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Getting the Wiggles Out

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Andrew Maloney,MD

Winter break is almost here and temperatures will be cold, meaning children might be indoors more than we’d like.

To keep everyone from getting cabin fever, try the list of indoor activities below when the kids need a break from screen time or their usual routine. And don’t hesitate to join your kids in these games. Not only will your example encourage them to participate — you might even get a good workout, too!

  1. Get creative with tape. Use painter’s tape to create a road for toy cars and trucks. Older children may enjoy adding to the road with box buildings, parking lots, paper trees, toy people and animals. Create a spider’s web in an open doorway or hallway. Little balls also made of tape can become “flies” that the children can throw at the web.  Make a hopscotch board on the floor. Create letters, shapes or numbers and ask your child to do different movements to get there (hop to three, skip to the triangle, slither to letter J, jump, zoom, etc.)
  2. Make an obstacle course. Over a large area in the house use chairs, cushions, tape, books, and other household items to create an obstacle course. Create the course in a way that requires a wide variety of movement (jumping, crawling, balancing, hopping, running, skipping, rolling, climbing). Engage older children in helping create the course. Increase the challenge or difficulty based on your child’s age and ability.
  3. Play balloon games. It is amazing how much fun and entertainment a simple balloon can provide. Children of all ages can play “keep the balloon off the ground.” If you have multiple children, have them hit the balloon back and forth and keep track of their record. Children can do the “penguin waddle” with the balloon between their legs or two kids can put it between their hips and try to walk together. Older children like the challenge of being timed and having to beat their best time. Ask the child to balance the balloon on the back of their hand or lie on the ground with their legs up in the air and balance their feet in the air.
  4. Go on a scavenger hunt. Send your child on a scavenger hunt around the house for various objects (10 red items, five things that start with the letter “B,” your favorite animal or bath toy, a sock with the color green, 10 things you would take with you on a trip, etc.). You also can create a treasure hunt with clues that require the children to run throughout the house. Older children may enjoy creating their own treasure hunt for younger siblings.
  5. Try the classics. They became classic games for a reason, because children have enjoyed them for ages and yours will too. Most of the classics can be adapted to an inside version. Simon Says; basketball (a laundry basket can be converted to the hoop); three-legged race; bowling; soccer; wheelbarrow race, egg ‘n’ spoon race; limbo; parachute (use a bed sheet); red-light, green-light; hide-and-seek; twister, and any other game you enjoyed as a child.
  6. Dance party! When all else fails, turn up some fun, lively music and dance!