As I sit writing this it is 20 degrees outside with a light wind that makes it feel -50! It seems like a good day to post a variety of ways I keep my boys active when it’s too cold outside to get that gross motor play in just by playing in the snow (or green grass as we currently have). Following are just a few of the ideas I turn to. I need a few more in my arsenal now that my almost-eight year old is getting bigger. Any ideas?
We are very thankful to be members of our local Y, which has a wonderful assortment of ways for entire family to stay active. Our favorite is the Adventure Center. Gross motor play is easy in this room filled with foam blocks to build forts, obstacle courses and mazes. There is also a climbing structure for them to get creative in – follow the leader, keep away, tag – all keep my boys active and occupied! (This is not an advertisement, just a resource.)
In our greater Rochester, NY area there are also several fabulous places to take kids to explore, learn and spend a little energy that are not membership-based and not as expensive as the Y. Maybe there are some places like these near you that you haven’t discovered yet. To name a few: Jungle Jolt (more for the preschoolers), Jump Club, The National Museum of Play at Strong (one of our favorites), Rochester Museum and Science Center, Bounce it Out, Clubhouse Fun Center, Rock Ventures and a whole slew of others. I’ve only included links to the ones we haven’t tried. Look them up for ideas, and then search for something similar in your area.
When you’re a little home-bound it seems more difficult to get your kids moving. That’s when I pull out activities like running around the loop (we have a staircase in the center of our home and there’s a clear path through the dining room and living room on either side, creating a loop) Sometimes we challenge each other to run around a certain amount of times. Other times we play chase around the loop, or pretend we are bullet trains, sometimes making stops at certain stations. (great number order practice!)
Mom-created obstacle courses made out of whatever we can (like chairs, cushions, pillows), followed by child-created obstacle courses, which are always interesting and involve the use of their minds, are also a favorite around here. These are fun because it is easy to have a new course every time you have to pull this out of your hat. They can even work on things like balancing skills (walking a line formed by a jump rope) and coordination skills (stacking cups) while they have fun!
Sometimes we get creative and make signs for ‘stations’. This can involve simply running from station to station, using large numbers on a page taped to the walls in the house in a totally random order. It can also be more complex like doing fifteen jumping jacks at station #1, five push ups at station #2, climbing the stairs to do ten sit ups outside their bedrooms, etc. This gets them moving in more ways than one and surprisingly the boys love it!
Another activity to try is throwing baskets – wadded up newspaper creates a ball and the laundry basket is a great target. Try going smaller for older kids and larger for younger kids within reason. It goes without saying that adult supervision is a good idea so things don’t get too wild.
What about creating indoor scavenger hunts!
We haven’t had a dance party lately. We like to play our music loud and dance in the other room, sometimes. It just makes it a little different. With this you can also play different types of music, play music at different tempos and challenge each other to dance what you think the music sounds like – an elephant for example, or express how the music makes them feel. Its fun to see in action how kids hear music!
Yet another idea we turn to when we can’t play outside, is creating something and then incorporating it into our play. For example, we make tambourines, then have a parade through our house, or make dinosaur scales then pretend we’re dinosaurs.
Some of these activities involve me in their play, which is great because its time spent together creating memories. Other activities I pull out when I need to work on something like dinner. Of course, its impossible (at least it seems that way to me) to keep them occupied without my involvement for an entire day, but at this young age a good balance of independent play, mom-led play and child-led play on days we’re stuck inside makes the days go by so much more smoothly!
I’ve only listed a few indoor gross motor activities that I turn to. What are your favorites? Moms can always use more!