Brain and Body: Engaging Indoor Activities for Kids

 

As the weather prepares to switch gears, playing outside will become less and less of an option for kids when it comes to playtime. Keeping kids entertained indoors can be difficult, especially when they are more likely to reach for a mobile device to play a game or ask to watch TV or a movie. Parents can encourage kids to read, write, or be creative, but many of these activities are sedentary. While they may be enriching in other ways, kids still need to find ways to be active even when the weather doesn’t allow it. Here are some engaging indoor activities that get kids moving and keep them entertained.

Mastering Math and the Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are always fun. They’re mainstays at themed birthday venues and they’re every kids favorite unit in gym class. You can create your own at-home obstacle course using string and household furniture. But to make it more engaging, you can also use – playing cards! Using playing cards or index cards with numbers or functions like plus signs and subtraction signs, will challenge kids to complete certain equations or create a path through the obstacle course that allow them to collect the cards they need to solve the problem. Kids can pretend they are super spies or secret hackers looking for the right code to unlock the secret at the end of the course, or at least earn themselves a snack.

Going Wild

Animal books are great gateways to learning and reading. Animals are diverse and many children like looking at the pictures or learning about where animals live, what they eat etc. You can learn all about animals, whether it be via a book or the internet, but you can also incorporate some stretching into the mix – challenge kids to mimic the animals they’re learning about. Stretching can help muscles but getting into these animal poses can also require some creativity and brain power as well. According to Integrated Learning Strategies Learning Corner, animal poses like a horse trot, worm crawl, or the crab walk, can be great for executive functioning within the brain, regulating emotions, and practicing gross and fine motor skills. Plus, they’re just fun to do!

 

Balloon Ping Pong

Ping-pong indoors can be dangerous, but not if you change up your game equipment. Swap out a ping-pong for a balloon and your ping-pong paddle for a paper plate attached to a popsicle stick. There are plenty of other games that can be made indoor-safe as long as you trade in the traditional tools, especially hard balls that could potentially break household items or hurt others, for soft, plush things instead like pillows, poufs, balloons and other materials. These may be simple, but sports-related activities get kids up and moving but they also help them hone their hand-eye coordination skills, build better interpersonal relationships, and encourage good sportsmanship.

Great Brain Games for Children

Brain-training games have grown in popularity, especially with the rise of smartphones where thousands of apps and other games are made available on the go. Many games, especially those featured on sites like Facebook, are aimed towards Baby Boomers, claiming to reverse aging and prevent things like Alzheimer’s. While these sorts of claims are more difficult to prove, brain-training games have worked wonders for kids who are still actively learning, growing and developing, especially kids with learning and language disorders. Brain games can help kids build essential skills that help them process things like problem solving or help boost their memory.

Language Games

Language games may involve building essential skills for English but there are also fun, free apps out there that can help children learn to speak other languages, too.

For parents looking for native language boosting games in English, PBS.org has plenty of vocabulary games that can help children master the alphabet, learn new words, and practice their spelling. PBS also has plenty of reading games that focus more on word association, reading comprehension and writing aspects of language.

Language games can help kids develop key communication skills, reading comprehension skills, and it can boost their vocabulary (reading and speaking) significantly, too.

Math Games

Sites like mathplayground.com and coolmath-games.com feature traditional puzzle-solving games like Sudoku, chess, and more but they also have plenty of games that focus on specific areas of math like addition and subtraction, geometry, ratios and percent’s, and much more. Mathplayground.com has a grade-level feature so kids can play games that are appropriate to their age, grade, and skill-level and divide games into categories to make finding specific types of activities much easier. This is a great way to help kids struggling with a particular topic at school and can make studying much more

Memory Games

Parents may be familiar with apps like Lumosity, but this app actually gets a significant amount of revenue from kids as well as adults. Memory boosting games can be both challenging and fun, encouraging kids to develop skills that are useful in everyday situations as well as a myriad of different school subjects, too.

Puzzle Games

Parents may be more familiar with games like Tetris and Bejeweled Blitz (as well as other games like it) but these are great games to introduce to kids, too. Spatial reasoning is an often-overlooked skill and it can be applied to many situations and circumstances. These games encourage problem solving within a timeframe, which can be anxiety-inducing for some kids, but can also help children make better, more informed decisions on the fly, making moves based on educated guesses without overthinking.

There are many sites with plenty of resources, links and information on games for kids. Brain boosting games can be an essential tool for kids with learning disorders or children who may not benefit as much from a traditional school setting. Trying a different format for learning can be incredibly life changing, and fun, too.

Decluttering Tricks for Kids

Kids are not exactly known for being neat and tidy. Keeping up with the trail of toys and other things your children leave behind on a daily basis can be challenging, and putting things away can be an even bigger obstacle. Kids’ rooms may be full of stuff, especially since kids always seem to be taking things out and not putting them back. Here are some ways you can declutter your child’s room to help maximize space and cut down on cleaning time.

Toy Rotation

Buying toys for kids is always a bit of a gamble. You might find something you think they’ll like or they may ask for something specific only to have them play with it and forget all about it. In other cases, your children may be “into” certain items for periods at a time but not all the time. You can create a toy rotation where you round up all of your child’s toys and separate them into bins or boxes. Keep only one box of “current” toys out at any given time, and take out other items as kids ask for them. This way, you only have a limited number of toys out and about at any given time, lessening the amount of time you spend putting them away as well as freeing up some space in your child’s room. This toy rotation system can also help you learn more about toys or other objects your children may never end up playing with, which you can then consider donating to family, friends, or toy drives.

Kid-Proof What You Can

Make sure that certain areas like drawers and closets are kid-proofed, especially for younger children. Paying attention to not only cluttered closets, open drawers can be dangerous for small children, but access to these areas can tempt kids to empty everything inside onto the floor and around the house. By limiting or controlling access to certain storage space, you can have more of a handle on how much of a mess your kids make, plus you can teach kids to think about what they want to play with or do with more focus, encouraging them to manage their time and make decisions on their own.

Maximize Your Wall Space for Storage  

Furniture can take up a lot of room, and it can be expensive, too. Consider limiting furniture like toy boxes, sets of drawers and other such bulky pieces of furniture to only the essentials and increase your shelf space. Shelving frees up the center of the room while still allowing you to put things away or organize items or reading books in a visual manner that can double as storage as well as decoration!

Ask Kids for Help

It’s important that you teach your children the importance of picking up after themselves, but it helps to encourage them to do so in a healthy way. It is important that you are not too controlling with what kids do or have access to (like above, you can kid-proof certain areas, but limit this to storage while leaving “current” toy boxes and other items open for your kids to peruse and access freely when they’d like) and that telling them to clean their room isn’t made out to be an overwhelming, and often repeated, command that is eventually ignored and/or resented. When asking your kids to clean their room, make sure to give them specific instructions. Instead of saying something vague like “Clean your room,” say something more direct like “Pick up all the toys and put them in the bin,” or “Try to put all of your books away.” By breaking down the task, it makes the whole chore sound and feel easier, as well as more manageable and less overwhelming.

It’s important that parents and guardians test things out and see what works best for their children. Each kid is different, and different tactics may work more than others, but there are plenty of ways in which you can improve your life and your child’s life by decluttering their room and by making cleaning much less of a chore.