Whether it’s the weather, or you’ve got stay-at-home orders, we’re betting you’re always on the lookout for ways to keep the kids moving and active. We’ve found a bunch of fun active games that kids will enjoy and most of them are low-to-no equipment and feel more like spontaneous play than a routine. Read on to get fitness games to get the kids off the couch!
Throw the Dice
Most of the games we've included here are easy, at-home, DIY with no equipment, but we recently nabbed a set of these Alexanta Exercise Dice to help with at-home PhyEd and we love them! For under $30 you get a set of three, soft foam dice about the size of an adult hand, making them easy to hold and harmless to toss. You just throw the dice and get a new exercise. The set comes with a visual guide and explanation of each exercise. Do it for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 or more. Find them on Amazon.
The Alphabet Workout
This one is takes a bit more prep, but it's super easy to learn and guaranteed to burn off that energy in no time. First, you need to associate a specific exercise with letters of the alphabet (example: A, 5 burpees, B, 10 jumping jacks, C, 10 jumps in place). You can repeat exercises, so you don't have to come up with 26 new ones! You can also find a pre-made one, like this one from Leash Your Fitness.
Next you take turns doing the exercises based on your name. Adjust to kid's ages and fitness level. For example, you can do middle and last name if the kids need more! Or choose random words. Your heart will be pumping in no time. (Makes a great break from work for adults, too.)
Playing Card Fitness
Got a deck of cards? Then you've got an easy fitness routine, thanks to our friends at Skyhawks Sports Academy.
They created a simple printable that allows you to use cards you draw from a basic deck to shake up a fitness routine. Here's the easy guide:
- Numbers 2-9 = values (i.e. reps)
- Face card = 11 reps
- Ace = 12 reps
- Hearts = pushups
- Diamonds = jumping jacks
- Clubs = sit-ups
- Spades = squats
Be sure to check out Skyhawks and STEM Sports website for even more innovative ideas for at-home exercise and fitness. They've also got a host of virtual sports classes.
Choose a few colorful old socks. Fill each sock with dry rice, beans or something similar and tie the ends together. Place sheets of paper on the floor—with one for each color of sock. Your child can toss the homemade bean bag onto the corresponding color of paper.
Can your kiddo waddle like a walrus? Walk like a penguin? Gallop like a horse? Call out animal names and watch as your child imitates the creature’s antics.
Bat the Balloon
Fill a balloon, toss it into the air and count how many pats your child can bat the balloon before it falls to the ground. Add another balloon to make the game more challenging.
Take follow the leader to a whole new level. Pretend your child is a mirror and have them imitate your movements—reflection style. Reverse the course and give them a chance to play the role of leader as you mirror them.
Stage a rainbow-filled scavenger hunt at home. Give your child pieces of colorful construction paper and ask them to find something around the house that matches each one.
Don’t count out the games you played as a child. Set up chairs in your playroom, turn on the tunes, and play a game of musical chairs.
Get moving in the kitchen. Challenge your kids to use a buffet of ready-picked ingredients to concoct their most creative creations. Judge their menu pics, and hand out awards such as, “Sweetest” or, “Most colorful creation.”
Who can paint a portrait, landscape or still life the fastest? Choose a subject, hand out the canvases and race to see who can paint their masterpiece the fastest.
Are you looking for games for kids that don’t require materials, cards, boards or anything else? Try a quick game of freeze. Let the kids run, dance, twirl or move to their own beat. Yell, “freeze,” and watch them suddenly turn into statues.
Build a Fort
Gather those decorative pillows and cushions from your living room and help the kids to build a fort. If you want to turn this old school activity into an indoor game, race to build two forts. The strongest fort built in the shortest time is the winner.
Make Your Own Memory
Don’t worry if you didn’t remember to buy a game of “memory”—you can make your own. Cut a piece of card stock or poster board paper into equal-sized squares. Group the squares into pairs, and have your child draw matching designs, letters or numbers. Turn the cards over and play a matching game of memory.
Put your growing water bottle collection to use. Line the bottles up bowling pin-style and use a soft, squishy ball to bowl!
Hide and Seek
Reverse roles and let your kiddo become the seeker. You can hide, in a sort of obvious space, as your child counts to 10.
