Best games to play indoors with children

(20 Posts)
HannahGMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Mar-20 09:30:06

However well-stocked your games cupboard is, there's no doubt that following government advice to stay indoors is going to be a challenge - for all of us.

With schools now closed across the UK, it’s easy to feel pressured to take on the burden of educating your children yourself - but in reality, there are only so many worksheets you can do in one day.

In an effort to spread a little joy and help us all survive self-isolation, we’ve rounded up a list of Mumsnetters' tried and tested games that are fun for children of all ages. If you have any other ideas you’d like to share, please post them on the thread so we can add them to the list.

So without further ado, here are the top Mumsnetter-recommended games you can play indoors with the whole family, perfect for busting some self-isolation boredom.

1. The bubble wrap challenge

Recommended lots of times for all different ages of children, the bubble wrap challenge is simple, and won’t break the bank. All you have to do is lay the bubble wrap out on the floor, and challenge your children to walk across it while popping as few bubbles as possible. Bonus points for the fact your kids will simply have to stay quiet in order to hear the bubbles popping.

“Take a length of bubble wrap packaging material, the length should be around 4-5 feet long. The players take turns walking the length of the bubble wrap. The first one to walk the entire length without popping any bubbles is the winner.”

“Get a roll of bubble wrap and lay along the floor. Kids have to take turns to walk along it without popping any bubbles. Keeps everyone quiet as they all listen intently for pops!”

Suitable for: 3+

Get some bubble wrap here

2. Make your own household obstacle course

Hours of entertainment for your kids and you, an obstacle course can be adjusted slightly from day to day to ensure it stays new and challenging. Get them crawling under clothes airers, throwing tennis balls into laundry baskets, and hopping on the spot - the possibilities are endless. An excellent way to get them up and moving, and if you’re feeling competitive, you could time their laps and have a leaderboard, too.

“An obstacle course made out of sofa cushions to climb over, a blanket to scramble under, something to jump across, a tower of bricks to build… We used to have an old fashioned wooden clothes horse, with a blanket over it was a tunnel to wriggle through! All great fun.”

Suitable for: any age (if you can get your teens involved, bonus points to you)

3. Download the Heads Up app

Ideal for children of any age, Heads Up is a great family-friendly app-based game which is a lot like charades. Choose from lots of different rounds, including acting out animals and singing songs but with no words, and get your whole family to help you guess the word on your screen.

“We played the Heads Up game (mobile app) over Christmas and it was brilliant. Did get a little loud though, but that might just be my family who seem to be incapable of using indoor voices when all together.”

Suitable for: 12+, but there is also a kids version available

Download here on Apple App Store

And here on Google Play Store

4. Make this dustpan-and-brush-friendly sand alternative with rice

If the idea of sand play fills you with dread (understandable), Mumsnetters present this alternative. Brightly coloured and easier to clean up, this rice trick is said to be popular right up to primary school age (if you managed to get your hands on any rice at all, that is).

“Get a bag of cheap rice, put a quarter of it in a tub with a secure lid, add a few drops of food colouring and then put the lid on and shake like crazy. Repeat this three times with a different colour each time. Mix it together and spread it out in a deep tray (we use a potting tray from the garden centre), and add some spoons, pots, funnels etc. It's a bit like playing with sand but easier to clean up - and it dries really fast so can be ready to play with in a few minutes. DS3 loved it at 18 months and still likes it now at nearly six.”

Suitable for: 18 months+ (with supervision, we reckon)

Related: the best audio books for kids

5. Get them to decorate your dinner table

If you have mini Van Goghs living in your house, get creative and let them decorate a paper table cloth to use at mealtimes. Whether you go for coloured pencils or felt tips, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon, and you’ll see them glowing with pride when you all sit down to admire it in the evening.

“One good idea was when I gave them paper tablecloth and a load of felt pens to decorate it while I was getting food ready. Otherwise, you leave the room for a second and they've all scarpered…”

Suitable for: all ages, depending on how, erm, nice you want it to look

Get paper tablecloths here

6. The sink or float game - and other science experiments

Less - ahem - involved than you might think, there are lots of cool scientific tests and tricks you can do from the comfort of your own home. Whatever age your children are, there are some great options here, and one Mumsnetter has a recommendation for even the tiniest of tots.

“The ‘sink or float’ game - just gather up lots of small objects and guess if they will sink or float in a bath of water.”

Suitable for: all ages

7. Dance along to Pop See Ko or Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube

YouTube is a huge source of entertainment, and shouldn’t necessarily be shied away from - particularly with such a wealth of exercise content available. Whether you throw on Cosmic Kids Yoga (if you haven’t tried it yet, you really should) or just some music to dance around to, you could even turn it into musical statues or musical bumps if you’re feeling creative.

“There are some great kids exercise and dance videos on YouTube. We did a good one yesterday called Pop See Ko, just to get them moving when it's raining outside. Got a good half hour of crazy silly dancing.”

