Rainy day blues? Weather at the extremes? Need to stick to a budget and stay in? Whether you are looking for simple games for kids or full scale activities for groups, it’s easy to save the day, bust boredom and have fun with this list of screen-free indoor games for kids of all ages! What indoor games did your family love to play growing up, and what indoor games do you play now with your kids? Did you learn some great games for kids at school? Let us know in the comments so we can share them!
Note: Most of these indoor games for kids are fun games to play with friends indoors without many materials. The classics don’t require any fancy equipment. However, if you prefer, we have found ready-made versions of these games for children to play. Click the image to go to the product on Amazon. While your price does not change, we receive a small commission on any purchases made through our site.
If you stick with us, this list of indoor activities has been categorized into age appropriate groups at the end of the article (fun games for preschoolers up through teens). Or you can use the quick links below to skip to the lists. As always, these games and activities for kids can truly be enjoyed by anyone who is ready and willing to have fun.
INDOOR GAMES QUICK LINKS
– BALLOON GAMES –
Keep the Balloon Up
This may be the most absurdly simple of all the indoor games with friends – blow up some balloons, tell the kids to keep the balloons from touching the floor, and get the party started! This is admittedly one of those kids physical games that can get a little rambunctious indoors, so move the breakables out of the way. Buy It: 500 pack multi colored balloons.
Balloon tennis or balloon volleyball: String up a divider as a net and see how many times they can volley the balloon over the net without it touching the ground. Fly swatters, plastic spatulas or wooden spoons could work well for the tennis game, but they aren’t absolutely necessary. (This works best with only two children playing for safety reasons.)
– SENSORY & SORTING GAMES –
This is a great indoor game to focus young kids on the sense of touch in a world so focused on the sense of sight. Train their minds to associate information other than just how the object looks. Start by putting interesting objects into containers that a child must reach into and identify by touch. Shoe boxes work well as they are usually readily available, can be easily cut with scissors, and do not let light through. Making the boxes is part of the fun – have the kids decorate them, just make sure to cut out a child-sized hand hole on the side of the box beforehand. Place an item in each box and have your kids take turns guessing what the items are. Encourage questions and offer clues as needed.
Buy It – My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards.
This is another of the games for kindergarten readiness that you can easily pull together. When a child plays a sorting game, they are analyzing objects, describing and comparing them and engaging in critical thinking. All kinds of learning is going on. Start by creating “bins”, which can be as simple as using tape on a level surface. Buy It – Learning Resources Mini Muffin Match Up Counting Toy Set.
Colors: For younger kids, using colors is the easiest way to start a sorting activity.Try taping down pieces of colored construction paper, then gather objects to match. (LEGO Duplos work well.)
Advanced: Sort by the texture of a surface or type of object, for instance wooden vs plastic vs metal.
More variations: You can make it into a full on game by asking competing children to go find 5 objects of each type the fastest. Or you can enforce an order that they must retrieve them in – first red, then blue, then yellow, then repeat.
We typically think of bubbles as an outdoor activity; this version can be played indoors around a table. Simply get a plate and straw for each child and put a coin-sized drop of dish soap on the plate. Mix a little water in until suds form. Each child should then put the end of the straw straight up and down into the suds so that a layer of soap forms over the end of the straw. Blowing very slowly, a single bubble will start to grow! Who can make the biggest bubble? Who can hold the bubble there the longest? Buy It – Clifford The Big Red Dog Young Scientist Club Bubble Science Kit.
I Spy and its variations are wonderful sensory games for young kids to get to know the world around them. For a child who has never played, you can start by picking out a secret object within plain view and saying, “I Spy something blue.” If there is only one child, then she can keep guessing until she gets it right. If there are multiple children then they can take turns looking around and guessing. The first child correct gets to spy something next. It is so versatile, you can take it anywhere. Buy It: – I SPY Eagle Eye Game
Variations: Limit the number of guesses each child gets. Or, say things like “I Spy something that is a circle.” The difficulty is easily changed by what you are actually spying (smaller or less obvious things) and how you describe what is spied (bumpy or soft things, for example).