If you have tempera paints, you have an afternoon’s worth of fun-filled artsy play. Pour pools of different colors of paint onto a paper plate or piece of scrap cardboard. Dip your fingers into different hues of tempera and create a paint-print pattern. Hand the paint over to your kiddo and watch as they follow your lead and create a matching pattern
Add science to your indoor games for youth! Preschoolers and younger kiddos will get a kick out of this fun-filled full “STEAM” -ahead game. Drip a few drops of food coloring into water and freeze colorful cubes. When the ice is ready, place different colors on one side of a piece of poster board paper and race the cubes to see which one melts the fastest—and wins!
Cup Flip Fun
This simple game is a total energy burn. To play, grab 20 paper or plastic cups from the cupboards and 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 five-minute timer. Once the timer is set, send the teams off to flip cups in their direction (up for Up Team, down for Down Team).
Icy Building Blocks
No blocks? No problem! Freeze colorful cubes of ice and use them to build skyscrapers in your kitchen. Have a parent-child contest to see who can build the highest tower—without toppling the freezing blocks.
Color Wheel Magic
Preschoolers will totally dig this simple game you can make with construction paper. Place colored papers around on the ground cakewalk style and turn on some music. Then start your crew out around the circle. Whatever color they’re on when the music stops becomes their challenge color, and they need to race through the house to find an object in that color. The first one back to the circle wins!
A long stretch of wood or tile flooring is all your little ones need 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.
Raid the dress-up bin or pile all your best costumes together. Then call out open-ended prompts your kids can respond to with their clothing choices. Dress up as someone who helps others. Dress up as someone who builds things. Dress up as a hero. Have kids race against each other or set a timer for singletons as they take on this best-dressed challenge.
Combine two favorite activities into one when you help your kids get their favorite book ready for its stage debut. Think out costumes, dialogue, and actions as you prepare them to act out their favorite book for the most approving audience around—you and your parenting partner! It’ll be all standing ovations and encore applauses when they’re done.
Bubble Wrap Bop
This is the time to pull out all the bubble wrap you’ve stashed since the holidays. When your kids get restless, pull it out and create a dance floor. Try out some follow the leader fun, have the kids hop and bop to their favorite tunes or play a game of musical freeze.
Blow up as many balloons as you can, and divide them up so roughly half are inside a painter’s tape-made circle and half are outside of it. Then free the kids, challenging one to get as many balloons into the circle, while inviting the other to keep as many as possible out. It’s a Ying/Yang situation that’ll wear them out faster than you can say, “nap time!”
Family Wrestling Match
This simple activity pits your kiddo against mom or dad in a battle of physical strength. To play, create a circle using painter’s tape or something that will easily peel off your floors. Make sure it’s big enough to move around in. Plant yourself firmly in the middle before motioning to your sidekick Matrix-style to try and wrestle you out of the circle. Set a timer for each round or keep it going until you finally get pushed out.
Who doesn’t need an excuse to change the bedsheets? Have the kids stuff themselves into their pillowcases, then send them off down a carpeted hallway or across a room with a rug toward an imaginary finish line. Add in obstacles to make it more challenging and to keep the fun rolling.
Host an indoor dance party—with a game-filled twist. Turn on your kid's favorite tunes and dance follow the leader style. The leader twirls, whirls and swirls around the room, while everyone else follows.
To play this silly game, all you need are buckets, potatoes and kids with a good sense of humor. Set the buckets up at one side of the room. Next, ask each child to carry a potato down between their legs (no hands allowed) and plop it in the bucket before turning tail and running back to tag the next in line.
At-Home Obstacle Course
Indoor games get an activity boost with this obstacle-filled option. Use all the cardboard delivery boxes in your basement or pile pillows together. Then have your ninja warriors test their skills on the course that gives them a totally legit reason to climb the furniture.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
Make your kids’ day with this simple-to-set-up activity that you can play virtually anywhere. Write a list of random items your kids could find around the house. Then, send them off with your phone to find and snap pictures of each of the items. Make the list as long or as short as you like and change it every time you play.
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 the room as baskets, and a simple painter’s tape line to divide the room for a volleyball net. For hockey and baseball, use pool noodles to bat balloons in the air or on the ground.
—Erica Loop with Allison Sutcliffe
Feature photo: iStock