“I also put YouTube on the big TV and put on toddler dances and exercises, and we both jump around and dance to them. She loves this and it tires her out for bedtime.”

Suitable for: 2+

8. Get your hands on Dobble

If you've not heard of Dobble yet, you're late to the party – this game can accommodate anywhere from two to eight players, and is easily accessible for any age. Plus, they do great spin-off versions, including Harry Potter and Finding Dory.

“We just got Dobble and my almost 4yo plays it with her big sister. It's the kind of game that is timeless.”

Suitable for: 4+ (depending on your child, it may be a little tricky for some 4-year-olds)

Buy Dobble here

Related: take a look at some more great board games

9. Build your own cities in the comfort of your own living room

If the cars and trains are losing their shine after a few days’ play, you can change it up a bit by marking out roads and tracks on your floors. Before you panic about the permanence of this particular game, rest assured that Mumsnetters recommend marking everything out with tape, so you can simply pull it all up at the end of the day.

“Take masking tape or electrical tape and make your own roads on the floor so they can drive their cars about. My kids love that.”

Suitable for: 2+

Get some masking tape here

10. That cereal box game

Whether you know it from your time in the Brownies or, more likely, some more raucous parties of your twenties, the cereal box game is great fun and will get everyone laughing. For the uninitiated, take a full-size (empty) cereal box, and take it in turns to bend down and pick it up with your mouth - you must not use your hands or touch the floor with your hands or knees. Once everyone has had their go, cut or tear a bit off the top of the box, and try again.

“Take turns to pick up an empty cereal box standing on the floor using only their mouth. They cannot touch the floor with hands or knees either! Once everyone has a go at full height, cut two inches off the top. Then repeat until you're down to the bottom of the box and have one or maybe two winners.”

“Cereal box game- box in the middle, pick it up without using hands. Box gets smaller after each turn.”

Suitable for: all ages, particularly fun for older kids

11. Try Monopoly Deal

Mumsnetters love Monopoly Deal; it has all the fun of the real Monopoly but goes on for about a tenth of half the time. Perfect if you don’t have the time (or the energy) for all-out board-flipping Monopoly.

“Monopoly Deal is great – it's a shorter version of Monopoly played with cards.”

“We are currently going through a craze of Monopoly Deal courtesy of a recommendation on here. It's a card version of the board game and is fast and cut-throat grin.”

Suitable for: 8+

Buy Monopoly Deal here

Related: the best tablets for kids, according to Mumsnetters

12. The chocolate game

An excellent way to satisfy a sweet tooth (but make it competitive), the chocolate game is particularly great if you have more than one child to entertain. Get a dice, some gloves, a hat, a scarf, a big bar of chocolate and a knife and fork. We’ll let this Mumsnetter explain the rest.

“What about the chocolate game? Put a plate out with a cold bar of chocolate on. Take it in turns to throw a dice. If anyone throws a 6, they put on the gloves, hat and scarf as quickly as poss and can start eating the chocolate with the knife and fork. They keep going until someone else throws a 6, and then they take over.”

Suitable for: 4+

What games will you be playing while you’re at home with the kids? Let us know below, and we will make sure to add your best ideas to this list.

Mumsnet carries some affiliate marketing links, so if you buy something through our posts, we may get a small share of the sale (more details here).

OP’s posts: |
DuckyMcDuck Thu 26-Mar-20 11:20:43

I can't believe you haven't included Sleeping Lions grin

Toastie7 Thu 26-Mar-20 11:53:57

I spy using colours for younger children, Chinese whispers, the memory game where you put random items on the table and the children have to remember what is there, then an adult takes one away under a cloth and hides it in a bag and the children have to work out what is missing, then the children can have a go at taking something away, the game where each person has a piece of paper and writes part of a story then fold it so it's hidden and pass it on for the next person to write part of the story with 2 famous people/ characters, where they met, what they did, what they said, what happened in the end

RidingOn Thu 26-Mar-20 12:18:53

Very useful, thank you Mumsnet.

Also (I don't want to do companies' advertising for them, but in appreciation of the happy hours spent):

Quirkle. It's great for 6 year-olds up to adults, and is quite educational if you want it to be. Or just fun. We alter the rules and just count up how many quirkles each player gets, rather than calculating each score. Can be played alone or with up to 4 players.]]e

Sequin Art. My 9-year old granddaughter loved this, and it it's quite therapeutic, in the way that jigsaws are - keeps your mind off other things and can be done a little at a time. It's very simple, you have a pattern and you arrange the sequins on the pattern, fastening them down with a pin. My granddaughter preferred to choose her own colours but found the pattern useful. Unfortunately, the link below says the place that makes it is closed, but you can buy them from Argos or Amazon still, I think.

Also, the whole family likes doing exercise videos - there are plenty on YouTube for free.

I came on here to ask if anyone knows of horsey games (online or board) for a 9 year old who loves horses and animals, and for other games for an 11 year old who has varied interests?

