Indoor play activities for children can be fun and adventurous even when it is dark and gloomy or too hot to venture outside. Whether you’re stuck inside because of the weather or have limited outdoor space, these 30 indoor play ideas will keep children engaged and burning energy.

These fun indoor play activities work well when organised with children’s ideas and interests. When children are given choices to decide what to do, their sense of belonging, being and becoming soars. Given the opportunity to decide what they want to do and to help set it up, can boost your child’s confidence.

What’s more, indoor games and activities can support children to develop emotional, social, physical, cognitive and language skills, such as early literacy, fine and gross motor skills, balance, hand and eye coordination and mindfulness.

There is something for the whole family in our indoor home experiences. We’ve grouped these into:

Group of babies and toddlers playing an indoor physical game on a mat surrounded by lots of colourful bubbles. Centre focus on one child holding a blanket with blue dummy in mouth

Indoor physical games for toddlers and preschoolers

You only need a little space for toddlers and preschoolers play physical indoor games. Use a hallway or mark out an area of free space for physical play with masking tape. Many games played outdoors can be safely adapted for small spaces.

1. Obstacle course

Create an indoor obstacle course using mats, cushions, hoops, blocks, pool noodles and other items. As your child navigates the course, encourage them to move a certain way as they reach each obstacle. They can crawl, do jumping jacks, skip to the next activity, jump over a pillow and march. It is a fun way to promote physical literacy.

2. Soft ball games

Your baby can play with soft balls made with foam in safe indoor spaces. Begin by rolling a ball between you. If you don’t have a suitable ball, try a pair of rolled-up socks. Older children might prefer to play indoor bowls with empty water bottles or gently toss a foam ball to each other.

3. Match and move shuffle

Create shapes, numbers, letters or other symbols on the floor with lines of tape for a fun indoor literacy activity for preschoolers. You can have a set of matching cards which you shuffle. When you hold up a card or identify it verbally, your child moves to the matching symbol on the floor.

4. Colourful balloon games

Balloons are fun to bounce off empty walls or tap to keep up in the air. You can also play colour-based games like Find the Yellow Balloon or small group games such as Tunnel Balloon with a balloon.

5. Dance Away

Put your child’s favourite wriggle music on and dance! They can play dancing games such as Statue or dance and sing freely to their favourite tunes. Dancing is an easy way to get physical. Make a mixtape to encourage different dance styles like marching, galloping, slow walking and crazy moves.

6. Bubble play

Bubble play can be fun and adventurous for children. It has many benefits such as helping children develop both fine and gross motor skills, learning through repetition and sensory integration. When playing with bubbles, children can also learn about the concept of big and small.

Baby in pink t-shirt and yellow pattered leggings sits on a circular mat holding a musical xylophone in one hand and a blurred mallet in the other. Partially hidden, a second child's face looks on as they play a musical group game.

Group games for young children

7. Musical cushions

Musical chairs is a lively and classic game that combines the excitement of music and the thrill of quick thinking. Instead of playing with chairs indoors, there is one less cushion to sit on each time the music stops. Musical Chairs engages gross motor skills and provides valuable lessons in adaptability and strategy.

8. Statues (also known as Freeze)

Statues is another classic children’s party game that involves music. It requires participants to freeze as soon as the music stops. The challenge comes when a person cannot hold their pose and moves while the music pauses. It enhances listening skills and promotes physical coordination.

9. Hide and seek

This game brings out the excitement in everyone. It involves one person chosen as the seeker who must close their eyes and count while everyone else scatters to find a hiding spot. The seeker then must search and uncover each hidden player, relying on their observation skills and intuition.

10. Paper plane race

First, make a line on the floor with masking tape. This line is the starting point where everyone stands. Then. see how far the paper planes can travel from this line. You can practise various folding techniques with a different piece of paper. Try wrapping paper or coloured construction paper.

11. Band Practice

Get the entire family together for band practice. Gather the instruments, including homemade shakers and a pretend microphone. What instruments will the children select first? Then, let loose and improvise with clicking castanets, dinging triangles and singing (la-la!). Alternatively, shuffle out some familiar nursery rhymes.

A group of preschool children bring an outdoor activity inside. On the floor are several hula hoops. Children are jumping from one hoop to the next.. There are two lines, one group of children are jumping forward towards the camera and the other are jumping away with their backs turned. An educator supervises the indoor game and a other children at the back of the room wait their turn.

Bring outdoor activities inside

Looking for rainy day activities? You can easily modify these traditional outdoor experiences for indoor play.

12. Build an indoor cubby house

Give your child the tools they need to make a cubby house or fort, including boxes of all sizes, large blocks, pillows, scarves and a sheet. Plus, anything else that may help them to create their indoor tree house.

13. Classic hopscotch

Use masking tape to create your hopscotch grid on the floor. You can use large bottle caps as “stones” to throw into the squares. Children can crawl, step, hop or jump from square to square.

14. Indoor picnic

Pack a picnic or clothes basket with the basics such as bread, lettuce, tomato, cheese and ham slices, plus a picnic rug (or tablecloth) for a picnic lunch in the lounge or on the bedroom floor. Swap ingredients for age-appropriate and allergy-free options. Encourage children to make their own sandwiches.

15. Play indoor basketball

Multiple people or one person can play this fun game. Grab a ping pong ball and a bucket (an empty repurposed ice cream container works too). Each person throws the ball from the same starting point. When the ball enters the bucket, take one step back and try again. If you miss, keep trying until you’re successful.

