While the rest of the world slows down in winter, your little energizer bunny clearly missed the memo. As far as your wiggle worm is concerned, it’s business as usual. That’s why we’ve rounded up a slew of easy games and activities to expertly fuel your winter playtime.

girls-playing-with-balloons-nagarjun-kandukuru-flickrphoto: Nagarjun Kandukuru via Flickr 

Let the Games Begin… Inside!

Blow it up! Balloon sports are all the rage for indoor playtime with your crew. All it takes to play balloon volleyball, baseball, basketball or hockey is hot air (to blow up the balloons!) and a little ingenuity. Use trash cans on opposite sides of room as baskets for basketball, and a simple painter’s tape line to divide the room, making a volleyball net. For hockey and baseball, use pool noodles to bat balloons in the air or on the ground. They shoot, you score with these simple games!

obstaclecourse3_indoorfun_redtricyclephoto: Gabby Cullen

Get over it! And under it, and through it when you set up an obstacle course around the house for your kiddos to complete. Use what you’ve got (hello, boxes from holiday deliveries!) to set one up. Then have your munchkin stretch a bit before she sets out to test her ninja warrior skills on the course that gives her a totally legit reason to climb around the furniture. That’s a win-win!

Get physical! Allison at No Time For Flashcards is all about getting kidlets moving on a blustery winter day. She’s mapped out everything you need to know to recreate this simple game at home. All it takes are a few index cards, markers and scissors to start playing. And she recommends that parents get in on the fun too. The best part? Skipping that trip to the gym on a cold day.

kids-juggling-scarves-franklin-park-library-flickrphoto: Franklin Public Library via Flickr

It’s a toss up! Life with kids is always a circus. So it’s only fitting your Littles should take time to clown around when they need to get those wiggles out. Help them on their way with some simple juggling instruction. Our Everyday Life maps out an easy way to learn in just three steps, using scarves instead of beanbags or balls. Since they fall so much slower, it gives kiddos the time they need to figure out how to keep everything up in the air.

Cheer up! Get into the family spirit by having your crew come up with a family cheer routine. Be sure to include all the signature moves like pyramids (parents on base!), claps, and plenty of herkies. Pom poms are optional on this one. The best part? You can pull this bad boy out at the family annual reunion or when your mini-me rocks a play on the sports field. Go team!

bubble-wrap-toes-ali-torres-flickrphoto: Ali Torres via Flickr

Jump up and get down! Start stockpiling bubble wrap from your holiday packages now to get you through the winter months. When your half pints get restless, pull it out and create a dance floor. Crank the tunes and let them jump, jump, jump!

Get into the groove! Host a rockin’ indoor dance party with your sidekick. But instead of just flipping on the standard iTunes playlist, queue up some YouTube vids to get everyone moving in the same direction. We’re crushing on Shake Your Sillies Out, The Hokey Pokey, and one that every child of the ’80s should pass on to their kin—Mickey’s Mousercize. Dance till they drop!

hearthopscotch_valentinesdayactivities_national_redtricyclephoto: Kristina Buskirk via Toddler Approved

Hop ’til you drop! A long stretch of wood or tile flooring is all your mini-me needs to play a little indoor hopscotch. Lay out the game using painters or washi tape so it won’t stick to your floors. Then off they go, tossing and hopping down the alley until they reach 10. Get more on this sweet idea over at Toddler Approved.

Turn it up (or down)! We heart this simple game that’s a total energy burn for the wee ones. To play, grab 20 Solo or Dixie cups from the cupboards. Then scatter them around the room, 10 facing up and 10 facing down. Divide your crew into the Up Team and the Down Team before setting a 5 minute timer. Once the timer is set, send them off to flip cups in their direction (up for Up Team, down for Down Team). This super fun, super silly game will wear them out! 


photo: Pete Toscano via Flickr

Let the Games Continue… Outside!

You’re it! It doesn’t get any easier than tag when your half pints need to move. Throw them outside, name someone as “it” and leave the rest up to them. All they need is an open space and some warm clothes to get this game groove on!

The race is on! Pull out the sleds for head-to-head relay races in the yard (If you don’t have snow on the ground, your mini-me can load up stuffies, dolls or robot toys in need of rescuing on her trusty wagon.). Once her load is set, race down, leave the cargo and race back to grab more before heading out again. If your kiddo flies solo, time her as she makes her down-and-back trips to see just how fast she can deliver everyone to safety.

boy-in-snowfort-popofatticus-flickrphoto: Popofatticus via Flickr

Build big! Building a bodacious snow fort is as simple as grabbing a loaf pan, filling it up, and putting it all on repeat. Have your mini-me build and stack brick after brick of the white stuff to make her own fabu fort when she’s looking for something to do. Even without snow on the ground, you kidlet can test her fort building prowess: Encourage her to scavenge fallen branches and pine tree boughs to build a teepee.

Take aim! Have hula hoop? Will play. Set out three in the yard, on the ground or hang them from trees. Then have your crew gather an arsenal of snowballs (or use tennis or baseballs if you’re in a no-snow-zone) to throw in this target practice session. Take aim and toss! Score points for each ball that makes it through the hoop. Fire away!

girl-throwing-snowball-miki-yoshihito-flickrphoto: MIKI Yoshihito via Flickr

Dodge snowballs! There’s nothing better than a simple snowball fight to get families outside and moving. Grab a handful, mold it tight and then let ‘er fly, taking aim at sibs, parents or friends.

Get hunting! Let your kiddos loose in the backyard to seek out hidden treasures. They’ll have a blast busting through the snow or grass trying to find little trinkets you’ve hidden beforehand. If snow’s your backdrop, make it a rainbow hunt, hiding plenty of colorful objects your little sleuths need to find. If not, go with a camo scavenger hunt, digging up wintery earth tone items to hide that’ll give them a challenge. It’s a you hide, they seek kind of game! 

kids-hiking-forest-allison-sutcliffephoto: Allison Sutcliffe

Walk it out! Whether winter at your place involves snow or not, taking the Littles for a walk in the woods gets the blood flowing. Find a clear trail or lace up those furry winter boots to bust through the snow pack in a state or city park, forest preserve or nearby open space that gives them plenty of room to roam. Then it’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

What’s your favorite get-moving game? Do you have one to add to our list? Tell others about it in a comment.

—Allison Sutcliffe