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35 Fun Things to Do Indoors When It’s Too Hot (or Cold) Outside

by | Oct 13, 2023 | Things to Do

Every season has its wonders, but also its bad days—times it’s just too hot or cold outside to get the family out and explore. Good news: There are tons of fun things to do inside your house or apartment that will develop the 5 C’sthe skill areas at the heart of the Begin Approach to helping kids thrive in school and life. 

The Short Cut 

  • There are 5 C’s that help kids thrive in school and life: Core Skills, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Curiosity, and Character
  • Going outside can be a great way to build the 5 C’s, but when it’s too hot or cold there are plenty of indoor activities that entertain kids while helping them learn
  • Fun things to do tap into kids’ natural love of play, improving communication, promoting independence, encouraging relationship-building, and more

From Curiosity-building games to puzzles that hone Critical Thinking to activities for building Core Skills, Creativity, or Character, scroll down for 35 ideas your kids will love.

Core Skills Activities

Joyful Indoor Activities for Kids: Core Skills, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Curiosity

1. Write a story. Have older kids pen a tale, then ask them to illustrate it. Younger kids can draw a picture of their favorite thing to do.

2. Let them go swimming. In the bathtub that is. Put on bathing suits, fill up the tub, toss in some toys and let them splash around. This is mostly for fun—but for younger kids, this kind of gross motor activity is a Core Skill that supports their development!

3. Listen to a podcast or audiobook. Listening to audiobooks and podcasts is a great way to support the development of language and literacy. And they can be a great way to help kids settle down for a few minutes!

4. Play freeze dance. Put on some dance music, encourage your kids to get groovin’ as hard as they can—then stop the music at a random point and your kids have to freeze in place. This is good for both their bodies and listening skills!

5. Have a hula hoop contest. See who can go the longest—and bonus points for extra tricks like jumping while hooping!

6. Bust a move. Put on some tunes from the ’80s or ’90s and host an old-school dance party! It’s the perfect way for kids to get some exercise, work on motor skills and burn off energy.

7. Write in a journal. Take 10 minutes out of your day to have a journal session. If the thought of writing in a journal isn’t appealing to your kids, then encourage them to simply write down three things they’re grateful for that day.

8. Go bowling. Set up a makeshift bowling alley in your basement by lining up empty plastic bottles and using a tennis ball to knock them down.

Creativity Activities

Child painting a rainbow for an indoor art show

9. Have an indoor picnic. Let your kids choose the menu, pack a basket and set up a blanket on your living room floor.

10. Make friendship bracelets. Whether you use beads, embroidery floss or soda can tabs, friendship bracelets are super fun (and time-consuming) to make.

11. Sing karaoke. Don’t have a karaoke machine? Just pull up the lyrics on your computer and go to town!

12. Make shadow puppets on the wall. A flashlight, fingers, dolls, and stuffed animals are all you need to make characters come to life!

13. Break out the coloring books. There’s nothing like getting the whole family to sit at the kitchen table with some crayons and blank coloring sheets.

14. Pretend you’re at a beauty salon. Take turns giving your kids a makeover (hairdo, makeup, outfit and all!), then let your kids give you one. Have a fashion show to show off your new looks!

Ad. Little girl holding package with Sesame Street characters reading All Aboard! Managing Big Feelings. Text reads: Need Help with BIG Feelings? Explore Them with Elmo. Ages 2+. Illustration of Elmo waving on side.

15. Make puppets from socks. Take an old sock and create your very own puppet using materials you have at home. Glue on its face with construction paper or draw it on with paint! Make a few then have your very own puppet show.

16. Have an art show. Tape large paper to the wall and get out the art supplies. Hang the masterpieces up for a mini-art show.

Critical Thinking Activities

Toddler doing puzzle

17. Create a scavenger hunt. Give the kids the first clue, which will lead them to the next clue and so on. Have some sort of “treasure” for them to find at the end, or a treat such as a coupon for an ice cream sundae, which they can cash in that evening.