Not all Indoor games for kids have to be screen free. We offer some fun interactive games for kids that can be played together:
Websites That Make Screen Time, Family Time
– TAPE GAMES –
This is a more easily set up indoor game than you might think. Using painter’s tape (go gentle on flooring), tape down a line of any length, and have a blast. Challenge your child to only walk on the line all the way to end. Buy It – Healthstar Foam Balance Beam 6″ Blue.
Angles: Try taping down further lines at different angles. Spirals and zig-zags are always fun. This is one of those physical games for kindergarten readiness that is easy to practice.
Backwards: Switch up the challenge by having the child walk the tape line backwards or with eyes closed (socks off so they can feel the line).
Other variations: Walk the tape line heel-to-toe or try jumping down the line (both feet still on!)
If you’re able to create enough space on the floor, constructing a tape maze can be a great indoor activity. Design a simple maze for toddlers or add dead ends to challenge older kids.
Add balls: Can the kids dribble a small ball through the maze without crossing any of the tape lines? Get a timer and mark how long it takes the kids to move the ball through the maze – then challenge them to improve their time.
Number maze: This is a good variation for children who are learning number recognition and counting skills. Mark numbers along the maze route the child can follow in the correct order from start to exit.
Design a Driving Course
Again, you’ll need the painter’s tape for this game. Design a road map on the floor for your kid’s collection of matchbox cars and those other mini vehicles we somehow all accumulate. Get creative and add other pieces to make a street scene or use furniture in the room as obstacles. The kids will be driving all over town all day long.
Variations: The tape course is limited only by your imagination. Trains could follow train tracks or unicorns could dance on rainbows.
Buy It: If you can imagine it, you can probably buy a decorative tape already printed.
When any indoor games need to be low energy:
Indoor Fun at Home: No Energy, No Space, No TV, No Problem
– SOCK GAMES –
The setup of this game can actually be as fun as playing it. Divide into two teams, create some sock balls from pairs of socks, and then each team creates its fort! Blankets, pillows, chairs, and couches are all fair game. Once you have built your elaborate fort, make sure all breakables are cleared away and start throwing! If a kid is hit then they are out for the remainder of the game. The last team standing wins. If you don’t mind your kids activity games to get crazy, this is the indoor game for you. It also translates well to an outdoor game – just make sure you bring in all the socks when you are done.
Sock basketball: Basketball games for indoor fun? You betcha! Make a few “snowballs” out of pairs of socks, get a laundry basket (or smaller receptacles for more challenge), and you’re all set. Kids can take turns shooting to score, and they could even take the risk of a longer shot worth more points!
More sock basketball variations: Each kids shoots the ball, and if they score they take a step back. The one to score from the furthest distance wins. Buy It: Nerf Sports TablePros Basketball
Sock hockey: Likely the safest way there is to play hockey – no helmets or even sticks required! We like to use a plastic laundry basket tipped sideways for the goal. Pick a kid (or adult) for goalie and try to toss the socks into the goal.
Sock bean bag toss: A great use for that large cardboard box you were about to recycle. Cut holes of various widths and shapes and assign point values to each one. Flip the box upside down and you’ve got an instant carnival-style bean bag toss. You can use soft socks to toss or small balls such as ping-pong. Little prizes totally optional.
Hot Potato: This indoor game can get a little giggly, so be warned! It is great though, because it is one of those games to play with kindergarten kids up through the older grade school ages. Simply get any soft ball or rolled up socks and underhand-toss it to a child. Instruct them to under-hand toss it to someone else as quickly as possible. Each child repeats this. When does this game end? Who knows? Just get rid of it! Buy It: Hot Potato Family
Hot potato variations: If you have enough children, play short segments of music while they toss the object, stop the music, and the last child to touch it when the music stops is out of the game. Repeat until there is only 1 child.
– MOVEMENT GAMES –
If you haven’t played this classic game, then you need to. Right now! This game is all about acting out a word or phrase using no spoken words whatsoever. It can be easily modified for any age group. For full instructions click here. Buy It: Charades Party Game – Family Charades.
