Backyard Discovery Blog

Active indoor activities: Winter alternatives to the back yard play set

During the chilly winter months, while the back yard play set is buried under inches of snow, it’s easy to become lethargic and lazy. There are, however, a lot of creative ways to keep your kids active and energized without having to go outside.

Here are some ideas for active winter fun while it’s too cold for running around outdoors and playing with the back yard play set.

Animal Charades

Your kids may love climbing, playing, and swinging on the monkey bars on their back yard play set, but it’s no fun when they’re covered in ice. Why not spend some time horsing around playing charades. Just like the traditional game, animal charades involves writing down the names of different animals on sheets of paper. Each player draws one from a hat and has to act out that specific animal. If you encourage your kids to be extra enthusiastic with their acting, they’ll get as tired as if they were playing outside.

Indoor Snowball Fight

Why not bring the outside in? To play this indoor snowball game, first crumple sheets of paper into “snowballs.” Assign roles: one person is the thrower and the other players wander around the room as if ice-skating, skiing, or just playing in the snow. Once a player gets hit with a snowball, he or she becomes “it” and has to try to catch the other players with snowballs. Just like the game of tag, the indoor snowball fight is a great active way to keep your kids entertained while doing a fun physical activity.

Interactive Reading Games

If your kids have energy to burn and also need to tackle some reading for school, try to create interactive reading games. You can create a rule to accompany the reading, like stand up every time you hear or read a specific word, or do a jumping jack when a certain character from the story speaks. This is a great way to get them moving while also enriching them with reading.

Seasonal Simon Says

Sometimes, the classics are simply the best. Take the lead with playtime and incorporate a winter twist to Simon Says. It could be “Snowman Says” or “Reindeer Says” or anything that hints towards the colder season. This will have the kids playing and moving without even thinking about the outdoor back yard play set that is out of commission until it gets warmer.

YMCA Alphabet

Put on your dancing shoes. Just like the classic “YMCA” song from the disco era, make a game forming the entire alphabet. Encourage your kids to get creative with how they form the letters with their own bodies, or working together with siblings and friends. Make it a contest and ask them to write out words. This kind of fun engages both the mind and body, and makes for some great photos while they’re at it.

Freeze Dance, Dance Party, any reason to dance

Turn up the tunes and boogie down. The rules of freeze dance are easy. Get the kids moving and grooving, then without notice, pause the music. Everyone must freeze in whatever position they find themselves in. Dancing is a great way for you and the kids to have fun and stay active without having to step out into the cold winter air.

Obstacle Course

When all else fails, do your best to recreate the fun of a backyard play set inside the house. Using furniture, pillows, tape, blankets, and your imagination, you can create a fun obstacle course for the kids. Incorporate games like following a tape maze through the house, into the kitchen, where a healthy snack might be waiting. You can also add the fun of hopscotch, three-legged races, and crab walks to make it more interesting–and more physical.

The winter season can make it difficult for you and the kids to remain active. But with some free time and a few good ideas, you can make sure everyone is as energetic throughout winter as they are in summer.

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