Indoor toddler activities are great for when the weather isn't cooperating or when you don't have time to head outside with your kids, but unfortunately, most of these pursuits bring chaos and destruction to your living space.
If you're anything like me, the mish-mash of blocks, puzzle pieces, cars, and stuffed animals strewn across the house brings a rush of anxiety. That's why I've compiled a list of things to do indoors with your toddlers that won't destroy your house, ensuring that everyone remains happy and sane!
Indoor Toddler Activities Perfect for High-Energy Littles
As the parent of high-energy toddlers, I can't just plop my kids in front of the television and hope that they will stay put. They need to be moving at all times, which brings the need for indoor toddler activities that will help them release some of their pent-up energy. These are some of our favorite options!
This is one of my boys' favorite games. To play, you must first find a large open space that has a few built-in obstacles — like sofas, the kitchen island, and the dinner table — to make up your driving track. Then, grab some masking tape and draw two lines anywhere in the space. These will be your start and finish lines.
The final step is to give your toddlers their "race cars." These can be actual tricycles and other rideable cars, or they can be roller suitcases or five-gallon jugs. Whatever large and lightweight objects that you have lying around the house will do!
Let your kids know the number of times that they need to make their way around the track, turn on some music, and let the fun commence.
If you want to build their excitement, make yourself the official announcer of the event. Count them down at the start of the race and shout out who is ahead throughout parts of their "drive." The goal is to get them motivated to move faster. Remember, the more energy they get out, the better naptime will go later.
Freeze dance is another fan favorite in our house. All you need is a device to play music and then the dance party can begin!
Parents can either play the "Party Freeze Dance Song" by The Kiboomers on repeat or you can play their favorite song mix, pausing the song every 30 to 45 seconds. Not only is this game fun, but it helps your kids work on their listening skills.
Bubble Boogie Party
Another dancing option is to play your kid's favorite songs while letting your bubble machine decorate their dance space. Kids love to run and pop bubbles and this can keep them occupied for hours, without the need for a single toy. (This works best for a space without carpeting or upholstered furniture.)
If you have a larger group of kids, musical chairs is a classic indoor toddler activity that requires minimal supplies, helps with listening skills, and uses up their energy. Turn on the music and get them moving!
Soccer is a staple in our household and all you need is the ball and some open walls. We typically play this in the family room or my son's room where there are not a lot of breakable items nearby. Kick the ball around, help them work on their fancy footwork, and see if they can hit the wall to get the goal!
If you want to make your soccer game more challenging, grab the masking tape and create a small "goal" for them to target. This can hone their aim and get them ready for the soccer season.
For parents who want to avoid broken belongings, balloon volleyball is a great alternative for toddlers or little kids. You can use long strips of masking tape to create a simple net and then blow up multiple balloons and see if everyone can keep them from hitting the ground. I love this game because my three-year-old has quite the arm on him, and balloons are a lot softer than an actual volleyball.
Simon says: "Let's not make a mess!" This classic kids' game is another way to work on listening skills and coordination. It's also another great indoor toddler activity that doesn't require any supplies. Parents can have an older sibling play the role of Simon, or they can take it on themselves.
Indoor Toddler Activities Full of Calming Moments
After a long morning of errands and appointments, your toddler might need low-stimulation or quiet activities to help them self-soothe from the sensory stimulation of the busy world they were just in. These indoor toddler activities are a fantastic choice for parents who want to avoid a big mess before nap or bedtime.
Sensory play is a spectacular way for kids to calm down and tire themselves mentally, but sensory bins can be a bit of a mess. While they are fantastic options for kids, sensory jars are also an amazing alternative.
As your toddler moves their jar back and forth, they can search for different objects within the different mediums of the jars and parents can stay worry-free about any messes occurring.
I like to draw out some of the various objects in the jar and have my son search for these items. This can make sensory jars a much more engaging enterprise.
Fidget toys are weirdly relaxing, and a bit addicting! This makes pop-it toys a simple, yet effective way to keep your kids occupied without any mess.
Lacing cards are another amazing sensory activity that helps with fine motor skills and provides toddlers with a way to lower their anxiety. Their fingers and minds will be so busy working, that you will get a small bit of silence to enjoy.
Busy boards are one of the best options for toddlers to do indoors. Not only do they build fine motor skills that can help your tot with daily tasks like zipping their jacket or buttoning their pants, but they're also mesmerizing to little minds, and all the activities are conveniently attached to one main base, meaning mess-free fun! Parents can buy an array of busy boards on Amazon or they can build their own.
