IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Stuck indoors: Here are 9 great tips for cooped-up kids

Try these easy indoor activities to keep everyone busy.
/ Source: TODAY

Do you remember a simpler time when it was things like a polar vortex that kept us cooped up for short bursts?

Now, temporarily frigid temps are the least of the reasons we're stuck indoors.

And while we fully back a little boredom as a character-builder for our kids, sometimes we need a little inspiration to keep them occupied (and quiet). Back in 2015, our TODAY Parenting Team contributors shared their hacks for a “Cabin Fever” challenge.

And their tips are amazing, no matter the reason you're sheltering in place!

1. Think in themes to make “regular” activities more exciting. (Angie Goff)

Angie Goff's kids enjoy a make-believe campfire at home.
Angie Goff's kids enjoy a make-believe campfire at home.Courtesy of Angie Goff

Indoor campfire: Kids love themes! Get some red and orange tissue paper. Put a flashlight underneath it and let them roast marshmallows! To make the logs just twist some brown grocery bags or paper. I let the kids roll out their sleeping bags and eat s’mores mix while watching a movie. S’mores mix is just honey grahams cereal, mini chocolate chips and mini marshmallows tossed in a baggy.”

2. Make playing in the snow even more fun. (Amanda Mushro)

Amanda Mushro's son playing in snow
Amanda Mushro's son has a blast playing in the snow.Courtesy of Amanda Mushro

“Let your kids get creative by mixing water and food coloring in spray bottles. Take the kids outside and let them ‘paint’ the snow. Did you put away all the sand buckets and shovels until next summer? Get them back out! These are the perfect tools for snow forts and castles. Bubbles aren’t just for summer fun! Bring them back out when the weather is below 32 degrees. The bubbles will actually freeze!

“Toss pajamas and blankets in the dryer before you head out to play in the snow. When you get back, everyone has warm, toasty clothes to put on!

3. Ready, set, race! (Olivia Johanson)

Homemade race track: This works best on any kind of floor (use blue painter's tape for hardwood floors and masking tape for carpet) and is remarkably easy. All you have to do is lay out some masking tape around part of your living room floor and draw little lines in the center to make each strip look like a road. You can add some obstacles in the form of toys to make it more challenging. Then race your kids or get them to race around the track together.”

4. Tape can provide loads of indoor fun in other ways as well. (Olivia Johanson)

Tape hopscotch: It turns out that tape is actually the ultimate entertainment tool. Use tape to make an easy-to-remove hopscotch course on your living room floor. You can make this as complicated as you have room for or add to it as the kids overcome each challenge.”

5. Try sensory activities for kids with lots of energy. (Meghan Moravcik Walbert)

Child playing with dried oats
Meghan Moravcik Walbert /

The dry spell: Choose one or two dried goods from your pantry, such as oats, rice or short, uncooked pasta noodles. Set out different bowls or plastic containers of different shapes and sizes, as well as measuring cups and spoons. Pour, stir, mix and measure.”

6. To burn energy and calories, make a workout video with the kids. (Amy Rowland)

Amy Rowland works out with her son.
Staying strong: Amy Rowland incorporates her son into a fun workout at home.Courtesy of Amy Rowland

“After a while we grew bored of the typical games and activities and I started looking for something new to do. I was stir crazy from not getting to go to the gym so I had a thought: what if I had the kids help me make a ‘workout’ video? They kids love to watch TV and they love to look at pictures and videos of themselves, so what if I combined the two? Holy cow! It was genius (if I do say so myself)! The kids loved the idea. So, I told them to think of some ‘exercises’ and we’d film everyone doing them. This filled a good hour of our time. It honestly would have gone on even longer; however, mommy can only do so many crab walks and bear crawls these days. The kids, on the other hand, have endless energy which is why this was such a great way to burn some of it off!”

7. Use balloons to launch fun indoor games. (Olivia Johanson)

Balloon ball: Take anything super fragile out of the room and give each of your kids a small pool noodle and a balloon. You don't have to make rules, but one great way to structure this is to give each kid the goal of keeping their balloon off the ground. (You can also get kids working together to keep one balloon off the ground.)”

8. Time for a (supervised) pillow fight! (Olivia Johanson)

“All right, you don't have to watch the whole time, but make sure you take anything fragile, sharp or pointy out of the room before you let the kids loose. If you can convince them to use throw pillows you can greatly reduce the risk of harm.”

9. Clean up, get organized — and teach valuable lessons. (Angie Goff)

Angie Goff with kids
Angie Goff has fun with her kids on a wintry day at home.Courtesy of Angie Goff

Project purge: Talk with your child about how to help those in need. Have your child separate old toys they'd like to donate. Remind them they are helping make room for any gifts they may get this year.”

This story was originally published on December 12, 2015 and has been updated.