Rainy day blues? Weather at the extremes? Need to stay in for some reason? Whether you are looking for simple games for kids or full-scale activities for groups, it’s easy to save the day, overcome your boredom and have fun with this list of old fashioned, traditional indoor games for kids of all ages! It will be like taking a walk down memory lane to your old childhood days.
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
The game starts with somebody thinking of an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral. The other players then must ask questions that allow for only a yes or no answer. If nobody has guessed correctly after 20 questions, play one last round of guesses. Afterwards, the next person re-starts the game with a new animal, vegetable, or mineral.
This is a word guessing game. The player(s) act out their hints without using any spoken words, requiring the use of some conventional gestures. It can be easily modified for any age group.
Duck, Duck, Goose
For a family with many kids, this game is the answer to all your prayers! This fun traditional indoor game needs about a minimum of 6 children to play it. Choose someone to be the Goose. All the other kids sit in a circle. The Goose then walks around the circle, tapping each kid on the head and calling, “Duck, duck, duck, duck…” Eventually, the Goose calls “Goose!” when tapping a child. The old Goose has to run around the circle and try to sit in the vacant spot before the new Goose catches them.
There are two outcomes: 1) the old Goose is able to run around the circle and sit down in the new Goose’s spot without being tagged. A new round of the game begins. Or, 2) the old Goose is tagged before he/she gets to sit down in the vacant spot in the circle and must remain the Goose for the next round.
Hide and Seek
This is an old and popular traditional indoor children’s game in which one player closes his or her eyes for a brief period of time (often counting to 100) while the other players hide. The “seeker” then opens his/her eyes and tries to find the “hiders”. The first one found is the next “seeker” and the last is the winner of the round.
I Spy is a great sensory game for young kids to get to know the world around them. For a child who has never played, you can start by picking out a secret object within plain view and saying, “I Spy something blue.” If there is only one child, then she can keep guessing until she gets it right. If there are multiple children, then they can take turns looking around and guessing. The first child who is correct gets to spy something next. This is a very versatile game which you can take anywhere.
A bucket of Lego can go a long way with keeping your child busy while you get some work done! If more than two children are playing, have them take turns copying each other’s designs.
To play this game, the chairs are set up in two rows back to back (one chair less than the number of players). The music is turned on, and the players walk around the chairs. When the music stops the players race to sit in the available chairs. The player left standing is taken out of the game. The players all stand again and a chair is removed. The music is started and the walk around the chairs begins again. This procedure is continued until only one person remains. This person is the winner. This is one of the most popular indoor group games out there.
Playing Dress Up
Gather old clothes, shoes, and hats to create a costume box. With the right clothing and some imagination, your children can have endless amounts of fun.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
This is a hand game usually played between two people, in which each player simultaneously forms one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. These shapes are “rock” (a closed fist), “paper” (a flat hand), and “scissors” (a fist with the index finger and middle finger extended, forming a V). “Scissors” is identical to the two-fingered V sign except that it is pointed horizontally instead of being held upright in the air. It has only two possible outcomes: a draw, or a win for one player and a loss for the other.
A player who decides to play rock will beat another player who has chosen scissors (“rock crushes scissors” or sometimes “blunts scissors”). This player will lose to one who has played paper (“paper covers rock”). A play of paper will lose to a play of scissors (“scissors cuts paper”). If both players choose the same shape, the game is tied and is usually immediately re-played to break the tie.
A scavenger hunt is all about finding items from a list in certain rooms or areas. Depending on how many items you want the kids to find and how many kids are a part of the game, you can either hand write the lists of items for each child or type it up on a computer and print out copies. If the items are in difficult hiding spots you can write clues next to each item on the list. The kids will love the adventure and challenge. Best of all, it will get them thinking.
Start by selecting someone to be “Simon”. Next, kids must do whatever Simon says when starting a command with “Simon Says”. For instance, “Simon Says touch your nose.” If a child fails to do it before Simon gives the next command, then they are “out” of that game. You can also attempt to get children “out” by saying commands that don’t start with Simon Says. If a child follows the direction, then they are “out”. The last kid that is “in” gets to be Simon. If you want to make the game difficult for older kids, simply issue commands faster and faster, and make the needed actions more and more difficult to complete. This game is best when at least three people are playing it.
In this traditional indoor game, one player thinks of a word or phrase and whispers it to another player, who whispers it to someone else. The game continues until the word has been shared with everyone. The last person says the word, which is usually very different than the original one.
This activity will help you with any boredom problems you might have no matter where you are. It is very easy to play. One person thinks of an object, and another person has 20 questions to guess what it is!
Great Card Games for Families
Kid-friendly card games are an easy way to keep traditional indoor games for kids on hand. While you can buy books with instructions for more game than you’ll ever be able to play, we recommend these to start.
- War: Each player turns up a card at the same time and the player with the higher card takes both cards and puts them, face down, on the bottom of his stack. If the cards are the same rank, it is “War”. Each player turns up one card face down and one card face up. The player with the higher cards takes both piles (six cards).
- Gold Fish: Five cards are dealt from a standard 52-card deck (54 Counting Jokers) to each player, or seven cards if there are three or fewer players. The remaining cards are shared between the players, usually spread out in a disorderly pile referred to as the “pool”. The player whose turn it is to play asks another player for his or her cards of a particular face value. For example, Alice may ask, “Bob, do you have any threes?” Alice must have at least one card of the rank she requested. Bob must hand over all cards of that rank if possible. If he has none, Bob tells Alice to “go fish”. Alice draws a card from the pool and places it in her own hand. Then it is the next player’s turn – unless the card Alice drew is the card she asked for. If this is the case, then she shows it to the other players and gets another turn. When any player at any time has two cards of one face value, it forms a pair. The cards must be placed face up in front of that player. Play proceeds to the left. When all sets of cards have been laid down in pairs, the game ends. The player with the most pairs wins.
- 21/Blackjack: The aim of this game is to get “21” or as close to as possible. Number cards have their face value, jacks, kings and queens are worth 10. Ace can be either 1 or 11 and the player who holds the ace gets to choose the value of the card. The dealer and all other players have two cards. If you get over “21”, then you go bust and have lost the game.
Paper Indoor Games
These traditional paper games are fun and portable activities which require no set up or clean up. If you are looking for indoor games for just two players, these are always good options.
- Hangman: This classic game is easy for children of all ages to play! One player thinks of a word and the others guess letters until the puzzle is solved. Or the player completes a stick-man picture for every wrong guess.
- Tic-tac-toe: This game is played on a grid that’s 3 squares by 3 squares. You are “X”, your friend is “O”. Players take turns putting their marks in empty squares. The first player to get 3 marks in a row (up, down, across, or diagonal) is the winner. When all 9 squares are full, the game is over. There is also a chance the game will end in a “tie” where there is no apparent winner at all.
- Hand Tracing: Your kids can trace each other hands and then use their imaginations to fill in the space to create animals and other objects.
- Paper Airplanes: Download and print out some cool paper airplane designs and have your kids fold them up! They can fly them around the room or run around the house with them as well.
The above is a list of old fashioned traditional indoor games from your childhood. They will help keep your kids stay out of trouble and have some fun at the same time. If they would like to go on the computer instead, they can enjoy these virtual tours.
What indoor games did you and your friends love to play when you were a kid growing up? What indoor games do you play now with your own kids? Let us know your favorite games to play when boredom hits you and your family in the comments below. We will update this post and share them with others who read it as well!