Here are 11 indoor games to generate fun and laughter for kids of mixed ages, from Hand in Hand Parenting founder Patty Wipfler.
Another day at home? Clock-ticking slowly? Children not able to play well?
Whether you have kids of multiple ages yourself, or you’ve gathered with family and friends, these games are a great way to turn around restlessness and enjoy your time together.
All of these games will win the children's hearts if and when the grownups can find creative ways to lose most of the time.That’s because children just love to find themselves faster, stronger, and cleverer than adults!
The result? Kids who join forces, laugh lots, bond and connect.
11 indoor games to play that build connection with kids of all ages.
Also called thumb wars, pea-knuckle or pea-knuckle war, this simple game is always a favorite. Players face off, extend a hand, and clasp four fingers leaving the thumb extended. After chanting, “One, two, three, four… I declare a thumb war!” to start play, each player then tries to pin the opponent's thumb and become the winner.
Place elbows on a table and square-off. Adults are quietly urged to put up a dramatic and mighty effort, and then lose.
Hard-boiled-egg butting contests
Boil one or two dozen eggs and cool them. One person takes the pointy end of their egg, and butts another person's egg on the fatter end. The egg that cracks first is out of the contest. The victory egg owner gets to take on another egg…and so forth. (Bonus—When all is done, there are lots of eggs for egg-salad sandwiches).
Hide and seek
Works best when grownups are discovered but cannot find the children, even if a hiding place is obvious. Don’t forget to encourage the children to jump out and surprise the adults! Hide and seek can also be played in teams or pairs. This is more challenging, but there's lots of occasion for cuddling up in small spaces as you hide.
Like Charades, but faster. Contestants divide up into teams, and each gets a chance to try to quickly mime up to four words they are given, while members of the other team guess what is being mimed. Reading is required for this one, or you can pair up if players are too young to read. This classic game has been updated and you can find it here. If you want to make a DIY version, try using these Charades word ideas and giving each player a minute to get through as many words as they can. Fast and hilarious!
Big people get on their knees on the carpet, little and medium-sized people are the riders. There can be races around the dining room table, races across the room, or general melees of horses and riders gently jostling one another, and riders changing horses or trying to “ride” standing up. You've got to move the furniture out of the way, and kneepads, lawn, or carpeting help immensely. Kids love to test their riding skills!
Get out some sheets and/or sturdy blankets, and give the little and medium-size children a chance to be swung in a sheet held by two or more people, or bounced (gently) into the air. Kids LOVE this. Read the children's faces to learn what's fun and what might be frightening—each child has their own unique tolerance level. Peek-a-boo during this game is fun, too—children can pull the sheet over their faces.
Pulling a child through the house as they sit on sheets and/or blankets is exciting for children! A child sits on the sheet, and a grownup pulls them around the house, going from room to room, providing as much speed as the child can enjoy, and as much speed as the grownup has the strength for! Sometimes multiple children pile on.
Intensify the fun by having a grownup on the floor trying and failing to unseat the children. Keep things light and playful so children don’t get scared. An affectionate but bumbling “unseater” works much better than a scary one!
Teams of people try to keep a tossed balloon in the air by working together. Sometimes this is played by a circle of people, all sizes, everyone holding the hands of the person next to them. (This is a great way to add more connection). Once the challenge of one balloon becomes less interesting, add in a second or even a third balloon.
Bring out all the pairs of athletic socks in the family. Everybody puts on a pair, and sits on the floor. Then, people try to grab one another's socks and hang onto them. It can get wild quickly. This game can be a wonderful icebreaker with groups of willing grownups.
Rearrange the room so that the big pieces of furniture have some space behind them, making a “bunker” for each team. (Put away knick-knacks and move lamps elsewhere. Find someplace else for the coffee table!)
Then fold all the socks in the family into balls, and create a couple of teams, with mixed ages.
Have each team gather behind their piece(s) of furniture and divide the “sock-ammunition” evenly. Team members each try to toss the socks over at the other team, or sneak up on the bunker and throw them at the team from the side.
Teams can also do bunker raids, grabbing the other team's “ammunition” and bringing it back to their bunker.
Small space? Give teams “bases” in the kitchen, bathroom or a bedroom and keep doors open as you aim, fire and raid.
This game is lively, to say the least!
Enjoy these indoor games
We hope you enjoy these indoor game ideas for kids of all ages. Try one the next time boredom is setting in. And, we'd love to know, what are your go-to connection games?
Need more ideas?
Did you know you can use games any time your child's behavior is beginning to get challenging? Read Dealing with Children's Behavior: 15 Great Games to Play When Your Kids Say No and discover how now.
Too tired to play? We hear you. Try these ideas when your child is asking to play and your energy is low – most don't involve leaving your chair! Games for Parents Who Are Too Tired To Play.