THE BIG LIST is broken down into Games, Indoor Activities, Musical Fun, and Outdoor Activities. There may be some overlap as many fit in more than one category. Do you have suggestions for this list? Please leave them in comments and we will get them added!
Johnny Jump Up - this is a fun, spring themed Simon-Says like game to get the kids moving and to spark some conversations about gardening, plants and growing! Full description on the link!
Create a hopscotch board with masking tape on the floor indoors (or the floor of the garage) and get everyone hopping! If the weather cooperates get outside and get everyone hopping in the fresh air, just use chalk to mark your board. Little kids can count the numbers as they jump, or label squares with ABCs to work on letters. The bigger kids can get into an actual game- need a refresher on how to play (I admit I sure did)? Click HERE or make up your own rules and a new family game!
Alphabet Madness- from PE Central this game is a great way to get the kids moving and thinking about letters at the same time! Take turns calling out letters of the alphabet and a word that starts with that letter. Everyone then jumps into action to act like whatever the word is: Example B is for Bird could lead to kids running around the room flapping their "wings" and making bird noises. For the original description of this game and a whole alphabet of examples click HERE. To make this more complicated for the older kids have them keep going through the Alphabet...it will get harder and harder to find words to act out!
Spell/Count Jumps-I love this idea for the older kids as it gets them moving while knocking out homework like memorizing spelling words, etc at the same time. A great way to make learning fun- Spell vocabulary words, or do skip counting forward or backwards, as you toss, throw or kick a ball/beanbag back and forth Ex.W-e-a-t-h-e-r. or 2-4-6-8-10-12-14-16-18-20, or 90-80-70-60-50, etc.
Duck Duck Goose- Another classic! In this game, kids sit down in a circle facing each other. One person is "it" and walks around the circle. As they walk around, they tap people's heads and say whether they are a "duck" or a "goose". Once someone is the "goose" they get up and try to chase "it" around the circle. The goal is to tap that person before they are able sit down in the "goose's" spot. If the goose is not able to do this, they become "it" for the next round and play continues. If they do tap the "it" person, the person tagged has to sit in the center of the circle. Then the goose becomes it for the next round. The person in the middle can't leave until another person is tagged and they are replaced. You can jazz this game up and make it silly by alternating animals and having everyone act out what animal they are as they run around the circle. For instance Duck Duck Horse, Duck Duck Cow, Duck Duck Dog, etc.
Reader Suggestion- "Just Dance" or other active video games! (Trace R)
Hoop it Yourself: A trashcan (or even a box) makes a great indoor basketball goal— perfect for a quick game of one-on-one. Have a contest to see who can make the most baskets in a row!
Bowling! Indoor bowling may need a bit of pre-planning so you have enough empty plastic bottles to stack up but is a great activity for working on basic math skills like adding up their scores, as well as the physical bowling and then running back and forth to set up the "pin" again! Make sure you use a foam, or plastic ball! If you have the space you can move the starting mark (masking tape works well) back farther for each round to increase the challenge or for the older kids!
Simon Says- To begin the game, draw or establish an imaginary line on the floor or on the grass and have the players line up behind it. Choose one of the children (or adults) to be "Simon". Simon should stands a good distance behind the line, 20 ft or more if possible. Simon makes commands for the players to move forward a certain distance or to perform some act, for example "hop twice" or "skip 3 times" or "jump forward" or "take 3 giant steps". If the command is preceded by "Simon Says", then the players should do as directed. Rotate who gets to play Simon!
Flashlight Tag- One player is designated "it"/tagger and given a flashlight. The taggrt counts to 50 while the other players hide. When the tagger finds someone, he or she shines the flashlight on the other player. That player then becomes "it"/the tagger and the first player is free to go hide.
TV Tag- One person in the game is "it"/the tagger. When a tagger approaches a child in this game, he or she must squat down and say the name of a television show for protection. If the tagger gets you first, you also become "it."
Game: Red Light/Green Light- One person is designated as “it”/the tagger and plays the part of the stop light. The other kids line up about 20 feet away from the tagger. Facing away from the other kids, the tagger calls out “Green light!” The other kids move toward the tagger. Tagger then calls out “Red light!” and turns around quickly. Any of the kids who are caught moving must go back to the start line. Play continues until someone reaches and tags the tagger. That person then becomes the tagger The trick to winning this game is to move smoothly so that you can freeze instantly until you are within reach of the tagger.
