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Fun indoor activities for kids

Help them burn off their energy when it gets too cold or dark to play outside

Little girl overcoming with an effort to climb a climbing wall

The Centers for Disease Control says kids aged 6 to 17 should engage in at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, and that preschoolers 5 and younger should “be active throughout the day.”

That might be new information for the childless, but most people with kids will react to it with a “duh, obviously.” Parents know that children need exercise, not just for their own good, but for the good of those around them — a child who needs to burn off energy is not good company. And as we learn more about the connection between physical health and mental health, we know that moving around isn’t just good for your kids’ bodies, it can help their minds and emotional selves as well.

So with fall finally here, and as the weather gets colder and playgrounds become harder to use, parents need to find different ways for their young children to get exercise, because they may not be able to figure it out on their own. To help out, we’ve listed some indoor ways for younger kids to get their sweat on, both out in the (indoor) world and at home in a way that doesn’t require much space and doesn’t risk much breakage.

Use these fun activities for your next rainy day, or just as an excuse to enjoy the great indoors.

In this article:

Out of the house

Trampoline parks and indoor play centers

If a child is feeling cooped up because the cold weather is keeping them indoors, there’s nothing like flying to make them feel a sense of space again.

Trampolines are great for children of all ages. Little ones can happily bounce around without much structure, and older ones can learn and perfect different moves. And in case you haven’t been on a trampoline lately and have thus forgotten: Using one really is exercise. Trampolining builds strength and, perhaps more importantly, tires people (including young children) out.

Many trampoline parks also have other activities (and if your local one doesn’t, try seeking these out elsewhere):

Climbing walls, which usually come in a range of sizes and difficulty levels, and can build mental as well as physical agility in kids.

Laser tag, which might seem like mindless (fake) violence, but is actually more than that. The game teaches strategy, teamwork and coordination, plus it involves a lot of running around.

Interactive play areas, which tend to be based around soft structures like ball pits or jungle-gym-like apparatuses that aren’t made of metal. These spaces are great for kids who are too young for anything too structured, and they tend to encourage group play.


Swimming is a great life skill that you are never too young to learn, and the winter months are a good time to get your kids to take some lessons (not least so that they’ll be more proficient come beach season next year). The Red Cross offers lessons, your local Y may well have an affordable after school program, and many pools also have parent-child hours.

A new sport, or an old sport reimagined

If your kids think of basketball as an outdoor game that’s played on concrete, encourage them to try it indoors on wood. The NBA might not be in season yet, but most towns and cities have indoor leagues or scrimmages in places ranging from school gyms to sports centers.

Soccer can also be fun indoors, when it goes from 11- to 5-a-side, and the latter is arguably easier for small kids than the traditional version of the game.

Racquetball, badminton and squash are all child-friendly, indoor-only games which may well be new (and, happily, tiring) activities for your kids.


It’s tons of fun, doesn’t require too much skill or equipment, and is appropriate for people of all ages. And despite not really being a sport, there are leagues (and therefore plenty of opportunities for kids to play) in many towns.

At home


Much like swimming, dancing is a useful life skill that you’re never too young to learn (in fact, it’s easier to learn when you’re young and uninhibited). Depending on your kids’ personalities and interests, you might just put on a favorite song and bop around the living room, or you could be more ambitious.

YouTube is, among other things, a huge repository of dance moves from your child’s favorite pop stars, whoever they are. Have your kids learn and perform the choreography from their favorite musicians’ videos.

Child-friendly workout videos

Yes, they exist, and they are plentiful. The internet is full of exercise videos which aren’t just good for your kids, they’re actually fun, too. Fitness Blender, Movement For Kids from Aaptiv’s Jamie McFaden, and Juice & Toya’s HIIT workouts are just three of many options, all free, none requiring a lot of space or specialized equipment.


Young children are often interested in whatever their parents are doing, so if you’re a yoga practitioner, your kid might well want to give it a try. That said, although your kid is probably more flexible than you (sorry, it’s just nature), they probably can’t handle a class at your level, so instead try coming down to theirs. Kris Blunt’s yoga class does a nice job of being approachable for kids without talking down to them.


Technology is all well and good, but don’t forget the analog classic games.

Twister, in case you’ve forgotten (or if you just had a Twister-free childhood) is a party game in which players (two or more) place their hands and feet on different colored circles and try to avoid falling in a heap. It’s fun, it’s physical, it doesn’t involve a screen and it doesn’t require much space. It’s an active way to play a game without resorting to board games or video games.

If you don’t own a Twister mat, you can have your kids make their own fancy one out of cloth or put together a less fancy one from old cardboard boxes: Sometimes when children are stuck inside, it’s good for them to make their own fun.

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Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

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Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

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