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There can be no greater challenge for parents than trying to keep their children occupied indoors in constructive ways and not lose their sanity in the process! Here are ten remarkable indoor learning games that can drive away boredom and tame the abundant restless energy of any child. The 4th one is deliciously messy and your child will love it. So join the fun through conversation, creative exploration and some problem solving. Enjoy!

question markGame #1: Guess What?

Take a shoe box or other cardboard box with a lid. Wrap it up creatively. Cut a hole in the side big enough for your child to put his hand inside. Place an object inside and have him reach in without looking and try to guess what is inside! Let everyone take a turn before you switch out items? This stimulates and develops skills through sensory play.

Game #2: Walk the Path

Who said hopscotch was only an outside activity? You can use masking tape to lay out a path for children to follow, including some creative hops and beam walking! Use your imagination and get them walking and hopping along the way! Don’t forget to add some jumps and kicks to enhance the gross motor skill development. Turn it into an alphabet walk by placing an occasional letter along the way for the child to identify, say out loud and collect alphabet letters/cards. An exciting variation to this is to add some challenges (obstacles) along the way for your child to scale. For example, a box to crawl through, a ball to bounce X number of times, an object to step over, or go around. Add some music and quicken the pace each time for the course to be completed.

Game #3: Did You Hear?                   child listening

Collect all sorts of things in a bag, box, or basket. Put all the items out on a table. Let your child identify what she sees and speak it out loud. Have her close her eyes and then take one item away. Can she identify it? Make it fun as she tries to guess what is missing. Continue until all items are gone. This strengthens the memory senses and teaches social cooperation by working together. For a twist, put alphabet letters or numbers in the bag.

Game #4: Delicious Letters

Make a batch of healthy organic pudding. Give your child a scoop on a plate, spread it out and challenge him to write the letters of his name or simple words in the pudding. Though he will want to eat the nutritious pudding, he will get some finger licking writing practice in the process!

Game #5: When I Grow Up!                                                                                                                       girl playing doctor

Creatively display an assortment of tools, clothes and objects that correspond with different “jobs” and “hobbies” that an adult may enjoy. Discuss each one with your child pointing out the benefits of each, what problems they might have doing their jobs etc. This gives an opportunity for your child to articulate his thoughts. Remind him that people can have more than one job or hobby so allow him to explore and consider several. Ask him which one he likes and let him “pretend” doing that particular job or hobby. Why not play along with him? The more the merrier.

Game #6: Mama & Baby Bear Match Up

This creative and fun game can be done in a variety of ways to match upper and lower case alphabet letters. Use 3 x 5 index cards or card stock to write uppercase letters on. Create a matching set with lowercase letters then spread them out on the table and have your early learner match pairs. For a more challenging activity, hide a set number of uppercase cards around the room and help your child find the matching lowercase to make a pair. For twist, take turns hiding the cards. Just don’t forget where you hid them!

treasure boxGame #7: Hidden Treasures!                                                                                            

With a little bit of planning you can lead your child on a alphabet/number treasure hunt. Find a special box to make into a “treasure box”. Put a nice sticker, candy, or other item your child would really enjoy inside the treasure box and then hide it. Plan a simple alphabet map to lead your child to the treasure box. For example, have her start at letter “a” where she is instructed to take 10 steps to the refrigerator and turn right. There she will find the “b” card giving simple instructions to guide her to letter “c”, where she finds another instruction card to lead her to letter “d”, and eventually she will find her way to the treasure box. Think how excited she will be when she opens the box to find her special reward! Make it exciting and creative. This teaches the importance of following instructions and social skills when working together to find the treasure box.

Game #8: Amazing Animals!

Cut out pictures of animals from magazines and other resources. Laminate or paste onto card stock or construction paper. Select the pictures according to the alphabet (alligator, bear, cat, dog, elephant, etc.). Lay the pictures on the floor and help your child put them in alphabetic order. For variety, hide one or two of the pictures around the room and have your child try to find them. To make it more challenging, create two or more pictures for each alphabet letter then mix them up and have her put all the animals that begin with the letter “a” in one pile, ‘b” in another pile and so on.

Game #9: Puppet Show!                                                                      Puppet Show

Find a simple pattern to making puppets out of socks, paper bag, and so forth or if you like to sew make some puppets out of cloth. They are simple to do, no matter the materials used. Choose a story that your child is familiar with or create one of your own. Plan an area for the “puppet show” (puppeteer is under the table with puppet coming up above it, decorate a large cardboard box into a puppet stage, etc), welcome your guests, and begin production! This activity can take up a whole week of planning and preparation for the “big show”! Why not invite grandparents and serve popcorn!  This activity teaches the positive trait responsibility by teaching how to work together to plan the puppet show out and make it a great success!

Game # 10: Teacher of the Day!

Is a child too young to teach? I’m sure you’ll agree the answer is no. Being teacher of the day can help a child at any age to help build confidence and articulation no matter the subject. For topics you could let the child write down something she wants to teach about. Put them in a basket or bag Cute pupil dressed up as scientist against black wall with math equationand let her draw out a teaching topic. Then help her prepare her presentation, with step-by-step simple instruction, colorful props and materials, and then the final touch will be a special invitation to the members of the family and friends to the presentation. Have everything set up for the big event and make it special with cookies and lemonade for all the guests. Make this a regular monthly event and watch your little teacher show you what she has learned as she teaches you! This works even better with more than one child or even a classroom.

 These are just a few of the many indoor games that you can play with your child to increase positive social kills, build confidence and increase self-esteem. Plus you will strengthen parent/child bond and create life-long memories that he can talk about for many years to come.

 Please share with us how these activities work for you and any that you have thought of on your own. We look forward to hearing from you.