18. Play a board game. It’s a ton of fun to introduce your kids to a classic from your own childhood, like Sorry or the Game of Life.

19. Complete a puzzle. This is also a great way to encourage teamwork. Have the whole family work together to complete a puzzle—the feeling of accomplishment afterward is priceless!

20. Ask your kids riddles. Here are 30 to get you started…with answers.

21. Build a fort. Use blankets, chairs, pillows and even sofa cushions to create your own fort. Assembling a fort requires lots of problem-solving and teamwork—great skills for your kids to work on!

22. Hide and seek is a classic for a reason! Keep in mind that your kids will stretch their brains (and bodies) more if they’re the ones looking for you. Happy crouching, parents!

23. Build together. Engage your kids with challenges. Who can build a tower of blocks, Legos, or Duplos taller than they are? Who can build a house that looks like theirs? Who can build their favorite character from a TV show or movie?

24. Play cards. You likely already have a deck on hand and there are endless games for kids of all ages. Start out with Crazy Eights or Concentration for younger kids and let the older ones play Rummy or poker. Learning to follow the rules in a game and strategize to win is a great way to build Critical Thinking skills!

Curiosity Activities

25. Make slime. If you’re not too worried about a little mess, whip up a fluffy version with this recipe.

26. Set up a spa day. Cut up some cucumber slices for your eyes, give everyone a robe (or comfy pajamas), and spend a few hours lounging around the house. Make a DIY face mask, paint fingernails and toenails, and sip hot chocolate or tea.

27. Make a classic craft. These easy DIY projects will teach kids all about what they’re making, what they’re making it out of and develop their fine motor skills (via all that cutting and gluing).

28. Conduct a science experiment. Using household items like food coloring, bottles, and pencils, you can conduct simple experiments that are part craft, part science and tons of fun!

29. Make your own ice cream. It’s actually super easy, and it will help your kids learn how a few simple ingredients come together to make one of their favorite treats!

Character Activities

Puppet show on brown background

30. Put on a show. Have your kids come up with a script and costumes (or use puppets!). Then grab a seat on the couch and watch the performance. Role-playing and pretending are great ways to build Character skills like empathy!

31. Or make a movie. Let your kids use your phone (for filming purposes only) and have them act out a story with their toys (dolls or Lego people make especially good characters.) Send the finished product to your family and friends.

32. Look at old photographs. Get out your old photo albums and have fun reminiscing with your kids. Or if most of your photos are digital, let your kids help you organize them into photo books.

Ad. Little girl holding package with Sesame Street characters reading All Aboard! Managing Big Feelings. Text reads: Need Help with BIG Feelings? Explore Them with Elmo. Ages 2+. Illustration of Elmo waving on side.

33. Have a family movie night. Pop some popcorn to make it a true family movie night, and talk about the characters’ emotions—and how the movie made your family feel—afterward!

34. Have a tea party. Pinkies up from the living room! Get out your nicest china, set the table all fancy and put on your Sunday best.

35. Write letters. Encourage your kids to write their loved ones homemade letters or cards. Family members will love receiving these letters in the mail—especially their grandparents.

Keep the Fun Coming with Begin

Photo illustration showing photos of kids using the Begin brands: Little Passports, HOMER, Learn with Sesame Street, and codeSpark

Still too hot or cold outside and you’ve run through all these activities? At Begin, we create award-winning solutions for keeping kids learning indoors. Our products tap into the power of play to excite kids and build the essential skills they need to get their best start toward achieving their fullest potential.

Whether your kids prefer playing games to learn reading and math in our HOMER app, building video game levels and solving puzzles with coding in codeSpark, exploring feelings with favorite Sesame Street characters in Learn with Sesame Street, or exploring culture, science, the arts, and more through hands-on activity kits with Little Passports, we’ve got your inside days covered!


Dr. Jody Sherman LeVos
Jody has a Ph.D. in Developmental Science and more than a decade of experience in the children’s media and early learning space.