go, can’t hold back anymooooooooooore!”

Bottom line is, get creative…and HAVE FUN!  Your kiddos will treasure these precious memories with you, and it will help make these last few weeks of summer the absolute best.  Oh, and if you think of any other fun indoor play ideas, pretty please share them in the comments below!  I know I will need a whole new bundle of air conditioned fun for next week…

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Kelly D
Kelly is the founder of Houston Moms Blog and has lived in this beautiful city nearly all of her life. She has a degree in education from Texas State University and was honored to teach special education for eight years to some of the cutest little kiddos you could ever meet. While teaching, Kelly met Cody – a tall drink of water and country boy to the core – and together, they fell in love, got married, and decided to start a family. In March 2011, they welcomed Hayes into the world, a silly but smart little boy with a story you have to read to believe. And in April 2013, their family was complete with the addition of Hadley, a super gregarious and oh-so-cute baby girl. Now, Kelly devotes her days to caring for her own little ones…and would not trade this new job of hers for the world! In her not-so-spare time, Kelly loves meeting up with her girlfriends for margaritas, failing miserably at Pinterest projects, and exploring this big old city with her two favorite little side-kicks in tow.


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