Mother May I? One person (Mom, Dad or an older child) stands about 20 ft away from the line of children. She then chooses a child (at random, or in order), and announces an instruction. These follow a pattern, such as, "Sarah, you may take' x' giant/regular/baby steps forward/backward." The child responds with "Mother may I?" Mom then states "Yes" or "No", depending on her whim, and the child complies. If the child forgets to ask "Mother may I?" he/she goes back to the starting line. First one to touch Mom wins.
Indoor tennis - Items needed: fly swatters for each child playing and a balloon. Children swat the balloon to children on the other side of the "net". The net can be anything that divides up space, tape on the floor, a coffee table, a line of pillows, etc.
Indoor hockey - Use child size brooms or brooms that have be shorten (can buy these at the Dollar Store) and using either a balloon or a small ball, the children try to shoot the ball in a "goal" The goal can be a basket or chairs lined up to put the ball through.
Traffic Lights- For all of your little car/truck lovers this is a game I can imagine playing in our house everyday. Make a list of all the actions a car does (age appropriate, older kids will have a longer list) and come up with a correlating action. For instance "green" = go/walk, "red" = stop/freeze, "speedbump" = jump...the list can go on and on. This game is from Teaching Ideas, click the link to see an incredible list of suggestions.
Physical Activity Cube- A great activity from Little Family Fun, you can make this cube (or a pair into dice) with different activities on each side. Everyone takes turns rolling and acting out whatever the activity suggestion is drawn on the side. Depending on age you could use pictures for the activity (ie: bird for running around flapping arms like a flying bird) or write out the word (or task) for younger kids. Use a larger cardboard box for your cube and you'll add a bit of a workout for the little ones when they pick it up and toss it down to "roll".
Popcorn- This game as linked calls for a parachute and plastic balls but I am guessing just as much fun could be had with a bed sheet and crumpled up balls of paper or aluminum foil!
Do you have a garage or basement? Rollerblade, ride bikes or roller skate in there. My sister and I spent DAYS roller skating in our basement as kids. That part of the house can be a fantastic place for kids to burn off steam when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Parents lace up your skates and join in, or if the weather cooperates head outside for a bike ride. There are lots of great places to ride for free in local parks, or head over to $5 day at Norfolk Botanical Garden for some beautiful scenery as you ride!
Balloon Play! The littlest kids can run circles trying to just keep the balloon in the air, or chasing it as you bop it around and chase with them. Older kids can get more athletic with volleyball and dodgeball games with the balloons, or have contests to see who can keep it in the air the longest- no sitting in one place allowed!
Rolling The Dice- Make a list of fun, easy exercises your child likes to do (as easy as jumping, as complicated as they want to make it!). Put each exercise on a slip of paper in a bowl. Take turns rolling dice, each person has to choose an exercise/activity and do it the number of times on that they roll on the dice. This can continue for many rounds!
Jumping Jacks Competition! Who can do the most jumping jacks (or any other fun physical activity) in a row? You can run several rounds of this "competition" and can come back to this activity several times a day to add to the tally and help them get that extra energy out. This is a great way to work in some activity during tv commercial breaks when they are watching those favorite shows.
Indoor Obstacle Course- this obviously varies by what you have to work with but you can make "tunnels" out of kitchen chairs with a sheet draped over it, "mountains" out of piles of pillows and cushions, or sections where everyone has to hop on one foot, skip, walk backwards, etc.
Scavenger Hunt! This can be done indoors and out, for great lists of themed scavenger hunts click these for suggestions: INDOOR or OUTDOOR Hunts. To make the hunt even more active add a quick activity/task (run in place for 1 minute, ready, set, go!) as the "prize" found with each clue and save an actual "prize" or treat for the very end!
Hit the Stairs! Do you have stairs in your house or in a park near your house (Mt Trashmor perhaps?) Walk them, run them, just get up and down a few extra times! Looking for an extra Challenge? Train as a family for StepUP for the Up Center!