Yes, you read that right! Toddler yoga is another wonderful indoor toddler activity that you can conveniently find for free on YouTube. Cosmic Kids Yoga offers an array of yoga classes that incorporate fun characters and stories in the exercises and stretches.
Yoga also brings many other benefits to young kids, including:
- Emotional regulation
Artistic Endeavors for Crafty Toddlers
For the kids looking to channel their inner Picasso (and the parents who want to avoid getting paint and glitter all over their homes), these art-based indoor toddler activities are worth a try.
Paint and toddlers seem to always equal a colossal mess, but what if I told you that Crayola makes paints that are specifically designed to be used on non-porous tile surfaces? This means that your kids can get messy, while contained in the tub, and then you can rinse everyone off the moment the fun is done.
Mess-Free Finger Painting
Another way to let your kids paint without creating a colorful mess is to set them up with a mess-free finger painting board! All you need is butcher paper, paint, five-gallon Ziploc bags, and some masking and duct tape. Once you have your supplies:
- Tape down at least 30 inches of butcher paper to your table using masking tape (this is your canvas for the paint and it allows you to duct tape the bag to the paper and not your table, preventing any damage)
- Tape down the closed end of your ziplock bag to the butcher paper.
- Apply large dollops of paint across the inside of the bag, leaving space between each one.
- Remove as much air as possible without smearing the paint too much and zip the bag.
- Duct tape the zipper side of the bag to the butcher paper.
Once this is set up, your toddler is free to smear the paint in whatever way they please! Encourage them to explore the color combinations and create a truly abstract design. Once you are done, you simply peel away the butcher paper and throw it away!
Aqua art coloring books are another fantastic indoor toddler activity that only requires water to use. Simply fill up the included pens with a little H2O and then let your toddlers brighten the pages. Melissa and Doug have a great selection of these books that you can buy separately or all together.
There is something so appealing about coloring off the paper and on the drawing surface. This can create quite a mess and a headache for parents. Thankfully, when you turn the drawing surface on its side, you eliminate the problem.
How do you do that? With an easel, of course! Best of all, IKEA has an affordable kids' easel that has both a white and blackboard as well as a slot for butcher paper.
Give your kids chalk, markers, crayons, and more, and let them create beautiful things on this designated art space!
Toddler Thinking Games for Indoor Fun
For inquisitive little minds who always seem to want to learn something new, these are some incredible indoor toddler activities that will keep them thinking.
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are abilities that we have to teach our kids, and riddles are a fun way to do it. By giving your kids clues and seeing if they can deduce the answer, you not only help them learn, but you will wear them out.
Here are some fun riddles to try:
- Spring riddles - Get your kid thinking about plants, weather, and more
- Specific month riddles - Teach your kids about specific months through riddles. Get started with these November and December jokes & riddles.
- Holiday riddles - Holidays are so much fun for kids, and they can learn through holiday themes like these Christmas riddles.
- What am I? riddles - Help your kids hone their critical thinking skills with these tricky mind puzzles to guess what specific things are.
Why is the sky blue? Why do we take baths? Why are tomatoes a fruit and not a vegetable? Kids learn by exploring and questioning the world. The average toddler asks 73 questions a day, so why not give them what they want and hold a question hour? "Why questions" can be a great way to help them learn and work out their minds so that they wear themselves out without a lot of movement.
Test Your Toddler With Trivia
Trivia questions are fun for any age, and you can tailor questions to your little one. If your tot is the expert on all things Disney for example, then Disney trivia is another amazing way to work their little minds and test their memory. But if you are a screen-free family, no need to fear. You can also ask your kids simple trivia questions about the seasons or weather, specific months, their favorite animals, and much more.
Another fantastic quiet indoor toddler activity is reading. Parents can sit down with their kids and read a few stories in their home library or you can visit your local library to check out some new books for your kids to peruse themselves! Either way, this is a great opportunity for them to think, learn, and work their little minds.
Related: Our Favorite Books for Toddlers
Decide What to Do Indoors Based on Your Toddler's Personality
After having my second child, I quickly realized the importance of having activity options. Just because one of my boys wants to read or color doesn't mean the other does. If you want to find an engaging indoor toddler activity, it's important to think about what your child likes so that they are interested in the enterprise and don't get distracted with other things quickly.
Staying Inside Can Mean Fun for Everyone
From active games to calmer indoor activities, there are lots of creative options to do inside with your littles. With a few smart ideas, you can even keep your house (mostly) in order and maybe even get a little break for yourself.