Animal Charades: Before playing, first print off a page of animal pictures. Cut out each individual animal, fold each in half, and put them in a bucket. Begin the game by having the first child choose a piece of paper. The child then needs to act out the animal silently, while the other children try to guess what animal is being portrayed. Once the animal is guessed, choose another child who has not picked a piece of paper yet, and then they get to have their fun acting. Charades games are so versatile that they can be group games for 5 year olds, one on one games for 2 kids or even adult games with no kids at all. We like this game when we’re tired, too.
More variations: All secret words could come from a theme such as movies. Or play with a partner and compete against other sets of partners. Buy It: Animal Charades.
Duck, Duck, Goose (or Duck, Duck, Grey Duck for us Minnesotans!)
If you are looking for an easy game to play with kindergarten and preschool-aged kids, you found it! This fun indoor game needs about a minimum of 6 children to play it. Choose someone to be the Goose (or Grey Duck). All the other kids sit in a circle. The Goose then walks around the circle, tapping each kid on the head and calling, “Duck, duck, duck, duck…” Eventually, the Goose calls “Goose!” when tapping a child. The old Goose has to run around the circle and try to sit in the vacant spot before the new Goose can catch them.
There are two outcomes: 1) the old Goose is able to run around the circle and sit down in the new Goose’s spot without being tagged. A new round of the game begins. Or, 2) the old Goose is tagged before he/she gets to sit down in the vacant spot in the circle and must remain the Goose for the next round. Buy It: Try a less rambunctious version – Game Zone Duck Duck Goose.
You will need a level space indoors to create a bowling “lane” for this game. Collect items to act as pins such as empty water bottles or plastic cups. A small ball works best for indoor bowling; nothing heavy is needed. If there are a lot of kids, make it an indoor team game for kids by creating “leagues”. Buy It: KOVOT Foam Bowling Set.
Variations: Make a bulls-eye on the ground out of masking tape or one on a piece of paper. With each section worth different amounts of points, the kids can take aim and challenge each other.
If you’d prefer to get out of the house instead, try our list of Twin Cities bowling alleys.
Get your dancin’ shoes on! This game is best with at least 4 or more children playing and 1 additional person to stop the music. This is probably the most popular of the children’s group games for inside. Buy It – Musical Chairs And Party Games
Variations: If you don’t have enough chairs, try substituting pieces of colored construction paper taped to the ground. When the music stops, the child who gets both feet on first claims the spot.
Indoor Obstacle Course
This is one game that I absolutely loved as a kid. Depending on the skill level of the stations you create, obstacle courses can be fun games to play with kindergarten-aged children through adults. Here are some ideas for your course that you could put in any order:
- Put down pillows or couch cushions and the kids need to jump from one to the next. Alternatively, the kids could need to jump over the pillows or cushions!
- Climb over ottomans.
- Allow only jumping/somersaulting/crawling/crab walking from one area of the course to another.
- Put down some Balance Beams as described in game number 2.
- One of my personal favorites as kid – crawling through tunnels made from blankets or sheets hung over chairs and couches.
- Perform various exercises like 20 jumping jacks.
- Toss 5 sock snowballs from game number into laundry baskets. Throwing stuffed animals also works here.
- Crawl under tables
Variations: For older kids, time them to see how long it takes them to go through the whole course. Buy It: Papair Indoor Obstacle Course Game
If you are tired of the same old indoor group games for kids, shake up your game of hide-and-seek a little with only one person hiding and everyone else doing the seeking. In the game of Sardines, as soon as a seeker finds the hider, he or she must join the hider in the hiding spot. (It’s a fun challenge to discover a hiding spot that will fit your whole crowd!) The last person to find the spot becomes the hider for the next round.
Hide and Seek
This has to be one of oldest games on planet Earth. It ranks among my favorite indoor games for family get-togethers. Anyone from tot to grandma can play along. Variations of hide and seek are wonderful games to play in a big house, but can be scaled down for a smaller home. Buy It: Hide and Seek Puppy Game For Kids (This is a good way to modify hide and seek for smaller kids).
