1. Parenting

Indoor Games to Play with Your Preschooler

Active Fun for Your Little One When You Can't Get Outside

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Your preschooler's brain may understand that it is raining and she can't go outside and play, but her body still wants to go a mile a minute. Young children by nature are active creatures and while it's nice to have a relaxing day at home where you aren't on the go, you need to give your child the chance to blow off some steam. Here are some fun games that will keep you both from going stir crazy.

Everybody Loves a Parade!

It's time to celebrate! And it doesn't matter what. Pull out the dress-up gear, whether it's old Halloween costumes, too-big clothing from mom and dad's closet or even silly hats and scarves and march around the house, banging pots and pans, waving flags and pulling dolls and toys in a wagon. Anything can serve as an accessory -- wooden spoons, feather dusters, even cans filled with coins or beans. Get everyone involved -- younger and older siblings and even pets for a day of fun.

Home Run

Normally I'm not an advocate of playing ball in the house, but this version of indoor baseball is sure to be a hit.

Your gear should include crumpled up pieces of newspaper (ball) (cover with aluminum foil if it won't stay together), an empty paper towel roll (bat) and some pillows to serve as bases. Move the coffee table in the living room so you have enough space and play ball!

Animal Antics

Thomas Northcut
Thomas Northcut

This one will put to use your child's large stuffed animal collection. Gather up as many animals as you can and put them in a large bag or pillowcase. As your hide your eyes, let your preschooler pull out an animal and then put it back. See if you can guess which animal she chose as she acts out what it is. Take turns. If you don't have a lot of stuffed animals, just let her choose in her head, or, draw or cut out pictures of animals on cards and take turns choosing from the deck.

Fishing for Fun

This one requires a little advance planning. Cut fish shapes out of cardboard or sturdy paper and attach a paper clip to each one. On each fish, write a different activity, for example: "5 Jumping Jacks" "Jog in Place" "Touch Your Toes" or "Skip in a Circle". Place the fish in a large bowl or in a cornered off area on the floor. This is your "pond."

Take a long pole (a yardstick will do) and tie a string with a magnet attached to the end. Let your child "go fishing." Let her complete each activity as she reels in her catch.

Brilliant Beanbags

Beanbags are great for many activities. Lightweight and unlikely to hurt anyone, they are perfect for little hands that are learning how to throw and catch.

Fun games include:

  • Beanbag Toss: Set up a series of targets to throw a beanbag into -- you can use a laundry basket, pots, bowls even your shoes. Stagger the goals at different distances and see who can hit their mark the most.
  • Beanbag Balance: Who can walk the farthest with a beanbag or two on their head? On their elbow? On their knee? Can you run with a beanbag on all of these body parts? Can you jump?
  • Beanbag Throw: See how many times your preschooler can clap her hands in between throwing and catching the beanbag. Can she do it with her eyes closed?

Time for a Treasure Hunt

Again, you'll need to plan a little bit in advance for this activity. Gather together a bunch of small trinkets, new or old like cars, books, snacks and stickers and hide them in different places all around the house. Draw up a map so your preschooler knows where to look. Include fun instructions like "Take 5 backwards steps through the kitchen" or "Look in the place where you keep things you put on your feet" (read to her or draw pictures if she can't read yet). Let the final instruction lead her to a prize -- maybe a special snack or the couch where you can cuddle and read a book together.

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