Thanks to the colder weather and shorter days, snuggling up on the coach to watch TV is even more tempting than usual. No matter what Mother Nature brings, it’s important to note, however, that your kiddos need to keep moving.
As you know, a successful nap time isn’t the only reason it’s important for your kids to burn off energy. When they get enough active play, there’s a marked improvement in their cognitive abilities, academic behaviour and overall attitude, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. And since Canada was recently assigned a D- in physical activity (for the third year in a row) in a ParticipACTION report by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, it’s more important than ever to encourage our kids to incorporate physical activity into their day. (Preschoolers need at least 180 minutes of physical activity each day, while kids aged five to 17 need 60 minutes of mild to moderate exercise a day.)
With the help of some of our resourceful readers, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favourite indoor activities kids can play to stay active.
Who doesn’t like a good dance party? Shaking it off to a few favourite jams is a surefire way to get your kids off the couch. To brush up on listening skills, try freeze dance. The rules are simple: dance when the music plays and when the designated DJ stops the music, everyone freezes.
Thanks to helpful how-tos on YouTube, it’s now easier than ever to learn how to (properly) bust a move. You can learn how to nae-nae or even try to teach your preschooler how to do the moon walk. The opportunities really are endless!
Make a net by tying a piece of yarn from one chair to another. Then blow up a balloon and start practising those serving skills! Change things up a bit by kicking or head-bumping the balloon.
Story time doesn’t have to be just a bedtime ritual. Pick a book that has a word that’s often repeated. For example, choose the word “hat” if you’re reading The Cat in the Hat. Every time the word comes up in the story, get your kid to do a jumping jack.
You don't need a backyard to play a game of soccer. Start by setting up a net on opposite ends of the hallway by placing some masking tape on the floor. After dividing into teams, grab a small plastic ball and let the fun begin.
When bad weather has you dreaming of sunnier times on the beach, play crab carry. Teach your little one how to walk like a crab by placing their palms and feet to the floor while raising their stomach up to face the sky. Staying in that pose, let them see how long they can balance something like a bean bag on their belly. Crab races are also another fun option.
Use a pencil to write down a yoga move on each JENGA block. Set up the tower and play the game as usual, but every time a block is pulled out, every player has to do the specific yoga move. If the tower falls, do the plank for 30 seconds.
As long as you make sure that you’re not too close to furniture or breakables, hula-hooping is a great indoor activity that helps strengthen your child’s core muscles. If you’re looking to switch things up a bit, try hula-hooping while walking backward, or spin the hoop around your ankle or arm.
Similar to hallway soccer, use masking tape to set up a net on opposite ends of the hallway. Divide into two teams, making sure every player has a small broom. Use a tennis ball as your hockey puck. The first team to get 10 points wins.
Find two large bowls, fill the first bowl with water and place some marbles inside. Ask your little guy to pick up the marbles and place them in another bowl by using only his feet. The first one who can get all the marbles in the other bowl wins. If you don’t want to get your floors wet, lay towels on the floor, or skip the water component entirely.
Turn the hall into a “laser” maze with yarn. Zig-zag yarn from varying heights and challenge your kids to get across without touching the laser.
- Jolene Vanthuyne from Saskatoon
“We use our Wii Fit. My girls actually get excited when the forecast calls for a rainy day so they can stay inside and beat each other’s score on the ski jump or hula hoop challenge. It even gets me up and moving as well, to make sure my score still remains at the top.”
- Leslie Munro from Halifax
“If it’s been gross for several days, I will let him jump on his bed to help burn some of the energy. But most of the time, we dress for the weather and head outside.”
- Amanda Engstrom from Edmonton
“Indoor activity stations! I make signs and each ‘area’ has an activity: jumping jacks, crawling through tape/rope, planking etc. Set a timer, then rotate through the stations.”
- Becky Stanisic from Ottawa
“As a teacher, I recommend the website GoNoodle for rainy days. Tons of physical activities that you can do in a small space!”
- Jenn Tobin from Whitby, Ont.
This article was originally published online in March 2018.