In the dark: The variations of this game can be truly fun for both kids and adults. Hide and seek in the dark (or dim room) can be a mildly spooky thrill. It really can be a lot harder to find someone, which appeals to older kids. As with all games, exercise caution and talk ahead of time about what’s off limits.
Start by selecting someone to be “Simon”. Next, kids must do whatever Simon says when starting a command with “Simon Says”, for instance, “Simon Says touch your nose.” If a child fails to do it before you finish saying before Simon gives the next command, then they are “out” of that game. You can also attempt to get children “out” by saying commands that don’t start with Simon Says. If a child follows that directions then they are “out”. The last kid that is “in” gets to be Simon. If you want to make the game difficult for older kids, simply issue commands faster and faster, and make the needed actions more and more difficult to complete. What I LOVE about this game is that it can be one of the most adult-controlled physical games for kids. They get some exercise, but you can keep the rowdy down as Simon. You can play this game when you are looking for 3 player indoor games.
Simon Says Draw or Color: A fun variation is to play Simon Says with drawing or coloring. For example: “Simon Says draw a circle. Simon Says draw a stick figure. Draw a tiger. Ohhh, Emily you’re out, you started to draw a tiger!” Buy It: Emoji Says Game.
The Floor is Lava
I had to add this idea to our list of indoor games for preschoolers because my four-year-old LOVES this game, which she learned from her older siblings. Any time, any where she is likely to yell, “The floor is lava! Mom you’re dead”. Sweet, I know. It is a very easy game to learn. When the floor is declared lava, no one is allowed to touch it. Players have to get where they are going by stepping on furniture and anything they can toss on the floor. Hint: I always declare that moms and dads have special lava shoes, so we can still walk on the floor.
Variations: Hey! You could make anything lava: “The fridge is lava.” “Mom’s chocolate is lava”. It could work?! Buy It – If you don’t want kids walking on the furniture but still want some physical activity games, you can use foam pieces in the board game version: The Floor is Lava – Interactive Game for Kids and Adults.
For games to play physically when you are sick of your own home:
Twin Cities Indoor Playgrounds and Play Areas Guide
– SCAVENGER HUNTS & TREASURE HUNTS –
If you haven’t done a Scavenger Hunt lately, then you just aren’t living! This was one of my favorite games with cousins when I was a kid. A scavenger hunt is all about finding items from a list in certain rooms or areas. Depending on how many items you want the kids to find and how many kids are a part of the game, you can either hand write the lists of items for each child, or type it up on a computer and print out copies. If the items will be in difficult hiding spots you can write clues next to each item on the list. The kids will love the adventure and challenge. Buy It: Scavenger Hunt for Kids.
Traveling? A scavenger hunt can be taken on the road rather easily and many attractions (museums and galleries in particular) offer their own versions.
Color & Number Hunts: Simplify the hunt for younger children. Instead of writing items on a list they may not be able to read, mark boxes of color on a white piece of paper and ask the children to find items around the house to match the colors. Add numbers into the mix if they have a grasp on those.
Puzzle Piece Hunt: This works best if you start with a relatively tidied-up space (which we find in short supply around our house.) Hide the pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle around the room and ask the kids to hunt for them. Bring the pieces back one at a time to fit together into the completed puzzle.
Glow-in-the-Dark Hunt: This awesome idea came from our reader, Denise, and I had to share! Denise said, “My kids love it when I hide glow-in-the-dark stones, turn off the lights, and let them see who can collect the most. They usually demand we repeat the game multiple times (ages 4 and 7).” I found some cute glow-in-the-dark stones on Amazon for a pretty reasonable $10.
Treasure Hunt with Clues
This indoor game usually gets all ages in our family involved. The younger ones often request their older siblings to design a treasure hunt that will lead them around the house in search of some token prize (usually fruit snacks). The challenging part is writing the clever clues that will lead the seekers from point to point until the treasure is located. Adults can be involved and make this as simple as necessary for younger kids to play if they cannot yet read. For instance, using picture clues instead of written clues.