Kangaroo Jumps!- Tape a shoelace (or a strip of masking tape) to the floor in a straight line. Have your child stand on one side of the string with both feet together. Count to three, and cheer as he or she jumps over the string and back 10 times. Take a short break—and do it again!
Crab Crawl: Sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Lean back and place your hands flat on the floor behind you. Lift your seat off the floor, putting your weight on your hands and feet. Now, crab crawl around the room with your kids! For older kids- a Crab Crawl Race or Crab Soccer!
Can Do: Go to the kitchen and find two of the heaviest cans your child can hold. Have him stand with his feet flat on the floor, with the cans in his hands and arms at his side. Show him how to lift the cans up to his chest, bending his arms at the elbows. Have him hold for two seconds, and then slowly lower his arms. Repeat 10 times.
Jump The Rope- Tie the mitten or sock to the end of a jump rope. Have the children stand around you in a circle (or if there is only 1 child they can just stand in front of you) a little less than the length of the rope away. Swing the rope low and slow and encourage the children to jump as it comes past. For younger children, you might need to go very slow on the ground as their coordination will not allow much more than this. For older children, you can swing the rope faster and higher and higher with each turn. They will love showing you their capabilities.
Check out an exercise video at the Library! Libraries are a great resource and often have videos around kids activities as well as adults. You can also do one you already have, or borrow one from a friend!
Counting Steps- If you have a pedometer this is simple, but if not you can still have the kids count their steps and write them down throughout the day. Have a contest to see who can take the most steps!
Have a sit-up competition with the kids! Get everyone focusing on strengthening those core muscles together. Better yet, do it on a regular basis and watch the numbers grow!
Housecleaning! You have to do it so why not do it with the kids and get everyone up and moving. If you really get going you can have everyone break a sweat and get the work done faster. Kids love to help, just make sure you give them plenty of direction, put on some fun music and get to work!
Follow the Leader- This can be fun for two kids (or one child and one parent) or even more. Have everyone line up, one person is in charge of calling out actions or commands (this can be animal movements, jumping, "washing windows" motion or any number of actions). Everyone must try to follow and imitate the actions of the person in front of them. Make sure to rotate so everyone has a chance to be the leader! The sillier the better!
Jump rope- the beauty of jump rope is the older kids can do it on their own or with a longer rope it easily becomes an activity several people can enjoy. Relive all the fun chants and jump-a-long songs and teach them to your kids. Need a refresher? Click HERE.
Hot dog rolls- lay on the floor with your hands by your side and roll! Count how many rolls the kids can do. These are also fun to do on grassy hills.
Create "laser beams" with string taped to the walls in a hallway. Create an obstacle course that kids have to climb through while trying not to get "zapped" by the laser beams.
Create a mountain of pillows and blankets and have the kids play mountainclimbing in the living room!
Stairs relays- Put 4-5 toys, books, prizes at the top of the stairs and have kids run to the top to get the objects one at a time. After they have collected all of them, it is playtime!
Reader Suggestion- We like to make letters with our bodies! Twist our bodies in odd positions positions to make those letters is hard to do! We usually end up falling, giggling, and trying new letters! (Robert-Rebecca H)
Reader Suggestion- Making forts, playing in boxes, obstacle courses, trampoline (if you have one), and trails-at the city parks (Noland Trail is great!!!!) (Suzi T.N.)
Dance Party! This is my go-to idea on a cold day, it gets everyone moving and even the little babies love to dance along with you. For older kids have a karaoke contest with dance moves required and make sure to show them those dance moves that we all did when we were younger... like the Electric Slide and Macarena...laughing is also good exercise! Just don't forget to take pictures or videotape for Grandma.
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes- this classic song can be sung as slow or fast as you want, a good way to make it even more active- jazz it up by increasing the speed each time you sing the song. Or another variation, sing the song several times increasing the speed each time and have the kids do an exercise between each song (ex: song - 5 jumping jacks - song).
The Hokey Pokey- Little kids love this song and it can be fun for everyone to get up and throw themselves into the fun. Do it over and over and increase the speed as you go. Need a refresher? Here it is on YouTube.
