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Games & skillbuilders

Cabin Fever: 9 Indoor Activities for Hyperactive Kids

By Amanda Morin

1.6kFound this helpful

Being stuck inside can give any kid cabin fever. But if your child struggles with hyperactivity or impulsivity, she may seem to be literally bouncing off the walls. Here are nine indoor activities that can keep even the most active child entertained.

1.6kFound this helpful
Close-up of a boy peeking into a drawer
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Scavenger Hunt

Come up with a list of hard-to-find or hidden things in your house and give it to your child. Searching for the items can help keep her body and brain moving. Just be sure you match the quest with her age and abilities. Here are some age-specific ideas:

Variation for preschoolers: Use pictures to show your child the things she should be trying to find.

Variation for grade-schoolers: Write down a list of things for your child to look for, but leave some open-ended, such as “something you can draw with.”

Variation for tweens: Use riddles as clues. For example: Find something that gets wetter the more it dries. (A towel)

Close-up of a child gathering together bubble wrap
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Fun With Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap can inspire all kinds of activities. Roll out the bubble wrap carpet and let your child walk the “runway.” Make a hopscotch grid with squares of bubble wrap. Or use permanent markers to write letters on the bubbles, and challenge your child to see how quickly she can “pop” the alphabet. You can even let her paint the bubble wrap and then press paper down on top of it. When the bubbles pop, she’ll have a spectacular “bubble print” painting.

Close-up of a young boy holding a big balloon indoors
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Balloon Volleyball

This game couldn’t be easier. Blow up a balloon and use a piece of tape to mark the center line or “net” on the ground. Balloon volleyball is a great game for two or more kids, but it can work for just one. If there’s nobody else around, have your child play both sides. She can run back and forth over the line to hit the balloon before it lands on the ground.

Variation for tweens: If you do have more than one child playing, you can add more balloons to make the game more challenging.

Close-up of a girl playing her own version of indoor hopscotch
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Hallway Hopscotch

All you need for this active game is some free floor space, a penny to throw in the squares, and painter’s tape. (It’s like masking tape but easier to peel off when you’re done.) Use the tape to make a hopscotch grid. Have your child make tape numerals in each box. If you and she are feeling creative, you can even make the grid with circles, triangles or diamonds instead of the traditional boxes. Then start hopping!

Young boy standing on the living room couch with his arms raised
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Word-Building Charades

Your child has probably noticed that some letters reach above the middle space on her lined paper, some stay inside it and some dip below it. In this game, you translate the way letters look into body positions. For tall letters, you jump up; for medium-sized ones, you stand in place; and for ones that drop down, you crouch. So for bag, you jump up for b, stand still for a and crouch for g.

To start playing, write down a list of words. Then take turns choosing one and acting it out to see if the other person can guess what it is.

Close-up of a young boy lying on the floor with a soccer-sized ball
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Water-Bottle Bowling

With five to 10 empty plastic water bottles and a soccer ball (or another ball about the same size), you can create a home bowling alley in your hallway. Use tape to mark where each bottle should go. And if you can, pour a little sugar, salt, sand or even unused kitty litter into each bottle so they don’t tip over too easily.

Variation for tweens: Your child might enjoy “glow bowling” in the dark! Just add a glow stick to each bottle and turn the lights out.

Group of friends playing their own version of twister using colored rings
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Twister

This classic game is a great way to keep your child moving, help her work on gross motor skills and give her practice telling left from right. If you don’t have the game, you can use colored paper or other supplies to create your own grid (check Wikipedia for a description you can use as a basis).

Close-up of a girl scrunching a piece of paper into a ball shape and getting ready to throw it
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Indoor Snowball Fight

When it’s too cold outside to have a real snowball fight, have one inside instead. And don’t worry about having to clean up melted snow or broken lamps—you can use nerf balls, balled-up (clean) socks or even crumpled-up paper for your snowballs.

Designate a safe space and decide which pieces of furniture are OK to hide behind. You can even use cardboard boxes to make forts. Then have at it! One note of caution: You may want to consider setting a time limit to help keep your preschooler or grade-schooler from getting overexcited!

Two girls playing tambourines and dancing with abandon
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Dance Party

Don’t forget the power of music to help your child burn off some extra energy. Put together a playlist of music your whole family can enjoy. Then challenge everyone to dance, dance, dance! Younger children might enjoy dancing with props, like scarves.

Variation for tweens: Play a game of Freeze Dance. When the music stops, everybody has to freeze in their current dance pose. If you move, you’re out.

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About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.

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