9 Games to Play Inside With Your Kids on Rainy Days

Some boredom busters to get you through the day.

by Ben Marx
Originally Published: 

When thunderclouds gather and rain makes playing outside impossible (at least if you’re trying to keep floors clean), there are still plenty of fun, goofy ways to pass the time inside with family and friends. Whether you’re huddling indoors in the midst of a tempest or a light drizzle, these games offer a quick and lighthearted way to wait out the inclement weather in the comfort of a warm living room or kitchen. Most only take a few minutes to set up, and they’ll tire kids out pretty fast, too.

Mirror Dance

Prep Time: 30 seconds (to find the right song)

Entertainment Time: 24-30 minutes, or about eight songs. It will get old for everyone after this.What You’ll Need: A speaker and source of music.

Mirror Dance is a loose, physical game for groups of four or more. First, pick a leader who selects a song and starts to dance any way they’d like. Every other player has to follow the leader’s moves exactly as if they were copying them in a mirror. At any point, the leader can yell “Free-For-All!” and let everyone freestyle until the song’s over. Afterwards, the next leader picks a new song, and so on until everyone gets to play the leader twice. No winners or losers, just exhausted dancers.

Arm & Leg Tag

Prep Time: None

Entertainment Time: 5-15 minutesWhat You’ll Need: An open room and the ability to balance and hop on one leg.

Arm & Leg Tag is the classic chase game with a twist: every player is “it” and the goal is to tag each person’s arms and legs. When a player’s arm or leg is tagged, they can no longer use it, so they’ll have to put their arms behind their back or hop on one leg. Tagging any other part of their body is allowed, but it doesn’t count towards anything. When all four limbs have been tagged, players are out of the game, and the last player standing with at least one arm or leg wins. Arm & Leg Tag is easy to play indoors, just watch out for furniture or sharp edges.

The Main Event

Prep Time: None

Entertainment Time: 10-15 minutesWhat You’ll Need:

  • An open space with enough room to keep your contestants separated.
  • A couch, where you call sit comfortably to call the action.
  • A timer or stopwatch.
  • Optional: A bell, scorecards, and a numbered sign to announce the upcoming round.

Make your own front-row seats to the hottest shadow boxing match with The Main Event. Have your two “fighters” stand in opposite corners of a cleared room, free of furniture or obstacles. As the announcer, introduce the two competitors with their own fun, made-up nicknames. Emphasize that they’ll only be hitting the air. They can’t go anywhere near each other, and if this becomes a concern you can create a line on the floor that each can’t cross. Once the “bout” begins, start a 30-second timer, let them show off their “moves” and give them a play-by-play of the action. Then proceed to the next “round” and call out that action. When everyone’s tired out, call an arbitrary winner.

Balloon Stomp

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Entertainment Time: 10-15 minutes, depending on how many balloons you blow up ahead of time.What You’ll Need: Balloons, string, scissors, and painters tape.

In Balloon Stomp, kids chase each other around the room trying to pop the balloons tied around each other’s ankles. Use painters tape to mark off a giant playing field in the middle of the room (popping a balloon out of bounds doesn’t count). Tie two balloons to each child, one around each ankle, and then either divide up the players into teams or declare it’s every person for themselves. Yell “Go!” to start the action, and have players run around trying to step on everybody’s balloons while preventing theirs from being popped. The more balloons, the more rounds in the game, the more fun everybody has.

Wax Paper Figure Skating

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutesWhat You’ll Need:

  • A roll of wax paper and tape (preferably duct) or rubber bands.
  • A slick(ish) floor.
  • Music.
  • Paper and a pen to make score placards.
  • Optional: Hats, props, and accessories.

Wax Paper Figure Skating is an easy way to get kids into the Olympic spirit with minimal set-up by turning your kitchen, dining room, or any smooth floor in the house into a skating rink. Move any furniture or obstacles to the side of the room and map out the rink with tape. Construct “skates” by cutting or ripping a large square of wax paper for each foot, and have the skater stand on it as you wrap the paper up to their ankle and secure it with either tape or a rubber band. Each skater can pick their own song and take some time to practice before heading out onto the “ice” for their big performance. Stumbles and laughs are guaranteed, but make sure that no one falls too hard.

As Seen on TV

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Entertainment Time: 10-20 minutesWhat You’ll Need: Various props like a small pile of toys, hats, and costume accessories.

In As Seen on TV, one player (usually the parent) serves as the “TV” and acts out what’s on the “screen.” Give one child the remote (real or pretend), and ask them to flip through the channels until they land on what they want to watch. Once they pick their favorite program, which could be anything from a cartoon to a sports game to a commercial, they’ll announce their choice and the TV will have to act it out. As the TV, you can use any props at your disposal, but you have to be every character on the show. After 10-15 seconds, ask the player with the remote to change the channel and pick a new show for the TV to act out. Once kids get the idea of the game, they can swap in to play the TV.

Balloon Tennis

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutesWhat You’ll Need:

  • Several balloons
  • Fly swatters: paper plates, duck tape, and popsicle sticks. Or, just a couple of hands
  • A piece of string and two chairs on which to tie it

Balloon Tennis is a simplified, less intensive version of the real sport that’ll still tire out any players. Make “rackets” out of flyswatters or by taping a popsicle stick to the back of a hard paper plate. Place two chairs a few feet apart in the middle of the room and tie the piece of string between them to represent the top of the net. Make sure it’s not too high or too low. Then, set your players up on opposite sides of the net and start the rally by tossing a balloon into the mix. You can use a variety of scoring methods either based on real tennis rules or made-up criteria.

Story Cards

Prep Time: About an hour to draw and ‘laminate’ the cards. Once the deck is made, however, there is no prep time.

Entertainment Time: Depending on the size of the deck, up to an hour.What You’ll Need:

  • Lots of 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils, scissors, and glue (optional).
  • A roll of wide packing tape.
  • A list (or pictures) of 50 or more objects, people, places, animals, etc.

Story Cards lets you craft an original story using homemade picture cards. Cut each sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper into 10 playing cards and draw a single item on one side of each. The items can be any person, place, or thing, but it helps to make them specific and personal. Shuffle up the deck and begin picking cards from the top to tell a story. The stories don’t have to make sense, and it might be challenging to find connections between cards, but that’s part of the improvisational fun.

Portrait Session

Prep Time: Just enough to find markers that actually work

Entertainment Time: 10-20 minutesWhat You’ll Need: A whiteboard or easel with markers or crayons, and a few people to stand in as “models.”

In Portrait Session, everyone in the room sits for a hastily-drawn “portrait” with different painters. Start by picking who’s going to draw first and who their subject will be. The drawer can tell their subject how and where to sit or what pose to assume, and can take requests for silly backdrops or items to add to the portrait. The key is drawing frenetically regardless of artistic skills; try to make the final portrait silly and unrealistic.

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