Dance to the Hop- Try to hop on one foot with your kids all the way through their favorite song. Take a break and do it again! Try this with other movements (dancing, jumping jacks, sit ups, etc)
Reader Suggestion- We play "freeze dance". Mom or Dad gets to be the DJ and we just play music and dance the night away. Only thing you need is music. Doesn't matter what the weather outside is so this can be done year round. (Karen)
Musical Chairs! This doesn't even need to involve chairs, you can put cushions or pillows on the floor and move them around to make the challenge more interesting. If you don't have enough people in the house to really get into the traditional version of the game just make it a repeat competition to who can get to the closest cushion first.
Roll a ball to music, change the tempo to make it fast and slow. Large yoga balls work great for this!
The Bunny Hop- Act like a Bunny and Hop Hop Hop! Need a refresher on this fun song and dance? Click HERE.
Ring around the Rosie- when you all fall down do sit ups, push ups or just lay down and then pop up to sing again.
Skipping to my Lou- Skip around the house, and sing Skip to my Lou (there are a bunch of verses to the song). Need a fun refresher? Click HERE.
Shadow Tag! Inspired by "Shadow Tag" on PE Central this game calls for a sunny day but can be done in warm or cool weather. A game of tag among the kids (or even just Mom & Me) where instead of touching someone to tag you step on their shadow and yell out "Tagged!". My daughter is fascinated by her shadow, I can't wait to try this. A fun way to introduce shadows to the little kids (who may just run around with the excitement of the game) or get the competitive juices flowing in the older kids!
Get outside and explore our local parks! There are many FREE trails and parks to explore in our area, check HERE for some of our favorites places. Make sure to dress in layers in colder temperatures so you can add and remove layers as needed.
A Dash of Speed: See how fast you and your kids can run for one block, repeat!
Walk to the Store- Maybe you live close enough for the family to walk to run some errands, or maybe you can just park the car on the far side of the parking lot. Every bit of walking counts!
Walk the kids to school! If you live close enough it is a great way for everyone to start the day off right.
Take a family walk after dinner. If the weather is chilly make sure to bundle up! This is a great way for the whole family to get moving and enjoy some time together.
Reader Suggestion- Get out and walk your neighborhood! (Rachel)
Reader Suggestion- We head off to Mount Trashmore, and they (the kids) only get to play after we've walked/jogged the longest trail there.
Reader Suggestion- I let the dog outside with the kids and they run around and chase each other for a while! (Stephanie)
Reader Suggestion- Go for a family run together! Little ones can ride in the stroller if needed, or slow down the pace for the younger kids and have them jog along! (Trace R)
Bubbles! Blow bubbles as you walk around outside and have the kids run around chasing them (mine love to yell pop! every time they pop one). Have older kids compete to see how many they can pop and count out the numbers as they go :)
Relay Races! Have the kids race relays dressed up in funny costumes, or running backwards, hopping on one foot, skipping, etc. Don't have enough kids for relay races? Everyone can take a turn getting timed, and then can try it again to try and beat their own time!
Potato Sack (or Pillowcase?) Races! Have the kids race each other (or themselves for time) jumping from start to finish in a pillowcase or other sack-like case. Sure to lead to lots of laughing!
Reader Suggestion- My 2 year old son just came up with this one. While on a walk this morning he would pretend to be different animals. As a frog he would "ribbit hop" down the sidewalk. Horse: run super fast. Elephant: lumber along with arm as a trunk. The possibilities are endless (Jamie H)
Reader Suggestion- Log-rolling down the big hill at Mt. Trashmore--bring on the giggles! (Jessica K)
Reader Suggestion- We wash the truck when it is warm outside, pick up leaves throw them in the air and chase them. freeze tag, leap frog outside. we play the animal moving game, she hops like a bunny, leaps like a frog, runs like a dog, walks like a crab, etc. (Kimberly H-S)
Snow Day!!! Get out and run around in the snow, I know there isn't a lot to work with but the kids won't care. Make sure to bundle up, it is cold out there!!
Great Backyard Bird Count! - Get outside and check out the wildlife for the Great Backyard Bird Count! Get more information in our post about the Count by clicking HERE!
The Little Gym
Hampton Roads Mom
Hampton on Ice
Some FREE Colonial Fun is planned this weekend in Virginia Beach. The Adam Thoroughgood House will be celebrating the end of the school year with Colonial area activities and games as well as hourly tours of the historic home.