Moominmammaatsea Thu 26-Mar-20 15:38:22

Bird / Bug / Ocean / Monkey / Cat / Dog Bingo (Magma for Laurence King). We’ve currently got the bird, bug & monkey versions but we’re going for a full house (pardon the pun) while they’re currently reduced on Amazon.

They’re beautiful, educational, easy to play (with multiple twists on the main game to keep boredom at bay) look super-stylish on our bookshelves and, most importantly, my four-year-old and preteen can both play, as age is no barrier to enjoyment.

We were treated to a visit to the members’ lounge of the Natural History Museum in February half-term and I was interested to note that they have a full suite of the games there for members and their children to play. In the eyes of my children, there can be no greater recommendation than one from the museum that houses Andy’s Dinosaur Clock!

RidingOn Fri 27-Mar-20 10:46:58

Live today, Chester Zoo is giving a virtual zoo day. It's on their Facebook page, with a full programme of events from 10 - 4.30. Thank you, Chester Zoo! Great for bribing kids to do their school work first ...

INeedNewShoes Fri 27-Mar-20 10:58:17

There's always one, and today it will be me.

I don't think this is a great time to be suggesting wasting a bag of rice to create some 'sand' to play with.

Anyone who has enough stock of dried pasta/rice etc. to be considering playing with a bag of it has stockpiled, depriving other shoppers of the basics.

INeedNewShoes Fri 27-Mar-20 10:59:08

But, more in the spirit of the thread, I have been hiding 20 Duplo bricks around the house for DD to find.

kivvi Fri 27-Mar-20 19:41:34

INeedNewShoes - I've been doing something similar, but slightly more like a treasure hunt.

Grab some small slips of paper (about 10, can adapt for different ages) and on each one write the name of a room in your house. On the other side, write a way to move (skip, hop, walk backwards, jump, gallop, slither, etc). You can repeat rooms but that makes it slightly more complicated to set up as you have to remember the right order and make sure the kids find the clues in that order!

Then make a treasure hunt as follows:
1st clue (e.g., "Kitchen"): hold onto this one to give it to your child at the start of the treasure hunt.

2nd clue (e.g., "Living room"): hide this somewhere in the room written on the 1st clue (so in this example, the kitchen)

3rd clue (e.g., "Bathroom"): hide this somewhere in the room written on the 2nd clue (so in this example, the living room).

...etc. Continue until you have no slips left. Once you've hidden the last slip of paper, hide a small treasure in the room mentioned on that slip (I do one per child, in different locations in that room)

Then give your child the first clue. They have to go (moving in the way described) to that location and find the clue. You can help them to find it by saying "hotter" when they get closer to it and "colder" when they get further away from it.

Depending on the number of clues and how much you help the kids, this can keep them occupied for a good half an hour or more. One nice thing is that you can re-use the slips of paper with different hiding places.

PositiveVibez Fri 27-Mar-20 22:50:04

'Who would you rather?'

I jest of course 😁

Hotter or colder is a good'un. In fact we played it to day when I was fed up to the back teeth of YouTube being on and hid the controls.

Sh05 Fri 27-Mar-20 22:58:26

We do a very basic game but my high schoolers love it. One person starts off with the name of a country, the next person has to think of a country begining with the last letter of the previous one. So if I say Denmark the next person has to name a country begining with K.
We don't take turns after a few turns, everybody just joins in but you can't have repeats. It becomes more challenging once you named the most famous ones begining with A as this seems the most common last letter!
We do the same with songs,animals etc

PositiveVibez Fri 27-Mar-20 23:18:19


Someone say out 'a' then goes through the alphabet in their head. Next person in the queue says stop. Op may stop on 's' for example

You have a sheet with boys name, girls name, country, food or drink, animal - and you have to write a name with everything beginning with 's'. Diagram attached. We used to take this VERY seriously in our house when we were younger 😂

If you get an answer nobody else has, you get 10pts. If you share an answer, you get 5pts.

PositiveVibez Fri 27-Mar-20 23:19:55

Can't believe I done a diagram. You may be able to see a wine glass stem in the background 😖

RidingOn Sun 29-Mar-20 10:45:03

I might use that one with my grandchildren, PositiveVibez. I'll have to do it while facetiming, though, because I can't go and see them at present. Thanks.

Riyonn Mon 13-Apr-20 11:57:43

Theres a role playing game called 'Auditions' where they get to act like there favourite characters and animals and move about. It's always a winner with our family and so funny to be part of. It's suitable for the whole family to take part. Recommend it so much.

Heres a link - its on sale too.

dyscalculicgal96 Mon 13-Apr-20 13:09:40

We play Blokus. Perfect for families. Specially recommended- you can get it on Amazon,

AinLondon Fri 15-May-20 14:27:58

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pregnancy2parenthood Mon 25-May-20 03:39:46

My child lovse to play with clay, slime, legos, blocks. It's really difficult for kids to relate to why they are not able to go out. Here is my lockdown story

diamondtruffle Fri 24-Jul-20 13:08:58

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deraline Fri 26-Mar-21 17:20:14

I love kids thanks for this

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