How to keep your kids active inside

Written by: Rose McLean

Indoor activities for winter

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


Inactivity during winter months can have a negative effect on a family’s physical and mental health. Research has shown when kids don’t get enough activity, it could result in difficulty sleeping, behavior problems, and inattention for academic tasks. That’s why it’s important to keep your kids active all year round, especially during those long winter months. And no one understands this more than Chicagoans! To stay active while not having to leave your house, we’ve put together some fun ideas to help your family stay sane and survive inside.

Living room warrior course
You can create gross motor obstacle courses in your home using everyday items. Use step stools to step up and down — or, even better, jump to stay off of the “hot lava” (which is the carpet, of course); walk along a tightrope (aka a taped line on the floor); practice balancing while stepping across floating islands in the ocean (better known as couch cushions). Other great ideas to add to your obstacle course: animal walks (such as bear walking or frog jumping from one point to another), skipping or hopping on one foot, or crawling through stacked up pillows or under blankets. Encourage your child to follow this path in order to retrieve pieces for a puzzle from one end of the room to another, or see how long it takes them to finish the obstacle course. Have them “beat their personal best” without stepping off of any obstacles along the way!

Dance party!
Turn up the music and move your bodies to your favorite tunes. Ask your child for their request and DJ their own personal dance party. Instead of sitting to watch a movie, play your children’s favorite soundtrack from the film and have a dance off or act out the movie. Another fun dance game is to try a “copy dance.” Each participant teaches their favorite move for the other family members to master. Some older children may even want to make up their own routine and put on a performance for the family. Announce them to the stage and encourage costume changes! You can also practice listening skills with a game of freeze dance. The rules are simple: dance when the music plays and freeze when it stops. First one to move is out!

Lights, camera, action
Kids can use their imagination to put on a play for family members. They can recreate their own version of their favorite book or movie, or write an original script. Encourage your child to design their own costume using their clothes or by making a costume with paper, fabric and the universal sewing machine — a stapler! To add even more fun, they can use items to create a “stage” such as hanging a sheet for a curtain or finding props for their performance.

Find your chi
Teach your little yogis some kid-friendly poses using premade yoga cards. YouTube has great yoga practices, as well, that are frequently “themed” and set to music. (Can you say Star Wars yoga poses, my young padawan?) Yoga practice can keep your kids moving while improving their balance and flexibility. It’s a great way for all ages to play together and help stretch away the winter blues.

Hopscotch it down the hallway
In order to play hopscotch inside, use construction paper, stickers or tape on tile or hardwood to make the hopscotch game pattern almost anywhere. Encourage kids to skip areas by throwing a stuffed animal at a square to skip over.

Family game night
Instead of sitting to play a board game, try choosing a family game like Twister or Charades to encourage more gross motor movement! This is a surefire way to stay active and add a lot of laughs to an evening. Bounce your sillies out A mini trampoline is great way to keep moving that does not take up a lot of space. Many fold up and can fit neatly under the bed until the next jumping emergency. Find your happy sensory place Make sensory bins for your child to experiment with. Fill up plastic contains with water beads, dried food goods (corn kernels, rice, beans, pasta etc.), kinetic sand, or cornstarch and water. Allow kids to put their hands (and maybe even feet?) in them. You can hide toys in the bins and go on a treasure hunt! Hopefully, we’ve got you started with some good ideas to get your creative juices flowing, your kids movin’ and groovin’, and everyone’s lives a little saner to survive the winter blues. Happy motoring!

Chicago Pediatric Therapy & Wellness Center is a therapist-owned, pediatric therapy practice that provides physical, occupational, speech and developmental therapy services in both the clinic setting and through the Early Intervention program. We work with children of all ages, from premature infants to young adults.

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How to survive a Chicago winter with kids

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Posted on February 25, 2020 at 11:58 AM