Rhyming clues: Older kids might enjoy the extra challenge of creating clues that rhyme. Bonus: they’re working on their writing skills!
Many of these Fun Physical Games for Kids can be adjusted to be indoor games for kids.
– TABLE GAMES & BOARD GAMES –
Another one of those classic games for kids and adults alike. Click here for instructions on how to play. You don’t even need to buy dominoes, just print them and cut them out! Buy It: Cardinal Double 12 Color Dot Dominoes in Collectors Tin.
Unlike playing the game dominoes, you’ll need to purchase these from a store. This is one of those activity games for kids that can go all day on a rainy day. Simply set them up one after the other and tip them over!
Rube Goldberg machine
The objective of a Rube Goldberg machine is to complete a simple task using a complicated series of steps. (Yes, making it complicated is actually the fun part.) My kids have built these machines at home to compete at our local county fair. Your own Rube Goldberg machine doesn’t need to be nearly so involved. Your goal is to link together simple devices to produce a domino effect, in which each device triggers the next. Completing a simple task is optional and can depend on how much the children want to be challenged. Buy It: Rube Goldberg Machines
Our Favorite Board Games
Board games — the ultimate indoor games for kids. Below is a fun games list of some of our classic favorites. We know that families often look for indoor games for 4 players. Most of these board game activities for kids will accommodate four or even more players.
- Candy Land (Great color and counting game for preschoolers)
- Chutes and Ladders (Great counting game for preschoolers)
- Checkers (Add Chess & Checkers to your list of 2 player games indoor ideas)
When collecting marbles for this game, make sure to get 1 bigger marble for each kid that is going to play. First, make a circle 3 feet wide out of masking tape or string. Then place 3-5 marbles near the center of the circle for each kid that is playing. Then each child takes a turn, with their hands outside the circle, flicking their big marble out of their fist with their thumb towards the marbles in the center. If they knock any marbles out of the ring then they get to keep them and shoot again. If they miss, then they leave their big marble there until it is their turn again. The winner is the kid with the most marbles when all marbles are knocked out of the ring. Buy It: Toysmith Marbles in a Tin Box or add to the fun with a Marble Run.
A set of 10 dice can fit in your purse and you instantly have mini games to play at home or wherever you land. These are four of our favorite family indoor games you can play with just a set of dice, paper and pen. The links will take you to instructions on how to play.
- Beetle – the game is entirely based on random die rolls so any age can play.
- Yahtzee – great for kids starting in grade school.
- Dice chess – knowledge of chess basics is required to play.
- Farkle – knowledge of numbers and computation is required to play.
For when you need some place to go for indoor summer games and activities:
10 Free & Air-Conditioned Indoor Family Outings
– CARD GAMES –
Great Card Games for Families
Kid-friendly card games are an easy way to keep indoor games for kids on hand. While you can buy books with instructions for more game than you’ll ever be able to play, we recommend these four to start.
- War: (instructions). (See more ideas for indoor games for 2 players below).
- Crazy Eights: (instructions)
- Rat Slap: (instructions)
- Spoons: (instructions)
– PAPER GAMES –
Paper Games – Indoor Games For Kids Anywhere You Need One
These classic paper games are fun, super portable activities (all you need is a sheet of paper and a pen) and require no set up or clean up. If you are looking for indoor games for just two players, these are always good go-tos. What would you add to this list?
- Hangman – children do need to know their letters to play this game. You can start with simple, three-letter words to practice spelling skills or increase the challenge for older kids with multiple words or phrases. Give the kids a hint by telling them a category the word falls into (i.e. “Animal”).
- Dots and Boxes
Paper airplane landing strips
This is a great engineering game we love from What Do We Do All Day? Can you design the ideal airplane to land in the correct “landing strip?” Get creative with the landing space adjusting the size to fit the kids playing.
