Turn Outdoor Games into Indoor Games for Kids

Help kids stay active with these indoor games and adaptations.

Soccer skills and more indoor games for kids - portrait of boy with soccer ball
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Indoor games for kids don't have to mean sedentary play. Many kids love to kick soccer balls and shoot hoops outside, but they can't always do that if it's dark, or if their playing area is covered with snow and ice, or the temperature is dangerously high. For those situations, the solution is to bring active outdoor games inside.

These simple—and fun—ways to turn outdoor play into indoor games are a great way to motivate kids to play more actively inside, and to help them practice their sports skills even when weather or other challenges keep them indoors.

Get Indoor Game Gear

Using your child's favorite sports as inspiration, invest in some simple toys and supplies that they can use to play indoors. Usually, that means equipment that's smaller, lighter, and/or softer than what you use outdoors, such as:

  • Balloons, beach balls, fabric balls, Nerf balls, or beanbags to kick, roll, and throw
  • Mini basketball hoops, knee hockey goals, boxes, or baskets for targets
  • Indoor versions of horseshoes, darts, or bowling
  • Knee hockey sticks and knee pads
  • Hula hoops and jump ropes (if you have some room to use them; for jump ropes, you need a reasonably high ceiling)
  • Ping-pong table, or improvise with paddles, balls, and a portable net (or even a piece of painter's tape stretched across a large table)

Practice Outdoor Sports Skills Indoors

Depending on what kind of space you have available indoors, kids may be able to practice some of the skills they needs for their favorite sports, even in the off-season!

  • Soccer: Dribble a ball along the floor; juggle with feet (in a space free of breakables)
  • Tennis: Gently bounce a ball up or down with racquet held horizontally; or play ping-pong
  • Golf: Putt into a practice cup, or even just a plastic drinking cup turned on its side (secure to the ground with painter's tape if needed). Or go all out and challenge kids to build their own mini-golf course with cardboard and other recyclables and household items.
  • Basketball: Dribble the ball (in a garage, carport, or basement)
  • Hockey: Shoot pucks or wooden training balls into an indoor net, or a wall reinforced with cardboard or plywood
  • Figure skating: Practice spins with a skate spinner (buy from Amazon)
  • Lacrosse: Practice tossing the ball using a CradleBaby (buy from Amazon)

And for almost any sport, your child can work on conditioning indoors, with basic exercises like these or a program recommended by her coach.

Make Your Own Indoor Games for Kids

You can also make your own sporty games for kids with items you have around the house:

  • Bowling: Use plastic bottles for pins, and bowl with a rubber playground ball or even a tennis ball
  • Soccer: Use a beach ball or Nerf ball, and set up boxes or cones as a goal; or drape a sheet over a piece of string or a few chairs to create a goal.
  • Volleyball: Tie a ribbon from one tall chair or stool to another, or from a chair to a doorknob, to create a net. Volley with a balloon or lightweight beach ball.

Go with an Exergame

It's true that playing virtual baseball isn't the same as whacking a beautiful line drive outside.

But as long as Wii or Kinect play doesn't take the place of the real deal (shoo the kids outside if it's a nice day!), it can be a good way to add a little activity to indoor play and to keep kids motivated.

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