16. Grow an indoor garden

This activity cleans up well on either a tiled or wooden floor or with a plastic sheet, such as an old bathroom curtain, to cover the carpet. Get some potting mix, seeds or seedlings, a short-handled garden trowel, a bucket, indoor pots, a watering can, and gloves. Fill the pots with soil and your favourite plants. Place in sunlit areas of your home for best results.

17. Hula hoop jumping

Hula hoops have many purposes. You can twirl and roll them with ample space, such as in the garage, or use them on the floor as a fixed point. Each hoop can have an activity associated with it. Personal favourites may include stomping, hopping on one leg, jumping or silly dancing.

 Three preschoolers inside a classroom stand in front of colourful recycle bins: green, red and yellow. They are playing an indoor game and learning a children's chore activity for home, sorting out the rubbish into the correct bins.

Secret housework or children’s chore activities

18. Can you find… Treasure Hunt activity

Give your child a basket or bucket to put toys into. Then, ask them where a particular toy or stuffed animal is and play “hot” or “cold” to help them find the items you list (hint: they should be items they have played with and need to put away).

19. House cleaner for hire – a game for serious preschoolers

This roleplaying game comes with a serious choice. Your child can choose cleaning chores, such as scraping leftovers into a bin for the compost or washing the dishes after lunch or dinner. They might prefer to sweep the kitchen floor or dust the bookshelf for some pocket or play money.

20. Child Chef Prodigy

Preschoolers love cooking and helping to prepare food. Cooking with children helps them to learn essential skills such as learning about different ingredients, promoting creativity, following directions and how to measure. They also practise fine motor skills by using cookie cutters, mixing and stirring.

21. Which bin? Recycling and refuse

Invite your child to sort your waste into the correct recycling and refuse bills. You may have a bin for green waste to go into the compost, a container for recycling and a place to store textiles and other items that can be donated and reused.

A baby plays with a wall mirror activity, standing up with one hand flat and touching the mirror and the other waving. The child is reflected back and in the background are comfy spaces with cushions and chairs.

Skill-building indoor activities

22. Mirror play for infants

Mirror play encourages children to explore and understand their bodies, facial expressions, and movements. Through mirror play, babies can develop self-awareness and a sense of identity. I also promotes their coordination and motor skills, and enhances their social and emotional development. Overall, mirror play provides a fun and interactive way for babies to learn and grow.

23. Art and craft

Art and craft activities where children can choose from loose-parts play to make something meaningful to their interests are bound to exercise fine motor skills. Gather natural resources, recycled items, scissors, glue, homemade playdough, craft sticks, pieces of paper, paper plates and paper towel rolls for lots of fun.

24. Sensory bin

Sensory activities are lots of fun. While some sensory experiences are messy, you can adapt an indoor activity with a sensory bin or bathtub. You can make a simple activity with food using jelly, dry fun cereals like puffed rice, chocolate powder and different fruits like oranges and lemons.

25. Home Library

Picture books are fun to have about when children are playing. These may be books that explore and build on their favourite interests. Children can sit and look through the books, listen to the stories within their pages or role play their favourite character.

26. Board games and puzzles

Keep a few simple games within easy reach. Preschoolers may prefer more adventurous card games and dice. Children can benefit from games that improve logical reasoning, symbol and number identification, colour arrangement and segregation abilities.

27. Block play

Give your child ample room and time to build, demolish and rebuild creative and familiar structures. Children learn so many things from block play. It assists in developing imaginative and social skills and their emotional well-being.

A yoga teacher and children sit inside an open studio on yoga mats. They participate in a calming activity with legs stretched out in front of them. They are connected in a circle by holding their neighbours' hands up high.

Calming activities to encourage sleep or quiet time

28. Yoga activities

Practising yoga promotes children’s physical fitness and flexibility, improves balance and coordination, and enhances body awareness. Additionally, yoga helps children develop mindfulness and relaxation techniques. It can enhance their ability to manage stress and regulate their emotions.

29. Listening to calming music

Calming music can help reduce anxiety and stress by providing a soothing and relaxing environment. Bedtime or during transitions are ideal times to use it. Calming music promotes better focus and concentration, supporting children to engage in reading or quiet time activities. Additionally, it can aid in regulating emotions and promoting self-regulation skills.

30. Meditation

Meditation can have numerous benefits for young children. It can help them improve their focus and attention span, reduce stress and anxiety, enhance their self-awareness and emotional intelligence, and promote mental well-being. Additionally, practising meditation from a young age can instil healthy coping mechanisms and mindfulness skills.

We hope these indoor play activities and games bring joy to you and your child’s day.

Two preschool children participating in an indoor activity, crouch down low on a large mat playing. They are playing with an assortment of large wooden blocks. A child in a green shirt is holding a wide wooden block up and on the other side, a child in a pale orange shirt looks closely at their construction.

Build on your child’s ideas and interests with Petit Early Learning Journey

At Petit ELJ, we support children’s agency, recognising their right to make choices and decisions, where every child is capable of leading their play and learning. We inspire children to explore our indoor and outdoor environments to discover experiences that build on their ideas and interests.

Our educators approach the learning environment with the whole child in mind. They get down to the child’s level to see it from their point of view and invite children to collaborate on their learning journey.

We encourage you to come view our learning and play spaces too. Contact your nearest centre to speak to a Centre Director and discover how we can support your family and children.

Book a tour today.