– QUIZ GAMES & SPOKEN GAMES –
This activity is all about coming up with themes and is among the family pastimes that are easily convertible to group indoor games. I’ve listed some theme ideas below to get you started. Within your chosen theme, take turns with letters of the alphabet and come up with things in the theme. For instance, in the theme “Animals”, you would have anteater, baboon, carp, duck, etc.
- Countries and US states
- Famous people (many sub-categories here, actors, actresses, etc)
- Household items
- Kitchen items
- Cartoon characters
Variations: Normally played in the car, start from “A” and say things that you see while driving or find each letter on a sign.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
For anyone looking for mini games indoors, this is the go to. I always love using this game to settle something when I don’t have a coin to flip. You can play once or keep busy for a long wait at the doctor’s office.
Variations: Try holding a tournament. You can get as fancy as you want, writing down the tournament brackets of all the children on paper, or having each child play all other children and see who gets the most wins. Buy It: Rock Paper Scissors Card Game – This is a good way to randomize the game for younger kids who can’t get the concept of picking something other than Rock.
I get excited just thinking about this game. The more kids the better. Line the kids up, think of a sentence of sufficient length, and see what that sentence becomes by the time each kids whispers it into the next kid’s ear. O.M.G. Funny. Buy It – Electronic Phone Game.
This activity is great one for indoors, car rides, and anytime you are waiting. Super easy to play – one person thinks of an object, and another person has 20 questions to guess what it is! Buy It: The Classic Game of 20 Questions
Variations: Instead of a thing, one person thinks of something in a category such as famous people or occupations.
Two Truths and a Lie
This game is a favorite of the short games for kids when a leader needs to facilitate introductions, but it doesn’t need to be used only with strangers. Each kid simply writes down two truths and one lie about oneself, and the others need to guess which one is the lie.
Variations – Try a game of two lies and a truth and guess the truth! Buy It – Truth & Lies Playing Cards.
Perfect for grade-school kids who need a break from the screens. Create a homemade game of jeopardy and suit the categories to the age group you’re playing with. You provide your own game questions and price levels. Materials used can be as simple as writing the categories on a white board or pin post-in notes to a bulletin board. Split kids into three teams, if possible, and rope an older sibling or adult into being the game host. For buzzers, use three different noise makers (we use small musical instruments such as shakers and whistles). Once buzzed, the team has a certain amount of time to come up with the correct answer. (via How to Adult).
Want to know how to write Indoor Games in Hindi: इंडोर गेम्स. Is that not the coolest?!
INDOOR GAMES FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES, CATEGORIZED
For inside games for preschoolers, we often want to think of fun physical games to tire the little ones out – especially when the weather is uncooperative for outdoor games. We have a few ideas for both physical games for children as well as quieter games for preschoolers indoors. Many of these simple games for preschoolers can be adjusted for older kids, too.
- Balance beam
- Touch-and-feel boxes
- Sorting – Sorting games make good color games for preschoolers.
- Keep the Balloon Up
Some of the best fun can be had with these games for school age kids. You’ll recognize many of these games to play with school-agers from your own childhood. We’ve suggested this list as great indoor games for kindergarten through third grade, but like all the games, they can be adapted for other ages.
- Scavenger & Treasure Hunts
- Simon Says
- Duck, Duck, Goose
- Hide & Seek
- Indoor Obstacle Course
- Musical Chairs
- Paper Games
Fun physical games to play in the water?
Family Exercise Fun: Twin Cities Indoor Waterparks and Pools
As kids get to middle school age, games can sometimes get a bit more complicated, but are still a great deal of fun. When your kids are looking for games to play at home with friends inside, they could try any of these games.
- Indoor Bowling
- Sock Basketball
- Board & Table Games
- Card Games
- Dice Games
- Rube Goldberg Machine
- Quiz Games
If you have more games and indoor activities ideas for kids, we would love to hear them. Leave us a message in the comments, send us an email or tag us on social media. Let’s get this list up to 100!!!
This article was originally published in 2016 by Tom Kingston
and has been updated periodically.